Saturday, March 3, 2012

Expenses and Expensive...

We've thought more than a little some of the comments we've received about the costs of living in Paris. It sounds prohibitively expensive.

Here's the thing: If you've been laid off from a career that you know you were at the "top of your game" in and if you know the odds of how likely it'd be to find a similar job making even 30% less and knowing that age discrimination currently runs rampant in US korporations, what is a person to do? Roll over and "take it all?" Me thinks not.

I realize the French don't like to talk about money, but, since I'm still typing this from the USA, what I'm about to say should make sense and not offend anyone's sensibilities. :-)

COBRA health coverage for just my wife and I is currently well north of $1100 a month. In the state I currently live in, while collecting unemployment and after taxes and after paying for healthcare, my wife and I would have less than $500 to live on. I'm not yet old enough to dip into my 401K's. Granted, we have more resources than that, but...

Think about it a moment.

If we lived like the US korporate controlled culture tells us to live, we'd have literally nothing to live on, would be steeply into debt, wouldn't have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of, and might even be forced out onto the streets to find our way late in life. All the while having a large faction of the kristian konservative tea partiers tell us we "just need to get out there and to get a job, man!"

No. Again, I say no! The economic and political systems and "public forum" are screwed up.

My wife and I have lived rather conservatively, from a financial perspective. What we have we have earned honestly, and by all cultural accounts, fairly. I worked as an engineer in software and management. I was fairly good at what I did. I brought one company I used to work for a technology that helped set the foundation for a line of products that generated $billions$ over the years . So by all accounts, we should be feeling pretty good about things. Except that the company that acquired the company I helped bring that kind of revenue to didn't care about what I'd brought them.

Now that I'm retired, the thing that gets me is paying $1100+ a month for service we will never see much benefit from. Unless, that is, one considers it a "benefit" by making the healthcare industry's CEO's and executive staff rich. Only in the USA do we find healthcare costs 2x what is found anywhere else in the world, while providing a level of care only ranked 22 in the same world. Where does all that money go? You know, but do you care enough to do something about it?

On the flip side, can a person find a livable apartment somewhere in the world for $1100 a month? Can a person find a country that provides better healthcare at a fraction of the cost of the US system? Can a person find a place to live where food costs are comparable to US (as long as you enjoy cooking, which we do) while delivering food in a system that isn't stuffed with corn, antibiotics, and chemicals?

What if that place were Paris? Why wouldn't we move there? Why wouldn't we at least try to live there?

Life is all a trade-off, isn't it?

A wise neighbor once said that "... how we spend our money is a reflection of our values." I couldn't agree more.

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