The Resistance

I have been working with resistance groups for only a few months.  I have learned so much in that short time, met some wonderful, amazing people, and found a sense of purpose.

The drag of this is it looks like the Resistance may not be needed before long, what with Trump being investigated for Obstruction of Justice.  Impeachment papers are being filed, and the White House executives are lawyering up.  I can see this going pretty deep into Trump’s staff: Pence, Bannon, Kuschner, Ivanka, and all the rest of the degenerates and unqualified bozos.  And I celebrate to see this happening.

Even if this all goes down, the Resistance will need to work to repair the damage done in these short six months of Trump’s tyranny.  To that end, it is going to take a lot of work to get people to vote.  Time for the Independents to grow in number and create a strong third party.  We need to ensure that it will be impossible in the future that no single party gains control of the House, Senate and Presidency at one time.  We need to eliminate Gerrymandering, and that will not be easy with a Republican Congress.  We need to eliminate Lobbyists. They’re just glorified beggars, aren’t they?  Disgusting humans.

To make that happen, however, we need to inform people of the importance of voting and when voting, how to do so.  We need to teach our children and immigrants the importance of voting for all elected positions.  Including the School Board.  If more people actually became aware of what their school boards are doing, perhaps we can save education from the greasy talons of Betsy DeVos.

We are the people, remember?  We are the people who create this country and hold onto the values on which it was founded.  That means taking back control of our government at all levels. That means education.  It means hard work.  It needs your time and effort. This is a hard thing to do, for people have families, work (sometimes at two or more jobs).  People have cars that break down.  They get ill, lose jobs, lose insurance, and in the end, lose hope.  It would be good for people to have hope again.

I hope this blog will help educate people on how the government works, where your tax money goes, and the danger of Gerrymandering.  Here is an excellent explanation of Gerrymandering and why it is dangerous.  I didn’t know how bad this was until recently. Gerrymandering lines should be erased–permanently–if we don’t want a single party system.

 

The Growing Poor in America

Our GNP has been growing.  Inflation has been rising since the 70s and cost of living has increased.  Yet wages have stagnated.

wages

Most wage increases over the last 20 years have been less than helpful in keeping up a Middle Class.  You can see by the above chart, the lowest incomes have actually decreased in the last 15 years!  Inflation has continued.  No wonder we no longer have a Middle Class.  I’d say Middle Class has dropped into the following categories: Poverty-Stricken, Poor, Middle Poor, and Barely Squeaking By.

Wages
In 1970, minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. Today, it’s $7.25 an hour. That’s a 353% increase over that period of time, which seems like a fair amount… until you actually start looking at how prices have increased.

What about average wages? I couldn’t find a document that laid out full details on average wages per year, but this document from the Census Bureau, laying out some average wage information, shows that average household income has roughly kept pace with consumer prices.

Consumer Prices
In January 1970, the Consumer Price Index was 37.8. In January 2011, it was 220.223. That’s a 482% increase over the period we’re looking at.

In other words, for every dollar increase in the minimum wage since 1970, the price of an average item has gone up $1.36. Even adjusting for inflation, a dollar today buys less than it once did for low income earners.

So, for a person freshly out of school, the initial income outlook is worsethan a fresh graduate in 1970, but after some career advancement, their salaries end up being comparable given inflation.

Education
In 1970, a year of tuition at a public university cost $1,207. In the most recent year of data available, 2007, a year of tuition at a public university cost $11,034. That represents an annual average increase of 6.2%, which, if you applied it to the 2007 price, gives you an estimated 2010 cost of a year of education as being $13,216. That’s a 994% increase in the cost of a four year degree.

So, let’s say you’re earning minimum wage and trying to make it through college.

In 1970, you could work 755 hours at a minimum wage job over the course of a year to earn enough to pay for a year of schooling at a public institution – about 14 hours per week.

In 2010, you would have to work 1,823 hours at a minimum wage job over the course of a year to earn enough money to pay for a year of schooling at a public institution – about 35 hours per week.

Source: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/a-dose-of-financial-reality/

 

Most people I know are in the Just Barely Squeaking ranks.  They own houses with large mortgages, have car payments, and credit card debt in excess of $10,000, lots of that is student loan debt.  Adult household members work at jobs they probably hate, and don’t pay near enough.  Jobs they have taken mainly for the insurance benefits, which have decreased steadily over the past 15 years.  Ever since the Reagan Era “Trickle Down” theory.

We pay more for homes, cars, and groceries than ever before, and are (for the most part) no better off than their Middle Class upbringing.  Why?

