The ACA vs ACHA

Health insurers have taken advantage of the populace and raised their rates as soon as the ACA passed. That’s the biggest problem with healthcare in the US: insurance companies. Greedy insurance companies. Worried only about the bottom line and how much their investors will profit. Denying people medical care that would save them, things like heart and liver transplants, experimental treatments, and the elderly in understaffed, underfunded nursing homes. Sending home the 70 year old woman who just had a massive stroke. She gets 6 weeks of rehab same as everyone else. It’s unfortunate that she hasn’t improved. She’s had her six weeks. She’s out. Same for the mentally ill or addicts. The insurance company decides whether or not you are well enough to be discharged, regardless of your doctors’ recommendations. Who gave insurers this kind of power?

The GOP and insurers do not care a whit for the people they supposedly work for. Our millionaire senators don’t care if I receive life-saving treatment or not. If it costs too much for the insurance company, I won’t get it, unless I can pay for it myself. According to the GOP that is how America works; you have a choice to pay for your treatment without the benefit of insurance funds. If you decide you cannot afford the treatment, it is your right not to take the treatment. It is your right to decide if the premium too expensive. I’ve read that reps of the GOP have actually said it will be your choice to pay for health insurance or rent, car insurance, credit card bills, food. A choice. Yeah, a choice between the frying pan and the fire.

Our elected officials have the best care, with no cost to themselves. What do they care about the rest of the US. They have insurance and it’s paid for by our government! Yet they do not want the blind lady to get her Medicaid.

Let the people become millionaires and the problem will disappear. Oh, people need a hand up to become millionaires? You mean they are not smart enough? Because, you see, they live in a poor area, where the schools have no books, no wipe boards, no art, no sports, no music. When the student test scores were poor, government funds have been withheld. Does that make complete non-sense? Instead of supplying the most underperforming schools with more funds, they received less. A punishment for the students’ poor test scores. Those scores have nothing to do with the lack of educational material. Or so it would seem.

They should go to college, says the GOP. Like they did. On their daddy’s dime. People born into money (even middle class money) have no idea what it is like to live in the Projects. Because of no funding most students do not have enough of a basic education to even attempt college. If they somehow managed to graduate high school, college just costs too much. They then have a choice, go deep into debt, paying usury interest rates, for the education they know will help them move up in the world. With a business degree in hand they go looking for that job, that career that will line their pockets with gold. What’s that? There are no jobs in the area where they can use that degree. So they take a job at movie theaters, coffee houses, and fast food places.

Yet, our government representatives somehow deserve special treatment. Like they are better than the rest of us. They do only one thing, but they do it brilliantly: helping the poor stay poor and the sick get sicker. That is how it works. Pay someone a low wage, he lives in a bad neighborhood, crowded and dirty. People are prone to be sick. He has many doctor visits, lots of expensive medicine, he can’t afford, so he stays sick. The employee misses many days due to illness and gets fired. He collects unemployment, applies for food stamps and Welfare, while he searches for another job.  Now he is on the government’s dime. Completely. If he had only lived in a clean neighborhood he’d still be working, probably even get a raise. He might even make enough repairs to his old house. You see how it works?

As long as the senator is completely, 100% covered for the $7,000 worth of dental work he needs, getting the right amount of tail on the side, winning over a plump lobbyist. Meanwhile, poor students must learn to live in bad neighborhoods. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a 350 square foot studio that had been so dirty for so long there was no getting it clean again. A place destined for Repurposing and Beautification, as the entire neighborhood undergoes massive evictions, and trendy shops and restaurants replace your cheap, dingy, little apartment close to work. And don’t forget the bad teeth, caused by poor nutrition and lack of affordable dental care.

The way I see it, the only way to fix the ACA and get the GOP working on something else, is give every American the same insurance as the senators. Better yet, give the senators the same insurance they want every American to accept.

 

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.

December Blog for Peace

This is the last challenge for the year.  I haven’t been consistent, but I will try to do better next year.  This month we are to have a Imageparty; invite people past and present.

My invitation list would look something like this:

John Lennon, Bob Marley, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, the Buddha, Kurt Vonnegut, Einstein, Neil De Grasse Tyson, Isaac Asimov, Gloria Steinem to name a few off the top of my head.  I’d invite the local homeless and poor.  I might also invite some of the war mongers to try and get them to understand peace.  People like George W Bush, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeni, and a selection of GOP congressmen.

The perfect place to hold a Peace party would be People’s Park in San Francisco.  It would be cold this time of year, but we could have those big event tents and gas heaters, and strings of holiday lights.  John Lennon and Yoko Ono would speak of their work for peace, Einstein would tell jokes, MLK and Gloria Steinem will remind us of the work yet to be done.

