Monday, September 21, 2015

Give Us A Break

My paternal grandmother once told me that she had always been a good money manager, but she couldn't hold a candle to my mother.  My Dad apparently felt my mother was good at stretching a buck, too.  One time he teased her by saying she could take a yard of fabric and get three dresses out of it.  She was not amused, but you get the idea of what kind of models I have had.

I learned as a teenager to sock away money to save for clothing and an occasional luxury.  We girls back then could not work before age sixteen, but boys could get paper routes at an early age (twelve, I think.)  One of the most lovely, generous things that has ever happened to me was my brother counting his money from collecting for his route, separating the paper cost from his tips and walking across the hall and giving me a dollar or two.  I saved these for future treats most of the time.

When I became old enough, I worked sixteen to eighteen hours a weekend in a local drugstore  --  for $1.00 an hour.  The summer before I went to college, the hours changed to five week nights and all day Sunday.  The dollars mounted up so I was able to buy a wool suit and a winter coat to start my college wardrobe.  And, it was from one of the best dress shops in town.  My Mom made some clothes and my grandmother, the good manager, usually bought me a nice dress for birthdays and Christmas.  These, and other ways, I've always managed to scrape by financially.  I paid most of my college housing costs by working part time and summer jobs.

After my husband got his doctorate, we bought our first house.  At some point I had promised I would be a stay-at-home Mom during the children's early years.  I kept my promise until he wanted a third child.  I agreed to the child, but went back to school after he was born.  I got an M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology one or two courses at a time while running a household and taking care of a husband and three kids.  Then, I completed most of a doctoral program before my marriage ended.

During the years of no work, I missed having a few dollars of my own.  I asked for, and received, twenty-five dollars a month for which I didn't have to account.  I saved all winter for a big splurge.  In the spring I bought enough bush honeysuckle to cover one entire side of the house, as well as two or three bushes each of forsythia and Japanese flowering quince.

Over the years, my husband, and then the children, got used to my rat hole of funds.  First the adult dude would say he had an emergency and needed to "borrow" some of my stash.  One time, I exhausted the fund I was saving to buy a studio loom because the dude got expenses paid to present a paper at a convention in Hawaii.  Wives were welcome to go as long as the couple paid the cost for her plane ticket and the extra for her staying in the hotel room.  By the time the trip came around I had saved spending money, too.

Once I was a single parent, the stash became a savings account upon which the children became dependent for emergencies.  It was as though they had read Mama's Bank Account and had quit before the end of the book.  They aren't the only ones who grew to count on me.  I had done so also.  A number of times I worked a "good" job days and a minimum wage or similar one nights so I could maintain a sense of security.  But, now I am a senior citizen, totally dependent on my Social Security, partly because some crooks squandered a retirement program I had earned; and also because the individuals for whom I have worked paid on the "cheap" where possible.  The government being reluctant to tax the rich who were even more reluctant to pay a living wage, at least to women, did not want to look into a crystal ball toward the future.  If they had seen, they would have realized that the minimum wage also dictated the hourly wage for the better positions.  What was earned dictated how much the employee and employer had to pay into the Social Security fund.  And how much we paid into the fund determined how much we would receive as retirees.  Or maybe they did "see" and just didn't care.  It never occurred to them it would come back to bite them in the rear later when Social Security was threatened and they had to support a significant number of senior citizens with medical care, food stamps and heat costs.

So, shortsighted, if not uncaring, government officials have borrowed and borrowed from our Social Security funds which they replaced with paper to call in at a future date.  In order to pay back for the "paper" now, the U. S. government, which has also squandered all our other funds, with wars and pork spending as well as unrealistic taxation and tax loopholes, has to borrow from China.  It is already borrowing from China to pay the interest on all our other debts.

After years of hearing that Congress was trying to chain our CPI so we got even less Social Security than the amount we can't live on now, I began receiving duns for money to be used to convince Congress to increase our Social Security base by $800 per recipient.  Like the dudes who want to chain the CPI would fall for that!  But, what do you know?  It seems to have been recommended by Senator John McCain, himself.

I've told you all before that I have $25.51 left in my savings account.  Many years, the rise in costs that immediately follow the annual announcement about Social Security increases, exceeds the expected raise.  Thus, seniors are left to face the coming year's inflation with less cash for expenses than they had the previous year.

I have to tell you, folks, unless you were paid like a man, or amassed a retirement fortune, it isn't pretty out here.  No matter how good you are at managing, survival depends on something to manage.  Give us a break!  And, please, quit bitching at us for needing it.  Sometimes it feels as if you would prefer that we just die so we wouldn't need it.  I hope the members of Congress haven't become that dysfunctional.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What's The Hubbub About the Keystone XL Pipline?

