Holes in the Safety Net

These are excerpts from an article in the Washington Post.  The url is at the bottom of my post, in case you want to read it in its entirety.  Meanwhile, I have some thoughts:

“President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would
give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety
net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by
House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits
for about 10 million people over the next decade.”
*****
In spite of negative imagery that paints a picture of people on Welfare and Medicaid as “moochers” and “manipulators,”  The reality is, the vast majority of people receiving these benefits are there legitimately.  Many of them are very ill or disabled.  Moreover, these programs are monitored on a regular basis, making it very difficult to misuse the system.  Anybody caught doing so can be charged with Welfare fraud.
***

“The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people
familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have
elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans”
could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.”

****
People receiving benefits in many States are already required to “work toward work.”  In my State, for example, anyone who doesn’t have a disability must take part in a jobs program designed to get them into the work force, starting with volunteer work if appropriate.  It is obvious that a rather large group of people don’t know this.  They assume that those on Welfare are whiling away their days while they collect benefits.  Again, the truth:  The days of sitting home and collecting a Welfare check until your youngest child turns 18 are long over and past.
***

“Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse
the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but
Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.”

***
Dear senators:  Our hope lies with you at this point.
One colossal advantage of the Medicaid extension was that small towns could afford to have a medical clinic.  This allows their citizens to receive care in a timely, healthy way in a non acute setting.  They can now have preventative services and important monitoring without driving at least 200 miles, in some cases, to see a doctor or go to the hospital.  This means better care at far less cost per patient.  This also impacts whole communities; not just individuals.
***

“Trump offered a streamlined version of the budget plan in March, but it dealt only with the 30 percent of government spending that is appropriated each
year. In that budget, he sought a big increase in military and border spending combined with major cuts to housing, environmental protection, foreign aid,
research and development.”

***
Do you have a problem with Mr. Trump’s priorities?  I do.
***
“But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need
annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.”
****
This is significant because it forces these programs to compete for funding, along with everything else.  Imagine that you rely on subsidies for food, housing, basic living expenses and medical care.  Now think about how secure your living situation will be if that funding is subject to whatever party has the majority and the mood of the nation.  Basics are necessary if people are to have the time and energy to improve their lives…including the development of job skills and the procurement of employment.
***
Programs in danger include:
Medicaid
SNAP (The modern version of food stamps)
Habitat for Humanity (which, by the way, includes some “sweat equity” on the part of the people getting the house.)
subsidized school lunches (Children learn better when they are not hungry…just a thought.)
“The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness
across 19 federal agencies.”

“Trump has instructed his budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, that he does not want cuts to Medicare and Social Security’s
retirement program in this budget, Mulvaney recently said, but the plan may call for changes to Social Security Disability Insurance, seeking ideas for
ways to move people who are able out of this program and back into the workforce.”
***
Social Security already conducts regular evaluations to determine the ability of beneficiaries.  They also offer assistance, such as the PASS Plan (Plan to Achieve Self Sufficiency) so that anyone who is able can become employed.  It is a grave misconception that people are lazily hanging out on Social Security Disability.  Moreover, SSDI is based on a person’s work history:  He or she has paid into the system, at least a little bit.
One more thing:  There are strict criteria for who is eligible or not, to the point that some people who truly would benefit from SSDI are not enrolled.
Mr. Trump really doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance.

I do have to say, it’s appalling to me that the ones making these decisions have absolutely NO idea about what these programs are, who benefits and what their lives are like, especially Mr. Trump, who is so isolated from the real world.

I think every congressperson, senator and president should have to live for one year on the amount of money that people in poverty relief programs receive, in the same neighborhoods and with the same level of care.  They might…possibly, maybe, I hope…find some compassion.

One more thing:  This “safety net” affects everybody from the poorest to the wealthiest among us, whether people recognize that or not.

