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Welcome! July 13, 2013

Every couple years, I give the blogging game another try – a chance to lay out all my solutions to the problems of the world, “if I were czar,” as Dad would say, to get reactions to them, should I manage to find an audience, or to work them out for myself, should all my readers be imaginary.

I’m definitely a geek about politics. Beach reading isn’t the latest Danielle Steele (does she still write?) so much as the “why Obama is evil” genre, though that’s losing its charm. (Time to wander back to the history section.)

I always thought, growing up, that I would follow family tradition and get involved in politics. Once upon a time, the whole family would go to the Republican campaign headquarters and make get-out-the-vote calls, or collate brochures. We went to a Reagan rally in ’80.  (Remember?  A recession is when your neighbor is out of a job.  A depression is when you’re out of a job.  And a recovery is when President Carter is out of a job!  Somewhere in a box in my parents’ house, I bet I still have a newspaper clipping.)  I helped out at the local state senator’s office in high school, and tagged along with the staff when Bush (G.H.W.) came to town in support of the candidate for governor. But that was then – life got in the way, and kids, and Illinois politics, in which the Republicans are just as corrupt as the Democrats (or were – now they’re just impotent), and now “involved in politics” consists mostly of letters to the editor and blog comments.

What do I care about? Right now – I’m a mom, to three boys, none of whom are headed to any grand renown, for sports prowess or academic achievement, so issues of college cost concern me, and the economic future of the country in general. Immigration reform worries me in this respect, too: what will happen to this country, and to wages for low-skilled work, if we import large numbers of unskilled workers?

I’m a Catholic – and a convert, though a while ago, now, and “life issues” (as Catholics say) was part of the draw to Catholicism rather than the other way ‘round.

I’m an actuary – so that means issues of healthcare reform and Social Security/retirement security. Plus, bad statistics and flaky/corrupt research (e.g., vaccines causing autism) are a particular pet peeve.

My husband is German, and we spent some time in Germany, so that means a certain multiculturalism (in the generic sense of having exposure to another culture and not taking things for granted) and an awareness that there are pros and cons to the American Way of Life. For instance, housing: in order to make mass transit work, most people live in apartments, not single-family homes, and there’s no shame to raising a family in an apartment (but at the same time: have you seen the birthrate?). At the same time, I think some of the traditional German concern with inflation (and worries that the national debt is a time bomb in that respect) has rubbed off on me.

We save pretty diligently, so bailouts and benefits to the spendthrift bug me. Pet peeve: people who fail to save for their children’s college education get more generous financial aid packages than those who do. I spent five years in grad school studying medieval history, in the early 90s, with a stipend of $1000 per month, out of which I saved $200 per month in anticipation of the stipend running out before I finished my degree. (I ended up getting married and leaving grad school ABD, but that’s another story.) Somewhere in the basement is a box with my financial record-keeping – in the days before Quicken, I had a book in which I recorded, on a semi-monthly basis (that is, by paycheck), pretty nearly every last cent I spent. It helped that rent was cheap, but I lived pretty frugally then and have very little patience with people who overspend now.

Plus various issues that I can’t connect to me personally:

The future of marriage worries me. My own personal experience is one of intact families (except my oldest nephew, who is a teen dad), but I feel as if American society is becoming increasingly disconnected – the marry-ers and the non-marry-ers living in two different worlds. My own upper-middle class world – the people I work with, the families at my children’s parochial school – is one full of marry-ers (even some traditional large Catholic families), but statistics say that the non-marry-ers are increasing in number, especially the Julias who see no reason why marriage and children have anything to do with each other or why the former should precede the latter. (Book reference: Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage, by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas.)

And poverty/the War on Poverty and all sorts of related issues which have no good answers.

And, yes, I dutifully follow foreign policy.

My plan is to use this blog for mini-essays on topics that interest/concern me (geeky political conversation welcome) and to park links that I come across here, but I don’t expect to have time for well-researched/documented posts. So let’s dive in – welcome to my world!

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