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daredtowork

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Member since: Tue Aug 19, 2014, 11:02 PM
Number of posts: 3,732

Journal Archives

Welfare: Being Investigated by "Program Integrity Division" (CA)

I couple of weeks ago I attempted to bring up a rather paranoia-inducing problem during Oakland's "Moving Toward Change and Crafting Solutions" Town Hall. I wanted to use that unique opportunity to address two rows of State and local political representatives to let them in know - in front of public "interested party" witnesses - that Social Services has been frightening everyone on General Assistance welfare by telling them that they were being surveilled by investigators, and this would involve interviewing their neighbors, etc.

If you think that was just an idle threat to keep people on welfare "scared straight", I've already received my letter. Perhaps it has something to do with me publicly pointing out that $336/month that goes directly to your landlord with no direct cash for basic necessities raises the question of A) where are you going to get a place that cheap and, B) how are you going to get basic necessities? (click my sig for details) This is especially a dire problem for people caught in the eternal application for SSI process.

How much do you suppose these Investigators make? Around $60k/year? And their job is to intimidate and terrorize people who literally aren't allowed to have money for basic necessities.

The Social Services supplicants were not even allowed to interact with their caseworker directly to ask questions or make personal appeals. They could only turn in their documents - and some vague threats were issued regarding documents that were imperfect or incomplete. The only phone number for the caseworker that people receive goes to an automated phone tree. When I received my acknowledgment letters, they indicated the exact same problems as last year: Social Services had no medical paperwork on file for me (how did they lose this two years in a row?) so they were threatening some rollback to 2012 unless I scramble to obtain whatever they need. It's always something, and the stress and time-consuming legwork is always shifted to the poor person.

Well I've been dealing with this crap for years, I'll deal with this. I just have to wonder if the social contradiction of this policy, attempting to "save" money by paying Investigators to drive people who are on the edge over the edge, isn't a basic ingredient in the current social unrest in Oakland.

Two rows of local and State politicians could have heard this at the Oakland Town Hall, and Keith Carson, the county Supervisor in charge of Social Services, saw me and cut my voice off.

(x-posted from CA group: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10408831)

Being Investigated By Program Integrity Division

I couple of weeks ago I attempted to bring up a rather paranoia-inducing problem during Oakland's "Moving Toward Change and Crafting Solutions" Town Hall. I wanted to use that unique opportunity to address two rows of State and local political representatives to let them in know - in front of public "interested party" witnesses - that Social Services has been frightening everyone on General Assistance welfare by telling them that they were being surveilled by investigators, and this would involve interviewing their neighbors, etc.

If you think that was just an idle threat to keep people on welfare "scared straight", I've already received my letter. Perhaps it has something to do with me publicly pointing out that $336/month that goes directly to your landlord with no direct cash for basic necessities raises the question of A) where are you going to get a place that cheap and, B) how are you going to get basic necessities? (click my sig for details) This is especially a dire problem for people caught in the eternal application for SSI process.

How much do you suppose these Investigators make? Around $60k/year? And their job is to intimidate and terrorize people who literally aren't allowed to have money for basic necessities.

The Social Services supplicants were not even allowed to interact with their caseworker directly to ask questions or make personal appeals. They could only turn in their documents - and some vague threats were issued regarding documents that were imperfect or incomplete. The only phone number for the caseworker that people receive goes to an automated phone tree. When I received my acknowledgment letters, they indicated the exact same problems as last year: Social Services had no medical paperwork on file for me (how did they lose this two years in a row?) so they were threatening some rollback to 2012 unless I scramble to obtain whatever they need. It's always something, and the stress and time-consuming legwork is always shifted to the poor person.

Well I've been dealing with this crap for years, I'll deal with this. I just have to wonder if the social contradiction of this policy, attempting to "save" money by paying Investigators to drive people who are on the edge over the edge, isn't a basic ingredient in the current social unrest in Oakland.

Two rows of local and State politicians could have heard this at the Oakland Town Hall, and Keith Carson, the county Supervisor in charge of Social Services, saw me and cut my voice off.

Did We Set the Next Generation Up for Fascism?

We often cry "fascism" when we feel oppressed by an evil policy, but I'm talking about fascism in terms of the total delegitimization of democratic politics, and the turn to some form of arbitrary rule dressed in sham constitutional clothing.

This article made me think:
http://www.salon.com/2015/01/12/angry_rights_secret_playbook_how_it_uses_a_good_story_to_peddle_an_agenda_america_hates/

The suggestion is that Democrats (the party) "win" by becoming more "truthy" and putting slogans and heartening stories that will grab the masses before critical thinking about the real situation. Um, heil?

