On The Realities of Being Poor

I’ve been reading lately:

  • The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, 19 March 2014 – “Do Federal Social Programs Work?”, by David B. Mulhausen, PhD
  • The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, 15 September 2015 – “Poverty and the Social Welfare State in the United States and Other Nations,” by Robert Rector
  • Center for American Progress – “The Facts About Americans Who Receive Public Benefits,” by Joy Moses, December 2011.
  • UC Davis Poverty Research Center -“How To Reduce Poverty in the United States”

Poverty, as we all know, is a deep seated problem with no easy answers. The four articles noted above contradict each other on several issues, so it is not surprising that solving the problem is so difficult.

The March 2014 Backgrounder, for example states, “The American Public should have nothing to fear from the elimination of ineffective programs. Now is the time for deep budget cuts in federal social programs.” Some of the programs it suggests terminating include Head Start, which after detailed evaluation found that the program failed to improve the lives of the children, any more than the children who did not attend.  I’d have to agree, the Head Start program may have outlived its usefulness now that nearly all children attend a pre-school for at least a year before starting kindergarten. So, how much is actually spent on Head Start? According to one source: $7 billion.

Other programs the March 2014 article suggests are ineffective are:

  • Food Stamps (SNAP), which “failed to affect earnings and employment outcomes.” Sorry, what? This makes no sense. Were food stamps meant to increase the recipients earnings or employment? Yeah, I didn’t think so. It is a program to ensure better health through nutrition. So I deny that this is a failed or ineffective program based on the faulty testing criteria.
  • Moving to Opportunity (Section 8 housing) was also found to have failed “to produce statistically meaningful results” for the recipients.  This article does not explain the criteria used, but you can go here for more info. I suggest that part of the failure of this program is due to lack of participation of landlords. Applications for the program have actually been suspended for the past 10+ years (at least in Los Angeles), due to the long waiting list and short list of landlords, as well as the limited range; housing is not even offered in most of the surrounding cities. There must be some incentive provided to landlords to participate in the program, and currently there does not appear to be any.
  • The Job Corps program studies show that participants worked fewer hours and received less pay than the control group. I posit this is due to the dearth of opportunities in areas served; i.e., learn all the skills you want, if there is only a job at McDonalds, you will not make more money.  The program isn’t failing, we are. Yes, the program is ineffective, because it doesn’t solve the problem of job availability. Again, we need to provide incentive for businesses to locate in poor communities. Not an easy fix, so I guess it’s easier to just say it doesn’t work and trash it, than say it doesn’t work because it is flawed but could be improved.

The September 2015 Backgrounder discusses the living standards of those people considered poor. The US census (from which most financial data is taken) does not provide an indicator of those who may be using federal aid.  I should think that might skew the numbers, no? One of the criteria for determining poverty (other than income) include whether or not they have air conditioning. Most modern buildings have central heating and cooling.  While I might use my power for heating, I’m less likely to use the A/C because of the cost. So, just because A/C is available to me doesn’t mean I use it. And who says A/C is a luxury? Sure in 1945 it was, but today?

Nearly 75% of those defined as poor have at least one car. Again, who decided that a car was still considered a luxury item. The survey asks “do you have a vehicle.” It does not ask for the age or condition of it.  Two-thirds of the poor have a computer with internet access. Again, not really a luxury item either, now that so much of our lives need that access, especially when it comes to education. They have cable/satellite playing on a wide screen modern TV.  TV is again, not a luxury item. What the survey does not ask is “did you buy the TV or gaming system?” It might be a gift from a friend or relative. All I’m saying is that statistics don’t tell much of the story. Data can be skewed. Information omitted.bad wires

In the end, I know not all our systems work, and some should be dismantled, but others could be streamlined and improved. With each change we make to a system, it is only a patch. Now imagine that as an electrical system? Patch upon patch, always adding a new wire. I’d say it’s a reasonable assumption that this is why our government has become too large, too cumbersome, and too expensive.

And we never really fix the problem because of partisanship. Neither side will let the other side get exactly what they want. When did Party become more important than the People? (Much more on that later.)

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?

Grammar and Vocabulary

I try very hard not to be a “Grammar Nazi” when reading Facebook and similar things on the internet.  As to Facebook I realize not every writer has the education level, or for whom English is a second language.  As for the grammar used in posts on Yahoo and Google, that’s another matter.

These two entities like to provide news stories that after reading them I’m not sure what the article was about.  Was the writer pro or con on this issue?  I hoped the bad English would eventually be weeded out, but I decided I would just stick to the more reliable information sites:  CNN, Al Jazeera, Politico, Huffington Post, etc.

