Making Sense Of Having Fewer Dollars

On one hand, it’s only 2 percent more. On the other hand, it’s less gasoline in the tank, or fewer trips to the market or a monthly parking fee.

It’s money that could have gone to Wheeling Nailers hockey game tickets or for movies at The Highlands.

For some workers the number will be less, for others it will be more. The 2 percent represents a decrease in my take-home pay as the new payroll tax calculations went into effect on Jan. 1. It also represents a portion of our government’s inane excuse for “fixing” the fiscal disaster it allowed our country to experience in the first place.

How many hours of thought went into simply digging deeper into the public’s wallets?

Thanks a lot, congressional guys and gals. If this is what incumbency means, voters really screwed up in November.

Not many people enjoy starting the new year with less money in their pockets, especially after the Christmas buying season. For many, 2 percent is significant in a lot of ways. The payroll tax hike strikes at about the same time health insurance increases go into effect and home heating costs peak.

The days of guaranteed union wages are waning with the loss of our steel mills and the lack of construction jobs in an already depressed economy. There are more empty spaces along the streets of cities and towns than grand opening signs.

And if you believe the worst is over, just ask a few workers at the restaurants and stores in the Ohio Valley. They prepared for the normal onslaught of customers on Dec. 26 by beefing up staffing levels only to find themselves standing around waiting for the big crowds that failed to show up.

Even those gift cards sold before Christmas are still sitting in desk drawers because a portion of the buying public is taking a wait-and-see attitude before heading out to dine and shop. On the positive side for buyers, retailers will eventually be forced to invoke deeper discounts to clear out the winter merchandise as they prepare for the spring and summer goods starting to show up on their loading docks.

I will gladly give up 2 percent more per paycheck if it means changing things for the better in this country. However, guarantees written on tissue paper in disappearing ink are all we have seen so far. I have witnessed no solid answer to the fiscal cliff saga, only a temporary fix to a long-term budgetary toothache.

I hate to be a “Debbie Downer” in this new year. I want to start off 2013 with faith and hope in our country. We need signs of things to come that don’t make us want to dig bomb shelters or hide our cash under the mattress.

Those New Year’s babies deserve better than what we are offering today. Let’s give them a future that doesn’t depend on 2 percent more to make it right.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at