Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is Romney for real?

Mitt Romney's ER comments from 60 minutes are just plain strange. This is why I think he's having difficulty: either he just doesn't see things the way they actually are or he doesn't believe what he's saying. If this man is supposed to be such a compassionate and caring religious man, why would he essentially say the medical version of "let them eat cake…"
PELLEY: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today? 
ROMNEY: Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people -- we -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and -- and die. We -- we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.  
PELLEY: That's the most expensive way to do it.  
ROMNEY: Well the...  
PELLEY: In the emergency room. 
ROMNEY: Diff -- different, again, different states have different ways of doing that. Some -- some provide that care through clinics. Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn't take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, "You've got to take the Massachusetts model."
But we take what other states do well and implement them in other states ALL THE TIME! States are generally the proving grounds to test out theories of good governance. That's one of the benefits of our governmental system.  But The Atlantic makes an excellent point of showing why Romey's statements make no sense fiscally.
His more recent comments appear to be something different: Romney is basically saying that the cost savings don't matter. And that's a strange perspective, as both the pragmatic technocrat and the disciplined fiscal conservative he insists he is. Candidate Romney doesn't provide an alternative explanation for how he'd keep the public from paying for free riders... and that's a huge chunk of taxpayer dollars: a 2004 Kaiser Family Foundation survey calculated that free riders cost the federal and state governments almost $35 billion per year.
I've been emergency rooms quite a bit due to having a child with multiple ear infections, a viral infection that led to my child having difficulty walking, asthma attacks, and fevers of 106 degrees. I knew which emergency rooms to go to to avoid long waits because people were getting primary care services there. I learned after a few of those visits to goto a private urgent care facility for certain things like high fevers and infections because those facilities could handle these issues in half the time. They were also lots cheaper, I could make an appointment very quickly and avoid a long wait(at least if things were going wrong before midnight and after 6am). 

I figured out what Romney, and anybody with half a brain, figured out in Massachusetts: Emergency room care is expensive and a horrible way to get treated unless it is a true emergency. Fiscally and medically, ER care doesn't make sense as a way to treat fiscally indigent patients.  But importantly, the wording of Romney's statement just makes one feel un cared for. Like, thanks(?) I'm glad there is emergency care and we don't let people die in their homes, but I would like to have medical care BEFORE I have the heart attack.  I'd like to see a general practitioner on a regular basis, and not have to be on the hook for thousands of dollars for said heart attack after treatment in said ER.

Oh well, I guess its the moocher part of my psyche that just tells me to send all my bills to rich people cause as a part of the 47%, I really am embracing my victimhood. I think I'll stop working and go on public assistance right now….

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Breastfeeding is NOT unprofessional

I saw this article in the Washington Post about a week ago and I had another one of those moments where I went: "REALLY?! This is an issue? Still?!" Well, here it is: Breastfeeding.  Apparently a professor at a university upset a bunch of her students when she breast fed her child in class.  She was called unprofessional because she did it while she was giving a lecture. Back story: she was a single mom, her baby was ill, it was the first day of classes at American University, here in DC. She didn't want to cancel her fist day so she brought the child in. She let her TA (teachers assistant) watch the child and when the child became too fussy, she put the child to her breast and continued with the lecture.

Students were horrified! OMG, she's feeding her baby on her titties!!! It's not appropriate. What if a man who was hot just opened up his shirt or needed to scratch himself…down there… and just went ahead and did it.  Same thing right. Nope. It's not.

The issue here is not whether the university provided a space for her to breast feed or gave her parental leave to care for a sick child. The issue is that dang word "professional" and it's connection to a woman. We as a society have lost acceptance of women providing nourishment to babies as normal behavior that is not improper, indecent or lewd. Why is it ok to occasionally bring the child to class, but it's not ok to feed her?  When I was at a funeral, and my child was starting to cry my uncle told me, "Put a titty in her mouth. That'll quiet her down." I'm paraphrasing…slightly…but that was pretty much it. My family's from the country. They saw this behavior all the time. It was normal, natural for a woman to feed her child in this way. Women working in agriculture have always carried their babies with them and breastfed them as needed.