Technology.  It’s expensive.  Lot’s of techies make lots of money, but it doesn’t trickle down very far.  Maybe it trickles to their housekeeper, gardener, grocer.  (All of whom make 1/4 of what the Techie does.)  Technology, that god I heard about ever since I can remember.  That thing that would give workers more leisure time.  That thing that has replaced people with computers and robots.  Remember the old Secretarial Pools?  Large documents would be typed up by a bevy of women with each one typing a section over and over.  It took more people to do the typing because at that time Xeroxing was new, time consuming, messy, and expensive.  Now one person can type entire documents. Granted this didn’t happen over night, but computers have eliminated millions of jobs.

Health Care.  It’s expensive.  Insurance costs for such care is beyond believable when you see hospitals charge $1,000 for Tylenol.  Doctors charge over $300 per 15 minute visit. Luckily most of us can still see a doc for under $50 co-pays, but not all of us.  God forbid you have a serious health problem like cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Progressive MS or ALS.

Housing.  It’s expensive.  Greedy people have driven up the cost of homes to unprecedented heights.  New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles; all the major cities are virtually unaffordable for the Barely Squeaking.  In my city the cheapest homes you can buy are $500,000 fixers, for which you need another $200,000 to make repairs or alterations.

Gentrification of Poor Areas.  Rich Man buys apartment building occupied by 20 families each making less than $30,000 per year.  Rich Man evicts all 20 families.  He spends millions to rehab and improve his investment.  Who can blame him? So he puts in expensive carpet, wood floors, guts the bathrooms and kitchens and adds stainless steel appliances, granite counters, fancy pedestal sinks, and low-flush toilets and showers. The evicted families were paying less than $1500 per month for their 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment.  The newly finished building now houses only 10 units, minimum 2 bed/2 bath over 1500 square feet of living space (as opposed to the original 700 sf 2 bed/1 baths).  There is now underground parking, and a concierge.  The units are now to be sold as condos, starting at $750,000.

Improving the poor areas, right?  No.  It’s just relocating the poor by force.  Those 20 families now struggle to find a new apartment that they can afford. Usually they find something farther from their jobs.  Making it more difficult for them to keep those jobs. Likely a job will be lost simply because they can’t make it to the second job on time riding the bus.  Bus service is slow, cabs or Uber are expensive, cars even more so.

Many people with such low income work two part time jobs.  Neither of which will provide health insurance coverage if the worker puts in less than 30 hours.  So mom and dad work two minimum wage jobs without health insurance.  Their only health care provided by ERs across the nation, thousands of which have been systematically closed down by the Board of Directors of hospitals, because the ER is not cost-efficient.  Why? Because 90% of those in an ER have no insurance and no means to pay for their visit. ERs are required to treat a person, regardless of their ability to pay.  It’s no wonder they aren’t cost effective.

That says a lot when discussing a National Healthcare Insurance.  ERs would no longer be crowded with people with ear infections and colds, and could return to the intended use for accident victims.  Thereby decreasing costs simply by eliminating those without means from incurring debt they cannot pay.  It’s not Socialism, at least not in the bad sense of the word, it’s common sense with some compassion tossed in.

Do rich people really think I want to be borderline poor?  What is this lingering hate toward the poor (and the homeless)?  It’s been with us thousands of years, ever since “income” became a necessary part of life.  The poor in this country will continue to fall further behind and end up on Welfare (another GOP-hated social assistance).  The number of homeless will continue to increase.

Don’t those in power and/or with money care at all about us down here on the bottom row of the pyramid?  We built the fucking pyramid, we should not have to be buried by it.

Bipartisanship

As a society we are taught there are three (or four) things that should never be discussed: Sex, Religion, Politics (and money).  I only agree that talking about money is unwise.  But the rest are what we should discuss!  If we were able to teach our children tolerance, compassion, understanding and empathy, it would be quite a different world.  Instead we teach them not to talk to those who are different, or whose opinions are different from our own.  This breeds contempt, misunderstanding, frustrated anger, and festering hate.  Just the things the GOP seems to want people to feel.

Can there ever be such a thing as bipartisanship?  Truly?  What if we could change that? Would you try?  I would and will. Do you believe that nothing should be off limits to public discourse.  A little honesty, buttered with some empathy might go down better than angry rhetoric.  At least that’s my mind.

I don’t want to listen to the other side either, truth be told.  But neither do I want to see my world continue to be blown apart by hatred, anger, misunderstanding, rumor, and lies.  I see no reason that can’t change. If we want it to.  I am now on a search for a means to have real, open dialog with those with views opposing mine.

