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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What is rape?

I remember from the 1970’s the story of the judge who did not believe that a woman could be raped if she resisted. The judge used the props of a pencil and a donut as proxies and challenged the plaintiff to put the pencil in the donut hole while the donut was kept in motion. The demonstration failed when one participant grabbed the wrist of the donut holder and stabbed away at the donut until it was crumbs and the hand bloodied. “Now THAT is rape, your Honor.”

Paul Ryan and Rep. Akin argue and quibble about rape only in the context of whether an abortion is permissible as the result of a "legitimate" rape that in their minds doesn't result in pregnancy. Their reasoning merely proves them to be wholly unacceptable as representatives of any society. They want to legitimize rape by requiring it to be "forcible" and conflated with serious assualt and battery.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Say You Don't Like Giving People Welfare

I apologize if this first paragraph creeps you out. I want you to consider what your life would be like if you were subjected to a life altering event that kept you from being able to earn the living that you now do. You don't have to point any fingers of blame or accept and culpability for that happens to you or how well you handle the circumstance. It is only the functional result that I am asking you about.

The event could be a stroke that leaves you speechless or unable to understand speech. It could be a motor vehicle collision with someone who was not doing anything objectionable at the time. You eventually return home using a wheelchair and needing major dwelling modifications in order to live there. It could be a disease like Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, ALS, or other neurological malady. It could be mental illness, schizophrenia, some other dementia or even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where you just can't get to a job five days per week and log your requisite 8 hours per day. The list is endless, choose your preferred disability.

If you have family and friends you may be fortunate enough to have someone take care of you. Most people do not have inexhaustible insurance resources so we can't mitigate all your problems with free money from private insurance. If you have home mortgage insurance, maybe you won't lose your home, but so few people have policies that will pay off that balance.

For simplicity we will not go into the massive medical bills that usually accompany such life altering events. We can argue the pros and cons of universal health care for weeks on end and still not reach a consensus.

The direction that I am trying to lead the reader is to the idea that once you lose your ability to earn enough money to pay for all the essentials of life in this country you become marginalized and destitute. The only hope for any level of comfort is the support that taxpayer funded subsidies provide. Minimum wage of $7.35 will get a 40-hour per week worker about $15,288 before taxes. Even at $10 an hour the income is $20,800. Could you and your dependents live on that amount unsubsidized?

People in America can get rent subsidy/rent control, food stamps, direct cash payments, Medical care, energy assistance, half fare rides on transit, extra tax deductions, and other amounts that I cannot list in their entirety. Basically, the people who receive those benefits are unable to pay for everything they need with the income they get from working for a business that pays a wage.

If you can't report to work and do 40 hours per week you won't even get the $15,000 income. The longer you are unable to do that work, the less likely you ever will. You become part of that vast unemployable segment of our society. You may be too young, too old, too disabled, too disfigured, too socially inept, too illiterate, too unskilled or uneducated, too non-English speaking to do the jobs that will pay an income sizable enough to pay ALL the costs of living in the profitized USA without being supported by taxpayers. Some of those reasons are directly the responsibility of the person who needs an income, while others are foisted upon him by the businesses that don't hire such persons.

You've seen seemingly strong looking men panhandling on the sidewalk. While they could tote that barge and lift that bale with their strong bodies, it is the mental side of the picture that leaves them unemployed and on the street with a paper cup in which to collect coins. With the tens of thousands of such people already relegated to life on the street the few who could reverse their (mis)fortunes would only a drop in the bucket. One would have to work with them to resolve their underlying problems in order to get them back into gainful employment. Getting them into a job that pays enough to not require subsidy is nearly impossible. Everything costs, so even the investment in solving the underlying problems is a taxpayer subsidy in itself.

As we each progress through our early lives, we pickup knowledge and skills that will serve us later on. Some of what we learn will apply to our social lives, some to our personal lives and others to our work lives. While on that path to success there are those in our cohort that do not progress as fast or as well for many and varied reasons. There are those we know who fail for lack of trying while others fail for lack of ability to learn and use what they know. It is easy for the successful ones to look down on the failed and failing ones and blame them for their lack of attainment. Later on, the successful ones come to resent the shabbiness and sheer numbers of the failed and failing ones who must be supported by society or be left in desperation. The attitude that "I earned mine and I shouldn't have to give it to those who are lazy, don't try and like having everything given to them" becomes prevalent.

The ones who fail to succeed are only the one part of the total. There are they who had success and later lost it. Their bodies gave out. Their brains began to malfunction and they could not keep up. They were traumatized by what we asked them to do to people in other lands. Whatever the cause, they are out there in our faces mirroring the possibility that we too could join them at any time.

So if you could no longer do a job that pays the salary you progressed up to in your career and you could not reliably report to work to keep a job, where would you end up? If the only job you could get paid $15,000 a year with no health benefits, could you live without welfare, Food Stamps, rent subsidies, Medicaid, etc? What would your spouse and children think and do? And don't discount friend and family handouts because they are merely a private form of welfare to you.

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Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.