There are more points on which to comment.  If you want to read the article, here it is:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-to-propose-big-cuts-to-safety-net-in-new-budget-this-week/2017/05/21/62c01f44-3e34-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html

The Adolescence of Puppyhood

Just as humans go through stages in the process of growing up, so do puppies.  Here are some attitudes you might recognize:

“Yeah, I heard you call me, but I’m busy tearing this up!”mark-taylor-yellow-labrador-retriever-bitch-puppies-10-weeks-lying-with-yellow-daffodils_a-g-10575753-14258384

“I know what ‘sit’ means, but do I have to, just because you said so????”mark-taylor-yellow-labrador-retriever-puppy-8-weeks-yawning-in-lionhead-cross-rabbit-s-ear

“Heckling the cat is soooo much fun!”

dog-and-cat-yellow-labrador-puppy-with-chartreux-kitten

“I know you want me to do my business in the yard, but it’s cold and rainy; I don’t want to go outside!”Golden-Labrador-Puppy

“La la la la – Can’t hear you!”So Tired

“You say you’re in charge…can’t I be my OWN boss?”yellow-lab-puppy-600x449

“I love you, need you, can’t live without you…Oh…”golden-lab-puppy-smiling-funny-animal-dog-pictures-pics

Simplicity

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There is a kind of simplicity that is undesirable:
It’s the simple minded demand that all situations, no matter how complex they ar, be addressed with simple explanations and solutions.  “Don’t bother me with the facts,” such a person says.  “I don’t care about the details; they only confuse me.”  The lack of insight and engagement is both mind boggling and burdensome.

Soundbites and the opinions of talk show hosts will suffice for these shallow, unwise ones.  To think for themselves would probably give them a headache!

Then there is a simplicity that is beautiful and noble.
It is often quiet and unassuming; bathed in thought and prayer.
People who practice this lack of complication enjoy the good things of life; yet they are not in pursuit of prestige or extravagance.  A beautiful sunset delights them.  Time spent with family and friends is priceless.
One hallmark of such individuals is astuteness.  These ones think with both sides of their brains.  They question, explore and research; never settling for the status quo.  If you were to visit their homes, you would find shelves full of books, art and music in every room, along with creative endeavors.  They might not have the most uncluttered place you’ve ever seen.  That’s because they are busy with thought, creation and relationships.
Another quality is the very high amount of respect and honor these people have for the world:  Their fellow humans, animals, the environment, principles such as decency and generosity.
This simplicity is a paradox, filled with all shades of reality and nuance.
To know people who live this life is to be inspired and encouraged.
How very different these two kinds of simplicity are!  One word; opposite meanings.
That really describes our world, doesn’t it?  The Earth and her inhabitants are concentric systems, interwoven into complex patterns and relationships; yet there is a simple matter of watching, listening, tasting, feeling, smelling, enjoying and caring for all that is around us.

May you discover and appreciate the lovely, noble sort of simplicity that revives and nurtures you.

For the Politically Minded

I limit the amount of politicizing I do on Lifehelps.

When I am in the mood for speaking out on this complex, often perplexing and frustrating subject, I put a post on

http://patriotsvoiceblog.wordpress.com

 

Not to worry, my views are eclectic rather than very far left or right, although it is fair to warn you that I am not a fan of the current administration at all.

Today’s post is my evaluation of a memorandum from the White House I found on

http://www.cnn.com

touting Mr. Trump’s accomplishments in his first 100 days as President.

Feel free to go over and check it out.

Hubris of Ignorance

The following link is provided with the permission of Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station:
http://www.stonekettle.com/2017/04/the-hubris-of-ignorance.html

 

This will take a few minutes to read, so get a good cup of coffee, or as Jim might suggest, a beer.  Make yourself comfortable and be prepared to think a bit.

Here are some samples from Jim’s excellent article:

 

“Have  you been following this? All these airplane crashes? And everyone is so confused. Everyone is going, Gosh, how come there are so many airplane crashes? Well, um, I gotta theory here. You remember, what was it? Like, uh, four years ago? The air traffic controllers, they went on strike? And then, um, Ronald Reagan fired ‘em? So then they just hired anyone who was hanging out at the time. And now everyone is going, Geez, how come there are so many airplane crashes? How come there are so many airplane crashes?! I dunno, maybe Walt the janitor isn’t qualified to land a Boeing 707!”
— Bobcat Goldthwait

Maybe Walt the Janitor isn’t qualified to land a Boeing 707.

But then again, in America we’d love to believe Old Wally could maybe pull it off.
Because we Americans, we sure love the heroic myth of the common man.

Oh we do. We prefer myth over reality every time.

We love to tell ourselves that one.

It’s the myth of our country’s birth. We love that myth more than all the others combined.

