Friday, August 30, 2013

The Fire is Coming . . .

I tangled with an old classmate yesterday.  A woman I remember as kind and sweet, at least outwardly, in high school.  She hung out with the "royalty," the high horse ego-junkie Wendys and rich-boy Rons, but was always more open, accessible, friendly.  I believe she still is all those things, but, sadly, she's not particularly smart.  Watching her argue a point is like watching a slow motion train wreck with the train hauling boxcar loads of bad grammar and logical fallacies.  

This time? She posted one of those crappy "If I have to take a drug test for my job, YOU have to take one for welfare--if you can afford drugs, you can afford groceries" buckets o' puke.  When cornered, it all came down to the "I don't want my tax dollars paying for . . ." spiel.  

Oh.  Oh, Brenda.  Oh, hon.  

A few things:

  • Your employer requires you to drug test because your job carries with it responsibility, and you could do harm to people if you were operating in the office while tweaked.  Not saying I agree that you should be drug-tested, but rather showing that there is a bit of a difference between drug testing for a job and for sustenance benefits.
  • Every state that has instituted drug testing has discovered one thing--precious few welfare recipients are on drugs.  So few, in fact, that the withheld benefits don't begin to pay for the drug testing program.  So if it's about your TAX dollars, drug testing costs you MORE.  Of course, it's not really about your tax dollars at all, whether you realize it or not.
  • Part of what gets lumped in with these drug tests is marijuana use.  I'm sorry, I'd rather have a pothead raise children than see those kids go without food or wind up in foster care.  Almost certainly, the potheads will do a better job than our creaking foster care system.
  • Most importantly?  Welfare feeds kids.  So it doesn't matter if the parents are junkies or not--the kids still need to EAT.  
What people like Brenda don't get?  They're being manipulated.  The amount of money we, as a nation, lose to rich tax evaders and off-shore account holders would pay for TANF and SNAP a half-dozen times over, easy.  But the right doesn't want you looking at THAT, because THAT might make you angry.  THAT might make you scratch your head and say, "Whoa, hang on--what do we call this, besides corporate welfare and political corruption?"  So they point you at the poor and whisper "lazy junkies" and repeat the lies about people who could survive on fast-food wages if they would just budget better or work more.

And more.

And so folks are bombarded with the "Welfare Queen" tales, they're spoon fed the stories of junkies who have baby after baby to rake in those big welfare bucks.  Are there the rare "welfare queens," the once-in-a-great-while junkies who trade their food stamps for drugs?  Sure, but they are RARE.  But it only takes one--one case to be blown up to spectacular, breathtaking proportions and then generalized across an entire population.  Because it's politically BRILLIANT for the rich and the influential to disseminate this mythology.  Brilliant and EASY, because it's human nature to despise folks who seem weaker.  We do that, we get to feel superior AND we don't have to worry that something like that might happen to US someday.

And the Brendas of our nation buy into it because it is SO much easier to demonize the poor than it is to admit that we labor under a ruling class that controls many of our representatives.  It hurts to admit that we'll never be rich, that the American Dream of working hard to earn riches is pure myth.  Perhaps it once wasn't, but with the astounding influence the rich few have on our government now?  We have no chance.  And admitting that is tough. So much easier to just point at the poor, the homeless, the helpless and tell them they're lazy.  Shiftless.


I actually had someone (not Brenda) once suggest that, if welfare feeds kids, and the parents are junkies, the welfare should be cut off and the kids tossed in orphanages.  ORPHANAGES!

"Please sir?  I want some more?"

Holy COW!

Where to start?  Humanitarian issues aside (I know, tough to push those aside), orphanages cost money.  Wowser money.  Not just in the warehousing and upkeep of the children, but in the years of counseling, remedial education, and prison costs arising from an orphanage upbringing.  In effect, you're saying, "The parents piss me off, so let's torture the kids, set them up to almost certainly fail in life."  It is markedly cheaper to just keep the kids at home and keep them fed, not to mention almost always better for them.  Do we want tweakers rearing kids?  No, but it doesn't take a random drug test to spot a tweaker--their behavior, their appearance, their very smell should clue in any case worker.  

Yes, I said smell.  Meth smells.  Like cat piss.  


