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Pro-choice, pro-life, or pro-abortion?

30 Jul

The whole abortion debate is a hot one in Mississippi, as the state fails to close its last abortion clinic in Jackson.  Tempers flare quickly when the pro-choice topic comes up, but much fuss is over a lack of understanding rather than an actual difference of opinion, at least in my case.

Living in Mississippi and being pro-choice is sort of like being an atheist and living in Spain during the Inquisition.  Definitely hazardous to one’s health and well-being. All across the nation, the debate is fiery and often turns violent.

I have to shake my head.

I don’t get some of the more rabid fanatics of the pro-life faction.  They claim to value life, but they then resort to actually killing abortion clinic workers.  They claim to be Christian, but then they harass patients who approach the abortion clinics, when the usual reason for going there is not even abortion.

I’m unable to see how they justify their behavior.  It’s utterly alien to me.

You see, I’m pro-choice, but also anti-abortion.

Huh? How can that be, you wonder?

They are not the same thing.  I’m pro-choice, because I don’t feel that I have the right to choose for all women in all circumstances if and when they would opt for the abortion.  I don’t think that abortions should be used as birth control either.  To me, abortions are a last ditch solution to a problem that actually has no solution.

It might be rape.  It might be genetic flaws that would leave the fetus to grow into a baby that would die young, after many months of struggling and even pain, never getting to enjoy even its mother’s arms.  It might be a baby that has some birth defect that means that it will die during or shortly after birth.  It may be a case of incest, a girl too young to safely give birth, a woman too old to safely go through childbirth, or a woman who’s own health is so fragile that pregnancy and childbirth are apt to destroy her physically if not kill her.  It might be some sort of circumstances that I have never thought of.

But it isn’t my responsibility to predict when and if a woman should be able to get a legal abortion.  That’s her moral and medical decision, one that she should not take lightly either.

I’m in my fifties, going through menopause.  That does not mean that I am sterile, however.  I never conceived easily, and when I did, it usually ended with a miscarriage.  It’s not impossible (though highly unlikely) that I could end up pregnant now.  When I was a kid, “afterthought” children were not uncommon, and they typically were the result of a woman thinking it was all behind her, and then surprise, here’s a baby of your own that is younger than your grandchildren!

Now it’s true, Greg and I would welcome that baby, despite the adjustments that it would require in our lives.  But how would I feel if I found out that there was something seriously wrong with that baby, that it had little to no chance of anything resembling a normal life, and that carrying it to term would also endanger my own health?  Would I want to take the risk to have a child that was severely handicapped or would die anyhow?

I don’t know.

Making that decision in a hypothetical situation is not the same as making that decision and then having to drive to an abortion clinic either.  I don’t know what we would decide, and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

But nobody else has the right to make it for me either.

That’s why I am pro-choice.  My aversion to the idea of killing a fetus makes me anti-abortion.  Who knows, that fetus might have been the next Mozart or Einstein.  At the same time, it could be the next criminal or mass murderer too.  No woman knows for sure, but no woman in her right mind with anything resembling a moral compass would make the decision lightly to opt for the abortion.

I’d cry.

I would cry as I agonized over the decision, and I’d cry on the way there.  I’d cry on the way home too.

But I would also remember the woman I heard about.  She was pregnant, and the baby was kicking inside of her the way they do that last trimester.  She could feel it, alive and moving.  The whole time she felt it moving, she knew that when it was born, it would die.  There was no chance of survival beyond a few minutes.  She carried that baby to term, knowing from the first trimester that it was going to end that way, and then, she gave birth and the baby died, just like the doctors had known all along it was going to do.

I could not bear that agony. That knowing that there was absolutely no hope for that baby and that his fate was sealed at the moment of birth.  There was nothing that the doctors could do about it, his defect was not repairable.

She was a far stronger woman in her convictions than I would be, I’m afraid.  I would likely have opted for termination once the reality of the situation was known without a doubt.  I don’t think I could have deluded myself into a fantasy where there would be divine intervention at the last minute to change the course of fate.

I would have also thought about the immense amount of money being invested into a non-viable situation.  How could I justify that when so many go without medical care at all, even when the medical care would spare their lives?

I’m anti-abortion, but pro-choice.  I believe there are times when modern medicine and the mother agree that the pregnancy is a really bad idea.  I believe there may be other situations in which the pregnancy is a horrible thing, beyond inconvenience or embarrassing for the mother.  I agree that there are times when a girl’s body is well developed enough to become pregnant, but not developed enough to manage a pregnancy without causing her harm.  I don’t see where there is an up side to telling a 10 or 12 year old girl that she has to carry a baby to term after being molested, even though it is likely to leave her unable to bear a child when she’s old enough to actually be a mother.

At the same time, I don’t think that even the parents should be able to actually force a teen to have an abortion.  I remember a girl I knew when I was a teenager.  She became pregnant and hid the pregnancy from her parents until it was nearly time for the baby to be born, using baggy clothing and even a girdle, as well as half starving herself to keep her weight down.  She told no one, not even her closest friends, about her pregnancy, fearful that word would get back to her parents in the small town.  She was certain that her parents would physically drag her to an abortion clinic and force her to terminate the pregnancy.

It also meant that she had no  prenatal care, and it all resulted in disaster.  Whether it was a preventable disaster is probably debatable, as the boy was born with some genetic issues and a severe type of dwarfism.  At five years old, he was the size of an infant, yet able to walk, run and play the same as any other five year old, and without any apparent intellectual handicaps either.

I still remember the fear in the young mother’s face as she talked about what her parents would have liked to do, but that she had managed to hide it too long for it to be an option.  At seventeen, she did not have the legal right to refuse the abortion (in that state, at that time–laws are different in most states).  She did, however, have the legal right to refuse to put her son up for adoption, and she did raise him, at least through the age of five, at which point I lost contact with her.

As her teen peer, I agreed with her that it was wrong for her parents to be able to do that to her and the unborn child.  I still agree with her on that front.  She should not have had to hide the pregnancy to prevent the abortion.

But she should have had the choice.

That choice is why I am pro-choice, even if I am anti-abortion.

I hope that it has helped you understand that there is a difference, and it is a really big one, between being pro-choice and being pro-abortion, and that being pro-life does not mean that you have to be anti-choice either.  When I say I am pro-choice, I’m also saying that I don’t have the moral right or responsibility to decide when and if a pregnancy should or could be terminated.  If women are opting to use abortion to kill unwanted children over and over, then we have an issue with their morality and that is what needs to be addressed.  Surely it is far cheaper and easier to use birth control to prevent conception than it is to endure repeated abortions anyhow, and the few women that I know that have ever had an abortion weren’t exactly thrilled to have the opportunity either.  It’s a tough decision, and none of them chose it lightly.

 

 

The Homosexuality Contagion

12 Jul

I’ve heard a lot of anti-gay rhetoric.  I live in the Bible Belt where there seems to be a genuine fear that they are going to “catch the gay“.  There is a lot of statements about how people don’t want gays in their neighborhood, schools, workplace, restaurants, or churches too.  I have to assume that they truly believe that it is somehow contagious and they are afraid that they too, will become gay.

I have also read a lot about how people are gay from birth, as well as arguments that people are homosexual because of their upbringing, experiences, choices, etc.  I can’t answer those questions, and that’s not what this blog post is going to address.  I’m only going to look at the fear of “catching the gay.”

