About Me

My photo

I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Could you live on $337 a month???

Listening to The Diane Rehm Show this morning, I learned some horrifying details on Medicaid. In some states, just owning a car - no matter its worth - will make you ineligible for Medicaid. But then they told other details. In some states, if you don't have a children, you are ineligible - no matter how little you earn.

As for income, in Texas, a family of three the income cutoff is $4044 per year! That's $337 a month! That's just over $10 a day! $3 a meal! (Let's not mention rent!)

Now, how many could survive on that? I'm sure the Republicans are saying, "well, get a better job!" Oh, yeah, right.  This completely belies the argument about people becoming dependent on social services. Who can afford to eat, much less anything else, and be dependent on Medicaid?

What if you work at McDonald's or Wal-Mart? Or what if you do have a full time job - but at minimum wage? Let's use Texas as an example again. In Texas, the minimum wage is $7.25/hour. (Dear God, the last time I had a minimum wage job was in 1990 and I think I earned more than that!) That means, even with full time, you'd make $15,000 a year. The Federal Government lists the poverty level for a family of 3 as $19,530 a year. Yet, you would still not be eligible for Medicaid. Basically, the State of Texas thinks poverty is a job that pays less than a dollar a week!

Please, how do they come up with these figures? And Texas isn't the only guilty party. Thankfully those states not run by certain Republican governors can help their poor. The expansion will give Medicaid to anyone earning up to 1.38 times the Federal Poverty Level. That's nearly $30,000 a year! I would've been eligible when I was a secretary! (Of course, that job had good benefits already. I wouldn't have needed it.)

Here are some ways this is good for the country, not just the person:

1) Less uninsured people showing up at hospital emergency rooms. Did you know your state may have to cover part of those costs? It's not just written off by the hospital by higher prices for paying customers.

2) More productive employees.

3) Less people that maintain a jobless status to keep basic medical coverage rather than looking for work.

4) More people with actual disposable income. That's trickle down stuff, folks! The economy works better when people buy stuff - other than groceries.

5) Maybe people in the inner cities won't resort to self-medicating or selling drugs.

6) Obamacare requires mental health care coverage. Maybe less crazy people will buy guns and we won't have to argue with the gun rights people about background checks.

I'm sure there are more. Let's stop characterizing this as dependence or for weak people. What about those dependent industries like aviation, oil, coal, gas, automotive? Aren't they dependent on subsidies? Let's remember this country is "for the people".

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Church Fathers, Secularism Isn't The Greatest Danger In The World

Lately, I've been arguing with a lot of fellow Mormons on line and other Christians about this so-called threat to religious liberty. And, now. we have had a special stake conference and the representative from the church leadership decided to emphasize the threat of secularism. About how church members are criticized for speaking out about their faith or even threatened. About how religion is being forced out of the public sphere.

Well, I'm afraid I could not suppress a vocal groan. Hopefully, everybody thought my back had gone out. (Not very comfortable sitting still that long.) 

He called out such countries as Norway and Sweden as examples of what could happen if we didn't stop it. I nearly laughed out loud. It's not like we'd turn into China or  Russia, no. He picked Scandinavian countries. Some of the happiest and healthiest countries in the world!

One of my biggest problems with this demonization of secularism is the idea that it is somehow attacks religion. A secular country is not by definition or in practice an atheist country. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the definition of a secular state is:

A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment from a particular religion/nonreligion over other religions/nonreligions.  Secular states do not have a state religion or equivalent, although the absence of  a state religion does not necessarily mean that the state is fully secular.

I am a Mormon. I like to think I'm a good Mormon. A faithful Mormon. I have a testimony of this church and I know it is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I know that Jesus Christ died for me.

That being said, I also know the harm that religion can do if it gets too involved in government. Why did our forefathers move here? It wasn't for the weather. They moved because they were hounded and persecuted out of Europe. Even the Netherlands didn't want them anymore. (Even back then they were pretty progressive.) 

In my own Church (which was pretty badly persecuted in its early days), they like to teach that God prepared this country for the restoration of the gospel. Well, if that's true, they shouldn't attack the separation of church and state. They were persecuted badly enough. They were hounded from state to state. The founder of the Church was foully murdered. Would this happen today? With more progressive and liberal laws, I think not. 

