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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

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:
http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Medi-Cal-sued-over-delays-in-approving-new-5767630.php

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".

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/336c5b954e1e44c1a167d240f0f553cf/yellen-says-us-families-need-boost-savings

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.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/fed-forget-escape-velocity-not-gonna-happen-ever.html

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/message-to-janet-yellen-if-you-don-t-earn-enough-to-survive-you-can-t-save-money

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-18/trolling-continues-fed-chairwoman-expresses-her-condolences-americas-poor

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?

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/americans-stingy-lot-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...).

http://dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#idrenew

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".

Bastards.

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".

Bastards.
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