Now with Trump in power we can kiss our vocabulary and grammar good-bye.  Just like we have to accept “alternate facts” as real.  Now our anti-bullying campaign is a complete waste of time, money and effort, since our Commandeer-In-Chief has the diplomacy of a 6th year old playground bully.

I read an excellent, though dated, article  from Politico on Trump’s vocabulary, and it got me thinking: just how many words does Donnie have in his repertoire?  So I did a little more looking and found another, more recent, article from the Washington Post.  But no one actually counted the words Donnie uses.  Excluding articles (I, me, he, she, them, from, to, an, and, etc.) I decided to put together a list of his most frequently used words:

big, huge, bigly, biggest, best, worst, sad, bad, stupid, weak, lousy, horrible, deal, good, terrible, loser, hater, moron, dumb, smart (only when referring to himself), tough, dangerous, worse, lies, fake news, media, amazing, tremendous, terrific, zero, out of control (OK, I know it’s a phrase), beautiful, classy.

That’s just a taste.  Now, try to read the transcript of one of his speeches:

“Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”

Help Us Diagram This Sentence by Donald Trump! This is probably the world’s longest run-on sentence ever! Nineteen lines and the man didn’t even say anything!

Our world is in chaos and we are being lead by an ignorant beast!  We need to find a child therapist to help us interpret and clarify what he says, not Sean Spicer, who speaks nearly as well as Trump.  But given the material he has to work with, I guess he does pretty well.

Please help us or we are doomed!  We Stand

This Was Bad

It happened again.  We saw it coming and had no way to stop it.  How have we not learned how to curb Son when he goes manic.  This time was so frightening.  I’m not sure he’s going to fully recover.  I think it’s because of his benzodiazepine addiction of a few years ago.  Which he still has, apparently.

Things had been going so well.  The four of us were getting along better than we had been in years.  I was getting out and doing my own thing and feeling good.  I should’ve known it wouldn’t last.  Damn that optimism!  Son had been in a great mood for weeks, his business was doing very well.  He’d started some cannabis seeds and his plants were looking good.  He was staying up late; 2 and 3 AM.  But he didn’t seem bothered by it.   This went on for three days or so.   Then on Wednesday he started acting odd.  Muttering, shuffling, off balance.  Mostly confused.

This we recognize and we do as we had agreed, that if Son started acting drunk or sleep walking we were to give him an extra 1/2 dose of Seraquil.  He stayed up very late and was agitated, bumping into things, dropping things.  We sat and talked for a while, but he was pretty incoherent.  He asked the same questions: what’s going on, I don’t understand what’s happening,  why is this happening.  Then he’d ask what day it was or what time.  He was always surprised by my answer.  He began to hallucinate.  I started to record him, but had to put the camera down while I cleaned up the mess he made urinating in the middle of his room.  By then he was calmer and sat down on the couch, where he finally fell asleep.  I went to bed about 4 AM.

Next morning he seems better.  He gets up, talks with his dad and has some coffee.  But later in the day he started acting weird again.  Still, he wasn’t as bad as the previous day, so maybe he was still getting better.  But that’s not how it played out and we spent Friday night in the ER.  He admitted himself and I went home.  Husband is picking him up as I write.  Don’t know what good it did for him to just stay the night.

Still, I spoke with his caseworker and she was probably the most helpful one by far.  It’s been a different person every time he’s been in hospital.  She told me she didn’t any reason Son wouldn’t qualify for disability.   She told me to call my local SS office.  They’ll send paperwork which Son takes to his doctor.  We have an appointment with a psychologist in two weeks.  We make an appointment with the SS office and meet with their counselor.  Then in about two months he should have an answer.

I’d never heard of this, but the caseworker said she’d been doing this for 10 years and she’s rarely heard of anyone in Son’s condition be denied disability benefits.  I hate the idea of him being permanently disabled, but if he had these benefits, he wouldn’t have to work so hard out of our living room.  Plus he would then qualify for Medicare, which is much better coverage than Medi-Cal.  That’s the most important thing.

I was so angry when I tried again, in vain, to find help.   All I got was recorded messages telling me to call another number.  I called a dozen phone numbers for an hour and in the end had no where to go but the ER.  Where I had to sit and keep him calm for 6 hours, because you know they won’t give you any drugs until all the tests come back and you see the doc.  Once Son was medically cleared he finally was seen by a caseworker.

Son kept asking us if he took something or if we gave him something.  He also asked what we found in his room.  Did we take something from his room.  So we checked out his room.  A small bottle of a type Benzo in powder form.  He and his dad just came back and I told him we found it.  Now he is angry and wants it back.  He wants people to leave him be, that he’s better when he’s on them.

It’s going to be a long, long two weeks before he meets with the psychologist.  Maybe I can get him into the psychiatrist sooner.

Sometimes life just fucks you.

