EBT limitations . . . good or bad

The uptight Responsible Republican in me wants to regulate everything and ensure the money given to recipients is used wisely and in ways I would spend it on their behalf.  I am a control freak.

Apparently, I am not the only one:

“The locations where you can use your EBT card to withdraw cash may have changed. Please check the list of locations on this website to see where you can withdraw cash benefits in your area. You can no longer get your cash benefits at ATMs and point of sale devices in liquor stores that don’t accept your CalFresh benefits. You also can’t get your cash benefits at casinos, poker rooms, card rooms, adult entertainment businesses, bail bonds, night clubs/saloons/taverns, bingo halls, race tracks, gun/ammunition stores, cruise ships, psychic readers, smoking shops, cannabis shops, tattoo/piercing shops, and spa/massage salons.” – State of California web site

That is great and all until you are stuck on Lankershim in North Hollywood and there is someone sketchy hanging at the 7-11 so you have to find somewhere else to get your cash benefits. Check it out – the only other atm;s are in the line of strip clubs. Or, imagine a friend got you into Downtown Disney or inside Disneyland or Universal Studios and you want to pull $20 for water and sunblock. Nope: your card won’t work. WTF? So, you can use it at the convenience store down the street from the attraction but not 400 yards later in the park? Lake making it inconvenient is a kindness or is it like when I have a houseguest I don’t like and start putting parental controls on the TV timer? (I love you Andrea but your weekend ended 2 weeks ago – leave).

 

The Vocational Assessment 

The primary goal of GAIN is to be a true Welfare to Work plan. before a client finds work, it is helpful for them to have an idea of their strengths and interests.

Enter the Vocational Assessment.

Today I went to the Valley Assessment Center at Los Angeles Valley Community College and took an assessment .  Guys, my head hurts.

Parking was a challenge so I parked on the street. 

Then I went to Bungalow 14 where I was warmly greeted by Paz and walked to the testing center. 

The Desks in the LAVC assessment center
For the next 2.5 hours I studied patterns, lost my place on the scantron bubble form, did applied math, realized I don’t know how to add negative numbers anymore and tried reading comprehension . 

Now I am waiting for Rosie to score it and tell me my aptitude for my chosen career goals and set up ideas based on the perceived Welfare Time Cock.block.

Hmmmmm, what do we think it will show? I am kinda nervous. 

The US Debt is $19.3 Trillion Dollars:Blame the Poor People

This always gets me. A sweet girl (Amy Cudworth)  I knew in Jr. High posted a rant about how families could and are abusing the welfare system and she personally is paying for them.

Dear Amy, your simple knee jerk reaction was to look at the most visible consumers of American Tax Dollars and assume they are draining us dry. They are using the tax dollars and therefore are evil, bad, and are to blame for the economy.

Whoa, that is a lot of judgement and anger to be tossing around.

So Amy C., this is for you.

So let’s look at what an Average Californian pays in taxes and where those dollars go:

An “average Californian” paid $15,496 in Federal Taxes

Health $4,444.88
* Includes $2,029.08 for Medicaid
* Includes $53.56 for Children’s Health Insurance Program
Pentagon & Military $3,932.56
* Includes $842.38 for Military Personnel
* Includes $108.44 for Nuclear Weapons Wait, I don’teven want to own nukes!
Interest on Debt $2,117.06
Unemployment and Labor $1,240.79
* Includes $92.48 for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – AKA Welfare
* Includes $35.11 for Job Training and Employment Programs
Veterans Benefits $919.34
* Includes $404.48 for Payments for disability, death, etc.
* Includes $368.58 for Veterans Health Administration
Food and Agriculture $713.69
* Includes $441.72 for SNAP (food stamps)
* Includes $42.19 for Federal Crop Insurance
Education $550.21
* Includes $183.26 for Pell Grants, Work Study, and other Student Aid
* Includes $129.96 for Elementary and Secondary Education
Government $449.98
* Includes $73.12 for U.S. Customs and Border Protection
* Includes $40.87 for Federal Prison System
Housing and Community $298.03
* Includes $57.87 for Head Start and Related
* Includes $11.02 for Homeless Assistance Grants
Energy and Environment $247.55
* Includes $50.15 for Environmental Protection Agency
* Includes $10.89 for Energy efficiency and renewable energy
International Affairs $231.59
* Includes $46.05 for Diplomatic and consular programs
* Includes $40.15 for Global Health Programs
Transportation $179.61
* Includes $29.89 for Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
* Includes $6.56 for Federal Aviation Administration
Science $170.70
* Includes $102.64 for NASA
* Includes $39.44 for National Science Foundation

TOTAL $15,496
US AVERAGE $12,978

 

You paid $596.65 into programs someone on Welfare would access; or basically 4.09% of your tax dollars went to people on Welfare

31.31% of your taxes went to the military funding and veterans.

