To quote the great Nene Leakes, Housewives of Atlanta star turned reality TV diva, “I’m rich b**ch!” Or at least I thought. All winter break I fantasized about how I would spend my newly found wealth after the Miami Dade school district graciously bestowed a $300 “raise” on half of their teaching workforce. Would I splurge on a night out at one of South Beach’s finer eating establishments (alcohol and tip not included)? Or would I be more practical with this fiscal abundance and buy a month’s supply of diapers and formula at Target? Perhaps I would buy my children a Kindle Fire (the ipad is $500). After checking the first pay stub which would reflect my net gain after my $300 “raise” (expecting about a $15 per paycheck gain) my own sad teacher reality kicked in as I realized I had actually experienced a $30 per paycheck loss! Do you understand why this blog is called “kafkateach”?
If I have any non-teacher readers, you can also expect to find a major net loss in your paycheck as well. After Congress quietly let the payroll tax cut expire as they fretted over the fiscal cliff (all the while managing to include tax breaks for Hollywood, NASCAR, and rum manufacturers), all wage earning Americans will notice shrinking paychecks in 2013. The media paid a great deal of attention to the tax hikes on the wealthy few, but not much was said about the fact that most Americans would be hit by a noticeable tax increase. The poor teachers who have to rely upon the district health insurance to insure their families were hit with even greater paycheck losses after the raise. One such teacher reported a $70 decrease in his paycheck after his $300 raise due to insurance premiums going up as part of the wonderful deal our union negotiated for us.
I suppose I should be grateful for having any job and any health insurance during these harsh economic times. While channel surfing last night, I saw a segment about a poor Taco Bell worker with three kids who’s hours were cut to part time because her employer did not want to provide her with health insurance as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. So far, the Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) is turning into another Orwellian term churned out of Washington to dupe the public while the corporate masters rake in the benefits. Perhaps we will see a decrease in health insurance costs in the future as the market forces work their magic. Only time will tell. In the meantime teachers, expect an even smaller paycheck when the taxes on our “Cadillac” health insurance plans kick in.
So apparently, I’m not rich b**ch. There may be a few teachers who went from steps 21 to 22 and got an $11,000 raise who are running around the hallways celebrating (actually they are probably so old they are more likely to be using walkers) and making dresses out of dollar bills (Nene Leakes style). For the rest of us, time to cut back on the Happy Meals and Frappuccinos. If you have a cute kid with a foul mouth and a few extra pounds, maybe you can dress her up like a South Beach drag queen and make millions like Honey Boo-Boo’s momma. If not, get used to $300 raises, rising taxes, rising health insurance premiums and shrinking paychecks. That’s your new reality America.