Back to the "my tax dollars" thing, am I the only one sick to death of the "I don't want my tax dollars paying for X" crap?  Here's a list of things *I* don't want MY tax dollars paying for:

  1. Foreign wars based on hypocrisy, back-room deals, and profiteering.
  2. Big Business Lobbying that buys influence and power for companies looking to dodge or gut environmental and workplace safety policies
  3. Corporate Welfare and tax breaks for mega-corporations
  4. The support of apartheid states that occupy and/or oppress people based upon race or religion
  5. Schools that push a religious agenda in this nation that should be above such silliness
  6. Tax-exempt churches that operate like Political Action Committees.
  7. Routine infant circumcision and other elective, non-therapeutic surgeries covered by insurance or Medicaid, especially when inflicted upon infants who cannot consent
  8. WIC/food stamps for infant formula in the 90%+ cases where breastfeeding is possible (though, of course, I do NOT advocate letting babies starve if their mother will not nurse for whatever the reason!)
  9. Tanks and jets our military says it doesn't need but politicians insist upon procuring because they've made deals with manufacturers
  10. Wingnut representatives who refuse to do their jobs and instead blow our money with endless attempts to oppress women and overturn health care reform because they don't like the way our Presidential elections have turned out the last couple of times
There are more, but nine seems a good number.  And you know what?  I have almost no say in any of these things, but they all seem pretty sensible to me.  But to hear someone squeal "I DON'T WANT MY TAX DOLLARS GOING TO FEED CHILDREN?"

That doesn't seem quite so sensible.  Maybe because people who say that (and saying "I don't want my tax dollars paying for food stamps IS saying that) can't give a reason why, other than "I got mine, screw all y'all!" or "It's not FAIR that I have to pay for your ______."


But when a forest fire rips through your community, a hurricane devastates your state, a bridge collapses in your town or a drought decimates your crops, you're perfectly okay with MY tax dollars covering YOUR ass.  

You know what?  So am I.  Seriously, I am PERFECTLY okay with my tax dollars rebuilding your homes, your roads, your bridges.  I am THRILLED that my tax dollars can put out YOUR fires, that my contribution keeps YOU fed and clothed in times of need.

It's not "socialism" or "communism" (or FASCISM--get your terms straight, you silly wingnuts). It's called being HUMAN.

Try it some time.


So, my son was on the computer the other night, chatting with a friend from camp, when an odd message popped up on the screen.  It was a secure URL that ended with the phrase "the water is gone, the fire is come."

Boy, that's dark, isn't it?  Almost as bad as when he cracked open his first-ever fortune cookie to find . . .


I know, insert ominous chord, right?  I admit, even being the atheists we are, there was that momentary gasp, that "oh, NO!"  Because superstition?

Is a tough one to shake off.


Oh, and this, because it made me laugh and laugh.  Discussion on a Facebook group, just a fun "let's reminisce about our little town" sort of group.  Someone was talking about coming across an older woman who had forgotten to put her car in gear when turning it off, and now couldn't figure out why her car wouldn't start.  Not an uncommon thing, happens to a lot of folks, especially if they're accustomed to driving a stick.  Some dippy creature stepped in and said, "Sounds like she was schizophrenic." Or that's what she TRIED to say.  I think.  What she ACTUALLY said?

"Spuds like she was schizophrenic."

Goodness.  Speak of the devil, huh?  The irony of spitting out something that disjointed when Facebook-diagnosing someone else with schizophrenia?


And for the record, no, it doesn't sound at all like she was schizophrenic.  It sounds like she spaced. Out here in the real world, we all do it, no psychosis required.


One last thing.  I typed up a whole hurt, sad blog entry on this one, but I'm going to condense it, boil it down to the gist, which is this:

If you love someone and see that something is going on with them that's potentially humiliating or socially mortifying, have their back.  Spare them that embarrassment.  You know, if their fly is open at the company picnic or they have holes in their pants flashing panty to everyone in the grocery store?  Don't giggle to yourself about it and then throw it at them afterwards, when it's too late for them to preserve their dignity.  Because that sucks in ways that defy description.

And that's all.  I have nothing else to say on the matter.

And finally, another "name."  This one's different--rather than being all new-fangled and modern, it's from back in the 1940s or so.  From Utah, of course.  The land of silly names.  This one?


I know!  It's like KNEEL, only with a G!  Like a gnat, a gnu, and a Gneel!

I'm pretty sure it's supposed to sound like "Janiel" or "Genile."  PRETTY sure.  I'm also pretty sure THAT'S NOT A NAME!

Here, have something ugly now:

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