But that's not the only thing that's been bothering me. Has anyone else noticed that the widespread lack of trust in the mainstream media as well as government? At this point it's almost an assumption the news is either not covering the real story or its feeding us some false story paid for by our Corporate and/or Oligarchic Overlords. This leaves room for charismatic leaders with "alternative history" narratives to creep in.

The fact Congress has been perceived as "doing nothing" for YEARS is highly problematic for democracy. I don't know about anyone else, but I personally feel that NONE of my my local political representatives do anything for me - I don't interact with them at all. I am the receptacle for their spam email shakedowns for donations - that's it. My political representatives don't bother to respond when I ask for help, and they don't conduct policies that directly help people in my situation. They may in fact be potential enemies, depending on whose interests they actually serve. By the way, they are all Democrats.

When it looks like the political process does "nothing", it becomes logical to think about ways around it. Some of this emerged during the Berkeley protests. Some (supposedly "fringe" groups vandalized property as their way of refusing capitalism. Some protesters wanted to "overthrow" a democratically elected city Mayor. Protesters all over the country have a switched from teach-ins to marketing training: they are capturing hashtags and doing symbolic die-ins. This is all about capturing "hearts and minds", but does it ultimately lead to engagement with the political process and running the country?

Finally, there is Obama. He's finally taken the stage and being the President we've waited for all these years. I'm all for free Community College, and I hope that's not the only thing he has up his sleeve. But it worries me that he essentially waited until after all the "Congress crap" was over to go into the action. The message he is sending is the President had to go around Congress because Congress just doesn't do anything and/or mucks things up - i.e. the politics gets in the way.

The democracy gets in the way.

We have taught the next generation that social change happens by media manipulation of the masses and getting around "the politics" of Congress. We have taught them that democracy gets in the way.

That's a cold, bleak wind blowing.

Alameda Study Shows Homeless Are Previously Working Seniors

Not "irresponsible, lazy, addicts" after all, eh...?
http://www.contracostatimes.com/tri-valley-times/ci_27224378/alameda-county-among-new-homeless-growing-number-seniors

At least this is what is happening in Berkeley while Mayor Bates twiddles his thumbs, builds luxury condos for the uber rich, and imagines avoiding building low income housing will push those (black) undesirables out. As mentioned in previous posts I found out at the Berkeley city council meeting that my subjective impression that my West Berkeley neighborhood had become whitewashed over Bates tenure was not wrong: black demographics in Berkeley have gone from 30% to 10%. I believe that can be directly tied to policies meant squeeze low-income people out while unconscious prejudice (in the most "progressive" city in America) blocked any real stepping stones at the bottom.

This article was included in a post I have in GD about how the average taxpayer forks over $6000/year in corporate welfare and only pennies to the poor. Yet it's always "we can't afford" any more aid (should be rephrased as INVESTMENT!!!) with cuts directed at the most vulnerable.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026023001

YOUR taxes pay $6000 in Corporate Welfare and only Pennies to Aid Poor

For every whirly eyed Tea Party wingnut screeching about how the national coffers are being drained by ALL THAT MONEY we spend on "black) lazy, irresponsible, drug addicts" who are unlucky enough to need food, housing, and basic necessities for survival, perhaps you should confront them with the facts about where their tax money is really going:

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/28293-the-true-costs-of-corporate-welfare

Jaw-dropping isn't it? People have posted hundreds of articles here about how the welfare system has collapses, and how no money is getting to the poor. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about how "we" can't afford to do anything about it. The latest budget includes yet more cuts in Food Stamps and WIC. I've personally attended a welfare general assistance interview where all the applicants for the pittance - a LOAN of $336/month for 3 months out of the year - were threatened with surveillance and neighborhood interviews by fraud investigators (how much did they cost the State?). We're supposed to be down to the wire here, aren't we?

But we can afford to give banks and corporations subsidies of $6000/year out of our pockets?

Where is the outrage? Where are the pitchforks?

By the way, a recent survey of the homeless in Alameda County (Oakland), where the housing situation has reached crisis situation because the tech boom inflated housing prices and rents astronomically, did not turn up those "lazy, irresponsible, drug addicts". The survey turned up elderly, disabled people who had worked, albeit for low wages, all their lives.
http://www.contracostatimes.com/tri-valley-times/ci_27224378/alameda-county-among-new-homeless-growing-number-seniors


America Leads Civilized World in Homelessness. Source: http://www.alternet.org/economy/consequences-american-greed

This is wrong.

This is the opposite of building civilization.

Here's another NYPD cop "turning"!



So, it seems the NYPD sees their job as planting evidence to meet their quotas.

http://gothamist.com/2011/10/13/nypd_narcotics_detective_testifies.php

On 86% black and latino people.

That is, when NYPD cops aren't slamming 89lb boys through plate glass windows and then chaining them to a bed for four days while claiming the boy was under arrest for assaulting someone else.

