Rant: Life according to Republicans means a cut in Food Stamps

So the government that wants to multiply defense spending wants to cut food stamps. Fantastic! Because, you know, social safety nets aren’t important, but creating war for the 1% to make a ton of cash is.

The five-year farm bill sets policy for agricultural programs and nutrition aid like food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. House Republicans held up the bill for almost two years, arguing that food stamp spending needed to be cut.

As someone on reluctantly on food stamps, here’s a large fuck you to the Republican government looking to make me work when I DO but still make under the poverty limit.

Only about a fifth of SNAP recipients are eligible for training. The rest are elderly, disabled, children or already in the workforce.

You want people to work? Bring back jobs. Bring back the educational money value that forces students go into debt just to look for jobs–that are often not there now. I’m in the 80% that includes people already in the workforce. This is just the latest Reaganesque “welfare queen” scam so Republicans in Congress don’t look inept. Surprise! You fail.

Also, Linda Taylor, the woman in the middle of “welfare queen” scandal had a lot more at stake to lose based on criminal behavior beyond food stamps.

And there were the deaths. Taylor posed as a voodoo practitioner and spiritual adviser, and after one or Taylor’s particularly naive marks during that scheme turned up dead, Taylor was found with the dead woman’s credit card. But police investigators didn’t go after Taylor on murder charges, because they were worried it would detract from an ongoing welfare fraud case.

Somehow going after food stamp abuse was more important than caring for the children and people abused by Taylor. Why is that? Why are food stamps more important than the value of human life?

In 2013, The Atlantic posted an article that cut to the heart of what public assistance really costs compared to not using the safety net. And let’s be real, the numbers are staggeringly different for families with children under 18. Just look at difference in food costs. $6460 on stamps versus $9539 off. So…people not on stamps are actually spending less.

So that $6,460 spent on food comes out to about $34 per person, per week. Not exactly a shellfish budget.

You think I like being on assistance? I don’t. But I also know I have to eat decent meals in order to work with my diabetes and keep my costs down so I don’t eat up more taxpayer money because I don’t even qualify for the ratchet healthcare system here. People may complain and moan about Obamacare, but at least you’re covered, so sit the fuck down and shut up. I’ve lost weight on food stamps, which is highly important for my health because I can eat nutritional foods, which fuels my failing endocrine system.

Would the public like to pay my food stamp bill until I can find a good job that means I can give back into the system later on? Or each $16,000+ bill as I hit the hospital in a diabetic coma and/or ketoacidosis for having to eat bad food and causing severe stress because I know it’s literally killing me? Take your pick. You only get one choice. My death is not option three. Nor is some sanctified “find a job” when I’m already looking and have a job as it is.

You think it’s fun being in poverty? Live it. You think it’s easy to get a job in a market with too many applicants, a non-living minimum wage, and having to decide if you can afford your life-saving meds? Live it. Otherwise. Sit. Down. And. Shut. Up. when you make over $171,000 a year…minimum for Congress with all the federal government benefits received. Including retirement and health, plus expense accounts.

The WSB article about the latest cuts notes that while the money is federally granted, states have autonomy on how to use the money.

Conaway praised the grants, saying that states’ innovative approaches “will help able-bodied SNAP recipients climb the economic ladder.”

As in past years, a House budget proposed this week would transform the program into block grants to states, a move that could cut tens of billions from the program. A Senate version of the nonbinding budget resolution called for cuts to programs like SNAP but was not as specific in how they should be done.

You think I’m not looking for full-time work and benefits? Wrong. I’ve got applications in other states because I can’t find a decent job in this state. So until you’re in my position, don’t even begin to tell me how I’m failing a social safety net meant to keep me afloat while the government is more concerned with ongoing pissing contests!

Even Vilsack admitted “you are either going to cut people or cut benefits, and both approaches are the wrong way.”


IWD 2015: America’s forgotten stories

Everyone writes about women you need to know in the STEM world-which is a worthy place, but not necessarily a place for all women. Personally, I suck at STEM-related fields, especially in things like code-writing and back-end. While my Photoshop skills are improving (a HD camera app will do that), tech is not really a place for me.

