Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grayson Not Backing Down: "I Apologize To The Dead"

I'm glad to see someone standing up for We the People instead of the big corporate interests involved in the health care bill! Thank you, Rep. Grayson!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Fix-It President Hits a Wall -- and It's Us

I just responded to a commentary by Deepak Chopra:
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

After some further thought, I realized that this article from a professor of UC-Santa Cruz may interest you:

It provides detailed data of the distribution of wealth over time in the US; compares statistics between the US and other democracies; and describes the dynamics of wealth and power. For example: In 1960, the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay was 42:1, yet by 2004 that ratio has reached 411:1.

So perhaps this is another reason why the success of the health care bill is not certain. From a diversity perspective, it is understood that when a group has power, the group dynamic is generally to work to maintain and grow that power, which seems evidenced above by the extreme disparity in the pay ratio that has occurred over time. Perhaps those with the power are exerting all their influence to insure they retain said power?

I am seeking to create a discussion group for a frank, authentic and ongoing conversation about the concept and issues related to class, especially in the United States and Canada. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating, please reply to this posting or contact me at TMPayne1@c­­.

Have a lovely day and thanks for your time!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Break for multi-tasker = Big Sigh

I'm so used to being the "independent cuss" my Mama always said I was. I'm a fabulous caregiver... but I have to admit, it seems the saying about doctors being the worst patients applies to me as well. After a slightly disastrous episode of scalding soup and tired hands, I've been ordered by my family to take a break today. To not lift my finger even. Okay, I'm allowed to use it on the remote or keyboard. I'm allowed to use my brain all I want, but not one iota of physical labor.

It's driving me batty.

Anyone who knows me knows I don't take orders well--kind requests, yes, but orders tend to stiffen my back into one huge ball of stubbornness... one of the reasons I didn't go into the military, but that's a different tale.

But for today, I'm honestly trying to adhere to this particular demand because I know it's coming from a place of love and concern and is in my best interest. When your hand just doesn't want to hold on to the soup bowl and decides of its own volition to drop it right onto your chest, you've been working too hard... Don't worry, mild first degree burns that are okay today, but please believe me on this one and don't learn from experience as I did. Try and stop before your body makes that decision for you.

But now that I'm here resting, my brain is racing through my permanent mental to-do list and my fingers are just itching to strike a few more things off of it. Couldn't I just go do one load of dishes? Nope, not allowed. sigh

So I guess distraction will be the word of the day. I think I might catch up on a book or two I've been meaning to finish, or perhaps watch a few of my girl shows on the DVR.

Psst... By the way, I just snuck into the kitchen to microwave a pasta dish... I'm such a naughty rule-breaker. Oh well, I'll try to be better the rest of the day. Distraction, that's it Tams... Distraction!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A good kind of tired

The flood waters have abated, and I am bone-tired... Even with all the moves I've done before, and there've been a lot of them, this one within my own house was particularly exhausting. Maybe it's the adrenaline of making sure precious things are kept safe from harm, but now that we've had a reprieve, my body is heartily complaining about its recent mistreatment. But simultaneously I'm also incredibly happy and so very proud of my family.

We are a family of procrastinators... well, we were, and perhaps a part of us will always be, but that all changed when mother necessity reared her head. We took care of our flooded basement--moved things hither and yon and back. And the great part is we did it all without any fusses. Maybe a teeny bit of irritation here or there, but the entire experience was amazing. It taught me more deeply about why family is so incredibly important. When the need arises, family is there for you. No questions asked, just do what needs doing to make things right again.

So while I don't think I can describe how very tired I am, it's such a good feeling to know that I am blessed with the perfect family for me. I hope everyone gets the chance to experience that feeling. Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mixed feelings about the Baucus bill

While I've not learned enough about the regional non-profit co-ops mentioned in an AP article I read this morning on the Baucus bill, from what I've heard I'm not completely opposed. I do have to share that I participate in an electric co-op currently.

I do like the idea of mandating that preventative and mental health services be included in insurance plans and that only US citizens and legal immigrants will be able to access these services. My heart goes out to the plight of many illegal immigrants, but if you choose to be in a country, you should do so legally. I believe our current immigration policy also needs to be completely overhauled, but that's a topic for another day.