I have had a number of friends who were homosexual over the years.  I’ve gone camping with them, eaten meals with them, cooked and laughed with them, and on occasion, even shared a drink with them.  I’ve had plenty of opportunity to “catch the gay.”

Guess what?

I don’t have a single symptom of being gay.

I’m married, I’ve had kids, and I’m totally comfortable with my sex life as a monogamous heterosexual.  I don’t feel threatened by gays, whether male or female, unless they are armed and specifically state that they are threatening me.  Of course, I would feel equally threatened at that point, regardless of sexual orientation.  I have to also admit that I have never once asked anyone who was threatening me with bodily harm about their sexual orientation.  It just never seemed relevant at that point.  The assailants that were known to me also happen to not be gay, so I also don’t regard homosexuals as potentially threatening individuals.

I’ve also heard that homosexuals are basically child molesters in training.  Thinking back to the years that I worked in law enforcement and corrections, I try to remember a single case involving a convicted child molester also being a homosexual.  Guess what?  I don’t remember any.  That’s not to say it is impossible, but I don’t think the two have anything to do with each other.

The next bit I hear is how the Bible specifically forbids homosexuality.  Well, sure it does, but the Old Testament has a lot of things that we don’t regard as moral or legal in modern society, like incest, polygamy, stoning, etc.  Besides, what happened to that bit about separation of church and state that is in our constitution? Or maybe the whole bit about “thou shalt not judge”?  Or even all that bacon, sausage, pork chops, etc. that America buys in the grocery store each year…that is forbidden too, if you want to get right down to it.  So, we’ll toss out that Old Testament bit, and the New Testament mostly talks about tolerance and love, and stoning homosexuals is definitely out.

I’ve also been told how the gay community and especially same sex marriages are going to threaten the “sanctity of marriage.”  When it comes out of the mouth of a man who has been repeatedly divorced or has been publicly pointed out for extra-marital affairs, that’s hardly going to fly.  Personally, I just don’t get the sanctity of marriage thing when 50% of marriages in the USA end in divorce in 5 years or less.  I also don’t see where having a gay couple who is married as neighbors is going to threaten my marriage, unless my husband was going to “catch the gay” (since I’m obviously immune to it.) I also don’t think that a gay couple’s children are going to “catch the gay” or expose my children or grandchildren to the risks of “catching the gay.”

Homosexuality isn’t a disease, and it isn’t a virus.  You can’t catch it.  You either are or you aren’t, that’s all.  Okay, there are people who are bisexual, but that’s another thing entirely.  I’m not addressing that.  Since I’m not bisexual or homosexual, I can’t pretend I understand how or why it is.  The only person that truly knows your own sexual orientation is yourself.

I don’t understand why people are so afraid of homosexuality unless it is because they have not addressed their own sexual orientation and find that thoughts of the same sex indulging in sexual behavior is arousing, and therefore is “bad” and must be suppressed.  I do know that my mother always insisted that those who persecuted gays were afraid of their own sexuality and sexual urges, which is why they became so angry and fearful when exposed to gays.

I think she may have been right.  I don’t fear them, I don’t find that they make me angry, and I do support same sex marriage.  I think it would be great for the economy too.  After all, most gays never have children, and have far more disposable income as a result.  That means that they will spend a lot more money on things like their weddings, anniversaries, homes, cars, etc. over the years than those of us who devote our lives to raising another generation.  Same sex marriages also means fewer children being born–which will mean more economic and educational opportunities for the children that are born into this world.  The same sex marriages will also probably pay more taxes over the years, as they will not qualify for the child tax credit, will be able to concentrate more on career advancement, and will probably make more money in their lives to be taxed as well.

Sure, they can adopt.  They can use surrogate mothers and sperm donors too. Some of them will have kids, and that’s okay too.  They will have jobs, buy houses, build neighborhoods, attend churches, buy goods & services and do all of the other things that other families do.  Why should I care if Johnny and Jane have two dads or two moms?  Why should I worry about their parents’ sex life at all?  Or any of my neighbors for that matter?

As long as they aren’t breaking any of the other laws we have, it doesn’t matter what orientation they have or don’t have.  It doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter, nor should we even give a second thought to what their sex life is about.  I honestly have never gone to a PTA meeting and sat there discussing the other parents’ sex lives or lack thereof.  There are some things that I just do not care about. I also don’t worry about co-workers, other church members, the shopkeeper, or any of the other people I may come into contact with in the course of a day.  In fact, making me visualize such a thing about any of those people is probably going to leave me with an “ewww” and a mental desire to scour out my brain to get rid of it.

The world will be a much better place when we all quit worrying about whether or not everyone else has a better sex life than we do and we start concentrating on our own issues.

Just get over it.  You won’t “catch the gay” even if your neighbors are a same sex couple and they come over for a bbq one weekend.  You can drink after them without it happening too.  You are more likely to catch hepatitis or drug resistant tuberculosis, and neither of those diseases care what sexual orientation you have.  Their marriage won’t make you get a divorce, and your husband isn’t going to run off into the sunset with a gay guy because of it either.  (If he was going to do it, he’ll do it even if you have nobody that is a homosexual in your neighborhood.)  Your wife isn’t going to start lusting after the pastor’s wife either.  You are safe, honest.

You are seriously not that stupid, are you?

Obamacare?

10 Nov

Everybody seems to be up in arms about it, either defending it or trying to destroy it.

Ideally, it would have provided something called universal health care. A basic level of health care for everyone, regardless of income. It doesn’t do that. But, that’s what conservatives were afraid it was going to deliver, since that smacks of “socialism” and they drag up old Cold War phobias to make us fear the concept.

So, what we really got was federally mandated health insurance.

Sort of.

From what I can find out, it isn’t universal. If you are low income, you are likely to still not have any health care coverage, so you are still regarded as one of the “leeches” on the system and the reason that health care costs keep rising.

From where I’m sitting, in Mississippi, it looks like business as usual, but great for insurance companies.

Okay, I went through the enrollment process.  The website everyone makes fun of worked just fine for me, and this was a couple of weeks ago when it was all new.  We were offered very limited choices to start off.  One company, that’s it, folks.  Reminds me of the electric company, we’ve got another monopoly going on.  Maybe we’d have had more options if we lived on the coast or in Jackson, but even so, we’re only 30 minutes from Hattiesburg now, and that’s one of the larger cities in Mississippi.  So it’s one company with two plans, and they don’t include the highest coverage, the platinum level.  (Not that it mattered, we couldn’t afford either one we were offered anyhow.)

The two lowest plans did not offer very good coverage, and it included a large deductible.  To add to the injury, the crappy plans cost roughly $850-950 per month for a couple.

The state of Mississippi, like a number of other states that have vocalized their dislike of the “Obamacare” Affordable Health Care Act, has refused to consider expanding their Medicaid program.  Likely it’s due to the impoverished state of the Mississippi economy to begin with.  After all, where would the money come from?

They are being generous.  They will not fine those below the income threshold, which I assume is the poverty line.  Whatever that line is, we’re below it.  So, it is status quo.  No fine, no health care, and nothing has changed at all for us.

