Saturday, June 07, 2008
COPING WITH RISING PRICES IN NORTHEAST OHIO
With gas, food, and medicine rising at astronomical rates, people around here are getting creative in how they cope. My husband reads a local fishing bulletin board, and commented yesterday about what he found there. Thought I'd blog it.
People in Ohio are
- Putting in chicken coops and raising chickens
- Trading in their horses (recreational I presume) for beef cattle
- Planting large gardens
- Fishing to eat instead of fishing to play
- Eating at home instead of going out for dinner
- Drinking water instead of beer
- Rolling their own cigarettes
- Learning to like Ramen noodles
- Worrying about losing their job if they still have one
- No longer mowing the yard so the birds will come and can be caught for dinner
- Putting "for sale" signs on their boats
- Brewing their own beer
- Giving up motorcross
- Trading in the gas guzzler "safe" vehicle for a gas sipper "disaster waiting to happen"
- Getting part-time jobs to supplement retirement
- Hinting they might try marijuana farming
- Giving up weekend getaways
- Exchanging trolling for drift fishing
- Looking at biodiesel kits for home appliances
I'm sure some of these ideas posted on the bulletin board were tongue-in-cheek, but who knows.
The front page of yesterday's local paper carried a story about property values dropping. We don't subscribe, but my accountant brought it up when I was talking with him about another matter. Here's what the paper reported:
Residential and agricultural property values fell an average of 1 percent in Summit County over the last three years — an unprecedented decline caused by lackluster home sales and thousands of foreclosures, county Fiscal Officer John Donofrio said Thursday.
State and local officials could not recall any county ever reporting an overall decline in residential property values.
Overall, 52 percent of property owners will see a drop in value, while 8 percent will see no change.
The biggest loser among the cities, villages and townships was Akron, where values dropped 4.4 percent overall. The largest gain was in Hudson, where values increased 4.3 percent.
Akron is where middle income and lower income Summit Countyites live. Hudson, as you may be able to guess, is reserved for the upper crust. This merely reflects the trend of the rich getting richer and the poor learning to live with less.
Schools in Ohio are funded by property taxes. The need to change this has been a major campaign issue for years. Now with property values falling, and taxes anticipated to fall along with them, this is going to be an even hotter issue.
I can vouch for the decrease in property value from personal experience. We have just sold my husband's 96-year-old aunt's house for considerably less than it would have been worth a few years ago. His mother's house will soon be ready to sell, and the anticipated selling price is also considerably reduced. Plus, in the process, we discovered the down side of house flipping when the flippers tried to convince us to sell cheap by presenting a list of upgrades that would be necessary along with their attendant costs. Like we cared. It was an "as is" sale, and the Franciscan nursing home is slated to eat up whatever profits remain after the sale anyway. That will take a little over a year to accomplish.
Other changes happening here...
Doctors seem to have changed their bedside manner enmasse. Both my husband and I have encountered a new attitude in recent visits. They seem to have started to see the picture from their patient's viewpoint. The fees are astronomical and they want us to know it isn't them who are getting rich. Yesterday my husband's doctor was complaining about the instrument company charging fees that have gone through the ceiling over recent years for artificial joints, while the surgeon's fees have fallen from over $1,000 to $350. He indicated it was just about at the place where surgeons were going to stop doing the surgery. Heart surgery, he said, was suffering the same impact. He seemed to want to tell my husband that they were both on the same side and the insurance and implement companies were the real enemy.
I got a similar story from my dentist on a recent visit. He talked about the instrument manufacturers selling dentists expensive x-ray equipment they really don't need by telling the dentists to simply use it on every patient and let the insurance company pay for it. This dentist is Catholic and refuses to buy the equipment because he doesn't want to force it on patients who don't need it.
I saw a vascular surgeon on a one-time visit to determine whether I really needed to take a particular medication. In his report to my oncologist he closed it with "this is a very nice patient." One reads something like that and the jaw drops! Things they are a changing in the medical profession.
After reading through the above list from the fishing bulletin board, it occurred to me that we may be returning to the lifestyle of the '50s. Back then we had a chicken coop in the city. And a push lawnmower. But then the yard was small because most of the property was given over to the garden. My daughter cans. My mother canned. I have never done it. This old dog may yet have to learn a few new tricks!