I wrote a few weeks ago about a lost opportunity to talk to the “other side” of an issue. Not many people want to listen to someone else’s side of an argument.  We merely wait on our side of the conversation for something from the other to tear into and deny. Name calling is easier than holding our tongue.  Spouting the same tired rhetoric is more appealing than using our own minds and hearts to listen.  Hating easier than understanding.  Empathy can’t be taught, apparently.  Nor maybe compassion.  But we can learn to understand one another.  Maybe become more tolerant of our differences. But to do this we need to have real, honest communication with each other.

We know that our rhetoric has become empty phrases devoid of personal meaning.  So let’s quit spouting the same old lines and come up with a new strategy.  I’m thinking radical here, but honesty is definitely something to shoot for.  I know that goes against the grain when talking politics, but honesty in political discourse–wouldn’t that be something?

Restraint will also need to be learned. Drop your preconceived ideas and ideology at the door.  We need to enter into these discussions with an open mind.  A very tough thing to do.  I’ll admit I have a serious bias against the religious.  I didn’t realize how closed minded I was, until fairly recently.  I’m endeavoring to change that personality flaw. Perhaps you don’t fully realize that you are unreasonably closed minded about something or someone?

Brainstormed recently w/a friend about how to accomplish this, we thought the first thing we need to try to do is teach people how to think for themselves.  A thing is no longer taught in US schools, along with civic responsibility (but that’s another blog).  Too many people do not understand the meaning of the phrase “critical thinking.”

So we need some sort of public education format, Meetup groups and the like, to provide a place for people who want to understand, an opportunity to do so.  Who would teach these classes?  Good question.

Forget the GOP.  Ignore the labels of Republican and Democrat.  Understand that liberal and conservative are opposites, not hate groups.  I’d like to see us stop labeling ourselves. African American, Hispanic, male, female, liberal, christian, conservative.  I get that it is instinctual to label and order our worlds in order to understand them.  However, this no longer seems necessary.  Can’t we all just be “people”?

Want to help build bridges to the other side?  Interested in understanding critical thinking?  Want to debate the issues in an educated way?  I want to learn how to do that. I am quite guilty of not wanting to understand opposing views, but I also know that it is unhealthy to do so.  For all of us.   Join us?

 

Well Beyond Nixon

People have mentioned the corruption in our current administration as “Nixonian” in scale.  Watergate has nothing on our growing Russiagate investigation.  In fact, Trump’s administrational misdealings, illegal activities, and lies make Nixon’s activities look like child’s play.  It’s more than just admiration of and fawning over dictators and despots like the Philippine President Duterte, Putin, Kim Jong Un (CNN-Jake Tapper).  It’s all his other great plans for our nation that takes him well beyond Nixonian.  We’re reaching Orwellian proportions here.

About the only dictators Trump hasn’t personally approved of are Hitler and Mussolini. I’m guessing he considers them both losers, since they didn’t stay in power for decades. He called Un a “smart cookie” for having his uncle killed to gain the NK throne! He’s ok with Putin and the murders he’s complicit in.  “The US isn’t innocent,” Trump said in an interview.  Is he implying our President’s have murdered people for personal gain? I think if any US president had ordered a hit on someone history would’ve revealed it by this time. He seems to feel a dictator is a more competent, stronger leader than someone merely elected by the people.  Neither of which applies in this case.

He’s complicit in Russiagate, spending all his time covering up or burying as much information as he can.  Setting up one person at a time to take the fall.  My only hope is that he takes out the wrong guy and all the republicans turn on him.

He wants to revise the Constitution!  The First Amendment in particular so he can remove the Press from its protection.  Of course he had been talking about doing this throughout his campaign.  It seems to be getting more important to him.

He wants to keep us ill!  Healthcare Bill.  His budget proves it as well.

He wants to keeps us stupid!  Have you seen anything on his new budget?  He plans to cut $11 billion from education.

Trump’s an embarrassment everywhere he goes.  Pushing people aside to be front and center.  Saying ignorant things.  Acting inappropriately. Being happily ignorant of other cultures.

And my country elected this mess.  The world is totally screwed until we impeach this beast.

OMG

Been working on finding somewhere to house my son.  We can no longer live with him and his addictions.  I feel like a traitor making phone calls to find him somewhere else to live.  What kind of monster have I become?  Our hearts are breaking today and I am unable to stop crying.  Today he is telling me he hasn’t been drinking, or it hasn’t been much.  Totally different story from just a few days ago where he admitted to drinking/using.  He clings to his mental illness like a shield against anything he can’t deal with.  And right now he can’t deal with anything.

