Barely making ends meet?

Generally, I stay positive from day-to-day, with permission for an occasional pity party, but today things have gotten to me.  The economic news is bleak and though I do not usually subscribe to the mass hypnosis of the media on the state of the economy, now that I need a dental crown and my car is in the shop, I am finding it hard to keep myself from crying.

Fortunately, I have a job.  I am not in love with this job, and I am grossly underpaid, but it’s a job just the same.  Nearly 10% of the population would trade places with me in a New York minute, so I keep the belly-aching inside my head.  Still, it’s challenging to get fired up enough to shower, dress, and drive to the store where I work.  Since it’s retail, I have the “pleasure” of dealing with the public-the joy of which has been experienced by my fellow public servant, Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater.  For the record, I was a stewardess for United Airlines, back in the day when the traveling public dressed in their Sunday finest, and being a “stew” was considered a glamorous job .  A little part of me applauded Mr. Slater for his actions, knowing only too well that after years of being abused, like the elephant who has been tortured for decades and finally snaps and says…ENOUGH…Steve exited with great aplomb.

But, I digress.  My fractured bicuspid needs a crown to the tune of $1475.  Speechless, I told the office manager that it was only one tooth that needed capping, to which she offered me a paltry 10% discount.  Thanks lady, but I don’t have dental insurance, nor do I have $1400 sitting around.  I, like so many of my fellow Americans, live paycheck to paycheck.

My beloved 2002 PT Cruiser, with 118,000 miles, all put on the odometer by me, said she’d had enough of the relentless and brutal heat of Phoenix summers, and just would not start, as if  saying…I need a vacation!  She was towed off like a sick person in an ambulance to the “hospital” for tests.  Right now, I await for results of her “illness,” with my fingers crossed that it’s something simple.  I live paycheck to paycheck.

At the moment I am also waiting for my Dad to die.  That may sound cold and callous to some of you reading this, but he has been dying for over a year…maybe even longer than that.  He has lost over 50 pounds, comes and goes mentally, gets skin tears that bleed nearly every day, and has a deep wound on his left foot that will never heal.  Add to that the catheter he’s worn for over 4 years, the recurring prostate cancer, even though his prostate was removed in 1996, increasing pain levels, and heart issues…there is just no way around the fact that he would NOT want to be living like this…if he were aware!  It is excruciating for me and my family and probably not a picnic for him.

My house is still my house.  I so appreciate that fact.  I was one of the fortunate ones who actually succeeded in modifying the loan.  Not something I was thrilled to do at my age, but it was the only wise decision I could make at that moment.  It does not help the fact that I owe $125,000 MORE than the house is worth by today’s market values.  I remain one of the original owners in my neighborhood.

So after writing all of this, I guess I’ll just allow myself a short pity party this afternoon before I go pick up my car.  By the way…it was the battery!

The truth about Obama and the bail outs

When will people actually get their stories straight???

Pinal County Sheriff, Paul Babeu, recently stated that he believes the President is committing treason by fighting the State of Arizona on SB1070.   During an interview on NBC Sunday Morning Today here in Phoenix, he said, among other things, that the government “owns the banks, the auto industry, and the insurance companies.”

There are blogs slamming Sheriff Babeu for doing an interview on WLRM-AM, a radio station in Tennessee with white nationalist themes.  But THIS blog is not about the Sheriff’s disdain for SB1070.  This blog isn’t about Babeu thinking Obama committed Treason, (even though he is an ACTIVE duty Army Reserve officer and by slamming his Commander-In-Chief, should be court-martialed)  This blog is all about the fact that the Sheriff apparently doesn’t have his bail-out facts straight.  One thing that really bothers me is that if you are going to do an interview and speak your opinion, you should be sure that what comes out of your mouth is a vetted fact.

Sheriff Babeu’s statement that our government owns the banks, the auto industry, and the insurance companies is true, but he is blaming this on President Obama.  Sheriff Babeu…the bail out of the banks, Wall Street, the auto industry  was done by President George W. Bush.  You can blame the “bail-out” of the insurance companies on President Obama, who, by signing the healthcare reform bill into law, handed the already fat insurance companies, millions more.  The bank and auto bail outs…George W Bush!

