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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Newt Gingrich and the Welfare Change of 1996

  In 1996, the Democratic President, Bill Clinton, signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which changed the face of Welfare as we knew it. Newt Gingrich did not introduce the bill, but he pushed for considerable change in the way the Federal government administered Welfare.  The new bill:
  • Ended welfare as an entitlement program;
  • Required recipients to begin working after two years of receiving benefits;
  • Placed a lifetime limit of five years on benefits paid by federal funds;
  • Aimed to encourage two-parent families and discouraged out-of-wedlock births.
  • Enhanced enforcement of child support.

Those changes are pretty nice.  Most people don't realize that someone cannot be on Welfare (TANF) for a lifetime.  Most people don't realize the work requirement, nor that the benefits are inaccessible if a parent cannot file for child support.  Also, most folks do not realize that child support payments count toward the total income someone in the house has, whether it is regularly received by that person or not, and that if the child support puts someone even slightly over the eligible income limits, he or she cannot receive those government benefits.

These points are important, because how we view the "welfare mom" is important to how we think we need to reform social assistance programs.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fox News Watchers Uninformed

I watch the Fox News channel frequently.  One of my favorite shows to watch is Stossel's Take.  While Stossel seems whiny, he makes some good points.  I digress.  I also watch MSNBC.  I like Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow.  Oh, and I watch Current TV, and CNN and HLN, PBS, C-Span, and the local news. I read Yahoo news, the Washington Post news articles, and I read whatever people post from The Blaze and the New York Post.  I shudder at some of those, but I still read them.

This post is about the misinformation outlet that is Fox News.  Apparently, a recent Facebook meme is that people who watch Fox News are more likely to know less about the world then those who watch no news at all.
Here are some headlines for you to digest.

Fox News Viewers Overwhelmingly Misinformed About Healthcare Proposals
Fox News-Most Misinformed of All News Viewers
Study Finds Fox News Viewers More Likely to be Misinformed on Basic Political Facts
Fair and Balanced:  Fox's Not-So-Secret Weapon
Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War

Alright, so what about MSNBC?  Right?  Well, not many of the talking heads of MSNBC say that they are "fair and balanced."  They admit freely to being liberally leaning.

The danger of Fox News is that it markets itself as 1.  News.  and 2.  being "Fair and Balanced."

People who are not well versed on history can find homage in Fox News reporting, because it has mass public appeal.  It begs an emotional response from its viewers, and it appeals to something we all coddle:  our egos.

How does a network that caters to the interests of multi-billion dollar corporations seduce those who sell much of their lives to laboring for a well-earned paycheck?  It targets their core moral structure.  It holds them up with the carrot of triumph!  You've worked hard, and you deserve the spoils of praise while others are so lazy they've become impoverished!  It casts an Anti-Christ shadow on  all things liberal so that those who love and honor Jesus feel an obligation to uphold the values that Fox News so blatantly exploits.

The worst situation one can be in, is to consider Fox News the only source of televised news he receives.  People who fully engage in Fox News might find themselves in a vacuum of sorts.  They watch news from a distorted sense of reality where the going slogan is "We are fair and balanced, and we give ample weight to opposing views."  My husband's uncle used to say that if you're ever in trouble, be sure to be the first one to tell your story.  The first one to say the story always gets more credit then the second one, no matter who's at fault.  That's what Fox News does for so many viewers.  It ensures it's the first one to tell it's "side of the story," and it does so with such raw and scathing emotional appeal, it's difficult for people to fathom any other point of view.  The one to first say the story is certainly the one to leave the recipient of the news misinformed.

Fox News is not the idealistic portrayal of Conservative values, so a critique of Fox News is not against the ideals of limited government spending and free market ideology.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Going Away

Bill O'Reilly said, "So the "Occupy Wall Street" movement is dead, finished as a legitimate political force in this country. And that's a good thing." 

I'm not sure that the movement is that dead, in this country or any other country.  Google "Occupy Canada."  Google "Occupy UK."  Google "Occupy New Zealand."

The Occupy movement is global.  It's not just some jobless hippies camping out in unheard of parks in New York.  Bill O'Reilly and the likes of him would like you to think that the folks surrounding the movement are disorganized and that they have a messy message, but the message has proliferated throughout the developed world.  The movement is the aching of working, honest people who fear the homogenization of poverty, rather than well-being, worldwide. 

It's not over Mr. O'Reilly!  Occupy Wall Street has bled into other regions of the world, if not been absorbed into our nation from them.  Whether the movement is in Canada, New Zealand, or the UK, to say that Fox News has been a "tad dismissive" of the occupy movement is an incredible understatement:  Occupy Wall Street Occupier Slams Fox News Reporter.

