Mike Ruby

Mike Ruby

In a previous article, I referred to people who are content living off the generosity of the taxpayers. Yes, this type of mentality is too common and none of us have come up with a workable solution to this growing problem. The good news is there are millions of hard-working Americans who labor long hours to scratch out a living to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I have a lot of respect for folk who do whatever it takes to be self-sufficient and not a burden to others.

I am acquainted with a delightful woman in Muscatine who is in her late-40s, struggling to make ends meet. Due to extenuating circumstances, she continued to lose financial ground month after month for a few years. She had a 25-30-hour-a-week steady job, but could not pay the bills on her take-home pay. She beat the pavement and landed an 18-hour-a-week job with evening hours that worked well with her main job. For nearly two years, she juggled both jobs, working 48 hours a week but still was not able to keep current on her bills. She is a pleasant, law-abiding citizen who does not smoke, gamble, or drink alcohol. She drives a 14-year-old car and lives in a small house worth about $50,000 that needs repairs and she has never missed a mortgage payment.

Still challenged to meet all of her financial obligations, she recently landed a third part-time job on the graveyard shift for about 28 hours a week. With this extra income, she has devised a plan to get current with all of her creditors within a year. The majority of her 75-hour workweeks are spent in low-paying, unskilled labor, but she is a proud woman, doing whatever it takes to survive financially. She would likely qualify for limited government assistance, but she expects no special treatment from the American taxpayer even though she is deserving of it.

Our country has millions of these unsung heroes who just keep plugging away, day after day, at jobs most of us would find undesirable. They don’t want to be a burden to society; they take care of their families, teach their children healthy morals and values, make good neighbors, and are proud of the modest material possessions they have.

If you know of people who fit this description, give them a well-deserved pat on the back with words of appreciation, encouragement and respect. They are the salt of the earth, and in some ways happier than the guy who has considerably more.

Mike Ruby is a Muscatine resident who writes a monthly column for the Journal.

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