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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

When You Find Out Your Progressive Hero Is Not So Progressive

A few years ago I was very active on Daily Kos. I wrote a series of diaries to try to educate people about welfare.

Then the Measure S campaign in Berkeley happened. This was a campaign sponsored by business interests in Berkeley to get the riffraff off the sidewalks. "Kos" himself descended to comment in that discussion. He made some amazingly revealing remarks - the type that I would have associated with a Republican strategist trying to get things done. He made some B.S. remarks about his wife being "afraid" of walking down the streets. (In 20 years I haven't been afraid of walking down the streets in Berkeley, and I'm a small, disabled woman). What he meant is she didn't like being "bothered", and he was too self-absorbed to learn about why there were so many people on the streets (re: the utter failure of Alameda County Social Services). He could have benefited from reading a few of my diaries. He furthermore started referring to people as "it", dehumanizing those he wanted to scrape off his shoe. Soon thereafter I deleted all my diaries and left Daily Kos.

Today I went to check my local online news site for election results, and what do I see but Kos (who, ironically, happens to live in my neighborhood) crowing about conservative victories and strategizing about how to throw out all the left-leaning Berkeley City candidates!!!

In the same thread he makes numerous comments about the need for further gentrification of Berkeley and proclaims support for the forces that have created a crisis of homelessness there that has been generally ignored and suppressed by the City Council. While the mayor directs city funds meant for housing to consultants and year long studies that only serve to hide the crisis by separating "couch surfers" from the "chronic" street homeless, there are desperate people in need of housing RIGHT NOW. Bates knows darned well his plan is to invite Rich People in and quietly pressure the poor people to go elsewhere while no one is looking.

Read the whole thread for other jaw-dropping remarks: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/11/11/berkeley-2014-elections-tune-in-here-for-live-coverage/

Kos is a COLLABORATOR in all this and his attitude toward Measure S, and the statements he has made on Berkeleyside about pushing all Left-leaning people out of the Berkeley City council show this. Yet he made his fortune by crowd-sourcing people's progressive values! How wrong is that?!

I am really sad and disappointed right now. I tried to make a comment on Berkeleyside, but I think it was modded since it addressed Kos directly.

Update: Interesting - Berkeleyside did approve my comment. Well maybe Kos will read it and take a minute to actually look around his neighborhood.

"A Social Worker Advised Me to Have a Baby if I Wanted Public Money"

This articles packs an amazing number of truths about poverty into a few short paragraphs:

Against the GOP shrug of "get a job", the article brings up the ramifications of age, gender, geographic location, particular education/career paths, how technology has changed the way we communicate and interact as a society. It gets right to the heart of what's wrong with all the political grandstanding over employment, all the lame "employment programs", the endless fluff pieces written by "human resources professionals": the entire system is predicated on ideas about local "social networks" that just aren't the reality for a lot of people anymore.

The part of the article that gets to the fundamental hypocrisy of our society, though, is the part where the author mentions - in an off hand way - how a social worker advised her to have a baby if she wanted "public money".

Most people know very little about the welfare system, or what's left of it. But I'm sure if they pass a beggar on the street, they justify not handing over any pocket change because "the State" will somehow vet their situation and give them something to meet their basic needs. After all, politicians are always screaming about "Welfare Queens" - Social Services must be writing monthly checks to poor people! This is untrue. While every county is different, by and large you don't get help just because you've run out of resources. In the county where I live, "general assistance" welfare is $336/month for 3 months out of the year. You can get that amount only if it's going to pay for housing: apparently it's much lower if you're homeless and using it for temporary shelters. Oh, and this money is a loan. If you get some small job, you can't save up because you will be paying back the State first.

But if you're a woman, and you have a child, suddenly you become eligible for programs for the child. You can also pool any aid you get with aid the child gets. Your situation is much more survivable as a woman with a child. You can stabilize your housing. You can get support to finish your education. There's a chance to lift yourself out of poverty. There is strong incentive for poor women to have children because everything in our current welfare policy is about crushing and destroying and outright torturing the poor instead of helping them.

