Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ask Yourself

I keep seeing stories about different people and groups that have been working for years trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. I've seen different articles citing people who have been in politics for years, who are linked to powerful corporations or people, and who have been trying to abolish these programs for decades. 

One such person, Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire  and former Nixon crony, has used his wealth to support programs designed to sway the public opinion against Social Security under the guise of repairing the "nation's debt problem", the "unsustainable" federal budget deficits. Peterson "sold his private equity firm Blackstone Group on the eve of the financial crisis" but "failed to warn of the $8 trillion housing bubble" despite constantly spouting dire apocalyptic warnings. Later he promised to "fix America's key fiscal sustainability problems" by pledging $1 billion. He is another one of the conservatives on the right who only cares about himself and is willing to work diligently to make sure poor people have less to survive on. 

It amazes me that these selfish, greedy, nasty people have tried their entire lives to take away programs set up to protect and strengthen different demographic groups who are in the most need of protecting, yet they can afford insurance and healthcare for themselves and have no empathy for their fellow men.

Everyone who is in politics on the conservative right is working to strip hardworking Americans of their entitlement programs.  Let me stop here and explain something to you before you go ballistic. Entitlement means something someone is entitled to. For example, every person is entitled to the right to pursue happiness, however that may be. Some people want to work in a circus, others want to work on Wall Street, but I repeat myself. Entitlement does not mean GIFT, or free, or handout. It means you earned it or you deserve it, or you qualify for it. Contrary to common believe many people don't even apply for any aid despite qualifying because they don't want to take charity. They may really need some programs, but they don't want to be looked down on by their peers.

When my children were young they qualified for reduced lunch one year. The school sent a form home for me to fill out. We were on the upper end of the scale but we qualified.  The boys had reduced lunches for a while, until Don's work picked up and we were able to pay the full amount again. I was afraid the school would stigmatize my children for being "poor" and not treat them equally. Because of that pride, or fear, we declined reduced lunches as soon as we could. Lots of people are too proud, or ashamed, to accept help, even if those very programs are in place to help those very people who need them.

I hear such nasty things from people on the internet who "don't want their tax money to go to poor people." They sneer at people who are so needy that they can't afford to live without government help, and they accuse them of being lazy, or shiftless, or unworthy in some way. They accuse poor people of using government money to buy drugs even though it has been proven time and time again that people who are on welfare are no more likely to take drugs than any other group of people in any economic group. It's simply a scare tactic used by the brainwashed, or manipulative, to rip on the weakest people in society. 

Those same people don't say a word about the billionaires who are manipulating the public, swaying blind followers to support tax cuts for the rich. Never in my lifetime have the corporations and wealthiest citizens in this country had such control and support from lower and middle class citizens who believe the propaganda the Republicans have using to control them. They have been using fear and hot button issues to sway the voters for years.  

One example of the Republicans using hot topics to control their constituents is the example of abortion. Every year, in and out, there is a heated debate about abortion which locks the pro-choice against the anti-choice supporters in a heated battle to protect, or deny, women equal rights. Someone said that the Republicans don't want to really abolish abortion because they use it to incite their voting base and stir them up to vote. I suppose that is partly true, but states have been working diligently to strip states of the right to any access to abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood clinics, of which only about 3% of their income goes towards abortions. Republicans don't care if women are stripped of the right to medical care as long as they can proclaim to their base that they are squashing any possibility of abortions, no matter the cost. 

I guess it doesn't matter how many women don't get gynecological care which can save many lives. Women's first defense against cancer is an annual physical and pap smear. Planned Parenthood works with health centers throughout the country to serve the poorest people in communities. It is some women's only hope. Planned Parenthood not only cares for women, but it also provides services to help young mothers care for their infants and children.

Every time I read about some conservative trying to cut social services I think about the lives they are willing to destroy, and I wonder how people could vote for these people. Isn't it obvious that Republicans only care about the "almighty dollar" and "what's in it for me"?

Rich people will never understand what it is like to live on a fixed income. They never had to struggle to buy food, pay rent, or bills. They can never conceive of living on minimum wages and raising a family in a dumpy neighborhood scraping to get by, living from paycheck to paycheck. No wonder they have no empathy. Their lack of empathy and patriotism makes it easy for them to outsource jobs to China or India. Their lack of respect for workers gives them the audacity to cut full time employees and cut part time hours so that they won't have to provide insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

These same fat cats want to keep their tax cuts and limitless loopholes but cry for the slashing of Social Security and Medicare for everybody in America to cut the budget. They have raked in record profits and giant salaries since the Great Recession, but they claim that it is too expensive to provide insurance coverage for their employees. They think its a disgrace to raise minimum wage which is $7.25 an hour although the populace are the main consumers in this country. Without discretionary spending the economy grinds to a halt. The argument about raising the minimum wage to a more respectable $9 an hour would cause everything to cost more is a hollow argument. If you have been sleeping and haven't noticed, every year prices go up. 