And sometimes it feels like the world doesn’t really represent people like me, the quiet observer who scribbles words down to create a story or narrative. I’m a very proud book nerd. I enjoy diving deep into historical research and finding little bits of facts that create a quilt of facts, figures, and experiences between then and now. I’m definitely someone who enjoys art, even if I suck at it sometimes, because it’s a nice release.

I’m the average Liberal Arts/Humanities student.

Continue reading IWD 2015: America’s forgotten stories

Time to Soar: President Obama’s speech at Selma

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. I don’t use quotation marks on purpose. Quotations other, makes the act seem debatable. And the actions, the treatment of American citizens remain anything but important.

Continue reading Time to Soar: President Obama’s speech at Selma

Elsa doesn’t live here and no reindeer hostages were harmed

Bless you, Georgia Power!

Last night around 12:30, my power went out after flicking for a good 6 hours. Stayed out until 9:30 this morning. I was briefly amused when it flickered on at 8, then fell away. Didn’t trust my luck so I went back to sleep when the power came back. Keeping warm just to make sure I was gonna stay warm.

Living in the south, you think it won’t get cold. That’s a lie. It does.

February 16, 2015 storm
Weather at 7:48am today.

We missed the snow in this area, thankfully, but the weather is just now above freezing. Icicles are falling off power lines and houses, but hanging onto the trees. It’s been a strange Tuesday to start.

Also never realize how important little space heaters are until they no longer work.

Right now, my neighbor’s cat is enjoying sharing my bed since it’s cold inside and outside my house. He’s an outdoor that she’s trying to turn into an indoor when she moves out of this area so I watch the little guy occasionally. Now he’s finally gonna rest and go back to sleep after a lot of meowing at me to let him back out.

Living in a working class neighborhood all my life, this is normal. You look after each other’s important life elements when they run errands. Be it pets, kids, or even a broken down car for sale. You help each other out.

For now, it’s cold and I’m going to curl up under my covers again. My rented house is drafty and with cold temps, the inside drops quite a bit, too. And I’ll enjoy my day curled up with a cat on my bed-the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to do that.

Maybe the kitten I’m taming will let me curl up with her before spring. I hope she made it through this okay. I’ll find out later, I’m sure. She enjoys meat, so I give her a tiny portion of mine whenever I’m making food. I set some aside for her yesterday, just in case. She’s always down for some yummy treats.

The Ranting Frustration of Underemployment

Living where I do means it’s hard to find full-time gigs. Sometimes I have the crazy desire to pay my bills on time. I know, how selfish! But I do try. It’s hard, though. Vice President Biden keeps stumping the decreasing unemployment record and how Americans are going to work! Yes, we are…for a fraction of what it takes to survive and with few social safety nets as politicians bicker and barter them away. Applications can be put out, can be sent in large swathing numbers…but that doesn’t mean anyone’s going to hire. Let’s face it: in this market, you can get employees cheaper than their experience would earn.

That’s especially true as a recent graduate with a B.A. in English. No one seems to value the idea of someone who can write reports. This country is focused on the STEM building project. Understandably so since we’re behind most other first world nations, but it does make my degree useless in the workforce.  A degree I went into debt for because I knew my research skills would be vital in writing reports, documents. Not to mention my decade of experience as an administrative assistant between professional and volunteering settings.

People don’t want to hire people for the value of their worth. Instead the numbers are focused on bottom line. Here’s the problem with that philosophy: employers get what’s paid for. If you hire someone inexperienced, angry that the pittance paid isn’t motivation, then the employer’s out of touch with the world. Politicians have destroyed unions–a safety net that insures a safe environment–and promoted right-to-work policies.

People and the media speak about how the millennial generation as ungrateful, too entitled, but we’re the ones watching jobs and opportunities being stripped away by the generations before us. So tell me, which one is entitled and ungrateful?

Back in 2013, Cracked.com’s John Cheese wrote up a really good post on what four things poor people don’t deserve to be labeled. I’m going to quote the relevant part about the current generation of college students and graduates looking for work, but really, the whole article is really important as a read. Emphasis mine.

In reality, 47 percent of the impoverished 18 to 26 age group have actually been to college. Now, that doesn’t mean they all graduated, but that’s not the point. I don’t know many people who had the motivation and presence of mind to enter into college and didn’t also have a desire to do something special with their lives. Most people don’t go to college because they were bored, though I will concede that it’s why many people teach at colleges. OHHHHH, eat it, teachers!