Pizza as a Vegetable and the Occupy Movement

How is pizza related to the Occupy Wall Street movement?  Thousands of protesters are filling the byways of New York in hopes of changing the dynamics of the American Ruling class.  They are fighting because people with money have power in congress and people with power in congress have money.  Why else would congress allow schools to serve pizza as a serving of vegetable in school?  As Kristin Wartman of the Washington Post so eloquently said it, "For this we can thank large food companies -- in this case ConAgra and Schwan -- which pressured Congress to comply with their financial interests."

Where right-wing working class Americans have the Occupy Wall Street movement wrong is that they believe the occupiers want to attack hard-working business owners.  They are right that attacking the business class folks in our country is not the best tactic in improving our overall economy.  We find ourselves tangled in a mess of obscurity in political understandings.  On on hand, if we don't honor the businesses, we are left thinking the only other way to solve the income inequality issues in our country is through more taxation and higher social assistance, but that is not necessary at all.  

The fact that pizza is a vegetable in the schools is not only a testament to big business lobbying congress to keep those kinds of foods in schools for their own self-serving needs, but a testament to the fact that school lunches are really big business.  What demographic of family typically buys school lunches for children, especially considering those lunches consist of soggy pizza and oily french fries?  More than likely, the primary customer for school lunches is the government itself.  According to US News, up to 89 percent of school lunches are eaten by low-income students.

There is a divide between the haves and the have-nots, but that divide should not blur the reality of the problem.  The problem is not so much that clever people have worked their way up to multi-billion dollar industries, nor that they were quick thinking enough to market to a national network of public and private schools.  The issue is that these big businesses have enough power to change the way we think of health:  that pizza must be a vegetable (all while the government decries a national obesity crisis).  

The co-mingling of government and business has left an awkward rift between pro-business and pro-government everyday-average folks, when, the two are nearly the same.

So if you are against Occupy Wall Street, think about this:

If businesses can control how we define the health of food, why won't they change laws that protect our health and wellness?  If companies have that much power with our government, would you care if your children work 60 hours a week for a job that pays half of what it pays today, but requires a college degree that costs twice as much?  

People didn't cry when it worked.  Now that it's harder and people are crying and shouting, we're calling them cry babies.  We say they are "selfish," but what they are fighting for will affect their children.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and Lazy People

The Occupy Wall Street movement is not about what some people believe it is about.  It's about the working people.  It's about us vs. them.  Who is "Them?"  Them be the one percent people.  If you are born into a wealthy family, statistically speaking, you have a better chance at being wealthy then say, a poor guy.  It has less to do with merit and work ethic and creativity then it does with time and place.  In fact, simple science explains the laws of balancing.

The Law of Conservation of Mass:    Mass isn't ordinarily created or destroyed in normal chemical reactions, and product is equal to the reactant.

In short, whenever there is stuff in life, it balances out in some way or another.  I get more, then someone else gets less.  That's it.  It's terribly simple.

So, since I love charts, check this one out.  It shows the income inequality disparity over time:  Winners Take All

There you have it, the rich get richer, and all the rest of us get poorer.  So, am I saying that the rich people should be paying off our school loans, and paying janitors the same salary as accountants?  No.  But, I'm saying that accountants shouldn't be making a Janitor's wage.  I believe that will happen very soon.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is about the American Dream changing for younger people.  It's about requiring people to have over priced college educations to acquire jobs that pay what non-college educated people use to get paid.  And, it's getting worse with globalization.

We've become the labor pool.  We aren't even human.  We're laborers, and we are realizing that unemployment means higher profits for the people who are controlling congress anyway.  Unemployment means we're desperate to work for lower wages because we need work.

Occupy Wall Street is about allowing our kids to work for an honest pay.

A full time working mom and dad can dream to have a small house, one decent working car (low-end new or a few years used), and a few outings a month.  That's not too much to ask, but people who've gotten their chance just don't see that.

They think Occupiers don't want to work.  That they want gifts and freebies.  That what some of the media, namely folks at Fox want us to believe, but the truth is that Occupiers just want reasonable working conditions for everyone.  Working conditions, not welfare conditions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Internet ID

We don't have to risk public privacy to initiate some Internet Identification program.  Imagine a scan disk card with identification information coded into it being used to connect to the Internet.  Imagine random road-checks, or Internet interruptions when the ISP checks for the ID but cannot find the ID card.

An ID card can be issued by a Library, an ISP or possibly a school.

Why not?

There are a few odd cases of Internet stalking, preying on kids, and general crime that would have made good use of some form of ID card.  Even a stolen or forged ID card may lead to the actual perpetrator better than no card.