I found most shelters are full, most cannot adequately support someone with problems like mental illness and addiction.  I think I called 20 places, but didn’t really find out anything I didn’t know before.  I did find a few places that sounded like they might be able to help, but I can’t really get any info.  Son would have to call and/or apply in person.  Something I don’t think he’s willing to do.  Not to mention I’d have to give him my phone. Do I give him my phone?  Or would he just call and beg to come home?

I called to see about getting him on Section 8 housing.  Nope.  The program is not taking new applicants.  According to their website, it hasn’t since 2012!  So financial assistance for housing is out.  Permanently, apparently.  I was quoted with the cost for detox: $5000. I can’t get him in sober housing until he’s clean.  I can’t get him to detox

Why is there no public rehab? Why don’t we help the helpless? Just as with all societies we are biased against the mentally ill and addicts.  Just like LGBTQ are finally being accepted, but we had to work for that.  We had to change the rules when we become aware enough to know that such behavior is inhumane.  It took 200 years for the whites in this country to realize the value of making men equal.  It took thousands before we grew as a nation to recognize how wrong the Straight world was wrong.  We can change. We can give people dignity despite their circumstances.  We can treat all people, well, like people.

What is wrong with this country?   I know what’s wrong with it now: we’re lead by an imbecile, but he’s only making things worse.  Not defending him, but he has not been involved in any of these governmental programs. Until now.

I just saw Elizabeth Warren talking about the Trump budget.  She only mentioned one item: cutting $11 Billion from education.  Art programs-gone.  Music-gone.  They’ve even taken away funding for Phys Ed.  No teacher training, no new teachers, no more books no more computers.  So we will continue to have a completely ignorant population.  I pay taxes to ensure proper education!  It’s tax fraud for them not to use that money appropriately!

Can you imagine what cuts will be made to public programs like Welfare, Social Security, etc.  All programs my tax money pays for!  Or is supposed to.

Impeach the fucker all ready.  We will deal with Pence later.

 

 

 

Obsessive Behavior

Son is not much improved.  It’s terrible to bring your mentally ill family member to a hospital ER.  It is not set up to handle the kind of obsession, frustration, and anger.   When Son is in this state, he does not fully comprehend what is going on.  The longer the wait the more manic and frustrated he becomes.  There are a few Urgent Care centers for mentally ill, but they are not open 24 hou.rs a day.  When Son gets like this there is no where else to turn but to the ER.

It was all I could do to keep him in the ER long enough to be seen by a doctor.  Twice he’d run outside and missed a bed.  By 3:30 Tuesday morning I had to call 911 to get the cops to corral him and keep him inside the ER.  He was extremely agitated, belligerent, and combative.  Pacing wildly, and screaming at people in gibberish.  All in all a very pleasant Tuesday morning, especially after Son locked my keys in the car and I couldn’t rouse Husband to rescue me.  I ended up walking home at 4 AM.  Luckily it wasn’t a long or unpleasant walk.

Mental illness or alcohol?  Both probably.  We just don’t know.  I was going to call to make sure they kept him 72 hours, and ask them to keep him another 2 weeks, but never had the chance.  Son called first thing in the morning begging me to pick him up.  Sounded so contrite, talking in a small voice.  Nothing I’d ever heard before.  He admitted he’d been drinking, that he has a problem.  He said he’d go to meetings and all the group stuff, and everything, if I would just bring him home.  I said I wasn’t picking him up until I talked to a doc.  That happened in less than an hour.  The doc did not feel son was danger to himself or others, and despite reiterating the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, practically threw him out.

So angry!  We had hoped the hospital would keep him at least the 72 hours.  Give us a little time to find a sober living or halfway house for him and dismantle his business.  We did clean his room, picking up dirty laundry, general straightening, hoping if it was tidy he would not come home and obsess about his business.  Stupid me, for thinking it was a nice thing to do, but he was angry and belligerent about our help.  Apparently, we ‘threw everything’ away.  I handed him the trash can and invited him to go through what we tossed out.  He said something about how he feel’s he’s lost his mom, and that I don’t care or I wouldn’t treat him like this.  He doesn’t believe me when I try to counter that claim.

He is unable to comprehend my behavior and attitude toward him, and I don’t know why.  I’m here, available, and speaking to him, yet he thinks I sound angry.  He still angry, argumentative, and just plain wrong!  He believes I am angry with him, though I have tried to explain I am angry at the obsession.  I don’t hate him, I hate the addict in him.  To him that said I don’t love him, and am not willing to help him.  He feels I don’t care that he has a mental illness.  I told him it was a diagnosis, not an excuse.  You can imagine how that went over.