But let’s do some math.  Let’s assume that a couple who is working 40 hours a week at minimum wage ($7.25 per hour).  That would mean that they got an annual gross income of $30,160.  They are paying an average of 26% of their income to taxes, Social Security, etc.  That’s $7841.60 leaving them with $22,318.40.   Let’s say that they select the lowest cost plan at $850 per month.  Their annual costs will be $10,200.  That leaves them with $12,118.40.

That sounds reasonable, right?  Surely they can live on that, right?

Well, let’s experiment.  The average rent is about $600 per month, totaling $7200.  Their annual income is now down to just $4918.40.

But, they have to get to work, and most of Mississippi doesn’t have mass transportation of any kind.  They don’t live close to work, but they are careful with managing their lone vehicle so they are both able to get to and from work.  Even so, they average 25 miles round trip each day, their vehicle is older so the annual cost of license and tags, combined with the inspection, totals to just $45 per year.  They carry the minimum insurance, but it still costs $90 per month.  Being an older  vehicle, it also does not get good gas mileage, coming in at only 20 mpg, at an average cost of $3.15 per gallon.  It also requires two annual oil changes, which cost $35 each, for another $70 per year.  On average, they have to buy tires every fourth year, which cost $400, adding another $100 to their annual expenses.  They pray it does not break down, as they are already spending a lot on their transportation, a grand total of $2732.19.  That leaves them with $2186.21.

But, remember, they are still left with bills to pay for utilities, clothing expenses, and their grocery bill.  The real problem is that after getting their affordable insurance, paying their rent, and getting to and from work, they are left to figure out how to survive on $182.18 per month.

That won’t even cover their utilities, let alone let them cover their deductible, pay a co-pay, or buy a prescription.  They won’t be able to eat either.

But, a couple earning minimum wage, in the eyes of many, is not below poverty level.

I’m not seeing anything affordable in this.  I’m not seeing anything resembling universal health care either.  I damn sure don’t see anything resembling socialism in it. The only ones who are actually going to have health insurance are the same ones that have it now, barring the ones who can afford it but are too cheap to pay their portion of the premium for their families through the plan offered by their employer.

I can remember those people well.  Back in the “good old days” when I had an employer that offered health insurance and treated their employees as though they were a company asset (like good companies do), we had a giant hike in our health insurance premiums.  They had a meeting with all of us, explained what was happening and why, as well as what their options were in terms of offering us health insurance plans.  They listened to us, then came back with an option.  The costs of extending insurance coverage to our families was going to have to be deducted from our paychecks, and we could elect to have coverage if we so desired.  I desired–I had a kid with a chronic health problem (she was a type 1 diabetic who was often in the hospital).  My co-workers, knowing that I paid about half of my paycheck to health insurance, asked me how I could afford it.  For me it was simple.  I could not afford to NOT have it.  There is a vast difference in the kind of health care one receives with health insurance versus without it, and I had witnessed it first hand.

I also had pretty good insurance.  I didn’t have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.  Sure, I had a co-pay at the doctor’s office, as well as for prescriptions, but it was reasonable and affordable.  I didn’t have big bills for the hospital stays, and I had both dental and vision coverage as well.

Even if I could afford the insurance plans offered via the so-called Obamacare plan, neither of them included dental or vision insurance.  The co-pays were reasonable, but the deductible was a serious issue.  So was the percentage of coverage on procedures and hospitalization.  With only 60% coverage on these things, how is someone with $182.18 per month to pay utilities and groceries out of, going to pay even a $1000 procedure (far less than a single emergency room visit) which is going to cost $400 out-of-pocket.

The Affordable Health Care Act may have had some great intentions, but some how, along the way, it got left with loopholes and giant black holes that once again put insurance corporations into the drivers’ seat leaving the rest of us clinging to the bumper and terrified.  The worst part is, it hasn’t even gone into effect yet.  We have sticker shock, as well as discovering that we’re ordered to choose from models X, Y and maybe model Z for health insurance, but we’re standing here realizing that the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet.  What kind of problems are waiting to appear?

We, as a population, has little faith in the government in general and even less in the federal government.  It’s notorious for favoring those with mega-money and tromping on the little guy without regard for the welfare of the masses.  It’s all about special interest groups, with an ample seasoning of mismanagement and bureaucratic red tape.

It seems that there is only one escape from the tyranny of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Get elected to Congress.

Yep, they were smart.  They made sure none of them would ever have to deal with this monstrosity that is neither affordable nor healthy.

Social media & politics

12 Oct

I have been seeing a lot of political commentary posted to Facebook, as well as receiving a fair amount of political based commentary on things I post to my timeline. It’s made me realize something.

A lot of people are pretty clueless about how our political system works, not that I’m an expert on it.

Many people truly do not understand that the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) was not passed by the President. Presidents cannot legislate, so unless it was an executive order, he cannot be the one responsible. The ones responsible are the senators and representatives in Congress who passed it. The only direct action on that health care bill that was an option for the president was to veto it when it landed on his desk afterwards.

The government shut down was not orchestrated by the president either. That was the direct result of Congress’ inability to compromise on a budget. They knew it would happen when a budget was not agreed upon. They knew the deadline too.  In private industry, we call that “incompetent” and “irresponsible”.

I understand that there is a lot of conflicting ideology around the budget.  There is the rising debt and the continual stream of tax credits and government hand outs to a wide assortment of corporations and industries, let alone foreign countries’ aid packages.  There is the Affordable Health Care Act, with its confusing assortment of rules and regulations, as well as rampant rumors that affordable is the last thing it will be in practice.  If half of it is true, I will be destitute and homeless within two years of it going into effect.  Average citizens, such as myself, are left without answers about what is actually true and what is just one more piece of fear-mongering propaganda being tossed about by the anti-healthcare faction.

Most of all, I’m seeing an increase in dissatisfaction with the federal government.  I’m also seeing an increase in fear of the government and a perception of it as a totalitarian force.  I hear more  about secession than I would have ever dreamed of hearing too.  I look back to history, to the antebellum era, and I’m seeing a frightening parallel.

If you don’t like it, whatever the it is, do something about it. Write your congressmen & women. Call them. Don’t vote for their re-election. Work to get them recalled if necessary. Ignore the continual and useless online petitions.

Whether you like or hate Obama, he can’t be re-elected. That is courtesy of an actual amendment to the constitution, the same thing that a lot of people have been ranting about lately.  It’s the 22nd amendment.    That means that Obama is on his way out with the end of this term. In the meantime, we’ve still got a corrupt & incompetent Congress…being re-elected over and over.

Maybe we need to limit terms as a senator or representative too, and put an end to the career politicians.  Of course, that could be a problem.

We’d have to have the same ones we want to put an end to vote to pass it.

Right now, it’s a great job.  You get to vote on your own benefits and pay.  You can take off time as you please.  You can take bribes and distribute favors.  If people don’t like what you do or don’t do,  you simply point your finger at the POTUS and pass the buck.

So, give up on the useless online petitions–they are not going to do a darned thing.  Give up the chain emails and shares and likes–they don’t do anything either.  Neither do blog posts like this one, other than to urge others to take some sort of useful action.

DO write and call Congress. Be loud.  Be persistent.

DO vote!  It does make a difference.  Voter apathy bought this Congress, folks!

If you don’t like what Congress is doing, we have a system in place to do something about it.  Use it.

Shutdown Solutions?

