Archive | May 2017

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

From:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/24/529831472/trump-wants-families-on-food-stamps-to-get-jobs-the-majority-already-work
When President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration’s budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts
to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working.

“If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re
not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,” Mulvaney said Tuesday.

But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least
one person in the family working, according to
the latest figures
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And when it comes to families on SNAP with kids, a majority — 55 percent — are bringing home wages, according to USDA. The problem is, those wages aren’t
enough to actually live on. …

In fact, SNAP already requires able-bodied adults without children to find a job within three months and to work at least 20 hours a week within three
months or lose their benefits. All told, about 42 million people receive SNAP benefits.

 

Another Hero’s Story

Chris Parker came to Manchester Arena as an anonymous beggar, positioning himself near the crowd of exiting Ariana Grande fans in hopes that he might pocket
some spare change.

Tragedy altered those plans:

“It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” he told the wire service. “There
was people lying on the floor everywhere.

“I saw a little girl … she had no legs,” he added. “I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said, ‘Where is your mum and daddy?’”

He is haunted by what he encountered, he said.

“There were nuts and bolts all over the floor,” Parker told the Press Association. “People had holes in their back.”

“It’s the screams I can’t get over, and the smell. … I don’t like to say it, but it smelled like burning flesh.”

There was also a wounded woman — “in her 60s,” he guessed — whom Parker tried to comfort.

“She passed away in my arms,” he said. “I haven’t stopped crying.”

Chris Parker and Steve Jones were two people who helped; there were more:
“There was a lot of homeless people that stayed there and helped, and that’s what we done,” said Jones, a former bricklayer who has been homeless for about
a year. “And obviously when we seen children like that with blood … having to pull nails and stuff out of their arms and I pulled one out of this little
girl’s face.”
In response to the heroic deeds of Chris and Steve, donation sites have been set up.
Here is the one for Chris:
https://www.gofundme.com/3dgkuj-help-chris-parker

The crowdfunding campaign also elicited a response from a woman claiming to be Parker’s mother, who said she had lost touch with her adult son.

“This is my son and I am desperate to get in touch with him,” Jessica Parker wrote. “We have been estranged for a very long time, and I had no idea he
was homeless. I am very proud of him, and I think he might need me right now.”

From:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/05/24/we-had-to-pull-nails-out-of-childrens-faces-homeless-men-helped-after-manchester-blast/?utm_term=.df9202b9f225

Impact and Ideas

This is an excerpt from a report on the New York Times site.  Go there to read it in its entirety:

WASHINGTON — A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that
narrowly passed the House
this month would increase the projected number of people without
health insurance
by 14 million next year and by 23 million in 2026, the
Congressional Budget Office
said Wednesday. That 10-year figure is slightly less than originally estimated.

It would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over a decade, less than the $150 billion in savings projected in late March for an earlier version
of the bill. And in states that seek waivers from rules mandating essential health coverage, the new law could make insurance economically out of reach
for some sick consumers.

“Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums,” …

The House repeal bill was approved on May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213, without support from any Democrats. It would eliminate tax penalties for people who
go without health insurance and would roll back state-by-state expansions of
Medicaid,
which have provided coverage to millions of low-income people. And in place of government-subsidized insurance policies offered exclusively on the Affordable
Care Act’s marketplaces, the bill would offer tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 a year, depending on age.

****
You know, it might look like following through with the health care plan from the House would save the government money; but I’m thinking it will cost a lot more in the long run:  People without insurance who become ill will still need care.  They will wait until they are seriously in trouble; then go to their local emergency room; hospitals will take care of them, forgive the debt; then pass the cost on to consumers and funds from government grants, among other sources.  These people will be less able to look for work or continue in their employment as their circumstances worsen…  We will spend money on health care and poverty relief anyway; why not do it right from the beginning.
Another point about services covered by Medicaid and other provisions in the ACA:  Part of the funding that seems to be on the chopping block makes it possible for severely disabled people to stay home and receive care from family members.  This is by far the most compassionate, cost effective approach.  Do away with these resources and those with severe disabilities either die or go to care facilities, hwere they will likely have poorer care.  The bent to do away with funding for people in need is very short sighted and unkind.
Then there’s this idea of a tax credit instead of subsidized insurance:  Most people receiving financial help for their ACA insurance can’t afford to wait a year for a tax credit.