This is why every time some GOP schmuck starts going on a tear about poor women having babies, I just gape in astonishment. How do these guys not understand that their own policies created this situation? Welfare policy gives women every incentive to have children, because the rules have made it abundantly clear that human beings have zero value in and of themselves. That baby is their only life line. Social workers do secretly give that advice, just as they have to give a lot of other advice to "work around" the utterly impossible system that's in place. If the GOP wants to change that, then the solution is a lot simpler than seizing control of every single uterus or implementing eugenics. All they have to do is realize that by making having a baby the only way for people to get welfare, they created an incentive for very desperate people to have babies.

The poor don't make "bad decisions". The rich are making bad decisions about the poor. The poor are actually making the most logical decisions in the set of circumstances they are being saddled with.

As a woman who has had to fall back on the welfare system because of the multi-year application process for SSI, I have resented the enormous pressure to have children to get any sort of survivable support. I frankly don't want to have children. I don't think this situation is fair for impoverished men, either.

Coming Soon: Longevity for the 1%, the "Choice" to Sacrifice for the Rest

I'm sure Ezekiel Emanuel was utterly sincere when he claimed he didn't wish to turn his personal philosophy into hard policy when he described why he hoped he hoped to die at 75: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/why-i-hope-to-die-at-75/379329/

However, by publishing his article in a prominent venue such as The Atlantic, it does seem like Emanuel wishes to influence the public conversation and lead opinion - and that could ultimately lead to policy. And there is no question Emanuel is trying to position the choice to end life at 75 as the morally superior one. Those who die at 75 will avoid a "low quality of life" and reduce the burden on their families, their communities, and the taxpayer. Emanuel snidely labels those who don't make this choice "American Immortals".

Let's not tiptoe around the real issue here. The U.S. has many apparent financial problems that need to be addressed by policy - cost of taking care of an aging population (including potential Social Security shortfalls), cost of health care, over-population and environmental issues, failing infrastructure. I say "apparent" because it's not always clear where we have a real problem and where the only problem is politics. One thing that is clear - Congress usually deadlocks on the major issues, and thus the problems-if they are problems-go unsolved.

In private people do freely opine their social engineering solutions to whatever they think the root of the problem is. One perennial favorite is the "over-utilization" of health care: especially by people who are elderly and "can't be saved". And there is always a little bit of grumbling about how this opinion can't be voiced out loud because it might offend someone's sweet Grandma. And there's always a weird ability to compartmentalize the "rational" argument from how you yourself might feel toward the end of your life, when others are deciding to allocate life-extending measures to you.

Sometimes, however, someone is so confident in the Rightness of their Vision, that they do "have the guts" to bring "what everyone is thinking" to the public podium. I've actually been waiting for this to happen. It just saddens me that the person who took out the bullhorn was Emanuel - someone who can be associated with the Affordable Care Act. Prepare for incoming Public Service Announcements about "Death Panels", "The Real Die Quickly", rationing, all sorts of right wing population control conspiracy theories, "Useless Eaters", and paranoid references to soylent green. If Emanuel is Obamacare's friend, it doesn't need enemies.

If anyone wants to get up to speed on why disguising State economic considerations as "choice" to die is fundamentally and morally wrong, I recently read a terrific dystopian novel on that very subject: Ninni Holmqvist's The Unit. In this book, if people aren't "needed" (by the labor force or by children) by 50, they are considered "dispensible". If they run out of resources to take care of themselves and aren't "protected" in some way, they go into the care of the State. In exchange for this "care", they gradually "donate" all their organs to the "needed" members of society. As society starts to run out of post-50 year olds the protected categories become fewer and fewer: since women are desperate to have children to become "needed", the babies are essentially eating the elderly in a monstrous social machine. This is one of the best novels I've read in recent memory. Here's a review: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/29/AR2009062903971.html

While I was reading The Unit, I got a chill about our near future. When I read Emanuel, I realized that future is even nearer than a vague chill. An article from a respected Opinion Leader is how it all starts.

However, the biggest problem I have with Emanuel's pious proposition is that it is an egregious Entitlement of the 1%. No matter what he says now, when Emanuel reaches the age of 75, he really will have a choice about whether he wants to live longer or not. He's received the best of medical care all his life. He has a well-funded retirement. He might decide that his life is still worth living even if he's not "contributing" to the GDP in some way or coming up with ideas worthy of a Nobel Prize. The utilitarian standards he currently gives for the point of maintaining life are purely arbitrary: they are the standards of a State deciding whether you should live or die.