3 Oct

Face it, no matter how hard we try to NOT think about it, we’re all faced with the shut down of the federal government.    Probably the ones feeling it the least are the same people responsible for not agreeing on a compromise for the budget.  While those who are not members of Congress lack the fine detail of why there has been no agreement in our lame duck Congress for a budget, one single fact has become quite obvious to everyone.

Congress failed to do its duty to America and its citizens.

In my eyes, its the equivalent of treason because it goes way past inefficiency and lack of sincere concern.  The shut down isn’t merely a mild inconvenience, it is putting America at genuine risk.

All because they can’t get their own way?

Everybody wants to point their finger at Obama as being the one responsible for everything from the Affordable Health Care Act to the economy.  The reality is that the executive branch does not legislate.  Unless the action was the result of an executive order, it was the result of legislation passed by Congress and then, only then, signed into law by the president.  That means that the so-called Obamacare plan was enacted in a lawful manner by Congress, whether you or I either one actually like it or wanted it.  Our representatives and senators are the responsible parties, not Obama.  If you hate it, hate them.  If you like it, like them.  All Obama did or could do was advise during the legislative stage and sign it into law after Congress had brewed and stewed over it.

So with that understood…understand this.  The government shut down came about because Congress could not reach an agreement on a budget.  It wasn’t the supreme court’s judges or the governor of California or the prime minister of the United Kingdom’s fault, and it’s not Obama’s either.  The responsible parties are the ones that you elected, right in  your home state, and they likely have offices near your home so that they can theoretically keep in touch with their constituents.

You can believe me that I know the name of our two senators and my representative, and I know their email addresses too.  I also know exactly how long it takes for me to receive their form responses to any comments I email them–1-4 months.  Do I think they are particularly responsive to their constituency in this day and age?

Hell no.

Will I vote for any of them ever again.

Double that hell  no.

But you know what?  Incompetent job performance, which is what has resulted in the government shut down, should result in termination.  That creates a bit of a dilemma.  Some of those in Washington probably put sincere effort into trying to do their job, but were hopelessly outgunned by the majority who were refusing to do so.  With so much incompetency though, we are stuck with a blanket solution in order to have a plausible solution at all.

I think a government shut down should have serious repercussions for the ones responsible for causing it.  Things like:

  • No member of Congress should receive pay or any other benefits during a government shutdown, including retirement pay, medical care, per diem, etc.
  • No congressional support staff should receive pay or any other benefits during  a government shut down, and cannot be coerced into performing their duties during the shut down.
  • No member of Congress or congressional support staff shall receive retroactive pay or benefits for the duration of the government shut down.
  • 30 days after the initial day of a government shut down, all senators and representatives will be facing elections in their home states to maintain their seat or be replaced for the duration of their term.  That would at least give us a new Congress that might get something done, as well as reducing the likelihood of any shut down occurring to begin with.  We all know how these career politicians like to protect their cushy jobs.

When the discomfort of shut downs are affecting Congress as much as they are everyone else, perhaps they will work a little harder to try and do their job.  Besides, if they aren’t getting paid or enjoying the many perks of their position, we might save a bit on the budget and make a shut down worthwhile.  And the best part of a shut down? We would have a national opportunity to clean house and get a new crew in that just might do the job the way they are supposed to.

Can we say “congressional job fair” folks?

Writing to the White House, Representatives, or Senators

27 Aug

Do you need some highly delayed aggravation in your life?

I’ve discovered one in the  past year.  On two separate occasions, I wrote to the White House.  Months later, I believe about six of the them, I would receive a response.  Once I wrote to the President, and once to the First Lady.

Now I’m not naive enough to think that either one of them read either letter.  I know that they were read by a junior staff member who probably despises the chore.  It certainly takes long enough to get around to the task of responding.

The length of time makes you feel as though what you had to say fell on deaf ears and was essentially a wasted effort.  I can vent in a blog with more satisfaction and probably with equal ability of creating awareness with those who represent us in our government.  I’ll certainly feel as though I’ve done something.

Unlike the letter to the White House, or the ones I’ve written to our representative or Senators.  The senators never responded.  The representative responded slightly quicker than the White House, but committed the same grave error.

None of them apparently actually read & comprehended the letters.  A computer algorithm could have come up with a better response than the semi-human operated bot did.  It was as though the response looked for a few key words and then spat out a form letter that was supposed to address what you had said.

Wrong.

This morning, I received a letter from the First Lady (or rather her automated staff/email response team).  It went on about the Let’s Move campaign and childhood obesity.  Was that what I wrote about?

No.

I had written to her asking her to support gardening as a way to fight obesity, and specifically urban gardening’s need for her support.

I merely got a form letter thanking me for supporting Let’s Move and the usual propaganda about how wonderful it is.

I’m disgusted.  I wasted my time, and then…I wasted more time with reading the response. The White House also wasted time sending it.  I got the same sort of nonsense from my representative and senator, the same nonsense from the President.

I guess my complaint is that it is worse than a waste of time, it’s insulting.

Cell phones

23 Feb

Cell phones, those amazing little gadgets we’ve all become so dependent on, to the point that many of us no longer have a traditional land-line based telephone in our homes.

They are also something we’ve begun to get increasingly aggravated with, as carriers lock us into long term contracts with high financial penalties if we attempt to cancel the contracts for any reason.  Those contracts can look very attractive initially, but as time moves forward, and our lives change, they often become increasingly unwieldy monkeys riding on our backs.

Especially in the economy that has plagued us the last five years.

Faced with shifting fortunes, rising costs, and shrinking incomes, many people are desperate to reduce their monthly expenses, to get them to the point that their outgoing bills are less than their income.  That’s something our government isn’t very good at, not only for themselves, but for their constituents.  Corporations, however, seemed to have perfected the art of extracting blood from turnips.

With your cell phone carrier, they often have you over a barrel.  You can’t afford the monthly expense, but you certainly can’t afford the cancellation fee, or the negative notation on your credit history.  There aren’t a lot of options available, especially when you desperately need that cell phone, whether because it’s your sole connection with the outside world, or because you are searching for a job.

There are a few things, especially when faced with a temporary financial crunch, as well as some other things you can do to prevent being caught in the contract bind, while not causing undue financial hardship.

First, resist the urge to “upgrade” your phone at a reduced initial cost and renewing your contract.  This is where the cell phone companies are dangling a carrot out there, intending to keep you on THEIR treadmill.  Resist the temptation, and either continue using your old cell phone or buy another outright.  To keep costs down, you can often buy a used phone via Ebay or other outlets.  Do your research, make sure that the make and model is compatible with your carrier, as well as has some kind of guarantee from the seller that it will arrive in good condition.  You’ll still have to pay an activation fee.

If you don’t actually need a smart phone, skip the trend, stick with a basic function phone, which often can be used on a smaller data package.  These smaller plans without large data packages can save $10 or more per month, which can quickly add up.

Don’t add lines.  Each line comes with an additional contract, usually 24 months long.  If you have a need for additional phones, consider a prepaid option instead.  Then, if it turns out that it’s not needed anymore, you aren’t faced with an unnecessary bill.

If you are locked into a contract situation, and desperately need to cut your bills, there are a few options available.  Check to see if you can change the plan itself without altering your contract.  This option exists with many cell phone companies, and by switching to a basic phone with fewer bells and whistles, you can often cut your plan as much as a hundred dollars a  month.  Don’t cut it so short that you end up going over your limits however, overages are very expensive with many companies.