That 4.09% is going into programs where some of the recipients ALSO pay taxes, and the hope is that they will rejoin the workforce and pay taxes at the same rate that you and I do.

Those programs keep people alive and fed. They house and feed children who can’t work. They reduce crime by reducing the desperation of the very poor.

And in the scenario that was posted – I would refer you to SNOPES  to address the article that says (ORANGE parts are my contributions)

How to get $75,000 in benefits every year from the US Government for you and your girlfriend?

Follow these proven and simple steps.

First … get a girlfriend…
1. Don’t marry her.
2. Use your mom’s address to receive your mail.
3. The guy buys a house. (Then guy sells house to pay fines for his crimes when convicted)
4. Guy rents out house to his girl girlfriend who has 2 of his kids.
5. Section 8 will pay $900 a month for a 3 bedroom home.(Section 8 lists are closed in LA. They regularly check your income to move you out ASAP)
6. Girlfriend signs up for Obamacare so guy doesn’t have to pay for family insurance. ( That is not how that works. Do you mean Medi-Caid or MediCal?)
7. Being a single mother, Girlfriend gets to go to college for free! (I was a single mother and I totally had to pay for my own college. I am in Grad school and STILL paying!)
8. Girlfriend gets $600 a month for food stamps (every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 of economic activity – according to the USDA)
9. Girlfriend gets free cell phone from US Government  (The LIFELINE phone? It breaks and is only good for 1 year)
10. Girlfriend get free utilities. (From Whom? How do you even do that?)
11. Guy moves into home but still uses mom’s house to receive mail.
12. Girlfriend claims one kid and guy claims one kid on taxes. Now you both get to claim head of household at $1,800 credit. So you think the IRS won’t see you are living with your mom when she files taxes? Are you the father of the child? I am so confused. Is she working and even eligible to file for taxes?
13. Girlfriend gets disability for being “crazy” or having a “bad back” at $1,800 a month and never has to work again.(so why was she going to college? she can’t use that degree nor can she collect educational loans and grants while permanently disabled.)

This plan is perfectly legal and is being executed now by millions of people. except that it is not, and it is not. 

A married couple with a stay at home mom yields $0 dollars. An unmarried couple with stay at home mom nets $21,600 disability + $10,800 free housing + $6,000 free obamacare + $6,000 free food + $4,800 free utilities + $6,000 Pell Grant money to spend + $12,000 a year in college tuition free from Pell Grant + $8,800 tax benefit for being a single mother = $75,000 a year in benefits.

Any idea why the country is 18 + trillion in debt?

So basically, your argument is flawed, your premise is unrealistic, and you are a better person who is smarter than this.

One More Time When Mom Was Right

Let’s talk about what not to wear.

When you have a need, and go to an office (doctor, lawyer, dentist, therapist, social service) where you expect professional assistance from an educated individual : dress to blend in with the atmosphere.

Do NOT walk into the county DPSS office in a bikini, topless, pajamas, torn sweats, etc, unless that is all you own.

20160327_171935.jpg
Dress as the person you want others to perceive you to be.

People are shallow and although invested in your success, they tend to follow your lead. If you look like you don’t care about your situation, the professional you are visiting may not be inspired to give you more than competent service. It is like you are telling people to hold back and save their best work for someone else.

Head up, teeth brushed, hair tamed, and posture erect : prese the yourself as if you are representing the most importantperson in the world. You are-you!

 

So I’m boycotting Carl’s Jr

@andyPuzder makes me sad because other than In N Out, @CarlsJr is the only fast food I love.

I was thrilled to place a client in a job there last year. Now I am disgusted that their CEO thinks his employees love being in Welfare. Are you kidding me?

I wish he would sit down with me , average social worker, and discuss carefully what Welfare really links lime from a numbers point of view and real life application.

