You Won’t Need to Visit Me In Jail, Afterall

jailLast fall, during the Government Shutdown Fiasco, I made a decision.

Come 2013 tax filing time, if the powers-that-be dictated I owed them tax payments,

“I’m Not Giving The Money To Them.”

I made plans to donate any amount specified as ‘owed’ to our local Fire Department, Road & Bridge Department, Food Bank, Ladies Auxiliary, American Legion  – in short, I was going to give the money to the folks that actually provide the Emergency and Social Well Being services federal & state governments claim they provide to the vulnerable members of my community –  namely, children, the disabled, elderly, those injured/maimed from service to our government and families left without a Head of Household due to those Killed in the Line of Duty.

I gleefully imagined making a photocopy of said donation checks and Photoshopping in Red over the top of them,

“I gave my taxes directly to my local good-works organizations, eliminating the need for you to budget, argue about, hold umpteen votes in Congress & Senate about, shutdown operations during a stalemate, regulate and do associated accounting for – please send me the $2.8 gazillion I just saved you by streamlining your processes”

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get much work this past year, so I don’t owe any taxes – My “Cut-My-Nose-Off-To-Spite-My-Face” stand against those who fail to do their duty will have to wait…

or be fulfilled in some other outlandish manner…

Still, the thought of actually doing this brought a smile to my face and cheered me every time I thought about it the past 3 months – I got vast enjoyment envisioning the posting of what I did and having untold thousands of others downloading the Photoshop Red Overlay to attach to their own tax filing documentation –

Ah well… it was fun while it lasted…

I’m somewhat relieved because I don’t like orange and look a fright in it…

My mother is vastly relieved – she has to live in this community and having a daughter in jail for non-payment of taxes is not in keeping with her idea of ‘maintaining a good reputation’.

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On the same general topic, it turns out Colorado did finally approve me for Medicaid under the new guidelines – I received my card, but have not used it for any services.   Basically, because this coming year, if:

  • I get the hours at my part-time job that have been promised AND
  • I pick up any new website customers or get new work from existing ones AND
  • My brother or mother share their good fortune with me, via a gift as they have done in the past AND
  • My ex shares his good fortune of overtime with me, as he has done previously

THEN – If All these things happen in one month, I could end up over the maximum amount I can make and qualify for benefits.  Funny, because if you average out my yearly income to 12 months and strip away gifts from family, I never even come close – but that’s not how they look at it, best as I can tell.

(You have to report ALL income – and oops! forgot to include the $7 I won from stocking-stuffer scratch tickets – who cares, that was in December and thus, not countable towards 2014 – – Santa, probably best not to bring me lottery tickets, in case I won $500 and had a heart attack, all at the same time….)

My doctor doesn’t take Medicaid…

My one prescription for thyroid medicine is doable, without using Medicaid benefits.

I live in fear of using my benefits and finding out I used them in a possible overage month – I can see the headlines now –

“Jailed for Medicaid Fraud – How One Woman Cost Taxpayers $626”

The above amount calculated thusly:

  • Regular doctor visit ($73 /visit, pay-at-time-of-service discount rate as a goodwill, community support gesture from my physician)
  • x2 (annual visit in August 2014, oops, I got mastoiditis in January 2014)
  • x4 (to account for regular fees charged by providers to cover associated “f**cking with insurance/Medicaid filing costs“)
  • Annual prescription costs

Alas, I’ve decided to keep that card tucked away – to not scour the slopes & plains of Colorado for the one doctor who will take new patients who have Medicaid.

Instead, I consider my card a sort of Life Insurance Policy (which I cannot ever get real life insurance affordably, because I’ve had a stroke).

I no longer worry some unforeseen catastrophe will happen and the EMTs will disregard my DNR tattoo, leaving my mom and brother with untold medical bills which exponentially accumulated before they mercifully pulled the plug on me –

I just need to remember not to have any catastrophes in the same month small good fortune arrives – if great good fortune should arrive, I’ll do my patriotic duty regarding rising government healthcare costs and dutifully purchase regular health insurance  – –

🙂

I did have to laugh – the paperwork accompanying the Medicaid card made sure to inform me, repeatedly, how illegal it is for me to use my card to pay for the treatment of others – heck, a cursory search last October didn’t net  anyone locally who will accept it as payment for me, let alone someone else…

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My Liberal/Democrat friends are disappointed the changes to healthcare law didn’t make huge changes for me – although I try to make them see how much I am benefiting – I no longer have to pay a healthy premium each month for insurance that doesn’t really pay anything until I’ve satisfied a $10,000 deductible.

