Work or Die

cf5d3ff136f6c0daee5847217bf35d17Absolutely you should work if you can. But given my recent experiences with people looking for jobs and being unable to find them, in Indiana it’s just not a given that every able bodied person is able to work. There just aren’t enough full time jobs that pay anything close to a living wage. An article in the news recently implied that because Indiana has decided that people without jobs are slackers and freeloaders and should starve rather than be given a paltry sum to buy fat laden food. According to the article, 50,000 Indiana residents (who should be voting the asshats that passed this legislation out of office) will now be “forced” to work.  First, let’s look at the numbers.  Of the 922,273 people in Indiana who receive food stamps, 509,427 are under 18. That leaves roughly 420,000 adults on food stamps.  Of those, estimates are that between 47,000 and 65,000 are unemployed.  Job assistance in Indiana consists of filling out a form and hoping they call you. Job training in Indiana has been cut to the bone, and is virtually non-existent.

Between the lack of job assistance and training, and the large number of rural areas with no public transportation or business, “It’s a lack of jobs, not a lack of willingness to work,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of the Ohio Association of Food Banks. “In an environment where we have college graduates that are now competing for low-wage jobs, for folks with multiple barriers to employment, it’s going to be difficult for them to find work.”  It’s not going to be difficult.  It’s going to be impossible.  The 50,000 Hoosiers who are looking for work didn’t start looking when this happened. They’ve BEEN looking, in some cases for years. There are simply not enough jobs. People quite close to me have been searching for ANY full time job and not able to find one. The jobs that are available are mostly in fast food and pay minimum wage. I’m all for people working for a living, but someone has to step up and hire them, first. The tone of this article is bullshit, and perpetuates the very stereotypes the Republicans and the 1% want us to keep fighting over. It’s another ploy to get us fighting amongst ourselves so they can continue to profit. It’s bullshit.

According the a calculator on the Indiana Self Sufficiency Standard website , a single person with no children in Tippecanoe County needs to earn $8.82 per hour.  Expected housing costs are listed as $638 per month.  If that person is fortunate enough to live in Lafayette or West Lafayette, there is public transportation.  If not, a car is a necessity. Unfortunately, a studio apartment in Lafayette starts out at $750 a month, not including utilities.  Almost all the jobs currently available start at minimum wage – $7.25 an hour. It would take a full time job and a part time job to meet the minimum self sufficiency standard as determined by the state of Indiana.

This isn’t about making sure no one plays the system.  It’s about making sure that those with the power are not discovered as THEY play the system.  They have us fighting amongst ourselves over lazy, unemployed bums scamming the tax payers of this “great” state so that we don’t start pointing fingers at them demanding that they take care of EVERY citizen of the state, not just the ones lining their pockets in exchange for favors.  Then, these politicians, who by any measure are wealthy, can sit back and point at all the “freeloaders” they’ve kicked off the food stamp rolls and gloat about their “fiscal responsibility” and “moral standards.”  Meanwhile, people are, and will continue to be, starving.  The politically correct term is “food insecure.”

How long are we going to keep letting the wealthy and the powerful convince us that our lack of money and power is our own fault?  That starving is an appropriate means of social welfare?  How many people need to live on the streets and scrounge in dumpsters for their next meal before we wake up and realize who the real enemy is?

Too long.

 

 

The Sixth Extinction

There’s lots of doom and gloom out there, for good reason. Climate change seems to be accelerating, and even though we’ve been warned over and over again, we still either ignore the scientists, or deny their evidence altogether. Jokes on Facebook about Noah’s Ark have been prevalent in my feed, and storms have been a daily occurrence for almost two weeks. My vacation was cut short due to a 100 year type event causing a flash flood through the camp I was at. After returning home, the news was full of articles referring to the sixth extinction.  After over 10 years of warning us, scientists have published empirical evidence on a growing loss of biodiversity.  According to the article on NBCNews.com, that rate of loss is on a scale comparable to the last extinction event, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs reign ended. In a related article, it is estimated that the actual extinction event could happen in less than 200 years.  While normally an extinction event could take thousands of years, the current rate of climate change has compressed this timeline to the point that the Earth could lose 75% of all species by 2200.

I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to stop, or even slow it.  I don’t know if it’s too late to slow climate change.  I worry that our only recourse at this point is adaptation.  Are enough people concerned?  Or do the challenges of day-to-day life take precedence over long term issues? We all have responsibilities to our families, our employers, our friends, ourselves.  Every day the list of to do items gets longer.  Our everyday life seems to leave no time at all for saving the world.  So what can we do?

Walk instead of driving when you can.  Turn off the A/C. Grow your own food to whatever extent you can.  Buy local.  Vote for the candidates who support your viewpoints, even if you don’t think that person can win.  Recycle, or even better, reuse.  Buy food in bulk to avoid extra packaging.  The list is endless.

I know that one person recycling one glass bottle isn’t going to save the world.  I know that 10 people recycling won’t do it.  But if those 10 people each influenced 2 people each, now 30 people are recycling.  Still not enough, but better.  If four people carpool that’s three cars not spewing carbon into the air.  A single person does not act in a vacuum.  Each person has the potential to influence other people.  A cascade, or waterfall of action.