And, in my own family, some of my earliest ancestors on the American continent were persecuted for not practicing their faith to the standards of others in their community. (And they were Quakers.)

Because of all this, I am a strong defender of the separation of church and state. 

Now let's look at the value of secularism. Secularism that protects the free practice of their faith. Now the speaker today discussed how bad the Scandinavian and many European countries are becoming because of rising secularism. I say NONSENSE! (I could say worse, I suppose, but it's a Sunday.)

Here are just a few statistics I looked up. 

Happiest (most content citizens) countries:
1) Denmark
2) Norway
3) Switzerland
4) The Netherlands
5) Sweden

Most prosperous:
1) Norway 
2) Denmark
3) Sweden
4) Australia
5) New Zealand

Safest to live or visit:
1) Iceland
2) Norway
3) Denmark 
4) Finland
5) Austria

Healthiest countries:
1) Singapore
2) Italy
3) Australia
4) Switzerland
5) Japan

Best Educated:
1) Finland
2) South Korea
3) Hong Kong
4) Japan
5) Singapore

Countries with least income inequality:
1) Denmark
2) Sweden
3) Norway
4) Czech Republic
5) Slovakia

Best countries to be a woman:
1) Iceland
2) Norway
3) Finland
4) Sweden
5) Ireland

Best countries to be a kid:
1) Japan
2) Spain 
3) Germany
4) Italy
5) France

Countries with the best human rights record:
1) Norway
2) San Marino
3) Canada 
4) Belgium
5) Luxembourg

Now, now, now, they don't look that bad. Look at all those European, and Scandinavian names. Now, certainly, they aren't all secular governments. But 44% are Scandinavian and 75% are European. And our poor country didn't even hit the top 5 on any of these.

I love my Father in Heaven. I love being a Mormon. However, I can still see the damage religion can do. Why is secularism and atheism rising? Now, I know that many will say that religion is irrational. Well, besides that, how many people won't go because they consider religion to be harmful and intolerant. How many young Catholics have left the church (or even committed suicide) because of the Church's teachings? 

We, as sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven, need to keep in mind his teachings. Most importantly his two great commandments, especially the second great commandment -- "to love our fellow man as we love our God". 

Secondly, we need to remember that our right to practice our religion should not compromise others. Let's not be hypocritical. How many times have our legislatures tried to pass laws that discriminate on those who practice Islam or Wicca or those who choose not to practice at all? Yet, they also want to pass laws that favor their religion? When do those laws get even more restrictive and only protect those of the Protestant or Evangelical persuasion? Where does it stop?

A person I used to communicate with on line - one I thought of as a friend at one time - once said I was attacking free speech. I guess she missed the point. I understand free speech. That's why I object to people going on and on about how evil the liberal philosophy (or ideology) is. To supporting a party and philosophy that seemed to be the complete opposite of Christ's teachings. I also object to a Church that constantly extols the values of free agency (free will) telling me that I'm wrong. 

Now, to be fair, I also object to people of my political persuasion telling me I'm irrational and deluded for believing in a Higher Being.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare IMHO

There has been so much vitriol and anger and passion over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. To me it just seems to be a tempest in a teapot. (A pun was intended.) For the purposes of this blog, I will just call it the ACA. I would also like to say that everything in this blog is an opinion, my opinion. Not the opinion of the left or the right. Just the opinion of a tired traveller on the healthcare front. I am no expert on anything but my own experience so I shall speak from that.

Let's start with that. I am a single childless female in her 40s who is now on disability due to seizures. As a child, I suffered with asthma and allergies. My sister had multiple ear infections. My mother had allergies and migraines. My father eventually contracted diabetes. So, we were very thankful for my father's excellent job that had wonderful benefits. 

When I went off of my parents' plan was when the worst experiences were. I've worked for McDonald's, 7-11, & K-Mart. All places that made sure they keep you on part time employment. They don't want to give you any benefits. They want all the asset and none of the deficit. Why should they? After all, if your health is taken care of, you'd only become more reliable. Probably even more productive. 