*Source: various Anonymous twitter feeds while checking on their action.

However, check this one cop out. Last comment: "Portrait of Courage" +1



Source: https://twitter.com/TrackKingCole/status/548954809714618368/photo/1

Tech Billionaire Slams His Peers For Being 'Stingy'

I especially love how Marc Benioff says people need to take action NOW, not pledge to take action after they die. I don't really follow the lifestyles of the rich and famous in San Francisco - does this guy usually sound like he should be Mayor of Everything?

http://www.businessinsider.com/marc-benioff-tech-ceos-have-been-stingy-2014-12

As a resident of the Bay Area who has suffered a lot under the regime of tech stinginess, all I can say is I can't wait to see how he (literally) puts his money where his mouth is. And I want to know who else, BY NAME, is getting on his bandwagon.

Government Funded By Fees = Failure to Tax 1%

I was just reading this article about how Ferguson used court fees and fines to fund local government - meaning that the money mostly comes out of the pockets of the poor: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/reformers-target-traffic-courts-ferguson-27683209

I've read other articles about the virtual "debtors prison" situation in other Southern states that resulted from outsourcing court functions like probation, court fine handling, etc.

In my own city there has been some gaming of the taxes: parcel taxes multiply while the Mayor uses the shrinking General Fund (from property taxes) at his discretion.

What I'm wondering is whether the "States Rights" attitude has actually impoverished communities by leaving them to fend for themselves in an economic environment where all the money is being funneled to the 1%. Since wealthy people are geographically distributed in uneven ways, then local taxes can only go so far anyway: States need to shore up the smaller towns - just as the US political system shores up the smaller States by giving their voice equal weight in the Senate. Yes there is some "socialism" built right into the Constitution - but there it's recognized as "fairness".

Anyway, it seems like there should be a way to fund small towns that comes out of the pocket of the 1%, not out of the pocket of the poorest of the poor.

Black Cops Balance Duties With Understanding of Racism

This is a nice article that acknowledges problems exist and the need to develop community relations:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Black-cops-balance-job-duties-with-understanding-5976585.php

I hope it isn't just a PR exercise. There has been a recent fuss in nearby Richmond over the fact that police there are not allowed to do anything "political" - and that apparently includes taking a side about police misconduct, re: Ferguson. I wonder if this article had to be "approved" by some consultant first. Nevertheless, I approve of the tone it takes and the direction that it goes in. There needs to be more of the same in Berkeley and Oakland.

Open Letter from San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland Police Unions

At least they don't strike the fascist tone of the NYPD:

https://t.e2ma.net/webview/v0tng/e050569513466e32c618aff7dc27c281

At the same time, I feel that this letter doesn't quite admit that part of the trigger for the protests - especially in Oakland (I can't speak about San Francisco or San Jose - has been misconduct, abuse of power, and racial profiling from the police. It's sad that the police feel unappreciated and maligned, but this is not about their feelings anymore. We're glad that they continued to do their jobs despite the fact "three of their own" were killed across the country: but #BlackLivesMatter is about an empty seat at a black family's dinner table every 28 hours. And I'm under the impression this statistic doesn't even include women. So black families have just a weeeeeeeeee bit more courage and dignity in continuing to do their jobs despite the REGULAR killings of "their own".

The police say they want reconciliation. It seems that reconciliation starts with the simple acknowledgment of the truth of the situation. It seems that reconciliation in this case should start with a remorseful stance on the part of the police instead of "gee, you are hurting our feelings."

Moreover, the mishandling of the protests in the Bay Area only exacerbated the problem. As I have repeatedly pointed out, you don't respond to a protest against police misconduct and abuse of power with police misconduct and abuse of power. By applying measures that didn't discriminated between protesters exercising their civil rights and protesters breaking the law - i.e. using tear gas, rounding up protesters in "kettles", etc. - the police just perpetuated an authoritarian image, suggesting they were there to protect someone else's "order" and their own police "codes", not protect and serve the people The jackboots, armored vehicles, and drones did not help. Waiting until late at night to start with the ultra-fascism didn't help because this is the age of video and the police were on candid camera.

At what point are the police going to finally stop and say "oops - we get what we did wrong here now." When the protest is against the police, the police should focus on arresting criminals (like looters) only, and avoid doing "broad sweep" sort-em-out-later arrests at all costs!

The Berkeley Police Department didn't sign on to this letter. They might belong to the Oakland Union - I'm not sure. In any case, the same advice/wishful thinking applies to them.



UPDATE: The mainstream media has started to pick this up. The narrative they are crafting seems to be a stand off between the extremes of whiny speech-controlling police and the radical frak-the-police extreme fringe of the protests. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_27197719/police-union-leaders-say-protests-have-devolved-into
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