Every year, whether Don gets a dime raise or not, everything costs more. Our property taxes and insurance goes up. Our phone bill, electric bill, TV, and internet bill goes up. Everything goes up. Any profit we get from a raise increase is gobbled up by every other service or tax we have to pay. The only bill that has supposedly decreased is the gas bill, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't lower because of warmer weather. Global warming, don't you know. Still, I wonder how people who don't have a decent income are able to survive.

Children who are raised in poverty don't have the resources to help them climb out of poverty unless the government invests in them, whether it is with reduced lunch programs, food stamps, or medical care at health centers instead of with family doctors because they can't afford doctor's fees.

Nobody can choose whose family they are born into. You can no more choose your parents than you can control your situation when you are young. If you are lucky enough to be born into a family with money you don't have to worry about anything. Your parents will provide for you. But if you are born in a family who isn't so fortunate, you are at the mercy of society. A selfish, and thoughtless society which ignores its children will spawn a society of selfish, thoughtless people, and some of those people will rebel and fight back. Some people will steal and cheat to get ahead. The callousness and insensitivity will grow until the whole country becomes like that.

Children aren't the only ones who will be affected by austerity and cuts in services that shore up the poor, or young. Old people are at the mercy of the government. The government guarantees them access to healthcare and their earned pension funds they have been paying into all their lives through their FICA taxes. This is not an entitlement, people. It is something you have been paying into for years. It's like a savings account that the government has guaranteed will be there for you when you are retired. 

As the older generation moves towards retirement, jobs will become vacant and younger people will step in to fill those vacancies. Young people working and paying into Social Security will be investing in the retirement of their predecessors and insuring them a safe and livable income. None of that will happen if the government does not protect the rights of our workforce and citizenry and provide them with their full entitlement to live on.

As I look at the indifference and rabid disdain for the poor and those going on Social Security, which by the way everyone will eventually qualify for, I wonder how our country got so screwed up. When I think about people like Peter Peterson, who has spent his entire life trying to dismantle Social Security, I have to ask myself why someone who has everything they could ask for would want to deny the same rights for a decent living to the poor or middle class. They truly don't understand what it is to be a normal person. They certainly don't care about normal people. Normal people are beneath them and don't deserve access to healthcare, food, or a decent education. Normal people are only there to serve the rich. Other than that, they don't count.

I don't believe that will make America a better country. I do believe it will make it a bloodthirsty, greedy country if we continue this way. My only hope is that people are beginning to wake up and question the direction that the Republicans are trying to take this country. We still have many more issues that need to be resolved in this country, but the most important issue we face today is the battle between the wealthy Republicans and the liberal Democrats. It's like a battle between David and Goliath. I'm betting on the little guy. 

America is a great country and it was a strong country with a booming economy until George Bush maneuvered us into two wars in three years. Thousands and thousands of soldiers left their homes and were deployed time and again to Afghanistan or Iraq. During that cycle of tour people lost the jobs they had been working at before the wars. The stress on our economy, and the lies and manipulation of the government, has taken a toll on this country. It will probably take decades to regain our footing. 

When you hear about people who want to deny people entitlements remember that entitlements are not gifts. The best gift America can give her citizens is the gift of helping those who need it and taxing those who earn the most in proportion to the rest of society. Rewarding the rich while denying poorer people access to social services creates inequality. 

When you hear people decrying social services and any and all programs for the lower income or general population ask yourself WHY they want to dismantle a safety net that went into effect August 14, 1935 to help the country when everyone was struggling to survive after the Great Depression. This system has been the saving grace of millions of Americans who have retired over the years. Now our country is trying to strip us of an investment we made and agreed to 78 years ago. I think Social Security and all government programs to assist its citizenry is as relevant today as it was during Roosevelt's day. He was a wise and astute man who had a vision for the future to provide a system that ensures our country grows by assisting the weaker, or elderly, or young, or feeble. There will always be people in the world who need protection. It should be an inalienable right. Protection for all.

Ask yourself if the people who want to cut Social Security and Medicare have your best interests at heart. Ask yourself if it is really in your best interest for rich people to pay a lower tax scale than you. Ask yourself why.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Redneck Engineering

I told you that we had so much water running under the house that we had to put a sump pump under the house when it rained hard didn't I? Our old sump pump quit working so Don bought a new one. It wouldn't fit under the house where the old one was so Don put it under the house through the hole in the hallway. It's not attractive, and we can't shut the doors because the hose has to run outside to drain the water, but it's better than nothing. Don cut the hole in the hall floor a while back so he wouldn't have to crawl all the way under the house. The crawlspace is very small and claustrophobic. We've done lots of things around here that aren't particularly kosher. This is just one small example of our handy work.