But is it professional? It may not be, but it should. A breastfeeding baby is generally quiet for the length of time they are on the breast. A lawyer or business person can still conduct a meeting while feeding her child because there is no more interruption putting a baby to the breast than getting a glass of water.  The problem is not the mother, it's the people around her. If people become acculturated to working mothers having to take care of their babies needs, then there is no issue. She is not baring her breasts for the public to see. Once the baby is fed, take the child back to it's care givers. The process is over in minutes with barely a pause.  If we are going to accept women into the work force, we have to accept women in the work force and all that pertains to that responsibility.  

We cannot preach to women that they should breast feed for at least 12 months without acknowledging that woman will need to work in this society for at least 6 months of that time; minimum. There may not be the ability to bring a child to work for every position, but it should be a goal as a society to promote healthy parenting habits within work settings of which breast feeding is one.

I went back to work after 6 weeks and breast feed both of my children for 8 and 17 months respectively. When I was on tour, I autographed CDs and talked to fans sitting in a chair in my high heeled boots on with a baby on my breast. They both had teeth by 3 months. Yeah…teeth. You don't want to even go there….

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why teachers are mad....

The Chicago teachers have gone back to work, suspending their strike. I just want to present two ideas as to why teachers feel the way they do. As an aside, I was recently speaking to a new teacher who's kids have adhd. They have been moved through a couple of schools and he had some problems with them at home. After teaching for 2 weeks, here's essentially what he said to me: My kids have no problems at all! They are fine. In comparison to what I see here?! Whew...

Teaching is hard. It's tough to be evaluated based off of your students achievements. You aren't raising these students. You're not in their family. You are there to teach information as best you can. Here's an argument why linking student achievement to teachers jobs can be problematic:

What if your corporate job handed you a team of people you had no say in choosing? You are charged with teaching this team the fundamentals of XYZ in your industry. You have about six hours a day of instruction and you are the sole person teaching. You have few resources for materials. Your group is comprised of people who live with persistent hunger, people who have limited proficiency in English, people who have been sleeping in a shelter or in their car, people who are in pain but have no access to medical attention, people who have no money for books and basic materials, people who require special services, people who are singled out for being different, people who have attention deficit disorders, people who have come from illiterate families, people who cannot see but cannot afford eye glasses, people who come from an abusive relationship, people who want the answers but don’t want to work. This is what a teacher is dealt. And sure, some of these problems are non-issues at private schools. But let me tell you, private school classrooms have their own challenges. That’s where you can have the entitled brats telling their teachers that daddy, who’s on the school’s board, can have the teacher fired. That’s where the students drive nicer cars than teachers can afford, and the socioeconomic totem pole is front and center of all school dynamics. 
Imagine being productive in an environment where you have little control and cannot impact the very basic needs that drive success under your watch. Now imagine you have to fight for every ounce of respect society doles out and every cent on your paycheck. Imagine you are judged solely on what your group can accomplish, with no regard to how hard you tried and how dedicated you were. Imagine the battle teachers face just to be valued, socially, professionally, and financially.

Also, people say that teachers have an easy day. Just 8:30-3:30. That's not that long and they get a lunch and a prep period. Though I am a believer that the school day should be longer, here's why teachers are not so happy about the idea.