There is also the option of “suspending” your contract temporarily, usually up to 3 months.  This may have a monthly service charge, but it will allow you time to get your finances under control.

If you are not locked into a contract, you may want to explore other options, even if your finances and job situation looks bright and cheery.  By avoiding the contracts, you are free to explore other options as they become available, without having to wait.  That means everything from the latest iPhone to the different packages available.  It also means that if you are suddenly offered the perfect job in some exotic location, you won’t be biting off a chunk of that “early termination fee.”  Numerous companies offer prepaid plans, some even have iPhones and other smart phones available, complete with unlimited data and minute plans.  Straight Talk, available through Walmart, is one of them.  It is also serviced by the Big Three in cell phone providers: AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, depending on your location.  If you move and your old phone isn’t served in the new area, the problem is solved by simply purchasing another phone, and you are never stuck with a two year contract that leaves all of the cards in the cell phone company’s hands.

Contracts, ranging from one to three years, have become the bane of the consumer’s life.  They are everywhere, increasingly restrictive, designed to reduce competition for our dollars for years at a time, and ultimately reducing the level of service we manage to choke out of the various corporations.  Once you are locked into their services, its virtually impossible to change suppliers, no matter how terrible their service becomes.  It’s not a good trend, especially in a world that has increasing numbers of monopolies to which the consumers are becoming enslaved.

We don’t really have a choice about our electric, natural gas, water, cable, or land based telephone service, yet these companies want to often lock us into contracts to continue receiving their services, and leave the consumer with early termination fees if they decide to move out of their service area.  Cell phone companies do the same thing, using the carrot of reduced cost cell phones to entice customers to their two year enslavement.

To make it even worse, a cell phone is locked to a specific carrier, preventing the consumer from going to another carrier and acquiring service for that phone.  That means even if you aren’t locked into a contract and have a $500 cell phone, you have to buy their service, or buy another cell phone.  Is this really fair?  After all, you bought the cell phone, not leased it.  The cost was not subsidized by the cell phone company.

Something has to be done about all of these corporate monopolies with their abilities to turn us into their indentured serfs for years at a time.  In the meantime, the only way we can avoid that trap ourselves is to carefully read the fine print, avoid contracts with penalties for early termination, and learn to pay as we go.  Prepaid cell phones are one option, and unlike the early days when their fees were outrageously high, they have become increasingly competitive.  Today, Straight Talk, one of the larger prepaid companies, is part of TracFone, and it is marketed through Walmart.  Their unlimited voice and data plans are $45 per month, with no contract and no penalties if you don’t like it, but you do have to purchase the phone, which range in cost from about $19 to nearly $500, depending on features, models, and brands.  Their customers seem to be about equally as satisfied as those who are paying $110 or more for the same service with a contract.

So what does a person really get with the additional $65?

You get a two  year contract, and a reduced price on your phone, plus a $35 activation fee.  That means that at $110 per month, you will pay an extra $1595 for that cell phone in lieu of just purchasing it and going with a cheaper prepaid plan.  Outside of that, there is little difference between companies.  Sure, there is “tech support” with your contract phone, but have you ever used it?  Did it offer you any help?

There’s another reason to consider the no-contract phone.  In the case of a Straight Talk phone, Walmart offers a protection plan that includes water & humidity damage, and costs from $6 on up, depending on the initial cost of your phone.  With most companies, the “insurance” on your phone is about $7 per month, and in the event of water or humidity damage, the replacement can cost you $100 or more, as well as has to be mailed to you anyhow.  With Walmart’s protection plan, there is apparently no deductible on the phone, which means that the difference (in 2 years) can be over $160 per month for better coverage.

Then there are the hidden charges on contract cell phone service, all of those mysterious taxes and service fees that really will surprise you, as they approach increasing the price 20-25% per month.  Without the contract, the fees are included, providing you with a manageable price per month that can be adapted to  your budget.

Sure, there are no “discounts” on the phones initially.  They have to be paid for, along with shipping (if you don’t pick it up in the store) and taxes.  But…in the first two years alone, assuming you don’t damage the phone or get a huge desire to have the latest iPhone or smart phone, you will save $1757, minus the cost of your phone.  Even the phone’s cost may not be as high as you think–it isn’t uncommon for the phone from the carrier to cost $100-300 more than your “discount”, leaving you with a big bill.  The same phone or a similar phone with similar features, may be available from a no-contract program at roughly the same price.

The no contract phones are also an excellent idea for parents with a child acquiring their first cell phone, a teen with a new cell phone, or even a college student’s cell phone needs.  It means no surprise overages resulting in bill shock.  An inexpensive phone for calls and simple texting can be a solution for a child, who is more likely to lose or damage a phone.  (Loss is not part of the coverage from Walmart’s protection plan.)  If a cell phone is lost, there are also no worries that there will be calls to Dubai and Hong Kong suddenly appearing on your bill either.  These cheap cell phones can also be considered a temporary or “throw away” solution to a short term cell phone need–if an additional phone is needed during an emergency or travel.  They also offer international plans, handy if calling out of the country, as well as plans for 3 months, 6 months, or a full  year.  Imagine trying to pay a year in advance on your contract phone!

I’ve talked to customers that have used Straight Talk, and they are generally happy with the service they have received, whether it was their first cell phone or a replacement for the contract cell phone.  I also know people with a number of other carriers, including Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and C-Spire.  The ones with other carriers are usually not as happy, and often are chafing at the bit for their contract to end, whether for financial reasons or because another company offers a desirable service or phone that is not available with their current carrier.  Sometimes it is due to relocation, and the service available in their new area is not as good as it was in the old area, leaving them paying for substandard reception or perks such as a local store that repairs their phone.

With a no-contract service, you are still free to choose to use a traditional contracted service at any time, if it turns out that you aren’t happy with it.  The sole complaint that I have noticed with no-contract services is number portability–it can be expensive, not available, or a pain.  If this is not an issue, one way to test the waters is to buy an inexpensive phone from one of the companies and try it before terminating your contract.

The phones can be served by one of three carriers, and not all carriers are available in all areas, and even in the areas that they are available, they may not offer the same type of reception.  There are also many issues with both 3G and 4G service, especially in small towns and rural areas.  Read reviews, find out which phones are served by the company that offers the best service for your area, as well as the areas in which you frequently travel.  In my case, I know that Verizon does not service the area in which my daughter lives, and therefore, I would not consider using Verizon as a contract carrier OR via a prepaid program.  Unfortunately, both AT&T and Sprint have spotty coverage throughout the rural areas of my home state, so either one could also leave me without a signal while traveling elsewhere.  That problem is true for most of us in the United States–no carrier provides complete coverage anywhere.

In addition to prepaid plans from companies like TracFone, the cell phone companies often offer a prepaid plan.  Unfortunately, they often don’t let you use the same phone that you may have used with their contract service, requiring you to purchase a different phone (at full price, with limited choices.)  Even with that, for many people, their services may be a better option.

Avoid the contracts when possible, and keep your independence and freedom of choice–it’s the best choice for your financial future as well.  Never set yourself up to end up with a big bill by adding friends or relatives to  your contract service unless you truly are independently wealthy.  Instead, opt for the no-contract version, even if you purchase the phone and plan, you will protect yourself from unexpectedly large bills in the future.