Anyway, I was watching Nancy Grace discuss the Sky Metalwala case the other day, and Nancy had the owner of a website for which Sky's mother may have registered.  The operative word is "may," because law enforcement is investigating whether or not Julia Biryukova, Sky's mother, had created a profile on the website as a "sugar baby," (someone looking for a sugar daddy).

I don't want strangers or the public at large knowing my personal info; however, having an ID, even if it is only a coded ID number that can be researched with the Internet Service Provider, can be useful in finding this sort of information.  Supposed the profile had been made at the library by someone hoping to help Ms. Birkyukova?  Perhaps someone made the profile as a false lead in preparation for the disappearance of Sky Metalwala.

An Internet ID could help law enforcement crack crime cases in an age where we spend a good portion of our days meandering the virtual back-alleys of the cyber world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baby Lisa Irwin and the Disappearance of Debate

A little beautiful 10 month old baby went missing on October 4th, 2011.  The Internet buzz is that mom is guilty. Mom was drinking.  Dad was supposed to be home at 10:30, but didn't get home until 4am, at which point, he came home, found baby missing, woke mom up, then everyone panicked, then parents called the police.

People want to start vigilante groups.  She's just a bad mom for drinking on the front porch with a neighbor.  She should be shot, hung, and gutted, according to Internet bloggers.  Maybe that's true, but we don't know anything.  We don't know why, but this family is not talking to law enforcement.  Does it mean they are guilty?  Does it mean anything yet?  We don't know, but I surely hope no one throws stones until this case is solved!

So, being the nosy mom of a 10 month old myself, I find myself unhealthily engaged in this situation.  I don't know if the parents are guilty.  I do know I might be overly optimistic.  After all, a small, underfed voice of mine still tells me that Casey Anthony didn't kill Caylee, that Casey was an unattached mom who was involved in the drug scene and was just as surprised as the rest of us that Caylee died.

I have hope.  I'm a mom, but what happend on an Internet discussion on Facebook turned my gut even more than the thought that moms kill babies.  Well, almost as much.  I told a woman that we don't know all the facts about Deborah Bradley, little baby Lisa's mom.  I said we don't know for sure that she was involved, and that even though she may be suspicious, we shouldn't go all Salem witch-trial on someone who seems kinky, when she may simply be missing her little baby.  Stranger things have happened.

What did she tell me?  She told me to go crawl up Deborah Bradley's ass.  AND, then she said she was leaving the page because she didn't want to have to get into an argument.

So, is this what Americans have become?  We've become so involved in our selves that we see no righteousness in any opposing statements?  I mean, what is it to debate?  Can we do that any more?  Can we just offer differing opinions to further the search for truth?

I know what some of you might think.  The going trend in American thought has me believing that some of you who agree with this woman are probably standing at the ready with the following argument:

But if you're so angry with this woman, aren't you doing the same thing as you accuse her of doing?  She has a right to her opinion too!

Well, she didn't offer it, at least not rationally!  I mean, she could have told me why she thought Deborah was obviously guilty, and she could have countered my observations with meaningful rebuttals.

I realize that I want to believe that the little baby Lisa Irwin is still alive.  I know that it's possible that we will hear that that baby will be found some other way, but there are tons of possibilities.  The masses of human speculation might lead to the truth, if only we can accept variations of thought!

No, she couldn't bare to hear a differing opinion, so she threatened to leave the page after insulting me.

This banter happens with political discourse as well.  If you are of one political persuasion or the other, you are inherently evil.  Evil.

Satanism and Ayn Rand's Objectivism

I'm not sure that either dominant political party has the interest of the people at the forefront of their agenda; however, I think the conservative ideology presses a little too tightly on my gag reflex.  Why?  Because Christianity is at the core of conservative ideology.  While some might be a little less than thrilled to hear someone associate Christianity with gagging, I have to protest the blatant sacrificing of Jesus in the name of furthering the gain of wealth.

Jesus was poor.
Jesus loved poor people.
Jesus took His disciple's fish and bread and spread it around.
Jesus didn't care too much for ceremony.
Jesus didn't care too much for judging other people.

Alright.  Do you know what Satanism is?  Yeah, I bet it makes you shudder.  Gives you chills straight down to the bone, right?

I. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence! 
Clearly liberal.  
II. Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
Again, liberal here.

III. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
Ugh, liberal.

IV. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
Very conservative.  Let's not spare our tax money on the poor.

V. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!

VI Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!
VII Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours, who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development, has become the most vicious animal of all!
Hmmm.  I think conservatives believe we own the rest, so this is definitely liberal.

VIII Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
IX Satan is the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!

Okay, well, Satan is a left-leaning Independent.

Well, I went to a website to find a thread linking objectivism with Satanism.  I find the individualism of Ayn Rand to reek of the Satanist approach; however, it seems Satan is linked to us all.  God help us mercifully.