I am always puzzled as to why people on the Right can’t seem to recall everything that W pushed through during his tenure.  The whole economy collapse began shortly after he took office.  And don’t forget the war began under false pretenses! Talk about the National Debt…

I most certainly am not thrilled with how President Obama is doing things in Washington.  However, it is NOT his fault that our tax dollars went to bail out huge corporations who got too fat to monitor their fiscal spending, and screwed US in doing so.  I was never in favor of any bail outs, and I, along with about 75% of registered voters, said the same to their representatives.  Yet, nearly Senator and Congress person voted FOR it!

And regarding his adamant support of Arizona SB1070…neither he, nor ANY of the other Sheriff’s very publicly supporting SB1070, defend ANY counties on the border between Arizona and Mexico!!

Just sayin’

LAX food inspections at airports

Use caution at airport restaurants

Bring your own food if you’re concerned about the safety of food purchased at an airport. Most certainly much food eaten at airports is safe but do you know how often inspectors visit these places? Not often enough, and when they do, in most cases, everyone knows ahead of time, and they’re all prepared. Garbage cans are washed, gloves are donned, and no official saw a cook tasting the soup with the spoon, or reusing a utensil after it was dropped on the floor. No one saw the rat droppings, the unwashed, moldy vegetables turned into soup, or found the tuna at room-temperature. No one saw the food preparer use the same gloves to cut raw chicken and then slice bread.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness each year in the United States. “Most aren’t traced to the source and doing so is even harder with airport restaurants because customers scatter,” said Dean Davidson of the Food and Drug Administration.

Reports show that grab-and-go coolers often don’t keep sandwiches and salads cold enough to stop dangerous pathogens, so if you do bring your own food, be sure it is cool enough or hot enough to keep bugs at bay, or you’ll be tossing your cookies in the plane lavatory.

Healthcare for ALL

The abysmal American health care system was in my face yesterday at the store where I work and I am more sickened than ever.

One of my co-workers fainted and fell to the floor. Though it has been many years since I worked in the medical field, I was, at one time, an oral surgical nurse, so I offered to help. I suggested the usual…keep her head still…don’t move her…as I answered questions asked by the 911 operator.

While I was on the phone the “patient” began crying hysterically, saying she didn’t want anyone to come. Why? She has no health insurance. When she needed help and was clearly ill, her first concern was that of no coverage and the prospect of looming medical bills; quite scary for an hourly wage earner.

It’s not that my company doesn’t offer health insurance; they do. But this woman, who works harder than anyone else in the store, doesn’t work the 32 hours required for coverage. And it’s not that she doesn’t want to work, it’s that there are not enough labor dollars to schedule her for more.

bandaged pig and crutches

Are you covered for the unexpected?

In this economy she’s fortunate to have a job, but I doubt she was so grateful yesterday when all she could think about through her fog, was that she didn’t have money or insurance to help her when she needed medical assistance.

People who shop at my store would put it into the category of “health food store.” We sell a good amount of organic products like produce, coffee, peanut butter, and meat, and there is a large vitamin and body care section. People would think that everyone who works there is healthy and has the peace of mind of medical insurance should they need it one day. People would be wrong. Most of the employees are not covered for the same reason as the woman who fell yesterday…not enough labor dollars to go around.

With labor dollars in short supply, health coverage lags behind and everyone suffers. In recent years the average employee health insurance premium has risen nearly eight times faster than income. The problem is that the health care program being discussed today will build on the current, and antiquated system, leaving my co-worker, and millions like her, with no insurance.

According to statistics from AARP, “Americans spend more on health care every year than we do educating our children, building roads, even feeding ourselves—an estimated $2.6 trillion in 2009, or around $8,300 per person. Forty-five million Americans (like my co-worker) have no health insurance whatsoever.”

It is my opinion that ALL Americans deserve to be covered, and I believe they should be covered through a single-payer system similar to Medicare or the health program offered to federal-government employees. And know this – many of the people fighting against health coverage for you are the members of Congress and the Senate YOU voted into office, and whose coverage will last their lifetime.

Who pays for that? Yep…WE do!