What about the people who have been set up to have a poor quality of life all along? Some of my genetic problems may have been caused by exposure to farming pesticides. Society imposed that element of poor quality of life on me: should I reward that by choosing to relieve society of my "burden" at age 75? There are many elements of "toxic stress" in the modern life style that don't just affect the poor: working conditions create muscle strain, eye problems, and even give people early heart attacks. People suffer this because they have to do what they have to do to earn a living. But if they become disabled through this struggle to survive, is society's answer going to be: "you should choose to die now"? I would argue the level of stress leading to disability would disproportionately effect the poor: and even with the Affordable Care Act, their medical resources to recoup their "quality of life" are nothing like what the 1% has access to.

Now let's look at another elephant in the room: longevity through technical advancement. Longevity promises have been in the air for decades. But so has a wink wink nudge nudge that only the very wealthy will have access to these longevity measures: it would be impractical to share because of the "population problem". (And let's face it - there's probably a little bit of snobbishness about IQ, class, and race in there, too). Under current conditions, longevity is for the rich only.

While Emanuel is framing the decision to die at 75 as a moral choice, it amounts to a sacrifice that the poor in particular will be made to make for the "good of society". This is the same as the "choice" to sign up for the military when there are no other jobs in the area. Even if there is a draft - the 1% finds ways to make themselves the exception. They don't have to sacrifice their "needed" sons for the good of society. Let the poor be cannon fodder.

If we as a society are ready to have a conversation about social engineering and population control, let's not do it with sneaky euphemisms and psychological manipulation. Let's state the problem up front: and if we're asking a particular social group to take one for the rest of the team, lets be honest about it. If that solution is sexist, racist, agist, and ultimately genocidal, let's be honest about that, too. But perhaps IF there is a real population problem here, it's enough to get our cowardly Congress to address it on the front end through family planning and birth control rather than pushing the people with a "low quality of life" (that may have been IMPOSED on them) into the sea!

What is Emanuel's mere opinion today will become propaganda and social pressure tomorrow: we the Democratic voters could easily find ourselves persuaded by "facts", statistics, and a deluge of editorials from respected public figures. It will all seem so reasonable and fair to the taxpayer when you vote for "choice" and "quality of life" and your "right to die". Then you will turn 50, and if you are unneeded, you will be escorted to The Unit for your retirement.

Legal aid groups sue state over Medi-Cal approval delays

Someone posted this article in General Discussion:

Bay Area Legal Aid is suing California for leaving hundreds of thousands of people without medical coverage while dealing with a bureaucratic application backlog problem.

After I read this article I wrote the reporter about my missing Medi-Cal coverage. This makes me wonder if when Social Services cancelled everything for me (click my sig for details), Medi-Cal went into "needs to apply again" status...which would put me somewhere in this enormous backlog.

All anyone can grok now is that I've been totally deleted from the Social Services Medi-Cal database as if I never applied, even though I'm hold a Medi-Cal card and have Medi-Cal number, etc.

Did Janet Yellen say "Let them Eat Cake"?

A few days ago I read the article in which Janet Yellen opined that Americans needed to protect themselves from "financial setbacks" by "saving more".


This article was immediately disheartening for me because I not only have no savings, I don't even have enough work credits for minimal social security, so no matter what I'm looking at a future of dire poverty. I've been painfully aware of the fact that I missed the window for putting away money for my retirement. All the savings I did put in an IRA while I was working got burnt after my unemployment insurance ran out and before I went on to welfare. I currently have no direct cash income at all. Literally, I have nothing to save.

I read another article on DU about Yellen's recent policies where people started making remarks like "let them eat cake". This led me to articles where this was headline sentiment.




Then there was that thing a few days ago where Yellen was messing with municipal bonds and forcing city governments to live "within their means": http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/09/the-fed-just-imposed-financial-austerity-on-the-states/

And if your means are smaller than everyone else's then...tough.

I've been told that Yellen's policies are also ultimately responsible for rising rents and the housing crisis where I live because quantitative easing and stimulating the stock market encourages property speculation, especially in desirable areas. So it seems the Fed's policies are making me poorer while I'm being asked to save (in accounts that currently have no interest rates).