But, if this is the bill Congress plans to try to push through, then I've got to state some hard and fast objections to a couple of the provisions:

First of all, one of the platforms Obama campaigned on and one of the biggest reasons why I supported him is that he did not want to require people to purchase insurance. He simply wanted to make it available to people who wanted it through a public option that was similar to the insurance our government already provides to our elected officials, federal employees, veterans, etc. If the co-op idea can provide the same kind of service, I won't be opposed provided it is affordable and provides the care those of us who are living paycheck to paycheck need.

But the idea of our government ordering me to support an entire industry that I already think has a lot of crooked shenanigans or paying a fine if I don't is completely an invasion into my personal life.

In addition to it being an invasion in my personal liberty, I also think this is a completely classist provision. There is no guarantee that this bill will make health insurance affordable. So when the government says buy insurance or you have to pay a fine, I have a problem for the millions of us who may not be able to afford it.

One point of the article struck me:
"Not carrying insurance could result in a steep fine, as much as $3,800 per family, or $950 for an individual. People who can't afford their premiums would be exempted from the fine."
However, after further research, I found a WSJ article that linked to a summary of the proposed bill which shared some info about the exemption:
"An exemption from the penalty is permitted if coverage is deemed unaffordable – defined based on a circumstance where the lowest cost premium available exceeds 10% of a person’s income. Exemptions from the penalty are also allowed based on hardship, for Native Americans and for individuals below 100% of poverty. Additionally, in 2013, individuals at or below 133% of poverty will be exempt from the penalty.

For taxpayers between 100-300% of poverty, the penalty for failing to obtain health coverage is $750 per year with a maximum penalty per family of $1500. For taxpayers with incomes above
300% of poverty, the penalty for failing to obtain coverage is $950 per year with a maximum penalty per family of $3800."
Now after doing the math, I've determined that I'm definitely paying more than 10% of my income on health insurance premiums... to the tune of 16% of my income and that doesn't even include all the copays for prescriptions and office visits. I'm hoping this means the changes they're proposing will actually work and reduce prices on insurance.

My next objection is that this bill refuses to allow federal funds to be used for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother (not health of the mother). Let me be plain, I am personally against abortion for myself. I've never had one and never will; although I have to admit to a scare one time that made me do some hard thinking about it. I've also had friends who have had abortions, and while I wish they could have made a different decision, I supported them and helped them. According to the AP article I linked above, insurance plans can include the option, but the woman would have to use her own money to pay for that coverage. This again is a classist provision and will leave many women without the ability to choose, which last I heard was still one of our rights.

To have an abortion is a difficult decision for anyone, but if the government is going to stick its nose into my body's business, it should do so fairly. As it stands now, I'm feeling a lot of hypocrisy in this provision.

If the Right to Life value is so important to our government, then why have we been responsible for thousands of deaths (our soldiers, their soldiers, enemy combatants, and innocent foreign citizens) in all the wars and military actions we've waged during my lifetime?

Why is Right to Life always defined as an unborn child and not all the perfectly wonderful living people who are already here? Why can't Right to Life actually mean right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Isn't that what life's supposed to be about?

So here's my response to this one... If federal funds may not be used to provide legal abortions to women in need of them, then federal funds should not be used to cause the deaths (especially of innocent people) in any military action. A life is life, is it not? And from what I heard from several Right to Life acquaintances of mine, "Every life is precious."

Last but not least, I'm also confused by this provision in the summary:
"Employer Responsibility. Employers would not be required to offer health insurance coverage. However, employers with more than 50 full-time employees (30 hours and above) that do not offer health coverage must pay a fee for each employee who receives the tax credit for health insurance through an exchange. The assessment is based on the amount of the tax credit received by the employee(s), but would be capped at an amount equal to $400 multiplied by the total number of employees at the firm (regardless of how many receive a credit in the exchange). Employees participating in a welfare-to-work program, children in foster care and workers with a disability are exempted from this calculation.

As a general matter, if an employee is offered employer-provided health insurance coverage, the individual is ineligible for the tax credit for health insurance purchased through an exchange. An employee who is offered unaffordable coverage by their employer, however, can be eligible for the tax credit. Unaffordable is defined as 13% of the employee’s income. The employee would seek an affordability waiver from the exchange and would have to demonstrate family income and the premium of the lowest cost employer option offered to them. Employees would then present the waiver to the employer. The employer assessment would apply for any employee(s) receiving an affordability waiver. Within five years of implementation, the Secretary must conduct a study to determine if the definition of affordable could be lowered without significantly increasing costs or decreasing employer coverage."
Why is insurance considered unaffordable for a penalty exemption at 10% of one's income, yet unaffordable is defined at 13% when it comes to employer-provided coverage? And how does this change in employer-provided insurance comply with Obama's campaign promise that those with employer-provided care would be able to keep their insurance unchanged?

