The ever-rising cost of living coupled with stagnant wages wreaks havoc on American lives. People spend all their time working and can barely keep up with the bills.
One man came to Reddit, seeking solidarity, when he shared that he still can’t manage while working 70 hours weekly.
70 Hours – Not Enough Money
The Original Poster (OP) shared that his pregnant wife is due any day. She’s taking three months of unpaid leave to heal from birth and bond with the newborn baby.
Unfortunately, her time off leaves them in tough financial straights.
Although OP makes an average salary, it’s not enough to pay all the bills on his own. Therefore, he took a part-time job cleaning on the weekends and drives Lyft during his spare time to make ends meet.
It’s still not enough.
“Not only will I not be able to replace all of my wife’s income, I’ll be using every spare second and ounce of energy I have- just to break even,” laments OP.
No Time With Baby
It’s not just about the money, though that’s a significant problem. OP’s also depressed because he can’t afford to bond with his baby.
His job doesn’t offer paid parental leave, and he only has a few hours of vacation time.
“So here I am, working until I drop, and not being able to bond with my first child during the fleeting and important newborn stage,” he says.
OP’s Story Highlights Major Problems in Society
OP’s story is all too common. Millions of people struggle to make ends meet. Millions of mothers return to work immediately after giving birth because they can’t afford unpaid leave. Fathers typically can’t even consider staying home as an option.
And They Wonder Why Folks Don’t Want Kids
Real people experience these problems while think tanks scratch their heads in bewilderment, wondering why younger generations opt out of parenthood.
“Exhibit A of why so many Millennials and Zoomers will never have kids,” responded one user. Others commiserated, saying they wanted kids, but couldn’t afford them.
No Quality of Life
It’s not just about the kids, though. OP’s story is related to parenthood but highlights how impossible it is for people to make it alone. Just three months without dual income pushes this young family to the brink of financial ruin.
Partnerless people and those in lower-wage jobs have the same difficulties, even without children.
“The life of an American is such absolute garbage that the highlight and luxury of their work week is MAYBE being able to afford going to Starbucks before work, 1 day a week,” said one user.
American System Doesn’t Support Its People
The post showcased the massive disconnect between American ideals and American policy. America calls itself the land of opportunity, but most folks have very few options.
Our policies don’t work to help people; they’re bare minimum bandaids designed to pretend we have something. FMLA allows new parents to take time off but doesn’t guarantee a paycheck. It’s useless since most people can’t afford to skip a paycheck. The US is one of the only developed nations lacking paid parental leave and paid sick leave. America’s healthcare system is prohibitively expensive. Education remains underfunded.
“I honestly don’t see a way for capitalism to NOT be full-on unchecked evil without a socialist government protecting people from its abuses,” stated one user, blaming OP’s problems on the unfettered capitalism Americans celebrate.
Europe Does It Better
It doesn’t have to be this way. Most European countries operate with a basic capitalistic economy but have a slightly socialist government which helps keep corporations in check. They provide parental leave, health care, sick leave, and other essential social services that work with people to improve their quality of life.
Yet rich people still exist in Europe. They may boast fewer billionaires, but they also care for all their people.
America can implement similar policies but lacks the political will to do so.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.