I never studied economics in either high school and college, and it often shows. I don't care if I look like an idiot when I ask questions about it because when push comes to shove, I want to actually know what I'm doing when I vote. In reading all this, it seems to me that Yellen is genuinely unaware that, far from being in a position to save and "build assets", a lot of people are creatively financing their survival right now: they are living at home, they went back to school, they are already living on fixed incomes (disability or retirement), they are living on unemployment insurance, they are living off the dregs of their savings (burning their future retirement), they are on their third mortgage, they are balancing debt on 20 credit cards, they are living out of their car, etc. Yellen seems to be projecting the options available to her normative lifestyle on to a lot of people that don't have that option.

So when Yellen says: "Let them save", I do hear "Let them eat cake."

Anyone else hearing that? Wonk'splain me if I'm wrong.

PBS: Are Americans a Stingy Lot of People?


I would throw a lot of other factors in here: people lead financially stressed lives even when we aren't in a recession (caught between student loans, supporting their own children, and then taking care of parents - it seems like we encouraged the nuclear family lifestyle without laying the proper infrastructure for it). Also, in a diverse and highly competitive society, people become less trusting, which makes them less generous. People are busy while the political and social systems are very fragmented: when money gets used in inefficient, wasteful ways, people get suspicious and don't want to throw their money "in a hole" anymore.

The problem is that the welfare system has been steadily gutted since the 1980s. Since no one really cares about people on welfare, there is no political will to change things: a lot of the policies around welfare have devolved into a tangled heap of nonsense at the local level. (Click my sig if you want to see an epic example). People often would prefer to continue to make up stories about "welfare queens" to justify their own inaction rather than even attempt to learn more about the current state of affairs.

Because people on welfare can be in a situation where are not only given no direct cash for necessities, attempting to earn it or take it as a gift will undermine their other benefits (such as food stamps or medical care) or housing, unfortunately charity - completely inadequate, fragmented charity- has been stepping into the breach and trying to keep people going where the nation has been content to drive masses of people into homelessness and let them die in a ditch.

Churches have actually been the most consistent in doing this charity work. Hearing Bush say "faith-based" anything used to make me wretch. But now I recognize that's all that's left. It's not adequate. It doesn't provide people with regular food and housing. But it's necessary because society is failing to address the current problems with welfare policy, and someone has to be there with a soup ladle because of that.

We've left society in a state where private individuals need to step up with voluntary charity. Yet this poll shows they don't. Either it's not in our culture or it's not in the terms of life we're setting down - in any case, it's not happening.

So what now?

How Are People on General Assistance Supposed to get California IDs?

California ID's are required for everything from applying for jobs to receiving Medi-Cal services. You are your ID card these days. You literally can't function without this card.

A month ago I got my renewal notice in the mail. $28! Pretty steep when General Assistance pays no direct cash income!

I checked their web site, and as usual California offers a "discount" ($8) to people (who, on G.A., get no direct cash income...).


I work with the Dept. of Rehab, so I've asked them to pick up the tab on that one. Many people on disability General Assistance, trying to establish their inability to work so they can get qualify SSI/SSDI, wouldn't be involved with the Dept. of Rehab., so I'd like to underscore that it's unusual that I had that option.

However, even with that option, the logistics seem a little fantastic here. Am I reading this correctly?


You may pay a reduced application fee for an original or renewal identification card if you meet income requirements from a public assistance program. If you are eligible, the governmental or non–profit program will give you a completed Verification for Reduced Fee Identification Card form (DL 937) to take to DMV to apply for your reduced fee identification card.

See your local public assistance program agency for information about eligibility requirements and obtaining a DL 937 form.


To break this down, I have to:

1) Acquire a DL 44 by going to the DMV (bus money!) or mail (10 business days! - if the person has a mailbox.).

2) Ask my DOR counselor to fill out a DL 937 form that may or may not be accepted (I had to download one I found at an iffy place on the Internet because he had never heard of it and gave up on trying to navigate the DMV site after it used up our whole meeting time).

3) Wait some unknown amount of time to get the DOR check approved/cut. Pray that doesn't exceed the deadline for renewing my ID.

3) Use bus money and/or take the handy wormhole to the DMV offered as a little known service by the Public Library.