Write your representatives and senators, asking them to offer the consumer relief from these unwieldy contracts that favor the corporations, as well as to legally unlock cell phones and make them able to work with any carrier, and removing the monopolies that plague us all.  It’s high time that corporations began being accountable for their services, rather than able to rape the consumer with high rates, poor service, and long contracts with large penalties.

Stupidity of Daylight Savings time and election mania?

4 Nov

I’ve ranted about it before, and I will rant about it again today…and twice a year for as long as the idiocy continues.  Daylight savings time is an idiotic concept, dreamed up and perpetuated by ridiculous propaganda that far too many people buy into.  If it saves so much energy…why don’t we just STAY on that time?  What do people really think they are saving?

But speaking about ridiculous propaganda, have  you paid much attention to the stuff circulating on the social media sites as people wave the figurative flag of their favored candidate?

It’s made me realize, with a two party system, we really are given a choice.

Between a rock and a hard place.

That’s about all the difference I really see between the parties.  The parties and their candidates are so far out of touch with what life is like for Average Joe and Average Jane that we may as well elect Brad Pitt for president.

Heck, he might even do a better job.  If not, well, at least he’d make interesting photo ops, right?

Neither party represents what we’ll call the “working man” of American society.  They don’t have a clue what our lives are like.

Like Mitt Romney’s wife, featured in an article about how she went shopping at Sam’s Club.  She was immensely proud of her ability to feed a large gathering of family for only $4.50 per person for the meal.  I don’t think she’d be too happy with my food budget, capped at $5 per person per day.  Some months, if there are extra bills to pay, well…the food budget gives up a portion of it’s funding to cover the deficit.  She’d even be more horrified to discover that if I’m serving guests, it comes out of the monthly budget, not an extra slush fund.  So does holiday cooking, as a matter of fact.  While the Romneys might not be concerned at the reports of higher prices for serving up the traditional turkey dinner later this month, for the rest of us, that IS a concern.  We can’t spend what we’re not earning, and there are still not enough jobs to get everyone back to work that has been looking for work since this recession started.  It’s unfortunate that with each passing year, we’ve seen more jobs going overseas too.

For those of us struggling to make ends meet, to pay our bills, and to just get by, while family members are unemployed or underemployed…having to deal with an English-is-a-second-language customer service rep in some foreign country is really a slap in the face.  It’s another reminder of how many jobs we’ve lost to countries with lower standards of living and more relaxed workplace laws.

In the stores, it’s hard to buy American made goods.  It’s harder yet to buy from companies that have American based customer service.  I don’t think it’s an unrealistic expectation that if I buy an item or service with American money while I am in the United States, that customer service will be provided in the United States as well.

Then, there is health care.  I’ll admit, I am not thrilled with the Obamacare package, but…I wasn’t thrilled with nothing either.  Do I think that it’s the best that our government could come up with?  No…and it shouldn’t be so long that nobody can possibly read it and understand what it says either.  That’s the problem with these bills–they are excessively complicated and too often contain unrelated stuff.  Each bill should be one thing, written in a manner that any average person can understand it, but they aren’t.  Washington has become a place of bureaucrats worried about perpetuating their own existence, whether elected or appointed or hired.

The part that I think stinks is the idea that people are to be forced to buy health insurance.  Seriously, I don’t know anyone who can afford health insurance and opts to just not buy it for some reason.  I’ve priced it, long before Obama was ever heard of, and there was no way I could afford it, even just major medical was about 30% of my monthly take home pay, and there wasn’t any way I could give up that much of my monthly income and survive.  Utilities, rent, and automobile insurance already took care of about 80% of my net pay!  That left very little for luxuries such as food, gasoline, clothing, medical expenses, and assorted sundries.  Taking a second job wasn’t an option, really–my job required extensive overtime already, and while I was paid for it…that extra overtime is what was used for those “luxuries” I bought.

So I read the things that the candidates say, I read the things that their opponents say about them.  I read the things their supporters say about them.  I read the “fact checker” articles.

I’ve concluded that I was right.  We do have a choice between a rock and a hard place.  It then comes down to specific issues that are…or are not…supported by the two parties.

What concerns me?

  1. Women’s rights, including reproductive rights.  I’m pro-choice, and before anyone gets their underwear in a wad over that…let me clarify that statement.  I am pro-choice, not pro-abortion.  There is a very clear difference.  While I don’t think that abortion is the right choice for me, in any circumstances that I have actually faced, I also don’t think that it is the government’s job to make that decision for me…or any other woman.   I don’t think my boss should be able to decide if my insurance is going to cover birth control either.  There are many reasons and many circumstances for a woman’s choice, and few women are going to choose to use abortion as birth control if they have any conscience or concept of right and wrong.  If they don’t have those things, well, do we really want her reproducing anyhow?  Morality cannot be legislated, and there should not be an attempt to do so.  Laws are to protect society as a whole, and allow individuals to not have their personal rights infringed upon by others.  While that includes freedom of religion, it does not give anyone the right to impose their religious standards and expectations on others.  Period.
  2. Right to bear arms.  Okay, these mass murders we’ve had at schools and theaters have been horrific and shouldn’t have happened.  Yes, I know many other civilized countries have banned weapons of all kinds.  That doesn’t mean I support weapons being banned in this country.  Regulated and restricted perhaps, but not banned.  Assault rifles aren’t needed for hunting or self-protection.  Automatic rifles and handguns aren’t either.  Armor penetrating ammunition and weapons are also not particularly appealing to think of my neighbor having and using for target practice.  I think we need to address the underlying causes of these incredible acts of violence more than act on restricting gun ownership excessively.  Do we ban bathtubs for the accidents they cause?  Have pools been banned due to the high numbers of children that have drowned in them?  Do we still allow downhill skiing after people die in skiing accidents?  How about cars and car accidents and their fatalities?
  3. Same sex marriage.  I’m not gay, and I never was.  I’m not even bi-sexual.  I am in a traditional marriage, even if our wedding was far from traditional.  My parents weren’t gay, neither is my daughter.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t support the concept of equality among all Americans.  While I don’t deny that states can allow or forbid same sex marriage according to their citizens’ wishes, I don’t think that the federal government should be able to override those states’ rights to choose either.  Currently, federal law does not allow federal employees in a legal same sex marriage to enjoy the same benefits for their spouses that someone in a so-called traditional marriage enjoys.  I think this is wrong.  I have little hope of Mississippi, my current home state, is going to legalize same sex marriages anytime soon.  It’s got far too high of a percentage of ultra conservative citizens for that to happen.  But, if it was allowed…I don’t think the federal government should deny benefits to those people’s spouses because they don’t agree with it.
  4. Education.  It wasn’t working, so they tried “No Child Left Behind.”  That’s working about as well as new math did.  It’s absolutely not working, instead of educating kids and preparing them for the real world, whether that includes college or a job, kids are spending the year prepping for their standardized test.  Something else needs to be done, and this ineffective method of measuring both school and teacher performance needs replaced with something a bit more effective.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you went to a fast food restaurant, local store, or other location with staff that needs nothing beyond high school to get a job…and they actually could SPEAK American Standard English?  How many high school students can actually write down a coherent telephone message that anyone could read and understand, let alone write an essay for a college class?
  5. Jobs/Industry.  Face it.  We lack an industrial base and we’re importing too many goods.  We need jobs, we have willing workers.  We need to figure out how to get people back to work, back to creating the things that made America into what it was.  We need factories running, producing goods that are high quality and reliable.  We’ve all had enough of cheap, shoddy, imported garbage.
  6. National Transit System.  We rebuilt Europe’s trains after World War II, or so I’m told, but we can’t get trains to cover the USA in anything resembling efficient and cost effective.  It costs more to ride a train than it does to take a plane or even drive, and Amtrak is subsidized by the federal government.  Few cities have train stations where passengers and small freight can be economically transported to the next city, county, state, or anywhere.  In addition, the transit times when trains are used are utterly ridiculous.  We need efficient mass transportation beyond the urban bus and subway systems.  We need it both within states and to other cities and states, providing efficient and low cost transportation coast to coast.  Putting such a rail system into place would employ thousands of people, from creating the infrastructure to service jobs when it is up and running.  It would appeal to foreign tourists as well, especially since most industrialized countries have train systems already.
  7. Legalization of hemp & medical marijuana.  Hemp is a good crop, and it’s good for a lot of applications.  It can be used for making rope, paper, and clothing, as well as a host of other things.  It’s a good fiber, and more durable than cotton.  Medical marijuana is a good product too, when properly used.  Even recreational marijuana is less of a problem with the users than those people using alcohol.  Taxed and regulated, it would remove marijuana from the hands of drug cartels, reducing their income and clout not only in the United States, but in the countries where their supplies of marijuana are grown and prepared for smuggling into the United States.  The tax revenue would enhance the American budget, maybe even bringing the annual deficit down a notch, especially if recreational use was legalized.
  8. Energy.  We’re going to have to bite the bullet and come up with alternative energy plans.  We’ve seen the disasters nuclear reactors can deliver.  We’re seeing the disaster of the oil industry, each and every day.  We need inexpensive and efficient energy to recreate a strong economy.  We don’t have it, therefore, we need to figure out how to get it.  If we got a man to the moon, not once, but several times, and did it with computers that had less power than the old Nintendo 64…surely we can figure this problem out.  Quit subsidizing the oil industry and let them struggle on their own, they’ve been milking America too long.  Devote attention to alternative energy that is less costly, both to the consumer and the environment, and put America at the forefront again.
  9. Taxes.  Corporations.  Okay, taxes are something nobody wants to pay.  We’re all a bit tired of corporate entities making huge profits while paying little in terms of taxes, and then adding to the insult by outsourcing portions of their business to foreign countries.  We’re sick of them lobbying Congress for favoritism.  We’re tired of paying the bill, you might say.  It’s time to start taking a good hard look at how corporations are affecting the way we elect politicians, and how they affect the bills that go through Congress to become laws.  It’s a form of corruption, folks.  Plain and simple.  These corporations are doing nothing more than paying politicians for favors, no matter how it is sugar coated.
  10. Foreign aid.  I really do not understand why we are borrowing money only to give it away to other countries.  That makes no sense to me.  If I am unable to pay my bills without borrowing money, it would be foolish to give my money to other people after I borrowed it.  Why is the federal government continuing to do something that any of us would look askance at a private individual doing?  I think it’s time that foreign aid is cut back, if not eliminated, and there should be more accountability as to why we’re giving it to anyone.

