Trying to Stay Sane During Insane Times

I’ve been working on a story for a while, and for a while I’ve been making some good progress. But lately I’ve been distracted, and the usual culprits of previous distractions–Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram–are innocent in this go-around.

My writing time has been severely hampered because I can’t turn off my television to the everyday breaking news drama of this chaotic and dysfunctional administration that is the Donald Trump presidency.  But what really traps my attention are the constant revelations of the Russian investigation, run by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, that leaves me hopeful that someday (hopefully very soon) justice will prevail.

But until that time, my days are spent stressing over what will come of the country I love because the people in charge are trying to pass policies that will hurt the most vulnerable, while benefiting the most privileged.

A few months ago, the Republicans in Congress made me sweat-out a healthcare vote that would have kicked 30 million people off insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Three Republican senators were the difference between life and death for a lot of sick people because the Republicans had no viable replacement plan to ensure their care.

This is sick, but luckily, they didn’t get the vote.

But late last Friday night, the Senate Republicans had me geeking out and watching CSPAN 2 as they got the votes to pass their tax reform bill that according to independent reports, including the CBO, will knock 13 million people off insurance, and raise taxes for everyone making less than $75,000. The tax plan will also add 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit, which will segue into rhetoric by the Right to attack Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid (all programs they hate because non-rich people depend on them) to offset the deficit.

This is sick, too.

I’m not a perfect person. I’ve done things I regret, but I would never work to cripple programs that I know benefits children, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, and the working poor. This tax plan, designed to give relief to big corporations and wealthy individuals, at the expense of the middle and working-class, is devastating.

 

The Republicans are trying to play the ‘trickle-down’ theory game again. We saw this movie in 2000 under Bush. It ended badly. Seriously, only Rosemary’s Baby that ends with a woman finding out her newborn baby she thought was dead is actually the spawn of Satan, had a worse ending than the result of Bush economics.

I don’t want to hear Republicans lecture us about why the country’s most wealthy deserve tax breaks first, and why we, the peasants, deserve only what trickles down. Why not give the money to the middle and working-class people first, and then let whatever is left over trickle to the top 1%?

If you haven’t grabbed a poster and stood outside your representative’s office or made phone calls, then you are doing exactly what these incredulous politicians want – nothing.

This plan hasn’t passed yet, and it’s not too late to stop it. But action needs to be taken now. Grab a sign. Make a phone call or two…or fifteen…if that’s what it takes.

But note to self, turn off the TV for a little while and get back to writing. Your sanity and writing career depend on it.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Way to Go, Kentucky…You Just Shot Yourself in the Foot

On Nov. 3, 2015 the state of Kentucky held a gubernatorial election. Republican Matt Bevin, who ran a campaign based on the promise to destroy Medicaid expansion in his state, was elected the new governor of Kentucky.

The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, covers the poor, uninsured Americans who didn’t before qualify for Medicaid, but do under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. According to Kentucky.gov, as of 2013, over 300,000 Kentuckians became insured under the expanded Federal Medicaid health insurance program.

But on Nov. 3 the people of Kentucky voted. And Bevin won.

Now, the people of Kentucky, including the ones who voted for him, are worried they will lose their healthcare.

But, wait a minute. Didn’t I just write that the guy ran on a platform to destroy Medicaid expansion, thus taking insurance away from people?

Yes, I wrote that. And yes, making people uninsured was his promise. And yes, he still won.

I read an article, written by MSNBC journalist Steve Benen, about a male and female Kentuckian, who are currently insured through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion,  yet voted for the politician who vowed to take it away.

Here’s what the man had to say:

“[I]t doesn’t look to me as if [Bevin] understands,” the man said, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die.”

Here’s what the woman had to say:

“If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem,” Botner, a community college student, said…”Just with the blood tests, you’re talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance.

Why the hell did these people vote for a man who clearly wasn’t looking out for their best interest?

“I’m just a die-hard Republican,” the woman said.

Those are choice words because sick people do ‘die hard’ when their health care is taken away from them.

The article goes on to state that in one specific county in Kentucky, where most people are signed up for Medicaid, the majority of those people also voted for the guy who openly shared his plans to take it all away.

As I read this article, I had a real hard time understanding why people would make themselves vulnerable like that, and risk losing their health insurance, especially if they’re sick. And then I read a quote from an Owsley County judge, and it became oh so clear.

The judge said:

“To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I’m afraid they voted away their health insurance.”

Okay. Got it. But still.

Gay marriage doesn’t directly affect anyone’s life, but the people getting married. Abortion is a personal choice a woman makes for her own body. But that too, doesn’t directly affect anyone else’s life.

Yet, the risk of losing one’s health insurance took a backseat to gay marriage and abortion.  And why shouldn’t it? It’s not like health insurance directly affects one’s own life….oh wait.