See, it’s not about intelligence, it’s about trying. Politicians can’t get past the idea that the only possible way to fail in America is if you sit back and do nothing. The idea that someone can put out the effort, yet not gain ground is inconceivable to them. Again, that doesn’t mean that human leeches don’t exist. I grew up doggone poor, myself. I’ve seen, firsthand, people who were content to cash their government check and then go back to sleep. But I know overwhelmingly more people who didn’t want to be on assistance and busted their lovely lady lumps to escape. Some succeeded and some did not, but it sure as pickles wasn’t for lack of trying.

Yes, there people out there looking to use the system, but the numbers are tiny compared to the vast majority of those simply trying to exist. Do I deserve less because I can’t make someone hire me? Since I can’t physically force anyone to say “yep, I’ll take her” even in the last round? This isn’t a game of elementary school dodge ball. Did those in office miss the whole urine test for food stamps being illegal conversation?

In a piece for my job, I talked about food stamps and requirements many Republican politicians are attempting to put on those receiving benefits. What I didn’t openly announce is my need for them at the moment.

Food stamps are not a cure all, but they do offer consistent meals to 16 million children and the chance for many households to afford the higher costs of living, especially in the winter months when utilities run high as temperatures plummet. The idea of citizens on SNAP as less than human, or undeserving to use what is being paid into the funds per paycheck, demonizes those without higher paying positions that require less than half a year’s attendance; yet both cases depend heavily on the federal government subsidies to maintain “affordable” lifestyles.

I understand and support food stamps because I’m on them. In this country, there’s a lot of shame that comes with food stamps, of having to be on government assistance. But I genuinely need the money so I can survive at the moment. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been forced to ask for help and I’m 33. And when I’m on my feet again, I’ll willingly hand over more money for those in need. Be it in a food drive or pantry…or adding more paid taxes.

I can’t imagine the disrespect give to people who’ve been on for a long period face every day. It’s not a good choice. In fact, I hate it. But you know what? I need to eat. I’m a diabetic in a state without any kind of Medicaid expansion. I have to eat a certain diet for me to stay out of the ER and cost taxpayers more money in my health care. I’m scrapping money together to survive. And the poor tax is a very real thing.

If the politicians think it’s easy to go out, survive under the poverty threshold, then they should come ask me. Let them see what’s it’s like to be under the threshold and the help my family has to provide so I cannot lose my place to live. Even though I don’t want to need or take the money because the American Dream still sings a little this could be all yours ditty to the tune of Disney’s “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

But that particular wish only applies if you make $174,000 plus a year.

Right now, I freelance and I enjoy my job. I really like writing about the world and reporting on news, of putting a new perspective on what’s happening in the world around us. Being in engaged and using what I’ve learned in college, tying together the information into a cohesive piece is pretty important to me-in my work ethic and personal fulfillment. I enjoy connecting with audiences.

But I also need some stability along the way. I’m not asking for hand outs. I’m asking for the politicians to stop lying about caring the constituency that’s supposedly represented. We underemployed are not all going to be major stars, lobbyists, well-known STEMers, or people with power. But we still count. We still need jobs to provide us with healthcare coverage, food, shelter, communication tools…all those things matter because they help motivate a workforce into discovering new things. That happens because of a dependable economic source. To make America shine.

It’s easy to strip down a household into the necessities nowadays (bye, Netflix!), but it’s not to maintain even the necessities if people are saddled with huge debts in without any relief in sight. The former generations helped create a world where you need a BA just to be a receptionist, but now want to rid their hands of the modern day’s unbalanced employment requirements. Some of my favorite requirements are must have at least 4 years of experience as an administrative assistant or mandatory 2-3 years of experience in a doctor’s office before applying. On top of that 4-year degree and deep debt.

So those who put time into their school work, working to create a better education and chance for mobility, are punished. After being repeatedly told that you had to attend college in order to make a decent wage.

Let me ask again: who are the selfish members of society? Those making $174,000 a year for less than half a year’s work or those looking for opportunities that don’t seem to appear?