Music would be provided by John Lennon, with his sons, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Dave Matthews Band, and local children’s choirs.  Additional entertainment would be provided by a doggy holiday parade, and trick dog acts.  (Who can’t help but smile at dogs?)

I would have a gift giving portion of the party, though all the gifts would go to the poor and the homeless, especially children.

Food would be simple, homey and (mostly) healthy stuff.  Not the fru fru stuff of most big fetes.  I would serve roast turkey, fried chicken meatloaf, potatoes and gravy, freshly baked bread, fresh vegetables from local organic markets.  Deserts would also be simple: chocolate cake, pineapple upside down cake, angle-food cake, and fresh berries and cream.  I think serving such simple fare would enhance the feeling of peace, in that we can all recall Mom or Grandma making the same.  We all love comfort foods.  I believe comfortable people are more peaceful people.

Not the type of party many would give, but I’m a simple person.

 

For more info on Blogging 4 Peace go to:  http://everydaygurus.com/2013/12/02/monthly-peace-challenge-party-on-garth/

Thanks Mitt, I Feel Better Now

Mitt Romney says Middle Class income in $250K.  That’s the bottom line.  The top end of Middle Class is $2 mil.  I guess that makes me poor.  Some people claim middle class is more ephemeral and less tied to a number.  I think that’s bullshit.  It’s all about income.  No matter how hard I work I will never make more than $75,000 per year.  My top salary was in 2011, when I topped out at $63,500.  Then I had to retire due to stress, overwork and disability. 

Our income now is roughly $50,000, and includes my husband’s wages and my disability insurance payments.  When husband retires that number will drop, not significantly, but it will drop, never to increase again.  Husband plans to retire next year at age 62.  He’ll clear out his 401K to pay off our credit cards and then theoretically we should be able to survive.  Though he won’t be able to receive Medicare until 65, which leaves him uncovered by insurance for three years.  Which leaves him with a big decision.  Keep working another three years, or take a chance and try to manage paying for his meds without prescription coverage.  I’m not sure what some of his meds cost.  Right now they all have a copay between $10-$15.

I had hoped to stay retired due to my disability.  Unfortunately, at 51 I am finding it hard to do.  FIrst, I’ve been denied Federal DI, they say I’m not disabled at all.  I submitted a request for a hearing to try to change their mind, but there will be a huge gap in money between the end of state DI and my hearing, which would be about 18 months long.  I did discover that state DI does have the ability to request an extension of benefits, and I have submitted that request.  I don’t know if they will give it to me, or if they do, how many more months of DI I would get.  In the meantime, my DI is supposed to end December 2012.  I don’t know how long it takes them to make a determination regarding extending my payments.

So, in the end, I am trying to go back to work.  Probably for at least ten more years.  How much money I make is determined by my level of disability, which, although the feds say is nonexistent, causes me many issues in working.  Namely, my fatigue and mental capabilities.  The fatigue is usually the number one reason someone with MS can no longer work.  For me it’s secondary, but the commute time from here on out has to be less than a half hour, or I won’t be able to do it.  I didn’t even know how tired I was until I quit working.  Not being able to drive more than an hour, I effectively take myself out of 75% of the jobs, plus local jobs just don’t command $65,000 salaries.   So I’m hoping to make at least $50,000 and am finding salaries more near the $30,000 a year!

So I find out Mitt Romney considers me poor.  It’s the only thing I agree with Romney on.  I guess it’s ok to be poor, but the idea that all poor people choose to be poor through lack of discipline or simple laziness is offensive to say the least.  I have worked hard all my life, and at one time I’m pretty sure we were Middle Class.  My parents were Middle Class and all of my friends growing up.  Being confronted with suddenly finding out you’re actually poor makes a lot of sense.  No wonder I’m not getting anywhere.  I don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree and neither does husband.  I tried night school for more than 10 years and all I have to show for it is an AA (really I’m one math class shy, but who cares and AA doesn’t count for anything.  Mitt and people like him would say I didn’t try hard enough, I should have stuck it out and gotten the BA.  In what? Teaching English?  Sure go to school another ten years, finally obtain a Bachelors only to find out all I can do with that degree is be a secretary or a teacher, neither of whom get paid that great, but it is comparable.  Maybe I have too narrow a viewpoint, and I could’ve done better had I stayed with night school.  With a full time job, and MS, it’s a daunting task, and one I can no longer push myself to do.

In a nutshell, I’m poor and nearing the end of my usable worklife.  The only way to go is down.  The only thing to do will be apply for Medicare and food stamps when the need arrises.  Oh, wait, if Romney wins, he’ll do away with all government funded programs.  Without food stamps we will slowly starve, but who cares, right?  It’s just the death of another dream.  The quiet deaths of two old people no longer productive in society and no longer valued as vital human beings.