Bye-bye Superstar app and “All American Burger”!

http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/videos/fast-food-ceo-its-low-wage-workers-faults-they-live-in-poverty-video/

A whole bunch of tears

image

There is a purposeful lack of tissues in my office – a reminder of absence that I should not make people cry.

However, today I started a flood. A lady going through divorce is afraid to tell supportive agencies that she is homeless and needs help.
She wants to hide homelessness from her child’s father.

Said child is a teen and fully aware of her homelessness.  She is also aware of the impending “D” aka divorce. Mom is so enthralled with her drama that she cannot register the pain if her child.

My conversation went thus:

“You don’t have to be Team Mom or Team Dad. You need only be Captain of Team You.  If you need someone to talk to who isn’t carried away with their own opinions, come back to me. Your friends don’t understand what you are feeling or going through and your grown ups are having their own feelings , so come back to me and I will listen and help you find someone to find you for tutoring and a professional to listen to your heart.”

Homeless children are powerless to change their living situation and ultimately helpless.

She cried because no one had told her that she was allowed to have feelings or an opinion.

Her mother looked stricken.  Poor lady had been unaware of the impact her homelessness and divorce had on the young lady who is her child.

Money, Poverty, Prejudice and Being “A Basic”

Somewhere in all of Ben Franklin’s writings is a statement that is acceptable to change your mind in the face of better evidence and knowledge and to remain stubbornly in your mindset makes you a fool and a slave to your ego.

With this in mind, I am always re-evalutaing my stance on things and constantly finding that I am one of those “basic girls” who lives in Suburbia , loves Target a little too much, and has rock hard abs … I mean absolute opinions about things I know better than to have those views on. I also kinda want to leave the saving the world gig at the office or designated to dedicated volunteer time.

Because we are all friends here, and this is a blog I am writing from my personal opinion for the average acquaintance, I will give you some examples

  1. I am still a registered Republican. I just can’t forego the hope that they will get it together and stop their quirky and dangerous ideas about needing to dominate women’s choices.
  2. Even I still think of an old black man when I first think about homelessness. Now, on Skid Row, that was my average demographic so it is almost understandable. But, it blows my mind to actually force myself to acknowledge that all the kids I see at work are homeless. All. The. Kids.
  3. Asking for a better situation for myself and demanding respect still fills me with dread and guilt. When I do dig in my heals I am always sure to hear what a stuck up B*tch I am to think I am so uppity and too good for the people who act out. (Yes Donald Nelson and Ryan Scott Keith – I am looking at you.)
  4. Change is scary. I have has the same job for eight years because I am too afraid to change. Right now I have applications into Graduate schools and I am terrified as much by the idea of acceptance as by rejection.
  5. I still want to blame poverty on personal choices and laziness. (OMG, now you see why the Republican Party has not disowned me yet – right?) It is convenient and easy to understand if only on a surface level and it irradiates any chance that I might be participating in society’s behaviors to create a lower class of citizens. This is especially true of my week long E-Bay addiction. I had to remind myself that anything I can order for under a dollar from China is probably made by a person not being paid a living wage and certainly not living in humane conditions – but my consumption of the product keeps their employers in business.

But, the crazy thing is that I am social worker who works with poor people all the time, and am by “living wage” standards living below the poverty line myself. I know better. I am supposed to be teaching you to be better informed and more compassionate.

Like I said : I am always changing.

money , poverty , and prejudice
money , poverty , and prejudice

@target #target @ebay #ebay #prejudice #poverty @gop #republican #basicbitch @DPSS_CalFresh

What People on Public Assistance Are Actually Asking For vs What Public Opinion Believes the Poor Have Signed Up For

The Crumb Diaries (great blog and I follow on Facebook) has posed a series of questions about people on food stamps who then use cash to purchase non-food stamp-eligible items that may be seen as “vice” items. Beer, cigarettes, cold medicine, gum, hard liquor:  these are the items that incite rage into the taxpayers who believe they are paying for the food the poor person just purchased. I have been working with families on food-stamps and impoverished adults for seventeen years so I feel qualifies to answer these questions. Furthermore, as a card carrying Republican and former Food Stamp Recipient – I come to this argument from a variety of perspectives.  I am going to answer TCD’s questions and pose a few of my own.

