E.B.T. and @CapitalOneCafe ATMs

If you dont like banks, or getting dressed up,  and prefer working digitally with little human interaction, then you might be banking at @CapitalOne. I do, but mostly because they let me put a photo on a credit card 4 years ago(…but whatThe ever).

So it came to my attention that folks with EBT cards who wanted to pull put the cash benefit to pay rent or other bills through their bank accounts had a problem.

Capital One only has 1  brick and mortar store with an ATM that you could deposit cash into. This ATM was in Santa Monica. Finally Capital One opened up a branch and the Americana at Glendale. But then the problem happened that their ATM machines would not read the EBT cards even though it had the “Quest”God symbol on it. EBT card holders had to walk down the street to Bank of America to withdraw their money and pay a $3 surcharge for the privilege, then walk two blocks back to Capital One where they could deposit the cash into their bank accounts. I do not know about you but walking around with a couple hundred dollars and cash in my pocket would make me feel very nervous.

Finally they fixed it and the Capital One machines read the cash benefit amounts from the EBT card.


The next goal should be using two cards to pull money from the EBT account and depositing it into the bank account without having to pull the physical cash out and put it back into the machine

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.

The Ugly Truth of Obama Care Users

The woman was on her knees, holding my hands and openly weeping. Her son sat at the desk looking a pale shade of green, his deep eye hollows shading the tears forming there. They were thankful, grateful, relieved and so overwhelmed by the Cancer diagnosis that they could not formulate a reasonable reaction to being approved for health insurance.

A young girl of 16 came spoke in whispers while huddling in the corner. Her high schoocryl guidance counselor sat in the other corner, quietly, patiently, and letting the young woman answer the questions. She had been raped ( I did not ask nor need to know ) and now she was pregnant. She could not tell her parents yet which meant she could not use their insurance. She did not yet know what her choices would be but she knew she needed the health insurance to be able to make them, and pay for therapy for herself either way.

Liver spotted, hunched over, deaf and living on Social Security, the $104.90 deducted from her Social Security payment was the difference between having electricity and heating or going without. Medicaid picked up that small bill and the elderly man seemed to grow inches taller as he sat straighter without that burden.

Young families working multiple part time jobs but drugsnothing full time that offered health insurance came in to apply for Medicaid for their children and were delighted and shocked to find that they could have health coverage as well.dr

Hate Obama Care and the Affordable Care Act and Medi-Cal and Medicaid all you want, then sit in the lobby of the DPSS office where people shuffle in, feeling ashamed, hopeless and rejected by all other means of assistance and survival, and tell me again why this program is evil.

Los Angeles County DPSS Mobile App.

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What a great idea!
I look forward to it being tuned and improved and a convenient point of service.

Until then, I will continue to follow cases on the Department of Public and Social Services Internet site.

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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

Pregnant and in Drugs

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Tomorrow I have an appointment with a woman who is 6 months pregnant and addicted to opiods.

I put her in residential rehabilitation and she walked out within a day. She believes that quitting get drugs will kill her baby. Actually, that’s what she wants me to believe.  She believes that quitting will kill her. Also, she objects to Methadone because it doesn’t provide a high.

So tomorrow the police and DC will be meeting with her if she doesn’t go back to treatment.

I fully expect her baby will die.

This week out of the Welfare office

In the welfare office things are as predicated …

  • The super large former gang banger is collecting toys for his side charity work.
  • My boss snickers when I mention that some individual recognition for my quality of work would be both shocking and appreciated.
  • Administration remains oblivious that actual people work and create the number in their reports.
  • Our Company Holiday Party isn’t allowing children and will probably be held in a non handicapped friendly location (again)

Outside of the Welfare office I’ve been reading the attacks on poor people by other “not as poor” people. Most of this is in Facebook.

It seems too slippery a thought to hold that Social Security, Disability, Medi-Care and In Home Supportive Services are “Welfare Programs” as much as cash assistance to low income families is.

People also don’t seem to understand that people in poverty work and pay taxes and live in strict income and time limit guidelines.

I think it is true that the lower income folks are encouraged to fight among themselves rather than band together against the Uber rich who no longer pay the taxes that once kept our economy flowing and people employed. This is a screen shot form my Verizon Samsung Galaxyphone of a graphic put up in “Pacoima Represent!” – a community page for my low income portion of Los Angeles.

Also, clearly they have never done the fun research on the first lady to file for Social Security – she didn’t earn that money either.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Welfare. Butt Out

cocaine, coke, dollar, welfareWelfare and Drugs : the Only 2 Things You Should Care About When They Mix

“I don’t want my tax dollars used for drugs” “Poor people are poor because they make bad choices, poor people on drugs are criminals.” , “Poor People? We hate them!”.

Oh my god, get over yourself and shut up. Just shut it.

You should not care more if someone on public aid using drugs than you care if the coworker next to you is on drugs.

There are only two things you should care about.

  1. Is the drug and alcohol use interfering with them ending their poverty
  2. Are they capable parents while being involved with substances?

Accepting public cash aid is not the same as opening your diary to the world and inviting them to judge your choices. Nowhere in the thick pile of paper is there a place to sign away your privacy and invite the general public in to tell you how to live.

Also, there is no vow of sobriety to take when applying for public assistance benefits.

Many people use substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and combinations of these as a way to self-medicate emotional and mental health issues. Those issues are what needs to be addressed.

If substance use is actually substance abuse, I direct people into evaluations for treatment. This is California, no one can be forced into treatment, but there are consequences for not being a competent parent. Child Services will become involved.

 

There are consequences for not being stable enough to look for work or hold down employment and transition to financial self-sufficiency – you lose access to public assistance.

Zen and the art of improving a life

Compromise is the key.
By the time someone  turns to an outside force for help they have survived some massive failures.

Half of the people I spoke with today are fighting for independence and the other half want to be scooped up and coddled.
I am more pleased with the first group, but each present challenges.

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The G.D.I. (college speak for the proud non-fraternity related kids who were Gosh Darn Independent , or something close but more profane) clients are often rebels without a cause. They are angry and embarrassed about being in any “program” : eager to prove that there is nothing wrong with them.  They resist the structure and flow of any prescribed course. Power struggles are likely and it takes a delicate manipulation to let the client feel like the next steps were their idea all along.

The Super Extra Helpless clients always feel that there work was completed just by walking in the door. They loudly want to know “Why isn’t there a program to save me? Who are you going to call to change my life? Why are you asking me to do anything other than sit here staring at you?” Typically I am left with the snide urge to demand they owe me Mother’s Day cards if I have to work soo hard to parent them.

Today I could not find my equilibrium.  ❌One client came to tell me she needed a job and an abortion.  ❌The next client told me she had nowhere to go after our meeting , yet had no belongings with her and when I called LAHSA she suddenly was staying at an apartment❌ another brought a friend with her to demand I recognize her work -even though she would not be paid for it. Apparently the concept that it is only a job that will take you from Welfare if you get PAID for it is foreign to her.❌The last person was fighting to have money handed to her because she wanted to buy cigarettes. ..and she mentioned that right to my face!

It is a balancing act.
Convincing people that they can leave poverty under there own steam and benefit from assistance is an art.

And now I’m exhausted and need to sleep so I can do it again tomorrow.