We're about to get hit with a 22% "fuel adjustment" rate hike in Our next electric bill.
Twenty. Two. Percent.
My nearest neighbor is a 74-year old woman who has a pension, Social Security and one-third the rental income of a four-apartment converted house. By and large, she's pretty much upper middle class when it comes to retirees. Her usual electric bill will rise from $34.00 (a low average for a thrifty couple, but she has respiratory therapy equipment running every other day) to about $41.00. No big deal, right?
She has no car, using public transportation to get around. Rates there have risen about 35%, so that her weekly average of $25.00 in fares is now closer to $34.00. No big deal, right?
Food prices have surged 12-25% on some items. She has chosen to switch to lower-priced items, but cheaper foods are often less healthy. As a diabetic, she has to be careful. Her grocery bills have gone up from $260.00 a month to $325.00...and she eats less. No big deal, right?
The rental income she shares with her two sisters is what keeps My neighbor off the public dole. She doesn't receive food stamps or any other government aid. Her pension was earned through 28 years of factory work and she paid for her Social Security. The rental income she receives every month adds $370.00 to her fixed benefits, enough for her to buy medication and an occasional trip to San Juan to visit the Old City.
Now the government is asking her to pay the 7% "consumption" tax on that income, claiming it is not her "primary income." That's right: The Fools want her to fork over $26.00 every month of her "secondary income."
No big deal, right? It's just $26.00 a month.
While gas prices rise, making her electric bill, bus fares and groceries more expensive. Her added expenses for those basic necessities is already about $110.00 and rising. But why worry! She can just charge more rent, right? No big deal.
Two apartments were vacated in the past month as both tenants lost their jobs. The apartment above mine is rented to her niece, who pays half-rent. Her $370.00 "secondary" income is now only $200.00. She's lost $170.00 a month while adding $110.00 in expenses, a $280.00 negative swing. On a fixed income of about $1,050, that's almost a 30% loss. That is a big deal.
But who cares, right? The government has to make up its shortfall in some way, right? The same government that has steadfastly refused to find alternative energy sources to crude oil, that mismanages Our utilities to the point of criminal indictments, that dithers and dallies as Our economic prospects dwindle to mere pinpoints and represents Our best interests in exactly the same way AIDS represents a healthy immune system... Yeah, they have to get theirs, don't they?
Well I say We give it to them. Sideways. And with all the sharp corners exposed.
The Jenius Has Spoken.