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.

 

 

 

I Blew It

It is so easy to have an Us/Them mentality.  Us good.  Them Bad.  Us smart, Them dumb. Us openminded, Them not.  Us arrogant!  I’m past 50 now and have obtained a tiny amount of wisdom.  Unfortunately, that newfound wisdom doesn’t undo all the stupid, insensitive, arrogant and closed minded things I have done.  It doesn’t mean I won’t still do these things, but being aware has made this far less likely.

I attended the “Coffee and Conversation” with my Long Beach rep the other morning. The room was a small, but full, and there were plenty of people standing.  We even had the added treat of having a few Trumpsters attend as well.  One woman stood up,her hands and voice shaking, to protest the fact we are giving minors poison that will give them cancer.  Turns out she’s talking about the Pill and wants to defund Planned Parenthood. I must say we were not very kind, and simply told to her please shut up and/or leave.

I blew it.  This woman was waiting outside and stopped people as they passed.  I blew it. I should’ve taken that chance to speak with her.  I lost the opportunity to listen to her.  She was moved to show up at this event, we should respect her resolve, and her opinion, no matter how misguided.  She feels this is an important issue and we are wrong to dismiss it this way.  This would’ve been an opportunity to understand her side, find the common ground of caring for the next generation, while calmly explaining to her the realities of withholding birth control of any kind to anyone.  I’m ashamed of my knee jerk reaction and anger.  Now that I am aware of the opportunity, will I take it in the future?  I plan to.

We must all learn to control our angry reactions to Trump and his supporters.  Avoid dehumanizing the Trumpsters.  Once a group becomes ‘less than human’, the chance of violence increases.  Trumpsters are not the enemy.  Not directly.  Sure they may have voted for the egomaniacal wizard in the orange wig, but many are uneducated, mostly unaware, and were misled and lied to.  If we shut them down when they show up at rallys and meetings, we will never make any progress.  We must include these people in the discussion.  We need to help them understand they’ve been lied to.

The American Revolution didn’t start overnight.  It came after years of anger and not until the majority of the population felt pinched did the war begin.  Armed revolution will come to the US and it won’t take 10 years.  If TrumpCare passes the Senate as is (which is unlikely), people will begin to really feel the impact of Trump personally. The GOP will continue to cut these benefits and deny them outright to more and more people.  When people are barely surviving or dying because of lack of services like Welfare, Food Stamps, Disability, Medicare, they will stand up.  The tighter one is squeezed, the less one has to lose.  It’s as simple as that.

We have the chance to ensure that we avoid violence by choosing conversation rather than confrontation.  Let’s take it next time.  I will.

Health Care

cropped-cropped-we-stand1.jpgOK, we all know what’s at stake here with the new Trump NonCare.  They ‘guarantee’ everyone will ‘have access’ to health care.  “Access” to healthcare insurance is not the same as “having health care.”   The GOP cannot be ignorant of what they propose; these changes will hurt more people than it helps, especially with the MacArthur Amendment, which will let states obtain waivers that will allow health insurance companies in that state to:

  • Not cover mental health and substance use treatment (also known as letting insurers scrap “essential health benefits”)
  • Charge people with mental illness more

Many addicts are self-medicating because back when Oxycodone was being pushed by every doctor on the planet, some poor guy who has been taking this stuff for 8 years, suddenly he’s cut off because of new regulations.  These new regulations only made criminals out of people who are/were ill or hurting.  They can’t get a drug strong enough for the pain.  Of course not.  Oxycodone is strong and the guy’s got an immunity.  But the doc will only give him tylenol.

It’s hard enough for people with mental illness to get through life.  I’d guess more than 60% of all addicts have an underlying, undiagnosed mental health problem.  Mainly because GPs are not skilled in identifying mental illness.  They are also not trained in the best course of treatment for an addict.

So our poor addict is in  withdrawal and extreme pain.  He goes to the ER hoping for pain relief.  For 6 1/2 hours this poor addict lays on an uncomfortable, too small bed in a 60 degree room as he begins to withdraw.  When he finally sees a doctor, they view him as an addict and therefore will not provide him with anything stronger than tylenol for the pain.

What’s a guy to do?  He goes online where he can get anything from anywhere at any price at any time.  He finds a supply of his drug and finds relief at last.  But now he is using an illegal substance.  He doesn’t know how to figure out the proper dosage because the stuff comes in powder form and he has to fill his own capsules.  One day he takes too much and doesn’t know, he gets in his car and gets arrested.  Now he’s a criminal.  His boss finds out and he loses his job–no one wants a druggy working for them.  His wife leaves him, and he ends up homeless.  Now he’s “in the system.”  Now he needs a homeless shelter, Welfare, Food Stamps, job training.  Now he is trapped.

Why do we go to the ER for an addict?  Because we don’t have anywhere else to go, it’s not like there is an urgent care specific to addicts and the mentally ill.  Someone on Medi-Cal (and many other government programs) is extremely limited in their choice of doctors.  Finding a mental health provider is pretty hard when there are only two psychiatrists in your area and neither will take on a new patient.  Or worse, you find one and they turn out to be a quack.

You can’t get your adult child into a half-way house or outpatient therapy because he’s still using. You can’t get him detoxed because there is a wait list a year long.  I say that again for emphasis:  a waiting list a year long!  I guess you just let the addict in your life continue to use for another year in the hope that at the end of that year they will still be willing to enter detox.   ER staff do not understand addicts or recognize someone who is mentally ill.  They aren’t trained to.   That needs to change.  I know medical staff are always getting additional training and there is no reason that can’t include a crash course on the most likely cases they’d come in contact with.

 

Our healthcare system is very good at making us addicts, but really really bad at providing good complete healthcare.  I guess if the new health care bill passes with mental health provisions slashed it just makes our national insurance (DumpCare) as bad as our national insurance (Medicare).  Which begs the question: why are there three national programs: One for Congress, one for the poor or retired (which is often the same), and one for the rest of us.

I feel so defeated by this administration, but I’m not giving in.  I have to believe that the protests work.  They certainly get Dumpty’s attention.  He demanded there be a “probe” into the Tax March.  How do you probe a protest?  And the idea that protesters are being paid by Obama to undermine the new administration.  I don’t have to tell you how ridiculous and paranoid that sounds.  And as for protesters being paid. I’m thinking someone owes me money.  What is the going rate for a protester?  Is it by the hour, by the day, specific to the event.  Are travel expenses covered?  If so, I’m going to the next march in DC.

Don’t forget to call your rep and tell them to vote No on the new plan.