And, I’m not getting fined by the powers that be, for being irresponsible and not having any health coverage at all – –

On the other end of the political scale in my circle, I believe there is some quiet glee that the Affordable Health Care Act is costing gazillions of astrobucks without making any difference – again, they choose not to look at the issue as I do.

The nice thing about having a diverse circle of friends is your ability to see the world from a myriad of perspectives.

I still think my perspective is best, but it’s nice to know I’m not narrow-minded because I failed to broaden my horizons –

I do it on purpose with a full knowledge of vast, opposing opinions….

🙂

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Things must be getting better for some, because I’ve had the opportunity for more work these past few weeks – I hope the trend continues throughout 2014 –

I’d love to make HUGE donations to my local community next year –

I’m sure you’re disappointed there will be no need for you to bake brownies and bring to the jail for me…

And, I still have the Photoshop Overlay – which took me around 30 minutes to make –  would hate to see that time wasted…

Never Fear, there’s always Next Year!

P.S. Yes,  I’m still slogging away at archives of those blogs I follow – if I wasn’t so rusty at writing, I would have made it to a few more today – alas, 25+ revisions of above article and time to log out and get ready for work – – -25?  really?   Man, do I need to get back to writing – – – and quit Saving Draft every whip stitch…  🙂

A Ballad to Those Who Milk The System

Um…Yeah…this isn’t really a ballad, cuz I’m not in the mood to write poetry –

For decades I’ve heard about all those “Lazy, Decadent Saps’ who milk the welfare system and deprive hard-working Americans of their hard-earned wages.

Because I’ve been in the ranks of those lazy, good-for-nothings for 2 years now, I thought I would report…

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Right after my son died of bacterial meningitis, I was pretty shocked by how many people in our ‘sphere of influence’ asked if I sued the doctors and if so, how much did I get?

(Really?  Upon learning of my son’s demise, your first thought about what to say to me was to find out how much profit I gleaned from it?)

After my stroke, I learned (second hand, because I wasn’t talking to anyone) how many folks asked if I had applied for Disability.

I didn’t apply after my stroke.   The doctors said I had received treatment in time and I should make a full recovery and every month, at my check-up, I was assured to give it time, 6-9 months was normal for recovery, though no one could say for sure.

Now I’m sure this is indoctrination, because upon filing a disability claim, you must have doctor reports claiming you’ll be disabled for a year or more – – interesting, eh?

My 3 month brain scans indicated my brain was “Normal”, with “no visible damage”.

I have to laugh – who the hell in the entire world has a Normal Brain?!?  And if there’s no damage, why do I still talk like Porky Pig?

Around my one year anniversary of the stroke, I was somewhat depressed and pissed at my healthcare providers (primary, neurologist, acupuncturist, chiropractor)- I did what you told me to – I came for treatments twice a week – I’m still not well enough to work – WTF?!?

I adjusted and changed healthcare providers.

I pushed myself.

I tried harder.

Around June of last year, I had pretty much run through my little ‘nest egg’ divorce settlement.

I needed paying work.

I still didn’t apply for Disability – confident I could cobble together enough work to keep us going.

September came and I finally seriously looked at applying for Disability and any other help I could get, because things were getting bad.   A lawyer, who is a professional friend-of-a-friend tells me he will take my case pro bono – but I have to be denied benefits first by Social Security, and he assures me I will be denied:

“They do not care that no employer in the world wants to hire you with the caveat that you can only work 2-4 hours a day and must rest every 1-1 1/2 hours.   As long as you can work, that’s all they care about.  But go ahead and apply.  Get Denied and then come see me.   I’m telling you right now, from what you tell me, yours is going to be a hard case.   You need to start keeping a journal notating every day what your symptoms/capabilities are and you’ll need at least 3 doctors to back up what you’re saying….blah, blah, blah”

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Okay, I have a journal – I’ve kept one for years – it’s all there.  I keep it because the variables affecting your state of health are numerous and you can only learn what to do to get better if you take notice of every stinking thing you are or are not doing.   Didn’t keep me from having a stroke, but that is beside the point…

3 Doctors agreeing and putting in writing something that will actually benefit me – hmmm….problem …. I tend to go to healthcare providers that have some hope of my wellness – whether for continued insurance billing or from a sincere desire to help their fellow man.

I’ve yet to visit a healthcare provider that says, “Yup!  You’re hopeless and there’s not a damn thing we can do to help you.”

Okay – so scratch Social Security, Disability, a system I’ve paid into every year but 3 since 1984, off the list.

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TANF  – Colorado’s Back To Work Program seemed like a viable option – maybe if I’m part of a ‘back to work’ program, I can have limited hours until my health gets better, or at least, not get fired for having frequent rest periods during manual labor – –

You can’t qualify if you have any income that totals more than $248/month.

