Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Never Have I Ever

This is the biggest myth in the American Unicorn story of meritocracy is that Americans have NEVER EVER taken Governmental handouts.

So let's start first with one of the biggest:

Personal:  Tax breaks and deductions, from your mortgage interest to children and marriage deduction

Religion:  The ability of one's church to never have they ever paid taxes on their property, the earnings from donations and of course other assorted deductions that include payroll, their schools, and other supplemental groups or donations that the church provides to others.  I laugh that if the Byrde family on Netflix wanted to launder money they should have kept up with the floating church idea instead of using hymnals to just sell drugs they could also use that offering plate to keep the money and their business afloat.  That prosperity pulpit that enables them to have varying public television and radio stations all paid for by the largess of taxpayers. So much for separation of church and state.

Private foundations: From Gates to Zuckerbergs this one defies tax evasion and that is why the Byrde family suddenly decided that what another way to find power and clean cash.

Public highways and roadways and public transport. Who do you think subsidizes those?

American industry and particularly farm and farm related industries.  God I could use some Government cheese right now.

Public Education: Well they need somewhere to shove that cheese down the gullet of the great unwashed. Why do you think they want Vouchers as that is another way to get government money, the one they eschew so much.  Until they need it.

Which brings me to the reality of why we are so reliant on the Government and in turn what is wrong and right about it.  Yes there is a point about bureaucracy and its endless layers of bullshit that in this case of Covid was a large contributor to why this became such a massive pandemic in America over say China  and the other smaller yet still democratic countries that have a socialist orientation such as France, Germany, Switzerland       But there are exeptions: Even Mexico is going Que Pas?

That said this is global and we have a need to suddenly open the doors to communication, maybe not travel but we have to have a functioning Government and years of denial means we have allowed this to become some unwieldy menace of its own that some morons actually believed Trump would be the savior.  Not true he contributed to it by failing to find qualified capable individuals to run organizations, departments and agency's and in turn their inability to mobilize, educate and change policy on the fly to move quickly led to this. We cannot piss without someone somewhere making sure that the laws, guidelines and protocols are followed.  Hence you see Trump focusing on the Obama guidelines to environmental protections to auto making. While on the local level the focus on voting rights, women's rights to choose and of course other nefarious backroom deals are being made in the shade of a pandemic. None of which actually do anything good but put forward a right wing agenda that again has nothing to do with removing regulations and pushing forward growth.  And yet on some level I agree as that is why we have a housing crisis as it has more layers of bullshit associated with it that does little but enable more fees and fines as a backdoor way of making the Government survive while all promising to keep taxes low.

See that is the way Government talks out of two sides of their mouth and why some do not listen, agree nor respect agents of said Government.  Ah remember when Voodoo President Reagan said "Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them" or this gem: “Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

So under Republicans has this changed or just who and what is being subsidized and this large stimulus package is one of the first to actually try to bring help to the regular folk and of course as always to the industries and businesses who love to hang out in the lobby of the Trump hotel and pay for the drinks and write the checks that will clear.   Republicans love power, Democrats lover power its just the way they play the game that is often the difference but regardless its a game that has no clear rules but it does have a strategy. And to quote the dead Voodoo President Reagan regarding the strategy and that is to maintain power:  "Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in'.”

So let's play a game: Never have I ever had government aid.  Good luck the winner is no one.

‘Never Thought I Would Need It’: Americans Put Pride Aside to Seek Aid

With coronavirus-related job losses, many workers are reluctantly seeking charity and unemployment benefits for the first time in their lives.

By Cara Buckley
The New York Times
March 31, 2020

The cars arrived at the food bank in southern Dallas in a stream — a minivan, a Chevrolet Tahoe, a sedan with a busted window, a Jaguar of unclear vintage. Inside the vehicles sat people who scarcely could believe they needed to be there.

There was a landscaper, a high school administrator, a college student, and Dalen Lacy, a warehouse worker and 7-Eleven clerk.

Like 70 percent of the people who showed up at Crossroads Community Services one day last week, Mr. Lacy had never been there before. But when the coronavirus pandemic drove the economy off a cliff, Mr. Lacy, 27 and a father of two, lost his warehouse job and saw his hours at 7-Eleven slashed.

“I’ve never had to actually do this,” Mr. Lacy said, after a gloved pantry worker hefted a box of food into the trunk of the car he was riding in along with two neighbors. “But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do for my kids.”

By the hundreds of thousands, Americans are asking for help for the first time in their lives, from nail technicians in Los Angeles to airport workers in Fort Lauderdale, from bartenders in Phoenix to former reality show contestants in Minnesota. Biting back shame, and wondering guiltily about others in more dire straits, they are applying for unemployment, turning to GoFundMe, asking for money on Instagram, quietly accepting handouts from equally strapped co-workers, and showing up in unprecedented numbers at food banks, which in turn are struggling to meet soaring demand as volunteers, many of them retirees, stay home for safety.

David Greenfield, chief executive of Met Council, a nonprofit that provides food and housing assistance in New York City, said that at first, “we saw retail workers, chefs and waiters, and restaurant owners.”

By last week, he said, they were seeing employees from law firms: “Folks who in many cases were employed their entire lives.”

In its unsparing breadth, the crisis is pitting two American ideals against each other — the e pluribus unum credo of solidarity and its near-religious devotion to the idea that hard work brings rewards. Those notions coexist peacefully in prosperous times.

Today, both are being put to the test, forcing the newly unemployed to re-evaluate beliefs about themselves and their country.

