Saturday, November 08, 2008

Life during GOP time

Here's just one part of George Bush's stinking legacy. But Bush didn't invent conservatism, he was just stupid and incurious enough to put its foolish ideas into practice. So blaming Bush only gets you partial credit. This failure belongs to the all of conservatism and its adherents.

The nation's economic troubles play out one family at a time at the New Horizons Learning Center in this struggling city two hours northwest of Chicago.

Some parents have been laid off and must pull their children out of the day care center until they can find a job. Others' employment hours have been cut, so they reduce their kids' attendance to a few days a week.

Financial strains prompt one mother to pay with a postdated check. Another chooses to work in the middle of the night — after putting her kids to bed — because of the extra dollar per hour that shift brings. And the stress shows on the faces of the children who can't understand why their friends, without explanation, stop coming.

"They act out more, cry a lot more," said Diane Kesterton, director of New Horizons, where a 38-child enrollment has been halved to 19 in just three months. "They don't know what's happening, they're confused."

Parents nationwide are telling day care providers they must scale back or abandon their services. Instead, they keep kids at home with grandparents or upend their work-life balance because gas and food prices have become prohibitive and average child care costs outpace rent and mortgage payments — even for those drawing salaries.

"I was paying more in day care than I was making in work," Meredith Hartigan, a Rockford single mother of two, said in explaining her decision to pull her 4-year-old daughter out of day care in August and switch to working nights and weekends.


Child care providers have similar fears as centers that have had waiting lists for as long as anyone can remember now find themselves scrambling for children. Many are for the first time offering part-time services or changing hours to accommodate the growing number of parents working off shifts, or struggling to make ends meet.

"It is not about people making choices to drive a second car," said Diane Stout, executive director of Circles of Learning, also in Rockford. "For many low income people it is making a choice for food."
Isn't income inequality great?

UPDATE: The surging economy will be keeping a lot of people away from their families this holiday season.

Thanksgiving won't be the same for many families across the country this year. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is expected to put a crimp in the busiest travel season of the year. Fewer people, especially college students, will be going home because of plummeting portfolios, job losses, and rising travel costs. That's moved many families in Massachusetts to open their homes to holiday orphans, and restau rants to prepare for more customers.

The trend is particularly pronounced in a college town like Boston. The city is brimming with students who generally depend on their parents to fund their holiday trips home.

Beyond the general economic downturn, high airfares will also keep many from home: Holiday fares are at five-year highs, according to Farecast, an airfare tracking website. And the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport in Boston, is predicting a 6 percent to 10 percent decline in Boston passengers during the week surrounding Thanksgiving.
h/t Susie.



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