Sunday, March 09, 2008

Can't Afford to Die


By Richard E. Noble

All my life, I've had the same problem. No matter what it is, I just can't afford it.
The first bicycle that I wanted to buy cost $52 - I had $48. The first secondhand car that I wanted to buy cost $150 - I had $120. One year's tuition at the university was $3000 - I had $300. I wanted to buy my wife a nice wedding ring - she settled for a $30 plain gold band that we got at a flee market in Fort Lauderdale. It doesn't fit any more. She keeps it in a box in her dresser.
After my wife and I were married for awhile we went shopping for a home in Miami. We learned that even though we both had the best paying jobs in our lives we couldn't afford a home. We could have put a down payment on one, but it would have taken two lifetimes to pay for it. We would have been willing to live two lifetimes, but the option was not made available.
We ended up quitting our jobs and went Hobo-ing America. We lived in a van and slept under bridges and under equipment shelters all over America. We met bunches and bunches of people who could afford even less than what we could afford. In America we all know that there are no limits for those at the top, but unfortunately there is also no limit for those at the bottom.
We got our first home here in Eastpoint, we couldn't really afford it but we bought it anyway. It was a trailer home and it cost $8,886. We almost didn't get it paid for, but somehow we managed. As things stand today in Florida, I can't afford to insure it and I can't afford to sell it. It also seems that some people don't want me to live in it anymore. They say it isn't safe and that people like me aren't paying enough taxes. Unfortunately where they want me to go and live instead of living in my trailer is even less safe and I can't afford to do that either.
I have just become eligible for Medicare. I can't afford it.
Now recently my wife and I have both reached the age where we have the opportunity to die. We have been analyzing our financial options and we have both come to the conclusion, that we can't afford it. If either of us dies, the other will not have adequate income to live on. The only way that we can both afford to die is if we can do it simultaneously. I've been thinking recently about that movie where those two women, Thelma and Louise, drive their car off the top of a cliff. At least they went out with a blaze of glory.
I guess, like people are prone to tell me these days, I should have done more planning. I should have gotten a 401K.
Well, most of my life there was no such thing. But I couldn't have afforded it anyway. And even if I could have I probably wouldn't have gotten one because I would have figured that it was another scam. I would have figured that if I had saved all my life putting all my "extra" money into this 401K that by the time I became eligible to collect it, it would have disappeared. Like the pension programs at Ford Motor Co., or General Motors, or Colt Revolver Co., or Good Year Tire and so many others that are rapidly vanishing today. Somehow there would be an "equity" problem; there would be a "liquidity" imbalance. And like the Great Depression of 1929, or the S&L catastrophe of recent vintage, or the current mortgage crisis all the money would evaporate and, of course, there would be no one to blame. Everybody was just doing their job, "business" as usual. Yes it would be true that suddenly a few people would have billions and millions of people would suddenly have nothing, but ...
I would probably have decided like most young people today, that I would take the gamble. I'll either strike it rich or I'll die broke.
I'm sure glad that I didn't have any children. Of course my wife and I realized that we couldn't really afford to have any children but most young people who really can't afford to have children do it anyway. Like Malthus once said and other conservatives say today, if poor people would just stop breeding, we would have no poverty.
I suppose.
In any case, since my wife and I have both figured that neither of us can afford to die, we have made a pact. I won't die as long as she won't die. It is going to be like The Survivor on the TV. Stay tuned ... and buy more soap powder.

Richard E. Noble is a Freelance Writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for around thirty years. He has authored two books: "A Summer with Charlie" which is currently listed on and "Hobo-ing America" which should be listed on Amazon in the not too distant future. Most recently he completed his first novel "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" which will be published soon.