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Your two cents: Economic crisis ripples through Federal Way

The Mirror asked Federal Way residents of all ages and occupations about how the nation's economic crisis has affected everyday life.

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Joann Dahle, age 52

Occupation: Self-employed eBay seller

“About three months ago, everything was going swell,” said Joann Dahle, who recently received notice that her home’s power will be shut off.

Dahle makes a living off selling items on eBay, but is now looking for work outside her home to supplement income. She has faith the nation’s economic crisis will turn around.

“I have to think that way,” the Federal Way resident said. “There’s always someone smarter than you. That’s what we count on.”

Dahle said she reluctantly follows news reports about the economy.

“It’s kind of depressing,” she said. “I don’t see where Bush’s ideas are going to help.”

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James Kamaka, age 61

Occupation: Boeing employee on strike

James Kamaka is skeptical about the recent economic bailout passed by Congress — and whether it will do any good.

“We’re going into a recession,” said Kamaka, a Northeast Tacoma resident. “I don’t think either presidential candidate knows how to get out of this mess.”

Kamaka is a Boeing employee currently on strike. He has never crossed the picket line, but understands that some people have no choice in this economy, especially “if you have to support a family.”

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David Parker, age 39

Occupation: Security lead officer; retired military

David Parker was investing into his retirement with IRA’s and a few stocks, but sold them when the market began to fall.

“I had some. I got rid of them, I’m out,” Parker said.

With military benefits to rely on, Parker isn’t too worried about his personal finances. He’s just upset. Parker says the recent bailout is unnecessary and the stimulus rebate is a joke. With $600, people are just going to pay bills and the money will go right back to the bankers, Parker said.

To really stimulate the economy, Parker suggests spreading the $700 billion out to the working class. “People will start buying houses and cars again,” Parker said.

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Brad Partridge, age 48

Occupation: Marketing

Brad Partridge said his job is safe, although his employer may likely eliminate jobs and perks in the coming months. “Most people, instead of saying ‘Why no raise’ now say ‘I’m glad I have a job,’” Partridge said, adding that there is funding for his current projects. “Nothing’s guaranteed.”

The Federal Way resident connects with straightforward news articles that help readers understand the situation.

“I want to know what does that mean to me as a middle-class American,” Partridge said.

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Jessica MacDougall, age 22

Occupation: Unemployed

Last month, Jessica MacDougall was one of 10 employees laid off from her job at a tanning salon, where she worked for two years. MacDougall’s boyfriend, age 25, also lost his job last month and is collecting unemployment.

The Federal Way couple once made $50,000 a year between them. Now, they have applied for food stamps.

“I’m just trying to get by,” MacDougall said. Her boyfriend’s dad is a financial advisor who assures them to wait it out. “He said ‘What goes down must come up.’”

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Joe Gulden, age 78

Occupation: Retired from selling bank security equipment; was also in the Air Force

“Well, I’ve lost a little bit, matter of fact, I’ve lost quite a bit,” Gulden said of the stock market.

“My stock went to the toilet. Another company I was in went bankrupt,” he said.

The Federal Way resident is not worried because he lives within his means, but the financial situation has affected him.

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Douglas Henness (aka, Thadius), age 73

Occupation: Panhandler

Although Thadius is homeless and doesn’t have to worry about increasing mortgage payments or gasoline prices, he still feels the effects of a lagging economy.

Thadius’s income from panhandling in Federal Way has dropped from more than $600 a month to about $200 a month. He works the same 36 hours per week.

He has had to cut back on eating out and smoking cigars.

“I’m still getting by. I’m still surviving, but I’ve got to be careful how I’m spending my money,” he said. “You have to make other choices. It’s getting rough but not as bad as the people in the houses.”

When times get tough and panhandling becomes less lucrative, many homeless people find food and necessities in dumpsters, Thadius said.

“The people around me are going just about every day checking the dumpsters, so that’s usually an indication they’re not making money out there like they used to,” he said.

Thadius said he doesn’t use illegal drugs, but has noticed in the homeless camp where he lives that drug use is down.

“They don’t have the money, they can’t buy the drugs, so that’s the silver cloud,” he said.

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Reid Dale, age 13

Occupation: Student

Although Reid Dale is 13 and not yet a member of the workforce, he is experiencing the effects of the recent economic downturn.

On car rides with his family, Dale’s parents have said they may have to work a few more years before retiring. Family spending is down. And Dale’s college money, which is in a Coverdell Education Savings Account, has suffered as stocks go down.

The Federal Way teen said he is not worried about how the current economic trend will affect his future because he won’t be joining the workforce for at least five years. “The market continues to go up and down and we bounce back,” he said.

The media is at least partially to blame for the current economic problems because news reports cause fear in people who pull money out of the economy, Dale said. “I think that it’s blown out of proportion by the media just propagating this fear.”

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Harry Schreiber, age 78

Occupation: Retired from the U.S. military

“For me, personally, it doesn’t affect me,” said Schreiber of Federal Way. “For many seniors, it’s getting to, do I buy medicine or food? I’m one of the lucky ones.”

A lot of people who only have 401K retirement plans are hurting, he said. He worries about senior citizens as well as people who are not living within their means and overusing credit cards.

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Terry Ammons, age 56

Occupation: Teamster

“It’s not affecting me, but I’m worried about a lot of people who are retired or about to retire,” Ammons said.

“Unless you know the stock market, I think you’re absolutely stupid to put your money in it,” Ammons added about stocks. “Many people are putting all their money in these things and they are losing everything.”

These people worked hard to build up savings and now they are losing it, he said. As for credit, “people are spending money and not thinking of the consequences.”

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