I feel like I'm reading something wrong here. If these California ID's are required, if they are absolutely essentially to living, why charge people who - by the State's own bureaucratic knowledge - have no direct cash income? Especially if they are just renewing their ID - where's the door opening for identity scamming there?

And secondly, why make it such a recondite, time-consuming, costly process to get the discount ID? The information for the discount ID (which I couldn't directly bookmark to send to the DOR counselor) and the fee was in 2 separate places. He's not the only one who has never heard of this DL 937 form. When I looked it up online, Social Services handbooks were thanking people for doing the research and trying to figure out how to get these forms!!! Also there was some confusion as how the client was supposed to bring in the DL 44 form with DL 937 form when Social Services couldn't stock up on those, and you couldn't get them online - you could only get those from the DMV - creating an extra layer of run-around for the most stressed person in the equation - the person on welfare - to do.

Yes, we all know the DMV sucks. Nothing new under the sun here.

Just wondering if there was another way that I wasn't aware of that I could bring to the attention of my DOR counselor. I'm sure people working with other Social Programs would appreciate an update/rehash of this matter, too.

Social Services Retaliation in Oakland, CA

This is cross-posted from General Discussion. Someone originally questioned it as a conspiracy theory, so I want to state up front that this post records a direct action taken by Social Services, not a "theory". Social Services registers welfare recipients for Medi-Cal in California: they do not determine eligibility, but they can apparently slip you into a "denied" category that cuts you off from all Medi-Cal services. This factually happened to me.

Of course you can call my interpretation of the motivation of a "theory", so please hit me with your alternative interpretations as to why my Social Services case worker wandered over to his computer and switched my Medi-Cal status to "denied" at this time when I am raising a huge fuss about Social Services - including a matter that could have been mitigated if my case worker had bothered to return phone calls from his clients.

X-Post below:

For the last few weeks I've been tryng to raise awareness of how Oakland's Welfare policy punishes work, undermines housing, and is, in sum a convoluted mess that drives people to homelessness instead of doing anything to help them. And I've been calling out the politicians who are doing nothing about it by name.

Today I got my first taste of Social Services retaliation. They kicked me out of the Medi-Cal system. I had to cancel medical appts and I can't refill my meds. A clinical trial I was trying to enroll in is at risk because it relies on imaging done exactly a year ago. I may have to cancel the regularly scheduled injections that were saving my eye sight. I wonder if I will get DTs from the gap in my meds before this is fixed.

I also wonder how else Social Services plans to give me a "hard time".


Social Services Retaliation in Oakland, CA

For the last few weeks I've been tryng to raise awareness of how Oakland's Welfare policy punishes work, undermines housing, and is, in sum a convoluted mess that drives people to homelessness instead of doing anything to help them. And I've been calling out the politicians who are doing nothing about it by name.

Today I got my first taste of Social Services retaliation. They kicked me out of the Medi-Cal system. I had to cancel medical appts and I can't refill my meds. A clinical trial I was trying to enroll in is at risk because it relies on imaging done exactly a year ago. I may have to cancel the regularly scheduled injections that were saving my eye sight. I wonder if I will get DTs from the gap in my meds before this is fixed.

I also wonder how else Social Services plans to give me a "hard time".


Coping With Welfare Equals Losing 13 IQ Points

I can vouch for this personally. I have a graduate degree from a world class university. I spent a year at Oxford. I was a women's chess champion in my state, and I helped my small town's team win Virginia's first Intercity chess league. I once had a mensa IQ. When I was young I hid this information because it would have made me an intolerably arrogant nerd. Now I don't mention it because my IQ is 20-30 points lower, and I have noticeable cognitive deficits, such as skipping words when I type.

I lost these IQ points in the struggle to avoid homelessness while facing major medical problems without insurance or any sort of social support system. That struggle did grind me down until I was disabled and on welfare. While I read a lot and try to keep my mind active in various ways, I cringe at what an IQ test would show if I took one today. But I'm lucky because most of the time I function normally. That's ONLY the case because I had a huge advantage to start with.

The chart below explains why. Please read it. I'm not asking for money. Just a few minutes of your attention to this terrible problem, which has become a form of torture on US soil.

Ps. This is the first and only time I'm going to mention this personal information about myself on the Internet. Please make it worth it by giving the topic of breakdown in the welfare system the attention I'm pleading for.

CREDIT: http://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/poverty/
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