Thursday, May 25, 2017

Update

Its been far, far too long since I wrote anything here, political, religious, or anything really. So, here is an update, and some rantings from behind my personal bully pulpit. How am I, not doing so well right now. Looking for stable work that doesn't involving transcribing audio. The pay stinks, and I am very concerned about how our spoken language is degrading. Otherwise, I am looking for a place to move to, as our landlord has run into major financial problems, and yeah, he lost his backside. I'm doing great, but really bummed out about Chris Cornell. I wasn't a fan of much of his work, but he was a voice of a generation, he give a voice to those who felt utterly hopeless, and his influence will be felt for years to come. It is true, “No one sings like you anymore.”


So, Carson, the former world class brain surgeon, and current HUD guy gets up and says about how poverty is a mindset, and I honestly don't know which is worse about this. The comments about people being in poverty because its their choice, or the fact that I have seen several liberals, Sanders win liberals echo the sentiment. I have been banging my head against the table I use as a computer desk, and this only adds to my malaise about Cornell's suicide and what has been happening around the world.

Kids are being killed, we are bombing them, suicide bombers are bombing them in retaliation, and FFS... Look, kids are the only truly innocent humans in this universe, regardless of their religious beliefs, skin color, gender or sexual orientation. When they are killed, that is a life full of potential snuffed out of existence, and its wrong on all levels of thought, yet I see people justifying this endless cycle of eye for an eye. Okay, back to the main crux of the conversation.

So, I see liberals of all strips echoing agreement with Carson's statements about poverty. And if kids being murdered isn't bad enough, the people who are supposed to be standing up for people like so many of my friends and I, are turning their backs and agreeing with the same people who think its better to more severely “motivate” the poor into escaping poverty.

So, lets talk about poverty, racism, and all that ills us, because until these things are truly hashed out, nothing will get any better. Poverty is insidious, worse than any horror movie you could ever create. It damages people in unimaginable ways, and just because you have escaped poverty, you are still shackled to it. The proverbial millstone around the neck you hear preached about. Carson, is correct in one aspect, just because you lift someone out of poverty, it doesn't mean they won't end up being in poverty again. But, this is where he gets lost in his own rhetoric. You see, when someone does without for long enough, it becomes ingrained in their very being. When you finally have the means to acquire that something, be it a nice home, a car, a pizza (hey, I am like Tallahassee and his Twinkies), you are going to get those things, regardless of the costs. You are willing to risk loosing it all to get that nice home, the car, or in my case a f—king pizza. You have done without for so long, that you are always thinking about how you can achieve your desire.

When you are poor, living in poverty you are always on the lookout for how to cut corners. You go leaner, why spend x amount of dollars for toilet paper, when you can get by on half the cost, even if it means you'll run out sooner. After all, you have to have food in order to survive, and what you wipe with after using the bathroom isn't the top priority after all. You prioritize everything you spend, is it that important that I buy Brawn paper towels, or can I get by on the store brand. You aren't saving money shopping like that, mostly because you are using more of the store brand, but its cheaper and you have the money for it when you need it. Often you spend more getting back and forth to different stores, because hey... The Dollar General has cheaper prices for deodorant, but Food Lion has a sale on soap, Piggly Wiggly has a sale on meats, and you can get a pair of shoes at Walmart for ten bucks. And lets face it, your shoes are being held together by superglue and duct tape.

Rather than being able to do all your shopping at one store, and go to a regular shoe store, you are pinching pennies and getting burned all the way across town for it. Not because you want to live that way, you have to live that way. You have to shop where you can afford it in the now. You can't run around for months with shoes that are falling apart, you certainly need food, and things personal hygiene. But, the quality of products matters, but you can't afford it. Case in point, the best pair of work boots I ever bought were Wolverine boots. I paid dearly for them, way more than I wanted to pay for a pair of boots that would spend their existence knee deep in cow flops, mud and muck. My personal preference being on a limited budget was to grab whatever cheap boots would do the job. But I was forced into a situation where I had to go more expensive. Of course, I was rewarded for this by getting nearly two years life out of those boots, opposed to the six months I generally got. When I went back, the price had increased, and that was well outside of my price range, so back to the thirty dollar pair of boots that lasted six to seven months. Ultimately I would come out a little bit behind on the ordeal. One hundred forty dollars versus nearly two hundred for two years. But in the scope of things, sixty dollars can do many things, even today. But apply that to everything you purchase. That new car that many people lust after, yeah the lower tiered trims loose more value faster than the higher tiered trims. Take Ford as an example, their Platinum trimmed F-150s loose less value than their XL trimmed F-150s, even when both trucks receive the same treatment and have the same mileage. The only difference is the XL trim is the bare basic, while the Platinum trim has everything.