I’ll use the example of the elementary school at which I worked: Students were at school from 8:45 am to 3:00 pm every day (Wednesdays until 2:00). Teachers are required to be in their classrooms or working at school at 8:00 am and are allowed, by union contract, to leave after 3:30 pm every day of the work week. During the school day, teachers are scheduled for 22 minutes for lunch, and have a 50 minute planning period. 
Now, just imagine the amount of papers to grade, detailed lessons to plan, papers to copy, bulletin boards to decorate, learning centers to prepare, documents to complete, books to read, spreadsheets to enter, department and school-wide meetings in which to participate, statistical information to compile, parent-teacher meetings to hold, and in-service classes to attend. 
These cannot physically be done in that one 50-minute per day planning period, and 30-minute** span before and after school that’s provided for the teachers. (**I’m being generous with the 30-minute spans before and after children are in the classroom, because in my case, our principal required us to keep our classrooms open and available for students to enter, thus making teachers responsible for the students.) 
I’ve not ever met one teacher, good, bad, or ugly, who can complete all of their required work in that 50-minute planning period and 30-minute span before and after school. 
Teachers want to do the best job for our children. But people need to really understand what is going on in this country's schools. They are on the front lines and it seems that people don't really understand what is involved in actually teaching our nation's children. We can do it, but when you want to fix a problem, it's good to know what the actual problem is...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Can the electricity work please?

The reason my blog and everything else this week is late or unfinished is because we had a storm this past weekend in the Washington, DC area. It wasn't the derecho, like last time. It wasn't thundersnow, because that wouldn't happen in the summer. No, we had a plain old heavy rain storm. Our electricity went out…AGAIN. I have already thought about getting a generator, but the real problem is PEPCO, the local utility company. To put it mildly, they suck. This past weekend, I felt like I lived in an upscale, first world version of India. We're in America. We've had electrical grids for decades, practically a century. Regardless of climate change and more incidents of weather issues, they should have figured this out by now and started to address it.

I find out, unsurprisingly, that PEPCO has been mismanaging money and not planning well for the future for a long time. Though this past year they have been trimming trees like mad, still, when the wind blows a little bit, and I mean a little bit, we have no power. Shouldn't we be looking for some different ways to get power to our communities? Shouldn't we be looking at alternative energy sources? Shouldn't PEPCO be figuring this stuff out cause my bill ain't changed. My electricity gets turned off if I don't pay it. What should we, the public do if the only utility providing electrical service just sucks?

Here's an idea! Invest in new technology. Marty Elrich, of Maryland's Montgomery County Council thinks so and explains to Forbes Magazine.

Clean Beta: A significant portion of Pepco’s underground distribution cables are approaching the end of its reliable service life. As far as I know, there is no long term plan for replacing or reinforcing the underground system. Does this present an opportunity to reinvent the power grid in Montgomery County? Is 2012 the right time to do so? 
Elrich: The more I learn about advanced energy technology, the more I believe this is long in the tooth. We need to start exploring micro-grids, co-generation on a larger scale and distributed power generation – local wind, fuel cells, trash and garbage (organic waste) to energy. There are new technologies, not just emerging but actually going into service, that could break our dependence on massive utility plants and an expensive and massive grid in which a lot of the energy produced is lost. There is no wrong time to look at your options. You should always be looking around to see whether what you’re doing is a best practice and reflective of the current state of knowledge. Montgomery County is a great place because we have an educated population that would welcome a well thought out transition to a future that was greener, more efficient and offers a good value.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Did we forget we're still at war?

You know, it feels like we're in an alternate political universe. I didn't think much of it at the time but, Mitt Romney and no speaker that I remember at the RNC convention ever spoke about the wars or invoked the US troop's virtue, courage, or our need for countrywide gratitude and support of them. It's almost as if they were forgotten. However, the hippy peace loving, weak on defense party spoke in depth on the wars, the need to have the above gratitude to and support of the troops, and the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Wild.

Does anyone even care about the troops in Afghanistan?! Does anyone even care about the widows, the widowers, the parentless children...? Do we even think for even a minute, let alone talk about the war that's still happening?  Right now?! Aren't we electing a president who controls the military?!  I'm confused.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sometimes we in the middle class miss the forest for the trees....

This month my youngest daughter, who is almost 3-years-old, is going off to full-time daycare/preschool. Can I get an amen and a Hallelujah?! I now have a little more time to myself rather than having to do work and watch my daughter at the same time or take her over to her Grandmother's house to be watched. She loves letters and numbers(it's like a hobby for her to play with an abacus, don't mind me…just a proud momma basking in her child's glow). However, the cost of having that time so she can be in school is a little under $1000 a month. With my older girl in Third grade and having her after school activities and me and my medical bills (insert link to last blog here), it's kinda tight in my household. I do feel under a lot of pressure. 