The hose had to run from the hallway, through the living room, and out the front door.
Notice the black hose is attached to another white hose to make it long enough for the water to drain into the front yard.
All covered up and back to "normal", whatever that is, around here. Watch the soft spot!

I know this looks really, really redneck but you gotta do what you gotta do to get by and this is the only way to get the house dried back out. Don's going to dig a hole and put a bucket under the house for the sump pump to sit in. Hopefully we will be able to figure out how to get the pipe to run under the house and maybe next time we won't have to leave the front door open when it rains and floods. Now you know why I hate it when it rains.

We've already decided to build up the flower beds in front of the house to keep the water from running under the house. We have to put up new guttering, too. If that doesn't work, I don't know what we're going to do.

We took the old guttering down when the guys put our metal roof on the house a few years ago. Whereas most people feel inconvenienced by the rain, we live in dread. We have always had to deal with flooding when it rains too hard, but when the roof started leaking it ramped up the fear. We put buckets under the drips, hoping it would quit raining until we got the new roof on. You don't know how thankful you can feel when it rains and you have a new roof. It will make you smile. I didn't mind the rain after that until recently.

Ever since we got the gravel in our driveway last year, when it rains, the water funnels towards the house. It has become a mess. The situation became obvious when we could see a brown muddy residue after the rains running down the side of the graveled driveway. It's also running over the grease trap in the front yard. That clogs up the kitchen sink. Oy! What a mess.

We get all our neighbors runoff when it rains. This has been a running battle ever since we bought the house. We bought it during a drought and it was high and dry. Right after that the rain gods, or the fickle finger of fate, or whatever you want to call it, decided to switch tactics and the drought broke. It would rain so long and flood so badly, it felt like we were living on a boat. Water surrounded the house.

After we moved here Don's stepfather, Charlie McAllister, helped us level the yard and make the runoff turn away from the house. Charlie used to be a bulldozer operator and he knew what he was doing. The problem is, our property is a couple of feet lower than the property next to us. Every time it rains water runs down the ditch between our property and we take on water. I'll be glad when we finally figure out a solution.

I just wish we could afford to move somewhere high and dry. I'm tired of living in a dry riverbed. 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013


February started off with a bang. So far there has been a tornado, an earthquake, and even a little bit of snow. Jonquils and mini-forsythias are struggling to bloom. Mother Nature's turned upside down. The weather is like a crazy bitch, blowing hot and cold. There's no telling what might happen next. 

No matter what the groundhog says, we still have about six more weeks of winter. It sure is a wet winter. Colt said the Almanac had predicted that. I don't know how they are able to nail weather so often but those farmers always had to watch the weather so they probably passed it on for thousands of years. 

Saturday I watched a marathon showing of Groundhog Day, all day long. It's a surprisingly sweet and romantic film with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. The more I watched it, the more I liked it. 

Sunday I immersed myself in The Walking Dead reruns while the guys watched football. Today was Superbowl Sunday. The Ravens and the 49ers. That's a big deal in America. Half of the country, and most of the south, watch the Superbowl. Go Teams!

Colt's friends, Brent, and Brenda, and their three kids came to watch the Superbowl. They stayed until Brenda's little boy got cranky and wanted to go home. He was a tired little fellow. 

I am enamored with the twins, Mason and MacKenzie. Boy, what a handful. They're old enough to walk now. Oy! I adore little kids. Their older brother,Logan, was a very well mannered and sweet little boy. He had enjoyed seeing the chickens and goat when they first came over. He just wasn't used to being over here and was tired after a few hours. I can understand that. I get antsy when I'm in another environment, too, if I have to stay too long.
I've taken up reading again. I bought a paperback from our new Dollar General Market and got hooked. It was a light look at Washington through the eyes of an idealistic young woman who worked for a young Senator at the capitol. Since I've been so immersed in politics lately, I thought it would be fun to read a story about it from the "inside". The book Sammy's Hill by Kristin Gore was fin-tas-tic! (You'll have to read the book to get that reference.) If you run across this book and like a good romantic comedy, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

I've started on another paperback book from the dollar store. It's a humdinger. It is written by someone raised in north Georgia. I can hardly wait to see how it ends. More book reviews later, maybe.



Mikki, Alicia, Brooke, Don, Douglas, Bailey


Delbert Callahan

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