But poverty inflicts damage in various other ways, not only is it more expensive to live hand to mouth, but it also does damage to your person. If you eat poorly its going to reflect in your appearance. We have a ton of obese people, but look at how many of them eat. They load up on junk foods, not because they all love eating junk food, but because they are pinching pennies. Sorry, but a bag of chips is a lot cheaper than making a salad, and eating at a fast food joint is almost as cheap as eating a bag of chips. Seriously for three or four dollars you can get several things off the dollar menu. For five, I can get a two sandwiches, a side, a cookie and a drink. That would feed someone lunch and dinner. Of course, the looming heart attack is ignored because of hunger pains. Yet many people on welfare are expected to eat on a few dollars a day, so you're going to eat the cheapest dredge you can find, because you have a month to live on that stipend. But it gets better, not only are you overweight because you are eating a craptastic diet, but you look shabby all the time. There is nothing quite like showing up to a job interview in your finest clothes, which consist of ragged out clothing. Of course, when you show up looking shabby, you are less likely to get the gig, your personal appearance dictates a lot, and how you look speaks to how professional you are, at least in the minds of your potential employer. So, if you looked like death warmed over, you probably aren't going to get that job. Speaking of which, how many of you knew that the poorer your diet, the more negative cognitive effects you will suffer? Not eating right makes you dumber, I'm serious about this. Your brain is the most powerful computer to ever exist, and it takes a lot of fuel to operate it at capacity.

There is over course the stress of it all. I cannot recall the last time I laid down and instantly fell asleep, and remained in that state until I woke up in the morning. When you are poor, you are under constant stress, you are unable to properly rest, which means your mind doesn't properly reset itself. Your mind is a constant mess, constantly thinking about how you are going to pay for this, or do the things you need to do. You are thinking about what you can get around paying, or what you can do without to ensure other things are paid. You are constantly planning for events that might not even happen. When I heard the rumors about my landlords impending financial apocalypse, my brain went into overdrive. I started looking at things in the house, and I started gathering a mental list of things I didn't need. After the list was created I went and grabbed a storage bin, and started moving all nonessential items out of the house. What I didn't think I would ever need, I sold at fire sale prices. What I wanted or thought I would need went into storage. Things that nobody wanted and that I didn't think I would need were given away or set in the trash. All this, while my mind churns about where I am going to go with no stable employment, no income, and credit that looks like AIG after the market crash of 08. That weighs heavily on a person, that not knowing what they are going to do. You start over analyzing everything, you make plans for plans for other plans. Some people are lucky enough to be able to roll with plan a, but when you are living in poverty the planning process starts expanding, some of us keep thinking out plans and possible outcomes. We analyze every detail of every plan, what if this happens, well, I'll do that, and the next thing you know its 3 am, and you have a job interview at 9. So you end up with three hours of fitful sleep, and you look like you just rolled out of the gutter. There are the devastating blows to self esteem, yes, I am a special snowflake like every other special snowflake. Which means, I'm not all that special. The truth of it is, self esteem is a gauge of how you view yourself, and it can go two ways that are very unhealthy. You can become over inflated, in which you come to see yourself as being better than you actually are, or deflated (like a Patriots football in a playoff game), in which you see yourself as having little or no worth. Poor people generally came to see themselves as having little if any worth, they are deflated.

I might be on the cusp of turning 36, but I really feel like I'm fifty. The years haven't been kind to this body of mine, and I certainly didn't do it many favors, but poverty, homelessness really added the miles on the odometer. As for the other parts of stress, did you know that stress is a trigger for mental illness and defect? Yeah, the more stress a person who is predisposed to mental illness is, the more likely the stress will trigger an outbreak. Really, if someone is disposed to having bouts of depression, stress can trigger these bouts, making them more severe. Stress can actually elevate pain levels, decrease cognitive function (become unable to make good decisions), create digestive issues, migraines, trigger depression, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, create an environment for addictive personalities, and the list goes on. Oddly enough, while you should be concerned about heart attacks and strokes while under stress, you are more likely to suffer from either of these conditions when you are removed from the stress. Your body becomes so accustom to high levels of stress that it cannot cope without it, and by that point the damage is done anyway.

