Two Financial Posts In One

Well, blog a day, I missed yesterday but I did think of a topic – I just couldn’t manage to get out of bed to write about it. This is partly because I did make it to the eye doctor yesterday and they dilated my pupils, which took hours, literally hours, to wear off and what with the vicious hangover and all, discombobulated me. I did, however, get a new prescription! Which we will get to later but I also drove around Asheville in the rain a lot with my dilated pupils, wearing sunglasses, taking young Miles places and hitting the grocery store and so on. It was weird but the thing that was alas not weird at all was the fact that because Craven Street and that stretch of I think Haywood Street, whatever they call it after it veers west by the Civic Center and heads out past the sheriff’s office and the homeless shelter, are both closed. Craven Street has been completely closed for months now and Haywood Street has been intermittently closed, also for months. These are both roads that I used to take, oh, almost daily, so I have noticed their absence.

Well, why are they closed? They’re both public streets, paid for and maintained by the taxpayers of this fair city (yo! Tax payin’ citizen here, yo!) for the public good, so the only reason they would be closed must be for necessary and important infrastructure repairs! Right? Oh wait. Oh, not in our post modern plutocracy. They’re closed so private enterprises can make more money. Private enterprises which have already gotten sweet tax incentive deals: to wit, New Belgium, which is building a giant brewery and kind of beer drinking Disneyland brewing attraction on Craven and some hotel cartel which is building another high rise giant luxury hotel palace on Haywood, which by the way I imagine spells doom for the homeless shelter.

So, yeah. Let that sink in for a moment: tax money, from people like me, who live and work here and make considerably, oh considerably, less than 30K per annum, which is supposed to maintain those streets that I used and need and miss is instead being used to support wealthy corporations. Well. I do not like this much. I don’t have anything against New Belgium – I miss the picturesque and freaky ruin that was the old stockyard, yeah, but not enough to forgo the real living wage jobs they are promising. I doubt one will go to me, although if I am here I am sure as hell going to try hard, but still, in the meantime, I am pissed off about the loss of Craven Street. I am pissed off in both the particular and general sense because it is not just that I miss my easy route to and from Earthfare and Westwood that I took every damn day just about, but I feel the principle here, whereby everyone gets shafted by the almighty corporate dollar, is Wrong. And when the company in question is yet another hotel, which I fucking guarantee you will not be providing living wage jobs unless you think $8 an hour is living wage, I am even more pissed off.

That was blog post number one! Now, here is blog post number two, in which I get my taxes done.

I went to On Track Financial Services and had my taxes done by a lovely volunteer today. It took like 20 minutes and was totally free and they are an incredible resource and if you do not know about their tax service, which is for those of us who make less than $55,000 a year, which is to say, everyone I know in Asheville, you should call them up right away for an appointment. They are good people doing good things. And I am getting money back, which I had not allowed myself to hope for, and it will be enough, I think, for me to get glasses with that new prescription I got yesterday AND I will even have enough left over to get two more new tires so Batly will be riding sweet and not sliding any more. So, yay!

However! There is always a however, isn’t there? They are running a raffle kind of thing for their clients which I strongly suspect – I do not know – is part of some kind of grant funded initiative. It is meant to make poor people save money and I don’t like it one little bit. I think it is condescending as hell to assume that poor people are going to just immediately blow their tax refund check on, what, hookers and blow? And then to try to get them to save the money with, basically, a lottery – if you open a savings account and put the money in there you could win $500 in six months – is kind of missing the point entirely.

We working poor have a savings account. It’s called Uncle Sam and he disburses our money once a year in the spring, thanks. We spend all year counting on that money for such luxuries as, oh, glasses. And tires. And maybe a vacation, yes, that’s what I used to spend mine on when the kids were younger: spring break visiting friends and family. Now you should look down your nose at me and say, oh, you should save that money yourself and not count on a tax refund. Well, yeah, but unfortunately what happens when you are actually poor is that there is always an emergency and there is always a need for more money, more money, more money and little bits never, somehow, add up to big bits in a savings account you can access: they go to food and sudden high electric bills and car repairs and the thousand and one things that keep the poor poor and getting poorer. This money is not a handout, for fucks sake, it’s my money that I earned. If I want to spend it on hookers and blow, you know, that would be my prerogative. I’m not – god my life is boring – but if I wanted to, well, I should be able to do just that. It is my money that the government has been holding. And now I will get it back and then, in like a month or so, I will be able to see clearly once again, whoo, go me, when I pick out new glasses frames and get it all done: I am ridiculously excited.

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