 

Doctors

Doctor #1

Saw my neuro this week.  She doesn’t think I have MS.  Just because certain diagnostic tests don’t show the expected results, my flares have been documented.  I had one flare that lasted 6 months.  I was treated with the standard MS flare meds by IV for three days, every month for three months.  If that wasn’t MS, tell me what is, doc.

Yet she continues to treat me, because my diagnosis came from UCLA, which has a specialized MS program.  Still she has me coming in every six months.  When she asks me about new symptoms, she dismisses them as not MS-related, and therefore not her problem. I guess if I’m not blind or in a wheelchair, I’m not worth her time.   She will be replaced.  I can see someone else in that office.  Why did it take three days for me to realize this?  Why didn’t I say something to the Doc?

Doctor #2

I’ve been having an eye problem where it felt like my eyelids were sticking to my eye balls. This has been going on for a few months, and wasn’t getting better, but not a real big deal, eye drops seem to work. So brought it up to my GP.  So she looked a little more closely at my eyes, and had me read the eye chart. I’m really shocked. If you measure by number of lines of the chart, my vision has consistently been only one line apart; my right eye is a tad better than the left, which has an astigmatism. This time it’s 4 lines! I can only read the second line of print with my left eye. I’m a little concerned and say as much to my GP and she gets me a rush referral to the Ophthalmologist.  I really like her.  I want her for my new GP, my old one is moving.

Doctor #3

I couldn’t get into the Optho until mid-March, so they referred me to another office.  I call and get an appointment for the next morning!  Wow, cool.  The doc examines my eyes, pretty much a routine exam, I read the eye chart, he dilated my eyes. He seems thorough. He tells me that I have an issue with glands in my eyelids not working.  I never knew there was anything except lashes on my lids.  These glands are supposed to secrete oils necessary to keeping eyes naturally moist.  He gives me a script for Restasis, and gives me a list of three more eyedrops I’m to use everyday for the rest of my life.  Four different types of drops, basically I’m to put drops in my eyes about every two hours.  Ok, it’s inconvenient, but not really something I can’t adapt to.

That’s when I ask him, “What about the sudden decrease in the visual acuity in my left eye?”  He shrugs, looks at my chart and sees I got new a prescription in my glasses Nov. 2015, so I should wait till this November, when my insurance OK’s new glasses.  I’m not really thrilled, but I figure he’s the doc, I trust that it’s not a big deal.  I go home.

Then yesterday, I’m updating my calendar and find the doctor’s card, which I just grabbed and put it in my pocket as I left.  I only read his name, not his title.  This time I read the title.  He’s an optometrist.  I had a referral specifically for the ophthalmologist. When I made the appointment, I assumed since they knew I couldn’t see the ophthalmologist in my office until March, that I would be seeing theirs.  I could have seen our optometrist, who I’ve been to before.

It’s been two weeks using all the eyedrops and my vision in that eye seems to be getting worse. My vision seems blurry, colors seem to merge and shift?  Can’t describe it. Suddenly I can’t properly identify a certain size or shaped or colored object until I am two feet away. This is not normal for me.  I’m worried this is not the dry eye issue, this might be the Fuchs Dystrophy I was told I had 20 years ago.  It’s a slowly progressing problem in the cornea.  When it gets bad enough the only option is transplant, but that’s still years away for me.  I hope. (Hmmm.  How likely is it that Medicare will pay for that by the time I need it?)

Then I talk to my brother, who I haven’t seen in 25 years and he mentions one of my sisters.  Says shes going blind.  Now I’m worried again.  I haven’t spoken to A in 25 years either, but I’m going to have to talk to her.  I think since my referral is good for two visits, I’ll just keep the appointment in March with the ophthalmologist.

What the hell is wrong with me that I don’t notice these things?  I used to be so thorough.   But I never asked the office what type of doctor I was seeing, something I once would have made sure of.  I used to speak up for myself, and I honestly don’t know when that disappeared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s About all I can Take

I’ve been limiting my time on FB, WP, and various news sites to about 2 hours a day.  Even that’s too long.  I am so frustrated and fried.  There’s just so much wrong with our new administration (I will not call him “President.”  Ever.) it’s nearly impossible to keep up.  It feels like we’re pissing on a grass fire.  We’re the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke.  We’re scattered and self-absorbed.

And we know the risks of being complacent.  That’s what got the US here in the first place.  Too much of the same old same old.  Too great a distance between the haves and the Have Nones.

I know we need to work on the GOP, not the Democrats on Dump.  The Dems are already appalled and frightened, and scrambling to do something, anything, to stop the flood of stupidity and immorality being spewed from the mouth of our (EC-) elected POS.  So, I keep asking myself, how do we do this?  How do you convert a Christian to Islam?  Can you rehabilitate a KKK member?  I know these things have been done.  Maybe not often, but it is not unheard of.  But what I can’t figure out is the “how” of it.

