Saturday, September 15, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 62 – YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT MAXIMUM INEFFICIECIENCY


I don’t know about you, but I like to get as much bang for my buck as possible. Maybe that’s because even though I’m batshit-crazy-out-of-my-tree-insane, I do know the value of a dollar, or at least used to think I did. I know everything is hideously expensive, and I see the prices rising alarmingly at the grocery stores and on my rare outings, I am able to get brief flashes of what gas prices are doing, and they are not going south. Again, another reason to be glad I don’t drive anymore. Even if I could, I would not be able to afford the cost of maintenance, insurance and fuel.

Like everyone, JC and I scheme and look for ways to cut costs and save a buck here and there. We try to take advantage of the sales at the local grocery store, which for us is SweetBay. SweetBay was Kash and Karry, before that, I can’t remember. There’s a Publix a bit farther up the bus line, but they’re “high,” at least I tell myself that. It probably all evens out, but it’s a pain in the ass, schlepping groceries on the bus; we’re settled in our routines. Besides, all of our prescription medicines are handled by the State of Florida for me through SweetBay, so there’s that. Some kind of Devil-at-the-Crossroads agreement, I guess.

Ah, yes, the State of Florida and DCF. Department of Children and Families; they handle our Food Stamps, the infamous Medicaid, that I have heard tell of, but am to this day, convinced exists in the same realm as Ahab’s White Whale, and the Tooth Fairy. Lest I get off on that rant, let me back up to the Food Stamp thing.

When I first was transferred from the hospital to the homeless shelter, I was told to apply for Food Stamps, and was given 2 bus passes and a voucher for food at SweetBay. It was a holiday weekend, and there would be no one at Homeless Recovery until the following week. After applying for food stamps, it took about 3 days for me to become approved; I actually got my card and was approved before they could complete the interview. It was that efficient. This was in 2010.

Well, times they be a-changin' as the story goes. The system is now being administered by those noted humanitarians Chase-Manhattan, JPMorgan, who I sued back in 2004. I sued them for violating the ADA when they fired me from my job as an IT analyst. They fired me because I was “too slow.” I sued them and won because I told them the prior week I was blind, but would be having corrective surgery. They pretty much derailed my life. I signed a non-disclosure agreement after I won the suit. So, sue me JP; I. Dare, You.

Anyway, these much-vaunted care-takers of humanity are currently care-taking the Food Stamp and Assistance program for the State of Florida. Guess what? It really, really sucks, now. When one of my roommates lost her card, we spent several weeks and what seemed like 40 phone calls getting a replacement. It’s no shock that the majority of the clientele on public assistance are challenged by bureaucracy; it's one of the reasons they're on public assistance. I'm stating a fact and it's not their fault, generally speaking. But it should come as a surprise that this selfsame bureaucracy is deliberately obfuscating. I am challenged by it. I help lots of people and I have trouble with deciphering this gibberish sometimes.

Sometimes, the letters’ that are sent us from State of Florida, et al., change meanings, depending on what time of day said letter is read, what type of mood the reader is in, whether or not the moon has risen, or it is raining. This shit is that vague. I once sat here and read a letter sent to me no fewer than 8 times; JC read it and recited it back to me. We finally decided I was either eligible for Medicare unless I wasn’t and hadn’t applied for it unless I had. I don’t even remember if I was there. Who in hell writes this stuff? Aliens? Romney speech writers? Perhaps the good writers over at X-Files were unable to find jobs after that show ended. Perhaps, this is one of those IA translators they use for films, ala "All Your Base Are Belong To Us." That's a miracle of clarity compared to letters I've read from the State of Florida.

What I’m implying let me just come out and say; this is a deliberate attempt to forestall granting aid to people who need it. There is a huge amount of waste, but I posit that the waste is not necessarily from the people who are getting checks who deserve it least. No, I believe the waste is being caused by the great State of Florida herself and these institutions such as Chase Manhattan JPMorgan, who I’m sure are receiving a huge piece of this pie for doing a shitty job. They are really taking it from the hides of people who are for the most part, too frightened, too ill, or too addicted to understand. I help those people. The social workers at places like Homeless Recovery and Metropolitan Ministries are too inundated with cases to really look at this closely and they need to get help to as many people as they can.

But I see this; I see these connections. I make lots of phone calls and help online with friends’ applications’ for assistance. The other thing the state does is fritter away benefits. Instead of completely cutting off, say, my 26.00 in Food Stamps completely and giving it to a family who really needs it, they may cut it by 1.00. Seriously. How much did that cost the state? And then send me a letter. Really? Whose fault is this? So, instead of the GOP screaming about cutting all of these benefits, why don’t they REALLY put their money where their mouth is and do what they holler about all the goddamned time… conserve.


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