Sometime in the past year, I heard a reporter interview an upper management employee of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  During that program, the interviewer specifically asked the man from Keystone if it would bring many jobs to the United States.  He truthfully, but reluctantly, answered that no, it wouldn't mean more than around fifty permanent jobs.

The purpose of the pipeline, per articles I have read is so Canadian oil can be shipped to U. S. ports to be sent overseas.  This lays to rest a common belief that it would mean more oil for us.  If these reports are true, we would get fifty jobs and zero oil.  So what is this never-ending fuss about? 

Why exactly do the Republicans and their constituency want to risk the environment and ecology of any portion of our country for that?

Perhaps the press could take a rest from policing political correctness and find out what all this hubbub is about if we get no benefit from messing up our own ecology for Canada.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

There Is No Accountability

The political correctness police have been all over the election cycle just as they are all over everyone and everything these days.  Some members of the press called Donald Trump a bigot the other day for his remarks about illegal immigrants.  They cast aspersions on Jeb Bush for referring to "anchor babies."  This is a term used to describe children whose families see that they are born in the United States, which allows many members of their families to move here legally.

So, could there possibly be anything incorrect about political correctness?  You bet.  There is no accountability for the people about whom we are supposed to be politically correct.  Say what?  You heard me.  Political correctness takes away the need for individuals to be held accountable for their behaviors. If anybody has the "brass ones" to say anything about a misbehavior of a minority person, an illegal immigrant, an anchor baby, the speaker, not the misbehaver, gets the blame.

Ferguson, Missouri, remains a crucial reminder of such an incident.  Videotapes clearly show Michael Brown manhandling the clerk of the convenience store where he was accused of stealing around $48 worth of cigars.  He sticks out his huge arm and sweeps aside the much smaller clerk like he was wiping dust off a countertop.  But who at this point holds Brown accountable for anything?  Certainly not his black friends.  Not Al Sharpton.  His Mom was said to refuse to view the tapes because they were just trying to make Michael look bad.  No, Mam.  Michael made Michael look bad and the country saw it happen.

When the police told Michael to leave the road and use the sidewalk, he confronts the officer and wrestles him for his gun.  Who has held Michael accountable for that misbehavior?  Not his Mother, Step-father, friends, or the political correctness police, that's for sure.  Yes, Michael is dead.  And the life of a police officer and his family is changed forever as well.

Oprah Winfrey caused an international incident yelling racism because a clerk told her the price of the purse didn't matter because she couldn't afford it.  Who, in his/her right mind could afford a $49,000 purse, even if they did have the money?  Paying that for costuming would be insane. 
But who has held Oprah accountable for stirring up a hornets nest by playing the race card over a casual remark?  Not the political correctness police for sure.  That poor clerk in that store in a foreign country  --  that is not even known for racist issues  -  knows which adult was rude . . . which adult was racist . . . which adult showed her ass in front of the whole world.  The country's government had to apologize, for Pete's sake.  Oh, but weren't they "politically correct" for doing so?  And who has held Oprah accountable for throwing a temper tantrum in a foreign country and embarrassing the United States?  Nobody.

A white boy went into a black church and killed several black church members.  Our President called it a racist act.  A black man killed some white people and our President said it was one more example that we need more gun control.  Who is holding our President accountable for his one-sided view?  Once more, nobody.

Al Sharpton moves from incident to incident stirring up the masses.  Then he walks away and ignores the rioting and pillaging in his wake.  But, he invokes the name of the Reverend Martin Luther King, so that means Sharpton wants "peaceful" resistance does it not?  Uh, uh.  Reverend King wanted peaceful resolution.  Where is the accountability for Al Sharpton?

Celebrities, white and black demonstrated for the Civil Rights movement from the beginning.  Where are black celebrities when we need them to demonstrate for peace now?  Who is telling them they should do the right thing?  Not the political correctness police, that's for sure!

All you political correctness buffs out there have all those demonstrators so stirred up that they travel hundreds of miles to pillage and burn these days.  Ask the Ferguson police how many arrests they had to make of people from other parts of the country this summer.

Let me tell you about racism and bigotry folks!  Take, for instance, the bigoted "eedgit" that drove across half of Missouri to "kill him some Jews".  The jury just sentenced Frasier Glenn Cross to death for killing three white Christians who happened to be in front of Jewish institutions.  That man is a bigot.

The black man who shot a cop in the back of the head for standing at a gas pump  --  that man is a bigot. 

Anyone who takes out his wrath on an innocent bystander, whether black or white, Asian or Hispanic, is a bigot.  He/she is striking out at everyone in sight for wrongs (real or imagined) that he perceives have happened to him.  That's bigotry.

But where are the political correctness police when the white folk need them?  Well, they are out blindly protecting the color of one skin or another against this "evil" white world in which we live.

And who is holding the dark skinned perpetrators accountable?  In fact, who is holding the political correctness police accountable?

Not a soul it seems.