In St. Louis Park, Minn., Scott Theusch, 61, a mechanic, filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, becoming one of the record-shattering 3.3 million people who made claims across the country in one week. He set aside his deeply felt conviction that people who had to seek the aid, which is largely funded by payroll taxes on employers, weren’t trying hard enough. “There really isn’t any option for people,” Mr. Theusch said. “They’re told not to show up for work, so what do you do?”

In Los Angeles, Samantha Pasaye, a 29-year-old nail technician, pleaded for donations on Instagram after the salon where she worked shut its doors. The request made her mother cry. “I’m not someone who asks for help,” Ms. Pasaye said. “I do everything by myself. But at this moment, I needed to put my pride aside.”

Another new Dallas food-bank client, Adedyo Codrington, a trade-show worker and union steward, filed for unemployment as soon as his jobs were canceled on March 8. But the first check would not arrive in time.

So Mr. Codrington, a 41-year-old father of two, went to the food bank, only to learn its supplies had run out. Humiliated, he tried again last week, arriving early. But people were already lined up around the block by then, and he left with a lone bag of green beans. Colleagues scrounged together $100 for him, but it is nearly gone, and he is down to eating just one meal a day, living off sugar water and what he calls “wish sandwiches” — two slices of bread with imaginary filling.

“To go from making $1,500 to $2,000 a week,” he said, “to be reduced to this.”

Even with America’s long tradition of giving, from immigrant-aid groups begun by religious organizations in the 19th century to the politically polarizing social welfare programs born in the 20th, rugged individualism has remained a defining feature of the national identity. Perhaps no class of worker is more lionized today than the start-up tech entrepreneur.

“A lot of people in the United States are very proud of feeling self-sufficient and independent,” Alice Fothergill, a professor of sociology at the University of Vermont who has studied the human effects of natural disasters. “This is something that is definitely going to be very, very difficult.”
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She said that people who feel ashamed about seeking help are often the ones who need it the most. In one study of women who had endured devastating floods in North Dakota, she found that working-class and middle-class women were the ones who despaired most about needing public assistance, because of a fear of a loss of status. They did not want to be seen as poor. They also engaged in techniques to make it clear — to themselves and others — that they were accepting charity reluctantly, such as offering to pay for donated items and refusing to refer to their government-supplied trailers as “home.”

Mr. Greenfield, of New York’s Met Council, said the scores of people approaching his charity for the first time are roundly apologetic: “They’re saying: ‘I’m sorry but can you help me? I’m sorry but I need food, I’m sorry but I need rent, I’m sorry but I need help.’”

For people of some means, deciding whether to file for benefits also involves second-guessing. Does the fact that others are in greater need mean that they should not apply, even if they are qualified?

Kirk DeWindt, 36, a personal trainer from Brooklyn Park, Minn. and a three-time contestant on “The Bachelor” television franchise, saw his business come to a halt after all in-person sessions had to be canceled. He has some savings, so when his mother urged him to apply for unemployment benefits, Mr. DeWindt hesitated.

“I’m in a more privileged situation than I would assume most that are filing,” he said. “So what do you do with that?” He decided he would file.

The anonymity of the internet has helped some charity-seekers get over any shame, with restaurant and other business owners setting up online fund-raising campaigns that keep their workers’ names private. On GoFundMe, some $120 million has been donated for campaigns related to the pandemic since the first week in March, a spokeswoman said. By comparison, that is more than four times as much as campaigns for the Australian wildfires raised in three months.

But unlike natural disasters, the pandemic has hit a far greater swath of people hard, making it difficult for some to gin up help. And some campaigns have fallen short.

In Phoenix, Raven Green, a 28-year-old single mother of two young girls, turned to GoFundMe after losing all three of her jobs — bartending, promotional work and singing gigs — in less than a week.

Ms. Green was terrified. She had a few days’ worth of groceries but her car payment had wiped her out, and she wasn’t sure she qualified for benefits. She set up a GoFundMe page seeking $1,500 but, abashed at having to ask for help, couldn’t bring herself to share it on social media. “I don’t want people to know that I’m struggling like this,” she said. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had no donations.

(After this article appeared online Tuesday evening, she quickly raised double her original goal. “Bless you all!” she wrote to her donors.)

The abrupt change in circumstances may perhaps be toughest for people who reordered their whole lives around the American dream: immigrants.

Alex Rotaru, 48, a filmmaker and actor in Beverly Hills who left Romania at age 21, said, “the idea of welfare from a communist country was quite natural to me.”

“When I came to America,” he said, “I never thought I would need it.”

He was wrestling with the idea of filing for unemployment after all his work screeched to a halt. Then he considered the stack of bills he faced. “There was a certain embarrassment and I got over it quick thinking about my son,” he said.

Ernst Virgile, 38, moved from Haiti with his wife in 2012, determined to work tirelessly. He held two jobs at the Fort Lauderdale airport, as a wheelchair attendant and in international arrivals customer support, and she worked in concessions. They saved painstakingly for a house, and bought one last year, where they are raising their three children, ages 7, 5 and 2. They were stunned when they both lost their jobs in March, and bereft.

Mr. Virgile’s wife wept at the prospect of having to ask the bank to put their mortgage payments on hold. Mr. Virgile is still trying to figure out how to apply for food stamps and unemployment benefits, and fears seeking out food banks because of possible virus exposure.

They had never before needed such assistance, and both, he said, are devastated.

“We’re not used to it,” Mr. Virgile said. “We knew before we got here that we had to work hard, very hard, to live the American dream. But we have to file unemployment. We have no choice. There’s nothing we can do.”

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