I’ve joined the Indivisible movement.  I’m also involved with the Resist movement.  Just two of probably thousands of little pockets of resistance.   We all have the same goal: impeachment.  Easy fix: take Dump out.  Sniper style.  But I don’t want anyone going to prison.  And really, it’s not a complete answer, because of, well, you know.  Pence.  And Bannon, Priebus, Ryan and McConnell, to name the most egregious members of our political heads.

I ponder these problems every night and wake up wondering what new horror Dump and his crew have devised.  I sign the petitions going around.  I’m writing to my reps.  I can see the Resistance is growing, but how long can we sustain it?  We all know about burn out.  I’ve only been moderately active and I need a script for Xanax, just to keep me from biting the heads off the people near me.

Am I just impatient?  Just hoping for a quick fix?  I know that quick is not how things change.  Just like dieting.  You want to lose 30 pounds so you join Jenny Craig or some such.  Spend your money and buy their food.  After you lose the 30 pounds and feel great, you go back to eating just the way you did before.  Soon you need to lose 40 pounds.

You have to change your way of thinking to become successful in controlling your weight. We must change people’s thinking, and that, my friends, will take a very long time.  Do we have the stamina?  The anti-Trump faction seems much larger than the pro side.  It would seem, then, that we have the numbers to sustain a movement.  Our leadership is increasing: a few Senators and Congressmen are growing balls.  Robert Reich is a leader, and Elizabeth Warren as well.  Bernie Sanders is still relevant.

I’m committed for the long-haul, provided I don’t burn out.  Join me?

Here are some links for additional information on the movements and how they will accomplish their goals.

Can we sustain the anti-Trump movement?

Emily’s List

Change will require more than protests

 

An Open Letter to Trump supporters

Dear Trump Fan

You must understand that the anti-Trump group is not simply upset that there are questions as to foreign manipulation in our election process.  It’s not simply that my preferred candidate did not win.  It’s not because most Trump supporters are Obama haters.  It’s because the man is simply UNFIT.

He lacks the knowledge of how to govern.  You might say, yeah, it’s one of the things you like about it.  But knowing how to govern involves understanding others’ points of view.  If I read a book, or several books, about government and how to be effective doesn’t mean I know how to govern.  But I would have a leg up on Trump.

He lacks the diplomacy that is required when dealing with foreign dignitaries.  Sure, you say, he knows plenty of foreign big wigs.  Yes, but those big wigs only deal with Trump on business.  They may respect that, they may not.  It could be they just put up with his lack of grace and humility because he is making them money.  Well, the government is NOT a business, and probably shouldn’t be run like one.  Businesses look at the bottom line, profit and loss.  A country doesn’t profit from its people, but is supported by them via taxes.

To be an effective leader, one must have empathy for the other guys.  Something Trump certainly appears to lack.  In fact, I’m not even sure Trump can define ’empathy’.  Nor can many of his supporters.

One must have compassion for ALL citizens, not just those who agree with you.  Belittling other groups is counterproductive, and makes one look small and childish.  Very un-Presidential.  Disrespectful.  Something Trump seems not to understand.  Respect is earned, and treating others disrespectfully diminishes one’s chance at being respected.

I don’t believe our President should be tweeting criticisms about TV shows, or people who disagree with him.  My President has more important things to do.  My President barely sleeps, has no time to watch TV, let alone have twitter wars.  It diminishes respect for My President in the eyes of other countries, which reflects badly on me.

For a democracy to work, it cannot be run like a dictatorship.  The American people will not yield their rights to a dictator.  Perhaps Trump and his supporters don’t know what a dictator is.  Well, it is exactly what Trump proposes with his refusal to meet with certain members of the press.  The elected leader of this country is bound by the Constitution to allow Freedom of the Press.  There are plenty of Trump supporters who know the Second Amendment very well, but many seem to be ignorant of the rest.

I won’t even go into the lies.  I don’t expect politicians to tell the truth, but I do expect them to own up to their ‘misstatements’ and offer a clarification, or an apology.  And an apology is not “I’m sorry you got mad at me when I called you stupid.”  It is “I’m sorry I called you stupid.  That was untrue and unkind.”

Yeah, your candidate won.  And since no charges are forthcoming from those who claim voter fraud or foreign influence, etc., I’ll go so far as to say he won legitimately.  That still does NOT mean he is a suitable representative of me, or people who think like me.  He can’t legislate people away.  He can’t ignore the majority, not for long, anyway.  One group of people does not have more privileges than another.  At least they shouldn’t.  Trump and his supporters seem to think it’s ok to ignore the rest of us.  The British didn’t take the resistance seriously either.  You do know how that ended, right?