Saturday, January 29, 2011

Balancing Budgets on the Backs of Poor Women and Chilldren

Every day, I check the child support enforcement website to see if maybe, just maybe, a payment has been made. I am like one of those button pushing monkeys who only get food occasionally instead of consistently. I push the button way more often than is needed in the hopes that today is the day. But alas. It rarely is. I got child support for about 8 weeks in the fall. That was the first time I'd seen any money since 2008. And in 2008 I got child support for about 6 months, which was the first time I'd seen any money since 2005. You get the picture.

When I logged in today I was greeted with a happy little message. "As of May 1, 2011, parents receiving TANF pass throughs will no longer receive them due to state budget constraints".

For those of you who don't know what this means, lemme explain. TANF (the portion of welfare that provides actual money instead of food stamps or medicaid) isn't free. Thanks to Bill Clinton and Welfare reform, TANF grants are supposed to be paid for by child support. If you aren't getting child support, but you are getting TANF, then you accrue a debt against the past due child support that gets paid to the state. If you are receiving TANF, as an incentive to get you to help track down non-paying parents, TANF will "pass through" a little of the child support money if you also start receiving child support. Not much, like $50 a month. But an extra $50 when your TANF grant is only $440 is a huge help.

In order to balance the budget, they are taking away $50 a month from poor parents and their kids. $50 that is supposed to pay for the health and welfare of those kids is instead going to pay for the state. I should also explain that Washington is one of those lovely, super-regressive all sales tax states, so poor people, even those on Welfare, are already paying a higher percentage of their income to fix the state's woes.

There is a whole shitload of talk about the kind of burden we are leaving our children, but I don't hear those same asshats talking about the kind of sacrifice we are making our children perform today.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Way We Live Now

I've got, $2.18 in the bank, a pile of dirty towels and no laundry quarters, and $18 in food stamps until the 8th of February.

It's more than a dollar a day, so not exactly 3rd world, yet. Of course we've "turned the corner" and everything is sunshine and rainbows and ponies for everyone willing to "compete" for them.

Perhaps us poor folks would be better off if the government just threw stacks of cash into an arena and had us death battle each other over ones and fives.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh Cry Me a Fucking River

You all know what's going on this week? It's Davos* week, where super wealthy, mostly dudes, get together to come up with new ways to rob us all blind in the name of progress. Wankstains.

But they aren't just there to reinforce the kleptocracy. They are also there to whinge about how mean us peasants are. It is "unproductive" for us to call them on their shit.

For the record- it's not "bankers, bankers, bankers". It's "bankSters, bankSters, bankSters". And people are pissed because we're all going to be eating actual garbage and living in tents because of banksters.

*Davos week is just one more reason why I really hate Switzerland. Other reasons include having actually been to Switzerland and decided it is what fascism aspires to be, the rampant xenophobia, the half-assery that is the International Committee of the Red Cross and all the assistance the Swiss so helpfully gave the Nazis in looting from Jews.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why does it always have to be my left hand?

I'm a lefty, not just politically. I am severely left-handed. I joke that my right hand is vestigial.

So of course it's always my left hand that gets injured. Tonight I managed to cover it in scalding oil while making yet another round of pork chops. The Kid finished cooking and I've had my hand wrapped up in a frozen towel for hours now. Everytime I let the hand get near room temp the pain is excruciating. I made a 'put your hand in the box young Atriedes' joke that went totally over the Kid's head. I'm typing this one-handed, and not in the fun way.

The last time I burnt myself this badly I had whiskey and valium. Now all I can do is repeat "fear is the mind killer" and pretend the 5 advil I took will actually do something.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What I'd like to know is

How much money does the fed put towards defense for poor defendants?

Of course I'm conflating the criminal trials of the poor with the civil trials of the rich. But there is no right to council in civil trials. Unless you're rich. Then 30 plus million per defendant, at tax payer expense, is totally reasonable.

Now let's just imagine I'm poor (wait, I am!) and got in trouble for "overstating my profits" by writing a bad check (alas, I am unbanked, no bad checks for me). Would I get the same kind of legal defense? What does one have to do to get the federal government to pony up 30 million bucks? I want to be that kind of crook.

The State of the People

Tomorrow, the annual charade known as the State of the Union will be given. We've all read the previews, hopey, changey, now a union with more competition and less regulation! (Wasn't it less regulation that caused the current Great Recession? I realize the severe poverty and stress may have addled my brain a bit, but not enough for me to have invented last few years of fraud and collapse).

And sure, if you are a bankster or part of the bankster class, things are looking up. Bonuses are back! Though yacht sales are still sluggish.

But what about us little people, us "low information" voters as the political elites like to call us? What does the bottom 80% of the country look like?