Who the fuck lives in anything other than a cardboard box under a bridge for less than $248/month?   Homesteaders?   Constitutionalists that inherited property and don’t pay property taxes, utility bills or insurance?

Understand, my insurance purchases are either mandated by law (vehicle) or purchased in a sincere attempt to keep my family from going bankrupt in case zealous paramedics and ER personnel choose to ignore my DNR orders.

Sorry – maybe you are a wonderful person who manages to live off less than $248 a month in either cash or bartered trade – I’m not there yet and even if I sponged off my relatives, but contributed to grocery fund and paid my own insurance, I can’t do it for $248/month- – So I do not understand this program and figure no one but those already living on the streets qualify for it.

On one hand, this is good, a program to help the homeless – on the other hand, do you have anything that prevents people from becoming homeless in the first place?

Full disclosure – If I became penniless tomorrow, neither I nor my son would be homeless and starve – I still have a mother & brother who would like to see me well and self-sufficient, but who couldn’t live with themselves if I were housing in Frigidaire Cardboard – and I have in-laws who wouldn’t let their grandson live in such filth and squalor – so yes, I’m lucky.

Scratch the back to work program.

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If I get any work at all each month, I’m close to not qualifying for Food Stamps.

Since I try to get work of some sort each month, why even bother applying?

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In 1990, I became a single parent at age 21.   I worked 60-70 hours per week, but sometimes, my babysitting bills overwhelmed me.   The first time, I asked for help from the agencies my tax dollars helped to fund – it was not forthcoming –

A car repair bill left me short on formula for the baby – I needed one can to get by till payday -I called the local WIC officials and asked for a can of formula which would promptly be replaced on payday – They told me to come in next Tuesday (5 days past when I was going to run out of formula) so they could determine if the baby was “nutritionally needy” or not….

I informed them that hell yes, he’d be nutritionally needy by then and to forget it, I thought it would be easier to sell my body for a can of formula….

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I’ve come to the conclusion that Yes, there are those who milk the system, but I do not believe their numbers to be as high as the experts would have you believe.

There are those who get ‘milked’ by those who live without any pretense of trying to contribute and here’s the list of those who help their fellow man, and get milked by the “Lazy Poor”:

Local community bankers who, when you tearfully ask for a loan til payday say:

“You write a check for whatever that baby needs.  Call me and if it shows up before your paycheck does, I’ll cover it myself.”

Friends and Neighbors who say:

“Hey, I got 10 jugs of the 10-for-a-dollar juice – can I give you a couple?”

Farmers and Ranchers who say:

“Yup, you can pay for your yearly purchase on payment plan – no interest – and if you need that money for the doctor, I’m not going to sweat it – I’d rather see you healthy than get that $100 and if you never pay it back, I’m not going to hold it against you.”

Local Food Banks who say:

“Thanks for coming and helping out – whatever is over there, take as much as you want.   Something in the box we fixed for you not work?  Let us know, we’ll change it out for you.”

Doctors who say:

“Oh – you won’t be insured come Jan. 1st?  Okay – here’s a cash discount rate – and if you need to, come in, we’ll work it out.  Don’t worry about it.”

Business Owners who say:

“We’re interested in what you have to offer for our company.  We do not expect you to work yourself to death for us.   Tell us what you feel you can commit to.”

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Social Justice, I’ve come to believe, will never be meted out by government programs financed by taxes – it comes from the same place it has for millenia – from those in your community who are dedicated to achieving those principals set out by our Founding Fathers.

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At the end of my attempt to get help from systems I’ve spent many years paying into – I decided, it’s easier, quicker and less heartache to sign up to dig ditches and drop dead while working for $4/hour, 14 hours a day, with no break, than it is to get any help from any tax-payer funded program.

Happily, I’ve slowly cobbled together part-time work each month – the total of this income, in the best month for the year to come, is $947/month.

Which renders me unqualified for most social aide programs and you know what?

I’m so happy I could jump to the moon….

I Did Do It…

Sometime ago, I admitted to taking on a job I wasn’t sure I was qualified for.   The hard drive for the laptop arrived, I took a couple days to gird my loins and then, much to my surprise, the job went smoothly and a working laptop was delivered to the customer, along with the old hard drive, in case they wanted to hire a real expert to retrieve their files.

You may wonder why it’s taken this long for me to post the update…

I was waiting for a call informing me that my repairs were short-lived and a demand for a refund…

This self-improvement stuff is not always a walk in the park.