It isn’t fair to complain if I don’t have some ideas for solutions:
*Go after the providers who steal from the government.  They take kfar more away from all of us than all of the “moochers” and legitimate recipients together.
*Have people on the front lines contribute to policy making…those who work in the system; those who live it.  We know more about the ins and outs than anybody in Congress or the White House.
*Increase incentives for making healthy choices, including preventative  care and early intervention.
*Empower natural helpers, such as family care givers.
*Leave the Affordable Health Care Act in place for now; take time to iron out the real bugs.

True Nobility

I found this story on:
Nearly $30,000 Raised for Homeless Man Who Helped Manchester Arena Attack Victims
I chose excerpts to highlight something good that is coming out of a tragedy:

A homeless man who was hailed as a hero after coming to the aid of the wounded as they fled the Manchester Arena following Monday’s deadly attack is now
receiving help himself.

Stephen Jones’ selflessness has not been lost on social media where one woman
set up an account on the charity fundraising site Just Giving,
which has now raised close to $30,000.

And on Tuesday, David Sullivan, joint-chairman of English Premier League club West Ham United, told the BBC he would like to help Jones further.

“It looks like he needs some help, so we are desperate to find who he is and give him six months free accommodation and a little bit of money to help him
on his way,” Sullivan told BBC Radio 5 live.

Sullivan, together with his son, David Jr. tracked Jones down with the help of social media. The pair are now working out how to pay his rent for the next
six months while supplying him with new clothes and work opportunities.

“Dave and myself were both hugely impressed by the bravery shown by Steve, the emergency services and all those who rushed to the aid of those affected
by the Manchester attack,” said Sullivan in a statement….

Jones was outside the arena when the bomb went off.

“First there was a bang, I thought it was some kind of firework, and then there was a big explosion,” Stephen Jones told CNN affiliate ITN.
“I just felt the wind force, and then everyone started screaming and running. Me and my mate we got up and we started running. We realized what had happened,
we run back, and all the women and children were coming out with blood.”

“We are human, we still have a heart, we still have that instinct to help people out that need help and that’s what we are doing. And obviously when we
are seeing children like that, with blood and, pulling nails out of their arms and stuff, and there were a couple in a girl’s face,” he said.

“It was children, a lot of children with blood all over them, crying and screaming. If I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking
away and leaving kids like that.”

“We wiped blood from children’s faces. I mean, one little girl, she was covered in blood. Her mom was screaming so some guy was coming at her, took the
little girl’s t-shirt off her, and it was someone else’s blood shed on her.”

Jones described how he and a friend held the legs up of a woman who was severely bleeding while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. “We thought she was
just going to bleed right out.”

Jones’ actions have shined a spotlight on Manchester’s growing homeless problem. The newly elected mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has pledged to donate
15% of his salary to a homeless charity.

He said a lot of homeless people sleep outside near the Manchester Arena.
***
Let love, compassion and valor prevail, no matter how hard evil tries to injure and destroy.

Let’s Do Some Math

There is a whole group of people in the world who work very hard…

And still live in poverty or in “near poverty.”

 

I’m writing to recognize and honor them.

They are almost never acknowledged when the powers that be talk about poverty and programs that help, so join me for a moment to consider them.

Many of these people get SNAP benefits and Medicaid…legitimately.

Many of them work at least two jobs, just to make ends meet.

 

They do things like:

Housekeeping at hotels, hospitals, resorts and malls

Pumping gas

Working in stores and restaurants

Care giving

 

They work for minimum wage.

Below is a link to show what the minimum wage in each State is.  Another good question to ask would be, “What is the cost of living in each State?”  That would paint a more thorough picture.

Just for kicks, let’s do some arithmetic here:

If John works 40 hours per week at $7.25/hour (the Federal minimum wage, what will his gross income be? Answer: $1290.50.  Now, take away about 30% of that…(that would be $387.15)  The final result: 903.35

That would be impossible to live on if John is an individual.  He might get a few dollars from SNAP; if his employer isn’t providing insurance, he would get a break under the ACA.  And so it goes.

Now, what if he has at least one child?

Hopefully, he is in subsidized housing; he definitely would get SNAP; Medicaid or help with insurance would be part of his support…

 

Even if John supplemented his full-time job with say another 15-20 hours (he does have to sleep sometime) he would be below the poverty line.  And nothing unexpected had better come up:  He won’t make it; he might even join the many homeless people in the land.

 

BTW:  Many homeless people work.  The challenge is, the cost of living is so high, they can’t get out of the financial hole.

 

https://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm

 

Think of the people you know personally who work long and hard, only to struggle.  I am not talking about the ones who manage their resources poorly or refuse to work when they could.  They get too much attention as it is.