I want to empathize with the Kentuckians who voted for Bevin, I really do, because I hate seeing people suffer. But it’s so hard to feel sympathy for them because all I want to ask is, “How can you guys be so stupid?” and “Was standing up against gay marriage and abortion worth compromising your health?”

It’s really simple, people.

Stop voting against your own self-interest.

Bevin takes office on Dec. 8 and Kentuckians will find out if their newly elected governor will make good on a promise many hope he will not keep.

Until then, Kentuckians will just have to hold their breath and pray for the best. But don’t hold your breath for too long, your oxygen levels will go down and your carbon monoxide levels will go up, and soon, you may not have the insurance to cover that.

You can only blame yourself, as well as the heartless politician threatening to take it all away.

 

If you’d like to read he full article by Steve Benen, please click the link below.

 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/kentucky-voters-create-big-problem-themselves

If Trump Isn’t Embarrassed, You Shouldn’t be Either.

A Facebook friend recently posted that she doesn’t have health insurance through her job, and had to pay a couple hundred dollars for medication. She can’t afford individual insurance, so one person suggested she may qualify for Medicaid. She agreed she would no doubt qualify, but would never go on Medicaid, or accept any kind of public aid.

I, along with quite a few others, commented that this was ridiculous. Programs like Medicaid were set up to protect people who can’t afford their own insurance, or, for people employed at jobs that either don’t offer benefits, or the person doesn’t meet company insurance eligibility requirements.

Whatever the scenario, if you don’t have insurance, and you qualify for Medicaid, i think you would be foolish not to take it. To walk around this country without health insurance, knowing how exuberant medical costs are, is just plain reckless. A trip to the doctor’s office alone can cost hundreds of dollars. Not to mention a freak accident that sends a person to the hospital, now we’re talking thousands of dollars. Easy.

So why would a person risk that? Is being on Medicaid shameful enough that a person would rather go without any type of coverage, and just take a deep breath and wish for the best?

Swallow your pride, people.

I blame a certain political party out there who love to bash people who need government assistance as “takers.” That somehow, they are always to blame for not being self-sufficient, regardless if said person had been working what they thought was a steady job, until that job was abruptly moved overseas, as so many of American jobs have gone.

People who are reluctant to apply for help, when they desperately need it, don’t want to be the kind of people some politicians put down publicly. The freeloaders. The irresponsible ones who need others to take care of them. The ones driving this country down.

I believe everyone, at some point in their life, will need help. Maybe it won’t always be financial, maybe emotional, but regardless, help will be needed because it’s tough to get through life on our own, alone.

It seems it’s more acceptable for certain people to take advantage of the system, than it may be for others. I was reminded of this as I watched the third Republican debate a couple weeks ago when the front-runner Republican candidate, Donald Trump, stated, in an unapologetic tone, (i’m paraphrasing) that in filing for four business bankruptcies he was merely taking advantage of the laws of the land.

This is true. Donald Trump did what corporate bankruptcy laws allowed him to do. When his companies racked up too much debt, he filed for bankruptcy. In 2004, according to CNN Money, Trump’s Hotel and Casino Resorts went through the bankruptcy court and shed over 500 million dollars in debt. Just like that. 500 million. Gone.

Although he lost majority control of the company, Mr. Trump was still able to retain control of his casinos.

This made me think of a scene from Goodfellas where mobsters assumed business interest over a bar, and the first thing they did was rack up the credit card bill. Then they took all that booze bought on credit and sold it out the back door for 100% profit. Then, once the credit ran dry, they torched the place. Never paying one penny back to the creditors.

This is what I think of when I listen to Trump talk about the “successful” bankruptcies that saved his businesses. How many companies didn’t did he pay when 500 million dollars was wiped out? It was a fresh start for Trump’s businesses, but what about the businesses he owed money to? The ones that never got paid.

If Trump can speak so blatantly about taking advantage of the laws that he could benefit from, then why are average people so ashamed of doing the same thing? Why does a person of modest means feel disgraced if they use the system to help them when they need it?

Why is it accepted as being advantageous for a business man to file bankruptcy four times and come out appearing as the tactical successful business man? When, If a regular person filed for bankruptcy four times he/she would be deemed as an irresponsible loser who doesn’t know how to handle their own finances.

But not Trump. Trump is leading his party in a run for the presidency. The highest office in the country, and, probably, the most powerful position in the world.

I worry about the prospect of a business man as a president. The notion that a country should be run as a business frightens me. But I’ll tackle that in another blog.

For now, I leave you with this, take the help that’s available for you when you need it. If Donald Trump isn’t embarrassed by all that he’s taken so far, then you shouldn’t be either.

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I don’t own this picture. I believe it is public domain, but if not, I will take it down.