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Archaeologists are not unlike truckers. Exploring Minnesota and Wisconsin's oddities, scenery, culture, back roads, and eateries helps keep me sane.

13 February 2011

How I Will Deal with Wisconsin's Budget Crisis, Thanks to Scott Walker

I will be the first to admit that I have many blessings in my life and that many in my state are experiencing more hardships than me. I have worked hard for what I have, put myself through college and graduate school, and worked my way up the ranks. I left a private sector job across the country 5 years ago to return home to Wisconsin and be closer to family and my ever-growing brood of wonderful nieces and nephews. I turned down well-paying private sector positions across the country to return home to Wisconsin as a Limited Term Employee (no union, no insurance, no paid time off, no sick leave), earning $9 less an hour than the job I was leaving. I fought for, earned, and accepted a permanent public sector position, knowing that it would be years before I earned what I had made in the private sector, and knowing that I would be extremely lucky if I got a raise more often than every 3 years. As a permanent employee, I would not be earning over time pay for those numerous 50-60 hour construction weeks, evenings after work spent tracking down property owners for land access permission, and prep work to keep a crew of 10 busy and efficient during the work day. Yes, I have been occasionally laughed at by construction workers who tried to tease me for being one of the “privileged ones” but they didn’t laugh for long once they realized they earned more at 18 fresh out of high school than I did at 29 with a Masters degree.  Still, I do not regret any of my choices.

I don’t have a family to provide for, but I still have to budget every month to be able to enjoy my hobbies and extracurriculars. Hard work and budgeting has allowed me to pay down enough of my debt to be able to enjoy my place in my community and to make healthy decisions for myself. I’m willing to make sacrifices for the good of my community and environment; it’s part of my liberal nature. I realize I’m lucky to enjoy some of the luxuries I do. More than lucky, I’ve earned it. However, if Walker’s proposed bill passes, I will have to make do with a 10% pay cut. My community, sanity, and general state of happiness will take a big hit. And to think I’m plotting a career move into education, because I think teaching kids how to appreciate nature and the outdoors is important for their health and well-being. I might have to find a rich husband and do this on a volunteer basis. Because let’s face it… education AND the environment? I’m screwed.

Here are some of luxuries I’ll be cutting or drastically reducing to deal with Scooter’s proposals.  I can see how some of these things might sound trivial to some... but then, this is what I have worked for.  Not you.

  • Yoga and Pilates through Sun Prairie’s community parks and rec. I use these classes to gain strength after months of digging and laboring, to avoid further complications and physical therapy for my back and shoulder.
  • Buying local free-range or grass-fed meats. I recently saw Food, Inc, and it disturbed the hell out of me. Did you see what that family in the film had to live on because they couldn’t afford fresh produce? I suppose I could just eat a burger and pretend it’s not made from parts of 1000 cows.
  • Buying less organics in general. I wish I could eat them all the time, but sometimes it’s just not a reality on a budget. Should I renew my Willy St Co-op membership?
  • Guitar lessons at the Madison Music Foundry.  Have I mentioned that music is sanity?
  • Dropping in at the Goodman Community Center’s fitness room. I could jog outside in the winter like some of the more hardcore people, but why not patron my local community center IF I can afford it?
  • Feeding my live music addiction at places like the Majestic and High Noon Saloon. Should I spend more weekends at home watching Redbox DVDs and parking my ass on the couch?
  • Having dinners and brunches out with the girls. We especially enjoy the downtown Madison businesses like Graze that serve meats and produce from local farms. I hear Applebee’s is cheap.
  • Buying and collecting vinyl from places like Half Price Books and the Exclusive Company.  I'll just raid my parents' collection some more.
  • Shopping at downtown boutiques like Patricia Shoppe and The Driftless Studio. I can find cheaper, less thoughtful gifts elsewhere.
  • Occasional happy hours at the Atwood/Willy St Bars after work.  Where else is better to vent about the stresses of a job than the Harmony Bar, Alchemy, or Weary Traveler?
  • Visiting local businesses such as restaurants, shops, and museums, in towns across the state when I am stationed in their communities for work. Hotels have free cable for a reason, I guess.
  • Spending weekends driving across the state to visit friends and family. If only there was a train…

What will you have to cut?

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