He has needed round the clock watching since coming home.  He is obsessing over these damn accounts.  Important stuff, sure, but he won’t write down his passwords, and he screws up his accounts every time he has an episode like this.  He has called help lines, tried a dozen different passwords and now wants my help!  How can I do anything with his accounts if he has gotten locked out?  I explained there is nothing I can do for him without his passwords.  So now I’m a shitty mom for ‘not supporting’ him, to hear him tell it.

And he’s not able to use his iPad since he somehow ruined the plug in and can no longer plug it to a charging cord.   He has a big expensive gaming computer that he barely knows how to operate, but he can’t obsess about learning how to move around on that.  Instead, he is using his dad’s iPad to sign into his accounts.  He keeps asking for his dad’s passwords.  When I asked why, he said he needed them to get into his email.  I don’t know what he is thinking.

He is putting words in my mouth, twisting what I say, and in general is just being a big dick.  He can’t seem to understand anything that is said to him, as it does nothing to change his behavior.  He is practically inconsolable in thinking I hate him and that hurts more than he could ever know.  Nothing I say comforts him or reassures him.  I don’t know what else to do.

He is driving me absolutely mad!  Where is the ‘throwing up your hands in surrender’ emoji?

Drug Abuse & Brain Damage

Right now I hope my son is using something, because if he isn’t, he has permanent brain damage that may require hospitalization or institutionalization. I’m scared.  He has spells of normal behavior then suddenly he turns into this psycho who cannot articulate what he means to say–he uses the wrong words.  Nouns elude him.  He also gets obsessive and damn near impossible to communicate with.

He got lost coming home from his ex’s the other night.  She lives just one town over, about a 25 minute drive on surface streets.  She has lived at this location for five years.  The other night he ended up on the freeway going north into South Los Angeles.  A fairly unsafe place for a confused long-haired white guy.  It took 10 minutes of talking with him to get him headed in the right direction.  Stay on This Road, I told him, and it will bring him home.  5 minutes later he calls back.  He’s lost again.  Husband figures out where Son is and tells him to wait, that he will come lead him home.  Another 15 minutes and he calls, they’ll be home in just a minute, Son was right behind him, and they were 2 blocks away.  Unbelievably Son called about 10 minutes later.  Now he is headed south on a different freeway some 35 miles from home!

When he get’s home, it’s not much better.  He’s in and out of the house.  Front yard, back yard.  He comes into our room looking for various items, usually something that we would not have in our room, like the car.  He won’t go to his room, he won’t lie down.  He returns to our room repeatedly, goes into the bathroom 4-5 times in an hour.  He took two showers.  One less than an hour after the first.

It’s like having an extremely mobile 3 year old.  So afraid thinking about him driving on the freeway, probably speeding, considering how far he got from home in just a few minutes.  How am I supposed to deal with that?  What is that?  What is happening?  He gets single-minded and resolved to a particular action and seems unable to stop.  He listens, but he doesn’t hear.  He speaks, but he makes little sense most of the time.

Here is a sample of some things he said today:

“If I want to pick a fruit, just let me pick a fruit.”

“I’ve got to go to Armstrong’s (a gardening store) to get a thing, a, a, a, rope for my my my, the, that, my couch.”  He  meant he needed to go to Best Buy for a new charging cord for his iPad.

“It won’t work and no one will help me.”  This about his iPad, which isn’t the problem so much as he can’t sign in to any of his accounts, his passwords no longer work.  This happens each time he has one of these episodes.  I cannot do this any longer.  Husband can no longer handle this.

“You guys do so much for me, too much.  But I need help and you’re not helping.  All you do is yell at me.  And I’m not allowed to be to be upset or get mad.”  At times his anger feels like a physical presence and I am acutely sensitive to it.

One doc diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder.  A scary mix of schizophrenic and bi-polar symptoms.  He fits some of those guidelines.  I also came across something called semantic dementia.  A truly horrifying illness with a limited lifespan.  He fits some of that criteria as well.  The only information I really find on these illnesses is a description of symptoms and prognosis, or I end up on some rehab site that tells me nothing except ‘drugs bad’.

I have an appointment to see my therapist with Son tomorrow afternoon.  I need someone I trust to give me an opinion as to what is going on.  I think he needs to be hospitalized, properly diagnosed and treated before returning home.  Except that won’t happen because there are too many mentally ill or addicted individuals in the area.  There are not enough facilities for all the mentally ill.  Not enough beds, nurses, doctors. The help is not free, does not take most insurance.  What are poor addicts supposed to do then?  What options do we provide them?  None.  What help do we provide to the families of those with serious mental health issues?  None.

None.  And with the new Trump NonCare it will only get worse for people like us: Sad losers (to use Trump’s words) who never caught a break in life.  How can people not understand the allure of suicide?