There are a lot more issues too, more than I could possibly put in here, but those are the top ten ones.  Neither party is very concerned about all of them.  None of the candidates are either.  So who do I vote for?

I’ll cast a vote in less than forty eight hours now.

I have no idea who I’m going to vote for right now.  Just when I think one candidate or another has trumped finally, they show signs of obviously reneging.  I was never a fan of Obama, so I have to admit that he has done better than I thought he would.  At the same time, the Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t exactly thrilling either.  I’m not a Romney fan, and the idea of something happening that would catapult Ryan into the Oval Office makes me gag.  Biden’s not a rocket scientist either though, and I actually had someone crack a joke about Biden being Obama’s “insurance policy” so that no one would assassinate him–they were afraid that Biden would then become president.

Once again, it seems that I’m faced with a choice of who I am going to vote against rather than who I am going to go vote for.  Which candidate has the most potential to cause harm?  Are we better off with the devil we know…or a new devil?

Oh will I be glad when Tuesday is over.  I’ll have my mind back, as well as cease to see the endless parade of pro-this candidate or anti-that candidate on my Facebook wall!

Marijuana, medical uses, and the pharmaceutical industry

29 Mar

Marijuana isn’t a legal substance to grow or possess in much of the United States.  Some states have legalized its medical use, but continue to face issues with the federal government disregarding their state laws.  In Mississippi, where I currently live, it is definitely not a legal substance.

In talking to various friends and acquaintances lately in regards to long term pain management, the differences between states became blatantly apparent in regards to the use of marijuana for this purpose.  Using it for pain management is in some ways far different than using it for recreational reasons.  Many people who had never experimented with it in their “younger days” use it in their middle age for pain management.  Even those who have used it for recreational reasons tell me that the type of  marijuana available in “medical grade” is far different from the street version, as well as more expensive.

The reasons people have for not supporting the legalization of marijuana are all things that they believe to be true.  But, when you really look at the reason, is it really true?

One reason is that people believe that many doctors will frivolously pass out prescriptions for marijuana.  This is true, otherwise we wouldn’t have any doctors ever disciplined for their prescribing habits through state medical boards.  On the other hand, is it really so common that it is going to be a wide spread problem?  How does frivolous marijuana prescriptions compare to the other types of frivolously prescribed medication compare?  I don’t think that it is going to be as big of a problem as many people fear, mostly because of the restrictions that are placed on when and where marijuana is used by the patient.  These typically are things like not using it before driving or while in a motor vehicle, not in public, etc.   Possessing it ceases to be a crime with the prescription, which allows them to take it with them while traveling, have it in their home, etc.

Other people believe that it will result in widespread addiction to marijuana.  Marijuana isn’t an addictive substance, this has been well documented in scientific research.  It is, however, like almost everything on earth, potentially psychologically addictive.  It’s a lot less addictive than most prescription painkillers, as well as having far fewer side effects.

Others fear that it will increase the number of people who use it as a recreational drug.  There isn’t anything to support this, and many people who currently indulge in marijuana use may stop using it entirely because of the loss of the thrill of escaping detection.  For those that already use it as a recreational drug, buying it through a legal source would mean that it is taxed, increasing revenue for local, state and federal programs of all kinds, from education to road construction.

Others believe that it is going to increase crime.  In reality, this has been proven incorrect by American history.  The Prohibition Era saw the rise of organized crime to unprecedented levels as the sale of alcohol funded their entire organization.  The same thing is true today with marijuana and other drugs.  By removing marijuana from their product offerings, we are removing one of their biggest income sources and turning it into a legitimate crop that both large and small farmers can raise and market legally.  These farmers, processing companies, and even marketing companies will then employ more people, pay more taxes, and help fuel a stagnating economy with a product that is legally produced and sold.  It is highly doubtful that we’ll see a sudden arrival of “marijuana booths” in local farmer’s markets any more than we see “tobacco booths” today, for largely the same reasons.

Others regard legalizing marijuana as tantamount to admitting defeat in the “War on Drugs” as marijuana has always been regarded as a drug.  Whether we admit defeat or not, it’s blatantly obvious that our “War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure as organized criminal gangs continue their home invasions, robberies, murders, assassinations, and kidnappings along the Mexican border, on both sides of that border.  Once again, by removing one of their primary sources of income, we will succeed in making business more difficult for them to conduct.  Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have another legal “Made in America” product, in this case, raised in America product?

