The Cheapest Eggs At The Grocery Store Right Now Are Seven Dollars
And Other Reasons You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Filing Bankruptcy
Even if you don’t like to eat eggs on their own, there are probably eggs in several of the foods you consume on a regular basis. That’s me- I’ll only eat them scrambled, begrudgingly, with hot sauce and hopefully some cheese and diced onions. But the other day I saw some chai tea mix in my cabinet and thought that could be a good addition to chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch. So, I made my merry way over to Safeway to buy eggs and chocolate chips and I was aghast. Seven dollars for the cheapest eggs? I remember a not-so-distant time in the past when eggs cost $2 or less. First of all, $7 for eggs is highway robbery. Second, while some cities have their own minimum wages set higher than the state, Arizona’s minimum wage is $13.85 per hour. If you take out income taxes and add sales tax on the eggs, someone working for minimum wage can barely buy a carton of eggs with an hour’s labor. That’s not including gas to get to the store, hot sauce- and you might as well forget about cheese and diced onions. In the past, our bankruptcy clients seemed to be plagued by poor decisions or just plain bad luck. Now, it’s easy to imagine how someone could fall into unmanageable debt to maintain a decent standard of living. If you’re struggling with debt and would like to learn more about bankruptcy, call our firm for your free consultation at 480-448-9800.
Buying A Home? Doubtful
If you own your own home, that’s great for you. I’m so happy for you. You probably bought it a few years ago before the market went out of control. But every time I think I’m getting somewhere with my savings, I check Zillow and cry because I can’t even afford a dumpy one-bedroom condo. Big businesses, including foreign corporations, are buying up our homes and holding them at ransom. They are tearing down businesses on any lot large enough to hold an apartment building, charging just enough that their tenants will never be able to save up for a down payment on a house.
The median income in Arizona for 2021 was $69,056– the data for 2022 won’t be available until September 2023. For November 2022, the average home price in Arizona was $410,000. The mortgage on a $410,000 house will be about $1,400, which is affordable for someone who makes the median income- but only if they put 20% down on the house. How would this hypothetical person who makes the median income save up $82,000? The average rent for a one-bedroom in most Arizona cities has soared past $1,500. That only leaves this person about $28,000 per year to save and for ALL of their other expenses (including $7 eggs). Additionally, home prices keep rising, so by the time that person saves up $82,000, they will probably need more than $82,000 for a down payment. It’s hard to see a path to homeownership for the middle class right now without inheritance or help from family members.
How Do People Afford Kids?
Kids are expensive and always have been, but what I’m worried about is the privatization of our school system. In my hometown, it was extremely inconvenient to go to any school besides the local high school, so the rich kids and the poor kids got the same access to education. Many people dream of being teachers and impacting their students’ lives. I know a few of them, but they have either quit already to work something that can actually pay their bills or are worried they won’t even be able to make it through this semester*.
Instead of raising our teachers’ salaries to a living wage, Arizona began offering a tax credit for families to send their children to private schools. This gives the rich a bonus for doing what they were already doing and doesn’t make it affordable for the vast majority of families to send their kids to private schools. Part of the American dream is that if you study/work hard enough, you can be anything you want to be. If the school system shifts so that a student needs to go to a private school to get a decent education, the American dream dies.
* Because the parents are entitled and raising entitled children. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Big Companies Want You To Feel Bad About Bankruptcy & Lawsuits
As long as there have been big companies, big companies have been trying to influence the public’s psyche for profit. One innovator in this field was Edward Bernays. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and detailed how he helped companies use marketing to change public opinion in his book, Propaganda. One of his most “successful” works was changing how the United States viewed women who smoke cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes in public was considered taboo for women in the 1920s until Bernays marketed a campaign branding cigarettes as “freedom torches” that women could smoke in public with pride. It essentially made smoking a cigarette a feminist act for a woman, with Big Tobacco raking in the cash.
As modern times evolved, big companies needed to change public opinion, not just about products but attitudes about the public’s obligations to corporations. Personal injury suits became more and more common, and they were (and still are) costing big companies millions of dollars. One of the most famous personal injury suits in the United States was the McDonald’s hot coffee case. Only someone who is greedy and litigious would sue a company for serving the coffee she ordered hot, right? That’s just what McDonald’s wants you to believe.
In 1994, Stella Liebeck ordered a hot coffee at the McDonald’s drive-through. The 79-year-old suffered third-degree burns when she spilled the coffee in her lap. She eventually sued and won a hefty injury award, including a punitive damages award of nearly $3 million. The case made headlines, with Liebeck being viewed as a scam artist and opportunist, and spreading an attitude of litigiousness as a negative thing. McDonald’s legal and media team was sure to get this message across- people who sue McDonald’s are scumbags. However, the jury didn’t award $2.7 million in punitive damages, or two days of McDonald’s coffee revenue, for no reason.
Liebeck’s third-degree burns covered 6% of her body (her crotch) and there were lesser burns on 16% of her body. She lost 20 pounds, or 20% of her body weight, while in recovery from the incident. She suffered permanent disfigurement and temporary disability, and her daughter had to care for her for a few weeks. She requested McDonald’s reimburse her $20,000, with her medical bills being $10,500 and the rest to cover future medical expenses and her daughter’s loss of income. McDonald’s countered with $800.
While Liebeck’s injuries were gruesome, it may seem reasonable for McDonald’s to offer only a percentage of her damages- after all, shouldn’t she be responsible for spilling her own coffee? However, Liebeck’s lawyers tested coffees all around the city, and McDonald’s coffee was held at temperatures about 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than any other establishment. McDonald’s coffee could cause third-degree burns in 3 seconds, while other coffees in the city would take 20 seconds to cause third-degree burns. The jury also heard evidence about the melting point of McDonald’s Styrofoam coffee cups, as well as more than 700 reports of McDonald’s coffee burns and settlements in excess of $500,000. McDonald’s knew their coffee was being served too hot and burning people, but they just didn’t care. The jury found that Liebeck was 20% at fault for her injuries, and McDonald’s was 80% at fault. They awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages, such as medical bills, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. However, because of McDonald’s bad faith (they also refused $90,000, $225,000, and $300,0000 settlement offers), the jury awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant, and they need to be substantial for a company as big as McDonald’s to notice. While McDonald’s lost Liebeck vs. McDonald’s, they used it as an opportunity to change public opinion and wage war against “frivolous” lawsuits.
This may seem like it doesn’t have much to do with bankruptcy- but in the end, you should always be aware that big companies want you to treat them with the dignity and respect that you would treat another human being, but they will never offer you the same in return. If you are struggling with debt, American Express and Capital One will be fine if you file bankruptcy and erase your credit card debts to them. You are not bad, litigious, opportunistic, or frivolous for wanting to make a better life for yourself and your family.
Bankruptcy Might Help You With Your Financial Goals
Depending on your financial situation, bankruptcy could be a powerful tool to get you back on your feet and headed in the right direction. In this financial climate, no one should be embarrassed or guilty to at least research the protections that bankruptcy offers. Discharging medical bills, old taxes, credit cards, and other debts could allow you to live a more comfortable lifestyle. You deserve the cheese and diced onions. Get in touch with My AZ Lawyers by calling us at 480-448-9800 to schedule your free consultation today.
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