As I drove home last night, I, a very non-religious person, thought of a verse from Leviticus 19:18 – “…love they neighbor as thyself.”

I KNOW that passing a bill giving healthcare to ALL Americans is the right thing to do, and if my taxes increase a few dollars, so be it!

 

More government control via proposed HR 875

A new bill was dropped* on the hill in February 2009 – HR875 – that will create a Food Safety Administration. Just what we need…another government committee! This agency is supposed to “protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food (at food production facilities), improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving the security of food from international contamination, and other purposes.” What exactly are “other purposes” and when will we find out?

A food production facility has been defined as “any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal feeding operation.” This would include:

beansAll organic farms
All small farms
All family farms
Small family gardens – if you sell any produce to your neighbors

This bill will give the government the power to define what is “safe.” So if organic farmers are not using herbicide (created by Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, and about 35 other related Agri-giants) then the organic farms could instantly be put out of business.

Apparently anything organic is threatening to Big Agra – In December 2008, in LaGrange, Ohio, armed agents from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Loraine County Department of Health, and the local LaGrange police, raided the Manna Storehouse, a 60-member co-op. For six hours the family who have run the co-op since 1999, had their personal possessions ransacked; $10,000 worth of food was confiscated, as were computers and cell phones. The family, including the children and infants, was held at gunpoint.

The crime? Wanting to save money on bulk purchases of organic food. According to the Feds, the co-op was selling perishable food without a retail license. John and Jacqueline Stowers, who operate the co-op, are not selling to the general public, but rather to the members who pay a fee and had previously agreed to take full responsibility for the food they purchase.

Personally, I believe that the USDA and local health departments could serve the public more efficiently by cracking down on factory farmed meat and grocery store produce that is contaminated with Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella. So far they are not doing their jobs!
Case in point…today a recall was placed on pistachio nuts that are apparently tainted with salmonella. Where are you USDA? How would herbicide have prevented the salmonella?

For the Stower’s and their co-op – the Buckeye Institute’s Center for Constitutional Law has filed a suit against the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Loraine County Health Department for violating the constitutional rights of the Stowers, arguing that all citizens have the right to purchase food directly from local growers. They also have the right to pool resources and distribute that food to neighbors without a government license. The Institute also states that it is the “right of peaceful citizens to be free from parliamentary police raids, searches and seizures which is guaranteed under the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.”

Today a bill is before the legislature to end everything organic! Whether you eat organically or not is irrelevant. We The People have already paid billions in bonus’ to the employees of failed companies, and now we stand to lose our choice to purchase the type of food we prefer? Just how far will We The People allow Washington to go, anyway?

Please contact your Representatives and Senators and tell them you want them to vote NO on HR 875!

If you don’t have the contact information for your Senators, go to http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfmis for a list.

For the House go to: http://www.house.gov/writerep Put in your zip and you will get the name of your congressperson and their contact information.

*NOTE: HR 875 was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from the 3rd District of Connecticut, whose husband is a political strategist on the payroll of Monsanto. Do I smell conflict of interest?

Country Pride

There are stations with trash cans and plastic bags all along the path I walk every morning with Rosie, yet each day I see the “evidence” from many different dogs.  People…how hard is it to grab a bag, bend over, scoop up the poop, and toss it into the trash can?  I mean everything has been provided for you…all you have to do is pick it up.  This truly irritates me.

I usually pass by, shaking my head in disgust, and wonder who leaves this stuff behind?  Yesterday morning I got bags and picked up after five different dogs.  To their owners…You’re welcome! 

Today’s walk included another path along the canal and not only was there evidence of many dogs having stopped to do their business, but there were broken bottles and trash strewn around too.  I find this interesting since the city provides HUGE cans in which to throw all garbage…another for recyclables…so there is no reason to dump trash in the public areas of our community.

Have we all just given up?  Has the current economic situation caused people not to care?  Isn’t it bad enough that our home values have plummeted and many homes in each neighborhood are empty?  Were some of the people who are tossing trash over their fences considerate about their surroundings at one time, or have they always been pigs?

Behind my development there is a large strip of desert owned by the city.  People have dumped dead trees and other vegetation, old tires, large piles of dog poop, dirty diapers, empty boxes, and various other things that clearly go into ones OWN trash can for the city to dispose of properly.  But apparently, some of my neighbors believe this piece of land is their personal dump.

