As of yesterday, I, like so many Americans, lost my unemployment benefits, thanks to the indifference of the Republican Congress and the malice of the president. I remain far, far better off than so many other people are: Tom continues to work full time as a carpenter; I continue to patch together part-time jobs. But my income is more uneven than ever. I earn at least $1,000 a month less than I did last year, with no hope of restarting my regular classroom work until the beginning of the next school year. And my editing jobs are also thinning, as university budgets are slashed and press staff are furloughed or laid off. Meanwhile, our son Paul, a minimum-wage cook, is now working only 12 hours a week because of budget cuts and pandemic curfews . . . and because he donated some of his hours to employees who were in immediate dire need. In our household of three adults, only one of us has a reliable paycheck.
I am not repining. But I am angry, not so much for my own sake as for the sufferings of millions of people with young families, no income, unpayable bills; for the artists who took the risk of following their dreams and are now screwed; for the many, many Americans walking the tightrope of survival.
Life did not have to be this way.