There is one other thing, and that is pawnshops and payday lenders. The legal leg breakers. Now, I have done a lot of business with pawnshops, and some business with the payday lenders. Honestly, both of them are traps. Pawnshops are actually the lesser of the evils here, and a good pawnshop will really try and work with you, they (the good ones) don't want you to loose your stuff to them. They want you to make your payments, get your stuff back, because the good ones realize that if you do get your stuff back, you'll be back when you hit another rough patch, and when things are going good, you'll do business with them faster, because you'll remember the times they really helped you out of a bind. But the problem is, even when you make payments on time, you aren't paying off the loan, you are just maintaining it, indefinitely, and that is were they make their money. They hold your stuff as collateral on a loan, and until you fully repay the loan, you're going to keep paying interest only. Payday lenders work in the same way, except they don't charge you 20%, they charge you a lot more. So a hundred dollar loan will cost you three or four hundred dollars. My Mom got wrapped up with one of them, and after the first two thousand dollars her bank (Wells Fargo) stepped in and got into a war with the company, with the rep from her bank telling them, “You've got your blood money, and if you try and debt anymore from her account, I'll personally see to it that you don't get a dime from any Wells Fargo customer.” Hey, Wells Fargo actually did something good, once, two years ago. True to it, that lending company never tried to draft money out of my Mom's account again, and honestly, I heard that Wells Fargo was giving that payday lender a hard time on every payment (basically, unless the account holder verified that they had taken a loan with said company, they didn't get their money).

So there you have it, a short list of just what can go wrong with you when you are living in poverty. At times someone in poverty will self inflict wounds, not because they are “stupid,” or otherwise a bad person. Its just trying to survive while being poor, you are trying to cut corners while you are trying to survive, and ensure that you aren't starving to death in the gutter. And really, you aren't always creating self inflicted wounds, remember, you are trying to get by while spending the least amount of money you can. In a sense, someone living like that is making the right choice, but the consequences of the right choice are just as bad as making the wrong one. Sure, if you have to have a car, which is the case in many areas, you'd think buying a cheap used car is the way to go, that wasting the money on a new car is, well, wasting money. But the risk is what has to be measured, are you going to get your monies worth out of a new car or the used one. That is a personal choice, and one that is best left to the person who needs the car. The same with a home, and what said home contains. For Carson, and liberals who agree with him, to be so out of touch with the realities of living poor in the US, or anywhere for that matter, its really disheartening.

On a side note, I heard one talking about poverty in south Asia, and how people didn't turn to violence and crime to make it. Sadly, the first thought in my mind was the old tried and over used conservative philosophy about gun violence in other countries. You can't really compare two different cultures. In this case, I do feel that it is accurate. Look here, and listen well, hear what I am about to say about this. Unlike gun violence, poverty is an entirely different beast. Poverty affects every aspect of your life. In other cultures, they view things very different than the majority do here. There, if you are enfeebled, if you are elderly, crippled, or cannot work for other reasons, you are not looked down upon. In other cultures you are to be helped, if you are elderly you are to be respected, and your words are considered wise and should be heeded, even if it is later disregarded. In other cultures, when you are poor, you are not viewed with disdain, they are helped, because they figured it out. When someone is too hungry, too sick, too hopeless to try and work their way out of it, they are a drag on the system, they are not some evil villain. They need to brought up, even if it means less for all, all have enough. We don't do that here, we like to say its a moral failing to be poor or homeless, that if you are either of those, its your fault. Let me tell you, if you are poor, or you are homeless, its not all on you. Its on all of us, those who are poor and won't stand up, and those who are comfortable and won't stand up.

I am sick of this, I am sick of people bitching about Donald Trump. I am sick of homelessness, and poverty. I am sick of applying for job after job and being turned away. I am sick of kids being murdered (be it terrorist attacks or bombing raids). I am sick of health care and Social Security always being the first against the wall. I am tired of seeing a hopeless existence for others and myself, the fear of being homeless and destitute. And I do see a way out, stop bitching about Trump, start calling your representatives, call them, fax them, email them, schedule appointments to see them in person. Repeat one clear cut message to them all, “We are tired, we want single payer health care, we want decent jobs, we want an end to poverty and homelessness in the United States, and you, YOU, you will do all those things and more. Because so help me, so help all who stand behind me, and beside me, if you don't, you will be out of a job come your time for re-election.” Then you stand behind those words. If they don't do the job, you find someone who will. We cannot continue this love affair with those we have elected. We cannot say, “Well, my representatives are doing their job, and its the others who aren't.” That is not the case, few of them are doing anything buy political grandstanding, and its time for We The People to clean our houses. And it starts now, the very moment you finish reading this.