Depending on who you talk to, the unemployment rate is 9.4% (official Bureau of Labor number) or 16% or 22%. All I know is that I know more unemployed people than I know employed people. And the lucky unicorn catchers (our fun new euphemism for those fortunate enough to find new jobs after layoffs) are working in jobs paying drastically less than they are used to. I was told at an interview that despite my 15 years of experience, the starting pay would be minimum wage because they had to "train (me) on how to answer the phone". Yeah. For the record, that is less than half of what I used to make training people to do the job that I needed to be trained for.

But big American companies are making record profits. W00t W00t. But not here. They are making money and hiring people in emerging economies. Uhm yay! That's how you fix the export problem, by exporting jobs.

Oh, we did pass some kind of health insurance thingy though. That ought to be good news, right? Does anyone know anyone who has health care now that didn't have health care before? I haven't met anyone yet. I'm sure they must exist, like gay republicans exist. This isn't very scientific, my little poll of people I know. But perhaps there is someone you know who has health care now because of the Historic Bill Passage (and not just because they got so poor they now qualify for medicaid when they lost their unemployment benefits).

Hey, you know what is cool? After hemming and hawing and whinging and homophobing, Don't Ask Don't Tell will (maybe) be a thing of the past. The law has to be certified and then there's a 60 day waiting period. Let's congratulate our government on waiting until 70 percent of the military and 77 percent of the population was in favor of allowing gay troops to serve. Let's not let human rights or military readiness get in the way of popular opinion or anything.

You all know we have a Democrat in the White House, right. That should make things easier for us ladies and our lady parts, right. Silly ladies, always thinking that you know what's best for your bodies. Pashaw. Since Obama came into office, he has lifted the Global Gag Rule. Now ladies in other countries, poor countries, countries where poor brown women are probably having too many babies and contributing to overpopulation and environmental disaster, can now talk to health care providers in clinics about abortion.(Oh if you don't know me well enough to know that entire sentence if full of sarcasm then you should read more). But ladies at home have witnessed a bunch of old dudes in tacky blue suits Stupak us. Now your health care plan can't and won't cover abortion. It's okay, I have it on good authority from an old catholic woman that ladies never used their insurance to pay for abortions anyways, because of the stigma. A late term (20 to 24 week) abortion in the abortion capital of the country (NYC) will run you about 15K. I don't know how anyone can afford that without insurance, but it's ok cranky lady whose been through menopause. I'm sure god has a plan for those wanton sluts.

Besides, if women don't have unwanted babies, who the hell is going to fight our wars for us? You all remember, Obama, the anti-war candidate? (yeah me neither, but there are tons of people who fell for that shit). We're still in Afghanistan. We're still in Iraq. We're fighting a defacto war on the Pakistani border (and in Pakistan). And Baby Doc went back to Haiti. That's gotta be good news. Of course now that DADT is maybe gonna be repealed, I have to teach the Kid a new phrase to say if they re-enact the draft. I need him to learn to convincingly say "my daddy is an investment banker".

There's always the other choice for poor kids, college. Well not really, since state budgets are being slashed to the max, state schools are relying more heavily on tuition for funds. That means fewer seats for poor kids whose parents can't pay the full bill. Though my friends with mountains of college debt and no jobs, let alone careers, keep screaming "skip college and learn a trade!". Of course my friends in the trades are all "go to college!" Ruthie (the most sensible of the lot) is all "learn math and science". And nobody except law schools are saying "go to law school".

The Kid will be going to community college. There is no money for anything else in our budget, and pell grants just don't stretch to cover the difference at a university.

But hopey, changey, I am making the child more competitive by keeping him out of the failing school system. We're 27 in math. Woot Woot. Crack all the bigoted jokes you want about Poland and Poles being dumb, but they are doing substantially better than us in math and science education.

That's the state of the people. We're poorer, unhealthy, less educated, and more violent, now with extra misogyny for straight ladies and the right to sacrifice for your country for gay ones.

ETA: How the fuckity fuck did I manage to post this without including anything about Social Security or the great scam of state's bankruptcy. Let's see, if you wanted to keep unemployment numbers high and wages at rock bottom lows, you might eliminate the last remaining tools keeping old and disabled folks from a diet of Ultra-Kitty Seafood feast. If you allow states to go bankrupt, then they don't have to pay those pesky retirement benefits. Of course state workers are about the only class of workers left who still get a retirement benefit. I don't begrudge them that though. I envy it. Other folks either suck it up with the "house always wins" 401k plans or they are like me and they hope that sweet sweet death will take them sooner rather than later. That is my retirement plan, die.

Dying will become a much more rational choice in retirement planning since the blue suited douchebags are planning on ending social security. Who needs that last defense against the cold cruel world when you have competition to keep you warm? Rub some more ben gay into those aching joints granny, these burgers ain't going to flip themselves!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's the end of the month

and the phone bill's due and my ability to pull magic money out of my ass is gone. Also gone is the free and unsecured internet connection I've been using. Grrrr.

If you got a few bucks to throw in the pot, it'd be appreciated. Throw some at Lambert too if you can, he's having a cold week in front of the wood stove.