Since nearly a month has passed with no phone calls and no dirty looks when I walk by each morning during Oakley’s exercise time, I conclude it’s safe to surmise that I did, in fact, do it.

Next item on self-improvement list:

“Learn to suppress the urge to wait for the other shoe to drop.”

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In a somewhat related topic, one of my email accounts was hacked.   Or at least I think it was.   Which is funny, because I’m pretty proactive about complicated passwords and frequent changing.  My customers complain when they receive their initial set-up information and password(s),

“I’ll never remember that!”

To which I reply,

“Fine – change it to whatever you want – just please, please do not use “password1234”.

So yesterday, I spent the day deleting accounts, setting up new ones and doing a thorough scouring of my computer.   None of which revealed any source of the fraudulent email sent from my account.

I found some cool new tools.  I also realized though I may have downsized my material possessions, my bookmarks menu, as of yesterday, qualified me for ‘hoarder’ status.

I only re-bookmarked eight of the long list of folders/links.

I’m feeling pretty purified this a.m.

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Many years ago, I spent my working time between two state agencies.   With duties that required 4 or 5 different log-ins and passwords, at each place.   With strict instructions to not repeat anything, anywhere.  And the requirement to change said passwords every 30 days.

I took these instructions to heart.   At home, with yellow legal pad on my lap and cold beer in hand, I thought about how to accomplish this feat without having anything written down anywhere…

The system I came up with has worked for 15 years – in fact, it worked until yesterday…

And so, I came up with a new one.

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I admit to having fallen behind on what’s what in computer world.   Like most everyone I know, I learn what I need to and cross my fingers for the rest.   The only reason I’m sought out for help is my life experience has been varied enough to have dabbled in quite a few different venues.

And also because my financial status means I have to learn how to fix things myself, rather than hiring an expert to do it for me.  Yesterday’s events made me take a good look at what I know – what I need – and what can be let go.

Simplifying my life means I’m tuning into how complex a new object is – do I understand how it works?  If it breaks, can I fix it myself?   What if the electricity goes out, can I still use it?  Can I maintain my daily needs if all that is supplied to me and under the control of someone else simply breaks or disappears?

Sadly, sections of my life remain that can still be knocked for a loop by outside forces.   Or can result in a wasted day, fixing what someone else decided to destroy for their own benefit, or just for the fun of it.

Much like the peasant in Dark Age Europe, I can arise each day, minding my own business and doing what I need to do – all the while aware that unseen forces may strike at anytime, to lay waste to the little bit I’ve achieved.

Rather than losing my life, virtue or survival needs, I only lose my reputation, financial status and worthiness to participate in modern society via a three digit number –  666 doesn’t get you much in way of shelter, transportation,  work or insurance to protect you from Life’s little hiccups.

It also seems you may not even be able to get a date now, unless your three-digit score is of sufficient value.

Life, Love and the pursuit of things that bring you the experience of happiness are now in the hands of someone else…

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It occurs to me that nothing much has changed in 1,500 years.   Only the methods and means of devastation have.   Instead of a quick thrust of the sword and a blessed end to a life spent waiting for the next catastrophe, you can now experience the devastation of your livelihood with the added benefit of being guilty of planting your crops in an area where Bad Guys are known to roam and not putting up a tall enough fence.

You not only get to live, but you also get to shoulder the blame for the marauding behavior of others.

Which makes sense –

People who are dead don’t pay banking fees, taxes or support our medical system.  They have no need for insurance or global investments.

People who are blameless have no need to purchase security or back-up options.  The also don’t pay fees to change or hide the listings which reveal their crop locations.

Welcome to the new Dark Ages.

See How Much Money it Takes to Be Financially Secure in Your Town

An interesting exercise – here’s my results:

Rural (CO) – One Parent, One Child

  • Monthly Housing $774
  • Monthly Food $369
  • Monthly Child Care $728
  • Monthly Transportation $570
  • Monthly Health Care $1000
  • Monthly Other Necessities $292
  • Monthly Taxes $399
  1. Monthly Total $4132
  2. Annual Total $49581

Does anyone else find it curious that Taxes and Healthcare combined result in more expenditure than Housing and Food?

Data Driven Viewpoints

What follows is a Family Budge Calculator put out by the Economic Policy Institute. www.epi.org/resources/budget/ The example shown here is for a two parent family with two children living in the capital city of New Jersey, Trenton. A typical family there needs over $75,000 in income per year to be financially secure. That means each parent would have to work full-time and be making at least $18/hour. Or, if only one parent worked, they would need to be pulling in $36/hour for their family to be financially secure. This is a long ways from minimum wage.

Family Budget Calculator

EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types…

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The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….