Thanks Mitt, I feel so much better now that I know for sure that I am poor and will always remain so.  Being knocked out of Middle Class has been a brutal blow, but not as brutal as those to come if I don’t find myself a decent job.  While Mitt says Obama hasn’t done enough to create jobs, he doesn’t mention that he could create any, and since he feels I’m part of the disposable 47% who really cares?  Certainly not the Republicans.

A (Relatively) Short Political Rant

I saw this post on another blog, and it just made me angry enough to try to pen a response.

“I might just have to move there to get away from Obama if he’s re-elected. We’re praying he won’t be. He’s bad news!”

All I could think was, “There’s another one of Romney’s followers who listens and believes the lies spewed.”  I suppose this writer, like so many Romney followers, follows like a sheep to the slaughter, not even checking what is at stake.

For those of you out of the loop of US politics, let me catch you up quickly: The Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney said (in a secret recording released this week) that 47% of those in the US (who back President Barack Obama) are the Losers of America; the unemployed and unemployable, the mentally ill, the disabled, the vets, the working class, the poor.

Apparently, from the Republican point of view, this 47% of the US is not worth the bother.  We are, apparently, the dregs of society, (albeit 47% seems awfully high to me) and should pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.  They feel they owe nothing to those disabled vets returning from Iraq/Afghanistan that are so disabled either physically or psychically, that they cannot work.  They can go starve, apparently according to Scrooge Romney and His Believers.  The Romney-ites have the illusion that people can control their circumstances.  Maybe you can control it better when you have money.  Most of us wouldn’t know.

Us “Losers” in the US want what Republicans want: life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t begrudge millionaires their money, but I do take offense at their insistence that the working class don’t do enough to better their lives. “Not making enough money?” says the Republican, “Get a better paying job.” What they fail to realize is sometimes that the one you have is the best paying job. Sometimes you top out.  Let’s be real here, not everyone is Princeton material, right.  But there is nothing wrong with doing a “menial” job.  As long as I was a good worker, worked hard, and made enough to bring home each week I could be proud. 

The Republicans will say there are no jobs because Obama failed.  But when companies like Romney’s started out-sourcing “to keep costs down” and profits high.  That is in fact the attitude nationwide, many of us lost our good paying menial jobs due to out-sourcing.  Obama hasn’t failed, you goofballs, the Republicans thwarted him at every turn.  The world is in financial shambles not seen since the 1930s, and it’s all apparently Obama’s fault.  That it was caused partly by Republican era changes in banking regulations.  The world’s economy tanked because it would no longer fit into the parameters we designed.  Stocks, designed to make rich people richer, drive the economy.  One person can cause a run on a stock with world-wide repercussions.

My H is a driver at a private university. He makes $12 an hour and give us good medical benefits, but not much to live on. Our S also lives with us. He is unemployed and has been for more than 3 years. Neither of them are the most skilled.  Both are smart , but have no school beyond highschool, but in California at least, just about every job requires some sort of degree.  Not all of us have been lucky enough to have an opportunity for college. I worked full time, was a mother and a wife, and for more than 15 years I tried to get my degree. Life would get in the way.  Then the costs kept going up; books, parking, tuition, and fewer classes could be afforded per semester.  So, Mr. Better Than Republican, I tried. I really really tried to get a degree, but after 15 years off and on, I gave up, one credit short of an AA degree.

Depending on where you live, what your economic background is, and what your mode of transportation not every job is open to you.  I am a very qualified secretary. The best jobs are about 35 miles away from where I live. I live where I live because it is affordable. The 35 miles to work is on two of the State’s busiest freeways. Most days it takes 1 and a half hours to go in to work in the morning, and takes nearly two hours to come home in the evening.

Due to MS I can no longer make a drive like that.  My body needs a minimum 9 hours sleep each night, closer to 11 hours after driving long distances.  My government says I am perfectly able to keep working at my usual job.  I recently tested for a job placement agency, my scores were only good enough to take a position below my normal job.   The tests prove I no longer have the mental acuity to work as an Executive Assistant.  I have begun to fall backwards career-wise, and have had to start looking for work as an Administrative Assistant.  About a $20,000 difference in pay, in some cases as high as $40,000.  Because of a disease I have no control over.

I’m sorry, I guess being one of the 47% of “losers” I take personal offense to what Romney said, and am personally infuriated when I see someone blinding following him.

I’m trying to survive on disability payments (60% of my prior salary) while also trying not to lose my house. I didn’t plan on becoming disabled, but voting for Obama seems the only way I may remain housed, because I’m pretty sure Romney doesn’t care at all.