I am not alone:

In all, 85 percent of middle class Americans say it is more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living. Some 62 percent say a lot of the blame lies with Congress. A slight majority say a lot lies with banks and other financial institutions. Just 8 percent blame the middle class itself.
"The job market is changing, our living standards are falling in the middle, and middle-income parents are now afraid that their children will be worse off than they are," says Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison economics professor who specializes in income inequality.
He said that many middle-income families have taken a big hit in the past decade as health care costs increase, mid-wage jobs disappear due to automation and outsourcing and college tuition mounts for those seeking to build credentials to get better work…. 
"These are the disaffected middle class who work hard and play by the rules of society, but increasingly see their situation declining by forces beyond their control," Smeeding said in an interview. "No matter who is president, the climb back up for the middle class and the recovery will be slow and often painful."

A lot of "middle class" families feel the pinch. We don't feel secure in our mortgaged homes, car payments, children's after school activities and short vacations to the beach each summer.  But I was reading another blog that really got me in touch with something in this political season we have rarely spoken about: the poor. And it came from a source that was unexpected: a young woman who in her opinion, has just reached the middle class:

"I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s experience. I know that dipping below a standard of living you’ve always enjoyed will feel pretty crappy. My point is that, comparatively speaking, it’s not actually all that crappy. Many middle class people, particularly those who have never really been poor, don’t seem to see that there’s a whole other side to the economy that they never experience, like this writer who struggles to pay for friends’ weddings. I’ve met people who have spent 20 years in food service, with no health care, no bonuses and usually kids to support. 
There are middle class people who say they just can’t live in D.C. or New York City on $40,000 a year, but there are also people in those same places living on minimum wage. Take a look at the invisible people around you who make your life tick -- your cleaners, the person making your drinks, your interns -- and imagine how they make ends meet. 
It’s a choice that you make to feel disadvantaged. If you make $33,000 a year, the truth is, you are actually in the top 50% of wage-earners."

We seem to forget as we drive to work in our mini vans and 5 year old sedans, go shopping for discount clothes at Marshalls, and have pizza night that our lives are pretty good in the middle class. It may not be as easy as it was, but it could be a lot worse. There are people from the middle class who are truly becoming poor. They have lost jobs and can't find one close to comparable.  It's really tough out there.  But for the most part, as this young woman says, there are a lot of people who are in a lot worse position than the middle class. We as a society need to count our blessings, which includes me, and see what we have and thank the Lord we have it.  I can afford, through working hard, to put my child in preschool for the week. It's gonna be tough and it is harder than it once was, but I can do it while still living in my house that I own. True poverty is not being addressed because we're so concerned about our own diminishing reserves that we can't see our own wealth.   

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tell us how you REALLY feel, Michael Steele

I am astonished. I say that word a lot, but I had my hand over my mouth the whole time. I was watching the entire week of Jon Stewart because I generally watch my soap opera, Day's of Our Lives which is rebroadcast at the same time (don't judge me). So I took this weekend to get my Jon Stewart fix. So I came to the Michael Steele interview. Ok this brother is pissed. But it's obvious that he is still very much of a republican. Interestingly enough he brings up the very thing that's killing the RNC: letting go of control so that new elements of the party can come in and reinvigorate the party. All of us who are into politics have heard from those undisclosed super secret republican "operatives" that this is the last time the GOP can go purely after the white vote only. Go to 5:00 in the video. It gets real bad. This guy was the RNC chairman. They booted him out and held him at arms length like I throw away a smelly bag of poopy diapers. He's gotta a lot to say about Romney, Ron Paul, and of course, Clint Eastwood (before seeing the empty chair bit). It ain't pretty y'all. ooooo….

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