Marijuana production, especially for the medical trade, is perfectly suited to the small family farm as well, since it is a much more labor intensive crop than raising most current agricultural crops.  It would also yield higher profits per acre, making the family farm a profitable enterprise, and saving the family farms from extinction in the current climate of agribusiness and corporate farms.  Saving the family farm would preserve the same family values that our entire country was founded on, rather than destroying them, which is what many people’s fears of the legalization of marijuana are.    Creating more jobs in rural areas where it is produced by locating the plants to process and package the marijuana for sale would also help preserve this same traditional family value concept, as rural areas are always struggling to keep jobs and their economies alive.

People are not going to become marijuana addicts just because it is legal to buy, possess and use marijuana any more than everyone over 21 is an alcoholic or smokes tobacco, both of which are legal and have far more known side effects to their use than marijuana does.  Far fewer people, according to current research, are likely to become belligerent, aggressive, or violent when using marijuana when compared to using alcohol.  While most research indicates that marijuana does not contain carcinogens, even if it does, it contains far fewer than tobacco does, and tobacco is also addictive.

So why IS there so much opposition to the legalizing of marijuana?

I believe that the Big Pharma companies are one of the sources behind it.  If a simple solution such as marijuana use, which can also be grown at home by the patient and easily processed into the usable form without a laboratory, pharmaceutical companies will lose a substantial portion of their current giant-sized income on the sale and marketing of prescription pain killers and the drugs that are used to counteract their side effects.

These giant corporations can lobby Congress and state legislatures in opposition of the legalization process.  It’s simply good business to them, while thousands of people are left in a position to use other solutions to long term pain management, nausea, etc. that make them even more money while providing less effective relief and more side effects for the patient. It’s the same lobbying effect that makes herbal and wholistic treatment of medical conditions difficult, if not impossible, as these entities lean on the FDA for more regulations each year.  What better way to ensure that your company makes more money than by eliminating the competition from the scenario?

These same companies prey on the public, turning the issue from a  simple herbal solution to a loud protest about the idea, encouraging their opposition.  They paint pictures of derelict addicts neglecting their children, spouses, and jobs to smoke one joint after another.  They encourage the vision of drivers killing people because they are “high” on marijuana.  They lead the public to believe that every doctor will be on the street, hawking their prescriptions for marijuana like it’s the latest edition of the newspaper.

The complete legalizing of marijuana would move it from the jail house evidence room to liquor stores, where it would be available in a variety of brands and varieties.  There, it would be sold in packages of twenty like cigarettes with a hefty tax, just like cigarettes and alcohol.  Sure, some times, it might be your mechanic, co-worker, or doctor that buys a package to take home on a Friday night, and they may smoke the entire package over the weekend too.  But what does that mean on Monday when they come to work again?

It means a lot less than working with someone that has spent the weekend drinking currently legal alcohol.  There is no ‘hangover’ effect from marijuana, another research proven fact.  That means that they aren’t going to be inattentive and suffering from a headache and nausea.  They are less likely to call in “sick” to work on Monday, as well as less likely to make an error while on the job as a result of their weekend’s recreation.  Once the “high” effect of marijuana wears off, that is all that results from the previous use of alcohol.  There is also research indicating that it has far fewer long term effects than even occasional alcohol use.

So what does this mean for me personally?

Not a whole lot, other than advocating the legalization of marijuana.  It isn’t legal in Mississippi where I live, and I do believe in obeying the law.  I don’t know if it would be something that would work for me in terms of medical pain management or not.  I don’t really have an interest in using it recreationally, but I also don’t drink alcohol very often.  I personally don’t see it becoming something that is in widespread use by other people in terms of recreation either, although many people may buy a package just to see what it was all about, smoke one or two, and leave them on the shelf until the dust gathers on them.  I would far rather have my car repaired or see a doctor that used marijuana rather than one that was recovering from a weekend party.

What do you think?  Do you see marijuana as the downfall of our society, a good source of tax money, a potential “cash crop” or something else?

A conspiracy against women

23 Feb

I am Woman.  I am a woman.

I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a friend, an artist, a writer, a photographer, a cook, and many, many other things too.  I’ve ridden this planet around the sun for a few spins as well.  I’ve spent a lifetime learning, only to realize with each acquisition of new knowledge how little I really know.

Then, just when I think I’ve got it figured out, somehow, a curve ball comes my way.

I’ve had a lot of curve balls over the past year, but the one that I never saw coming was this recent attack on women by our own government.  Don’t these men have wives, mothers, sisters or daughters to help educate them?  Were they raised in some strange artificial male-only environment?  Are they really terrestrial humans?  Just exactly where did they get the idea that THEY needed to decide how a woman’s body is to be treated, especially in regards to her reproductive capabilities.

This is like something out of a bad sci fi flick, the sort that I’d switch off in disgust after about ten minutes.  Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy with this problem.

These MEN have decided that birth control is causing immorality.  I almost choke on the lack of logic.  That’s like saying that children cause sex.  Birth control, also referred to as contraceptives, don’t mean that anyone is engaged in an immoral or unlawful sexual encounter.  Assuming that they ARE is ridiculous.  Just because a woman is married or in a stable relationship does not mean she wishes to spend her entire life as a brood mare producing one child after another, especially in a shaky economy with an overcrowded planet.

How would they like it if women were behind those closed doors determining that they were going to castrate a certain segment of the population to prevent unwanted pregnancies?  Or maybe to prevent violent crime (never mind that the presence or lack of testicles doesn’t influence criminal activity–logic is not required in law making these days.)

Imagine a father talking to his son on the eve of his 18th birthday, “Sorry son, you scored too low on your college entrance exam and too high on your sperm count, and since we couldn’t afford to buy you an exemption, tomorrow is the big day, you are going to get your castration!”

It makes a lot more sense than putting a woman in prison because she had a miscarriage or still born infant, actually.

We need to put a stop to this nonsense before it goes any further, because women DO form a majority of the population now.  In addition, most of us have sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles, and friends who could also be convinced to support the more realistic woman’s point of view on this bizarre debate.

You think I am kidding?

How long would this discussion go on if no man received any food cooked by a woman?

Add in that no woman did a man’s laundry either.

Oh, or waited on them…for any reason.

And then, there is the ultimate trump card women have held since the dawn of time…and the first cave.

An embargo on sex too.

How many men are willing to endure that for too terribly long before adjusting their point of view?  After all, that’s really what this is boiling down to…

Men want to control our vaginas.  

So…we remove that from the equation and let them resume the math problem.  I think most men will be fairly quick learners in that case.

Okay, maybe it isn’t fair, but who plays fair?  Washington D.C. certainly doesn’t.  They wouldn’t let the female lawmakers in on their discussion either.  So, we’ll take the situation in hand.  If we can’t control contraceptives, pregnancies, and the rest of our bodies, we certainly need to control the one aspect that they haven’t tried to legally take away from us.

Our sexual aspect.

We just need to get our act together, we need to be universal on this, because it has to be Average Joe screaming into the phone to his representative to stop that bill, not Average Jane.  They think they can ignore us…but we have our alternative methods of communication.  They like the idea of an aspirin between our knees?  We’ll deliver it.  With a glass of water.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, boys.

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