We tell ourselves with great pride how a bunch of raggedy assed, untrained colonists one day rose up against tyranny.  The Minutemen were roused from their beds in the middle of the night by Paul Revere and they rallied to the Stars and Stripes. They threw all the tea into Boston harbor and sent England a stiff upraised middle finger, up yours, we ain’t paying no taxes no more.  And then a bunch of farmers grabbed up their muskets and formed themselves into a militia under good old George Washington and this army of amateurs chased the Redcoats all the way back to England without any help from anybody except for Jesus.

Because Americans are special. Exceptional.

And when they’d thrown off the yoke of tyranny, well, then a bunch of common men gathered in Philadelphia to receive the Constitution directly from God. They wrote down the sacred words and everybody signed it, especially John Hancock, and America was born.

Amen.

That’s the myth we tell ourselves, we Americans.

We’re special. Exceptional. We pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps and forged the Republic out of the mud with our own hands.

We’re a nation of amateurs. Bunch of Good Old Boys beat the best army on the planet. Bunch of farmers wrote the Constitution and laid down the foundation for the greatest country in the world. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In America, we’re not ruled over by kings. We don’t owe our allegiance to some hereditary weak-chinned inbred royalty.

No, Sir.

In America, why the people are the government and anybody can be president.

Anybody.

We are a nation of amateurs and damned proud of it, aren’t we?
That’s what this election was about.”

“Moreover, we Americans by and large tend to be suspicious of education and experience when it comes to government.

Anywhere else, brain surgeon, airline pilot, corporate CEO, dog trainer, we want the most experienced person we can get. But the President? Not so much. Power corrupts, right? You got to clean house every once in a while. Throw the bums out.

Except…
Except, in retrospect, perhaps ignorance and a suspicion of “elites” isn’t the best way to go about selecting a leader.

The world is a dangerous and complicated place.
Almost unimaginably so.

And nothing is as simple or as straight forward as it seems and as the mob apparently believes.
Foreign nations do not kowtow to the United States.

This is not something new.

This is no weakness of Carter or Clinton or Obama – or Reagan and Bush for that matter. These nations have never bent a knee to us. From Morocco during Roosevelt’s time, to Cuba and Vietnam during Kennedy, to Libya under Reagan to Haiti and Grenada and Panama and all the nations that fill your news feed today.
It is the nature of nations, large and small, to push back – and in fact, like dogs, the smaller a nation is, likely the more fierce and furious its bark.

At home, we Americans face the same problems we’ve always faced, energy and resources, civil rights, race, age, religion, law and order, unrest, left and right, young and old, health care, education, infrastructure, jobs.

It’s complicated and difficult and always on the verge of failure.
This is not a world for a government run by amateurs.”
Jim wrote one thing I especially have to quote…okay, then comment:
“The simpleminded demand simple causes for complex problems.
The simpleminded demand simple solutions.”
****
Fellow Americans..fellow humans, for that matter:
Are we truly simple minded?  Or is it more that we don’t engage our minds to their full capacities?
If the former is true, we are in deep trouble and the situation is hopeless.  If it’s the latter, however, we need to get off our butts, wake up and engage!
I will come back to this quote in a future post:  It’s just too rich to leave.
****

Go read the full article; enjoy.

 

 

Spring Fever

spring_fever___feel_the_nature_by_manu34-d65zebwIt got up to 52 degrees F today.  I seriously considered going out to do some yard work.  If this were mid October or so and it reached the same mark on the thermometer, I would say it’s too cold to work outside.  The difference?  Spring fever.  True, 52 is warm, compared to say 21.  It’s also quite chilly after being bathed in 90+ degree heat.  But there’s more to spring fever than the change in weather.

There’s this urge to dig into the warming soil and inhale that wonderful smell.  Then, there are the fragrances of spring:  Blossoms of all sorts, freshly mowed lawns and rain washed air.  All of this is intensified by the desire to plant seeds and starts; then nurture them until they produce delicious yummies…or beautiful flowers.

The only cure for spring fever is to get outside.  Warm sun, fresh air, some hard work and accomplishment will surely bring improvement to the most avid gardener.

Happy planting, all.

Writer’s Block

It seems  that there are so many fresh thoughts and ideas coming into my head;
So much new information:  News items, results of studies and research…
Yet the things that are solid enough to put on paper – or computer – seem old and stale.

The new things are like trying to catch clouds
Or hold the current of a river still long enough to be examined and described.
Does it always have to be that the newborns of life are soft and pliable?
But then, that is part of their loveliness.

Hopes, dreams, possibilities:
All like children yet to be conceived!
O that I will be able to hold some long enough to write about them!

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