I live in a neighborhood that wasn’t even on Mapquest or Google until about nine months ago, so it’s not an established area, and all of the houses are fairly new (mine is only two years old).  I would think that people who live in new houses would want to keep their property and the area in which they live, clean.  I would be wrong.

So what puzzles me is how far from the city do I have to move, not to be surrounded by other people’s trash?

I don’t believe it matters what socio-economic group you fall into, but unless you’re too old to do it, or too sick to care, taking pride in your neighborhood reflects on your city, your state, and your country.  With all the flags flying, support our troops car magnets, and enormous interest in this election, doens’t it seem a simple thing to at least keep pick up after your dog?

Straight Talk

My head is buzzing. Let’s begin with this question:  How does having been a prisoner of war validate your ability to be Commander-In-Chief?  And how does a few minutes with several heads of state give you foreign policy experience?  With this theory can I meet with my doctor and then be allowed to perform brain surgery?  Cool!

OK, now let me get down to the issue of John McCain and how he’s totally derailed his Straight Talk Express.

Though at this posting there is a temporary bailout plan that has been hammered out, but yesterday, in a knee-jerk reaction, John Boy put a halt to his campaign and flew himself to Washington to “work” on the financial crisis.  Have you forgotten, sir, that you are not on ANY financial committee, therefore, you could not have attended or participated in any of those closed-door meetings?  Nice try kiddo.

As for postponing Friday’s debate, I have to side with Obama in asking, “John, can’t you do more than one thing at a time?”  WOW…if not, then how do you plan on running this Nation?  I think many things happen simultaneously, pretty much every day.  And you say you’re prepared.

Today, a friend of mine forwarded me a list of statements about John McCain that she got from her friend; I have to share.  I don’t know this guy but I have been assured he won’t mind and would be thrilled for as many people as possible to know this stuff.  Read on:

  • Mr. McCain lied last Sunday when he said that his campaign manager has had no dealings with Freddie Mac since 2005.
  • An article in the September issue of an insurance magazine quotes McCain as saying that America should do with health care what we did with banking.  (Really?)  People are beginning to learn that his plan for health care will remove tax exemptions on employer-paid benefits.  He thinks this is necessary as an incentive to encourage individuals to go out and buy their own insurance.  His proposed $2500 tax credit is supposed to pay for this.  Most of us realize that this plan amounts to a tax on US…middle America.
  • How valid is Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential choice if his team feels the need to shield her from the press?  (I think all of us who heard her interview with Katie Couric know why)
  • McCain’s general testiness, his inability to admit he misheard a question or answered in error, and to carry his denial to ridiculous extremes, has become quite a liability.  Just go to YouTube and type in John McCain to watch him say one thing very emphatically and then, days or weeks later, say quite the opposite.  Most often, his implausible and damaging denials far outweigh any harm that might have come from simply admitting an initial mistake or mishearing.  (hell, I say “what?” all the time and don’t remember much without posting sticky notes all over my office)
  • McCain’s deep links to lobbyists of all sorts is becoming more well-known; many in the form of his closest advisers and members of his campaign.

Food for thought, eh?

Next I’d like to know what the huge rush is to strike a deal on this bailout?  Could this be yet another shiny object? (read my blog “Shiny Objects” posted 9/19/08) Personally, I believe that more time should be taken before agreeing to a 700 BILLION dollar deal.  Any financial adviser worth his salt would recommend the same.  And why are we giving CPR to Wall Street NOW when the patient has nearly expired?  Shouldn’t action have been taken weeks, months, or years ago?  I’m just not so sure about any of this, and I bet I am about 99% correct when I say, neither do my fellow Americans.

In response this crisis and in reference to an article on my local newspapers website today, one guy said:  “Don’t worry.  Some old fossil, who can’t even work a computer, is flying in to fix this.”  Ya gotta love this guy.

I don’t want my head to explode, so I’ll end with some good news:

The Humane Society of America, in an unprecedented move, endorsed Barack Obama in a clear statement against Palin and her total disregard for animals.

Woof!!