 

I know some:

Educational assistants – I have a neighbor who is doing that.  If she had to support herself, she would need a second job or some subsidies.

 

Fast food workers – Again, if there is a way to share expenses, maybe.

We need these people.  We need what they do.

Thank you, all who clean the motel room before I arrive, so that it is fresh, well supplied and clean.

Thank you, stockers at the grocery store, servers at restaurants and workers who make sure that the sheets on beds in hospitals and care centers are clean.

 

The next time you find yourself in a conversation about “the poor,” would you remind all involved that these are people…and countless numbers of them work?

Thank you.

Holes in the Safety Net

These are excerpts from an article in the Washington Post.  The url is at the bottom of my post, in case you want to read it in its entirety.  Meanwhile, I have some thoughts:

“President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would
give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety
net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by
House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits
for about 10 million people over the next decade.”
*****
In spite of negative imagery that paints a picture of people on Welfare and Medicaid as “moochers” and “manipulators,”  The reality is, the vast majority of people receiving these benefits are there legitimately.  Many of them are very ill or disabled.  Moreover, these programs are monitored on a regular basis, making it very difficult to misuse the system.  Anybody caught doing so can be charged with Welfare fraud.
***

“The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people
familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have
elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans”
could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.”

****
People receiving benefits in many States are already required to “work toward work.”  In my State, for example, anyone who doesn’t have a disability must take part in a jobs program designed to get them into the work force, starting with volunteer work if appropriate.  It is obvious that a rather large group of people don’t know this.  They assume that those on Welfare are whiling away their days while they collect benefits.  Again, the truth:  The days of sitting home and collecting a Welfare check until your youngest child turns 18 are long over and past.
***

“Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse
the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but
Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.”

***
Dear senators:  Our hope lies with you at this point.
One colossal advantage of the Medicaid extension was that small towns could afford to have a medical clinic.  This allows their citizens to receive care in a timely, healthy way in a non acute setting.  They can now have preventative services and important monitoring without driving at least 200 miles, in some cases, to see a doctor or go to the hospital.  This means better care at far less cost per patient.  This also impacts whole communities; not just individuals.
***

“Trump offered a streamlined version of the budget plan in March, but it dealt only with the 30 percent of government spending that is appropriated each
year. In that budget, he sought a big increase in military and border spending combined with major cuts to housing, environmental protection, foreign aid,
research and development.”

***
Do you have a problem with Mr. Trump’s priorities?  I do.
***
“But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need
annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.”
****
This is significant because it forces these programs to compete for funding, along with everything else.  Imagine that you rely on subsidies for food, housing, basic living expenses and medical care.  Now think about how secure your living situation will be if that funding is subject to whatever party has the majority and the mood of the nation.  Basics are necessary if people are to have the time and energy to improve their lives…including the development of job skills and the procurement of employment.
***
Programs in danger include:
Medicaid
SNAP (The modern version of food stamps)
Habitat for Humanity (which, by the way, includes some “sweat equity” on the part of the people getting the house.)
subsidized school lunches (Children learn better when they are not hungry…just a thought.)
“The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness
across 19 federal agencies.”

“Trump has instructed his budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, that he does not want cuts to Medicare and Social Security’s
retirement program in this budget, Mulvaney recently said, but the plan may call for changes to Social Security Disability Insurance, seeking ideas for
ways to move people who are able out of this program and back into the workforce.”
***
Social Security already conducts regular evaluations to determine the ability of beneficiaries.  They also offer assistance, such as the PASS Plan (Plan to Achieve Self Sufficiency) so that anyone who is able can become employed.  It is a grave misconception that people are lazily hanging out on Social Security Disability.  Moreover, SSDI is based on a person’s work history:  He or she has paid into the system, at least a little bit.
One more thing:  There are strict criteria for who is eligible or not, to the point that some people who truly would benefit from SSDI are not enrolled.
Mr. Trump really doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance.

I do have to say, it’s appalling to me that the ones making these decisions have absolutely NO idea about what these programs are, who benefits and what their lives are like, especially Mr. Trump, who is so isolated from the real world.

I think every congressperson, senator and president should have to live for one year on the amount of money that people in poverty relief programs receive, in the same neighborhoods and with the same level of care.  They might…possibly, maybe, I hope…find some compassion.

One more thing:  This “safety net” affects everybody from the poorest to the wealthiest among us, whether people recognize that or not.

There are more points on which to comment.  If you want to read the article, here it is:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-to-propose-big-cuts-to-safety-net-in-new-budget-this-week/2017/05/21/62c01f44-3e34-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html