I know I've mentioned several different issues. I'd really love to hear some other perspectives.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Down with the drama of extremism!

Whether it be the right, left, religion, politics, race, ethnicity, class, etc... Extremist fanaticism has just got to go, and go far, far away from our culture. I don't know why we humans are prone to such extremist natures at times, but when belief in whatever cause you're passionate about keeps you from hearing and understanding actual, factual truth, then the problem is with the believer and not the facts of the situation.

Facts are facts, and regardless of whether one side or another has just tossed those facts in a spin cycle, we should use our possibly god-given gift of reason to sort things through. Fortunately, today I don't feel alone in my struggle against extremist viewpoints. My friend George said something this morning that was the catalyst for today's post:
"Nothing in our country is any different than it was a year ago. Saying Obama is a socialist is about as accurate as saying Bush was a nazi. Judge the situation by what happens, or what has happened, not by what you think might happen."
So regardless of what side you think you're on... Shouldn't we all be respectful of each other and remember that our country, our world even, needs us to calmly discuss our differences, learn from each other and find the best way forward on whatever issue happens to confront us these days???

Journalists... do your jobs and report "Just the facts, ma'am" and please make sure you get all of them and you share all of them. It's not your job to form my opinion. It's your job to present information in a fair and honest way so that I and my fellow citizens of the world can form our own opinions.

And to everyone in our world... Take the time to look at all the facts, not just the ones you like. And ask relevant questions related to those facts... Not the "if yes, you're with us, if no you're against us" kinds. As we've seen from recent history, following a demagogue and listening to just that one side's facts has wasted BILLIONS of US dollars and equipment in Iraq alone. This is not a red or blue statement... It's just a fact.

So based on that fact (Billions of our tax dollars has been misplaced, wasted, lost, etc.), you'd think there'd be a lot more people demanding our government do a better job of keeping up with our resources. Those Billions sure could have come in handy during this latest recession...

So here's me, a proud US citizen, demanding that we do have better accounting of what our money is being spent or lost on.

I also respectfully request that we all start treating each other with respect. Not to beat a dead horse, but a member of Congress calling The President a liar in the middle of a speech to Congress is just plain disrespectful and does not and has not lead to anything but more drama. What I'm referring to is called emotional intelligence, and it's something I hope we'll all practice a little more of.

And please don't misunderstand me... I'm not bashing belief in causes, religious or otherwise...

Personally, I happen to be a firm believer that we should all try to make our world at least a little better than we found it, that common courtesy is the grease to the wheels of society, and that love makes those wheels turn a whole lot better.

But guess what, if you show me facts that disagree with my above-stated beliefs, I'm not going to lose my temper, call you names or raise up a fanatic army of common courtesy and love supporters to bring you down. Instead, I'm going to sit here and consider the information you share with me, do my own research from multiple sources, and if you've got a real point based on all the facts, I'll probably agree with you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hooray for modern medicine!

So I am in a much better frame of mind these days, and, I have to confess, I owe this newfound peacefulness to the wonders of modern medicine. I'm not freaking out too often about what will happen when my severance and insurance runs out. Instead, I've been able to turn it from nervous panicky energy to productive work.

Whew, I'd almost forgotten what that felt like.

It's so nice that chemical imbalances in your brain can be fixed if you happen to get lucky and find the right medicine that works for you. It is such an amazing sensation to be able to finally take grasp of my ability to focus and keep it on something long enough to accomplished it.

I can tell that today's been the first of many exciting days to come. I'm so looking forward to discovering where my life's path's leads me next.

Have a wonderful evening everyone!

Friday, September 04, 2009


So this will be my first Labor Day since joining the work force that I don't officially have a job. I've always been the responsible one; the one who takes care of everyone; and the one that tries to make sure everything is okay. I guess that also makes me someone who likes to have everything handled and under control. I have such a sense of confusion and weirdness lately.

This time last year, I knew what my next 5 years was probably going to look like... Resigned to some boredom, but in a stable place that I knew frontward and backward. Now the world is my canvas, and there are so many colors that I don't know which to pick first. I'm excited and worried all at the same time. Hopefully the right color will pop up sometime soon. If you're trying to find your color, I hope it finds you.