This was painful time for me. I can only say I was grateful I was still at a healthy weight and age. If I had to go through that now, I'd probably drop dead or kill myself. I battled colds and flus with Alka-Seltzer Plus and tea with honey. I worked sick. I worked in pain. 

But, I did do something to better myself. I went to clerical school. I got a secretarial job with benefits. Now, many libertarians and other conservatives would counter... see? that's what you should have done! The market works. I disagree, but let's continue.

I got a very good benefit package. I had vision, dental, and health coverage. (Though, I personally believe they should all be combined.) 

But, after 12 years of employment, I was laid off. The federal government cut funding for the government contractor I was working for. I no longer had any insurance. No coverage for healthcare. By this time, I had been diagnosed with epilepsy, I had frequent migraines, and I had depression. No coverage for vision. I was now wearing glasses. By my 40's, I couldn't read without them. And no coverage for dental. Why is dental care separate from healthcare? How does that make sense? 

A few times during my period of unemployment, I was eligible for medical coupons. But welfare - at least in Washington State - is not as easy to get as people seem to think it is. But more than that, even when I did have employment, I had become a less than reliable employee. 

I got stuck in a vicious cycle (and I am sure I am not the only one this happens to). You are unemployed and uninsured. You cannot afford the medication you need. In my case, this meant that my migraines and seizures became more and more frequent. When I did get a job, I wasn't very reliable. When I was employed, I was able to get the medication through state programs, but this coverage went away when I got a job.

This takes me up to the ACA and the need for health coverage in this country. There are many statements I hear from the right I just can't agree with. 

#1: Why should I pay for someone that can't get a job to get healthcare?

This is a fallacy. Most of the people without insurance have jobs. Most jobs just don't provide health insurance. That's why so many jobs are part time and not full time. Companies don't want to pay for health coverage. 

But the ACA helps this. It demands that all companies provide it. There is a recent trend I noticed recently. I saw this headline Disney Offers Full-Time to Park Staff as Obamacare Starts

Interesting, huh? Companies are getting on with this. I wish this had happened when I worked at K-Mart. 

#2 It's just socialized medicine.

Oh, I wish. Single-payer health care sounds terrific to me. However, the ACA will make money for many companies. If every American has to get health insurance, surely someone out there is making money.

#3 Making me pay a fine for not having health insurance is unconstitutional.

Now, I'm no constitutional lawyer. (Or any kind of lawyer.) But I want those who think that way to think of this:

Do you know anyone that is uninsured? A relative? The paper carrier? Your babysitter? Someone from church? Wouldn't you be willing to pay $95 for them to have health coverage? $95 seems a very small price to pay for someone to have health coverage.

I pay $60 to my local public radio station. I pay $180 per year for my Audible membership. I pay around $95 for my Netflix Instant Watch account. 

My point is that it seems trivial. 

In my opinion the benefits of health coverage far outweigh any deficits. I just think my life would've been far different had I never had to worry about having health coverage. 

For instance, I have been on Medicare and Social Security disability and have been for a couple of years. I just couldn't survive without doing it. It took me nearly two years to get it. 

But had I had the ACA? I might never have done that. How many people apply for disability because they just can't survive without health coverage? Wouldn't it be easier to get and keep employment if you didn't have to worry about health coverage? 

I know I will probably not sway anyone's minds. But I would just like people to know health care concerns real people with real issues. When you see the political dialogue, it is framed to be about leeches on society. This is wrong. These are real people. Maybe even someone you know and care about.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

What would you ask someone from the Green Party?

I have gotten in touch with a representative of the Green Party here in the EverGREEN state of Washington. 

I did it originally to see if she would be interested in setting up a Google+ Hangout with me and some Washington progressives. But I also thought I would interview her and post her answers to questions here on my blog. 

What do you think? 

What questions should I ask? 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Is anyone out there?

Hello, everyone. 

I am trying to see if there is something I can do to make my on-line presence more active. I tweet and I post on Google+ but that's about it. I'm more of a reactor than a proactor. 

So, I'm going to try once again to do more. Maybe ask a question a day and see what happens. 

Maybe see if I can do some interviews with different people and post them.

Maybe some book and/or music reviews. 

I'm not sure what I can do. And I don't know who's listening.

So, if you are, here's today's question:

Who are you?