  1. Do you feel agitated by every person you see using Food Stamps? Do you look in their cart and judge them?

No. It is unfortunate that purchasing groceries for private consumption in a private residence happens in a public forum and grocery carts are not opaque, store conveyer belts also offer no privacy. This visibility leads to the impression that the ways the benefits are used are also public domain. People – MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!  You did not drive to the store for the sole purpose of evaluating grocery purchases, did you? Can I buy you a month of Netflix to keep you occupied instead?

Purchasers who need to use public aid to feed their families should not have to sneak into the store after dark, or use a designated lane, nor should they wear safety vests with “I’m spending your money” while they shop. There should be no stigma for folks trying to stay alive.

  1. Why would you select employment when the cash benefit is greater than your paycheck, or working reduces the overall cash you have at the end of the month?

Any month you do not receive cash assistance form the government because you earned too much money to be issued assistance – that month is preserved and available for you to draw aid in a future month.

HUH?

Cash assistance is time limited. Federally (across the USA) cash assistance for an adult is only available for 60 months out of the adult’s lifetime. These 60 months can be used all at once for 5 solid years, or can be broken up and used as needed. Any month when you do not draw on the cash assistance, it means you did not use one of the 60 months. In California the time limit is 48 months.

Also, you will never have less money at the end of the month than when you only receive cash assistance (in California at least). There is a definite incentive to find employment.

  1. What if your abuse of the system causes the governments to end the assistance, what will you do?

Let me ask you to fact check this – and also define abuse.  If the safety net system were to be removed, Americans would likely starve to death in much the way they did before Social Security and Welfare programs were instituted.

My Turn

When a person goes to the County they live in and asks for assistance staying alive ( help with food, health care, buying the basics) the stigma of “freeloader” automatically attaches.  Let me ask you to answer honestly :

  1. Are there basic rights and privileges poor people are signing away when they ask for help?
  2. Why are most poor people vilified in popular culture and discussions of public aid?
  3. Do you know exactly how much of your tax dollars fund these programs for the poor?
  4. Are you aware of which types of businesses actually benefit the most from entitlement programs?
  5. Where do the funds really go?

Look up the answers. Please educate yourself with facts and not just emptions, assumptions or popular opinions before you judge.

Just in case you are lazy, I will provide some facts for you . . . .

Do some light reading here: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/analysis/2015/tax-day-2015/tax-day-2015-seven-things-you-should-know-about-taxes/

your tax dollar - broken down in to sense and cents
your tax dollar – broken down in to sense and cents

https://media.nationalpriorities.org/uploads/publications/socialinsurance.tipsheet.9_23_14.pdf

I buried the lead here a little bit – but it is important to know that the money spent on Welfare programs do not go directly into the pockets of the poor – it goes into the pockets of government employees, contracted agencies, the people selling Obama phones, administering shelters and medical care for the poor, printing EBT cards, building and servicing the machines, double checking the midi-care spending  etc. Poverty is big business. Just ask Walmart. In 2011 ; Over $60,000 in Welfare Spent Per Household in Poverty

New data compiled by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee shows that, last year, the United States government spent over $60,000 to support welfare programs per each household that is in poverty. The calculations are based on data from the Census, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Research Services.

And, if you really wanted to even the playing field – go to the large Walmart and other corporations who barely (if they even) pay taxes and ask them to bring our jobs back from other countries and also pay their pair share of taxes.

personalvscorporatetax

Sometimes I Cry

I don’t think I have told you that before.

Sometimes the work prompts me to cry.

Today I met with a man who does not know where his wife is, and does not feel he should remove his children from living with her parents because he is homeless. He sees them in the daytime and does homework with them and them sleeps on the streets at night. He was crusted in filth and smelled of urine and rot. Dirt filled the creases of his neck and his fingernails were indistinguishable because of the buildup of soot and debris. Looking at his clubbed thumbs, I am going to play amateur hour and diagnose him with heart problems. In speaking with him it was apparent that he struggles with English.

The part of me that is a mother wanted to hug him, bathe him and just cry. This man was someone’s baby.

The part of me who is a social worker looked for solutions, GR, Legal Aid, 211, Shelters, and all the places he could find food or a ride. I gave him that information.

The part of me that is human hid in the bathroom and bawled before unconsciously scrubbing my hands and arms and neck because I could not wash his.