Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dealing with Life's Challenges

It's been one hell of a summer!
It's been many months (three to be exact) since I've last posted on this blog. A busy summer - yes! A summer of confusion, upheaval and filled with chaos? Most definitely.

Quite frankly, it's difficult to compose when you are biting at the air, while running around in circles while trying to maintain your mental and physical health, manage a house, manage finances while dealing with bureaucratic bullshit. I couldn't hold my thoughts together to concentrate on any one challenge at a time.

Honestly, I don't know where to begin in writing about my whirlwind life. It's much like the argument about the chicken and the egg - I'm not even sure what event even happened first - Gary's illness, the financial mess, dealing with health care and health insurance - but one thing is certain; all finally caught up with me bringing me close to having a heart attack or possibly a stroke.

Yep, taken by ambulance to the hospital ER with a heart rate of 160 that was increasing. I was given Nitro in the ambulance, had my heart stopped twice in the ER in an attempt to 'reboot' it to slow down. Admitted and spent the night with multiple tests including a chest X-ray, an EKG and an Echocardiogram along with the myriad of blood work. I slept well - wish it was a longer stay because as soon as I got home I had to deal with the same old bullshit that sent me to the ER in the first place. I wish the hospital had kept me for a week; I needed the rest.

Well, there is plenty to write about but now I'm tired. My energy level is at a low but I will write more soon - maybe tonight and break down every detail.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pay Back The $900 Billion Borrowed!

Could this possibly explain why SSI and SSDI recipients will not receive a cost of living adjustment for the next two years? For me, at $65 per month, that is a loss of $1560.00! More denials at the first and second stages = increased homelessness! And, of course, who is going to be accused of mismanaging money...

Social Security and Medicare finances worsen

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Social Security and Medicare are fading even faster under the weight of the recession, heading for insolvency years sooner than previously expected, the government warned Tuesday.

Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2016, a year sooner than projected last year, and the giant trust fund will be depleted by 2037, four years sooner, trustees reported.

Medicare is in even worse shape. The trustees said the program for hospital expenses will pay out more in benefits than it collects this year, just as it did for the first time in 2008. The trustees project that the Medicare fund will be depleted by 2017, two years earlier than the date projected in last year's report.

The trust funds -- which exist in paper form in a filing cabinet in Parkersburg, W.Va. -- are bonds that are backed by the government's "full faith and credit" but not by any actual assets. That money has been spent over the years to fund other parts of government. To redeem the trust fund bonds, the government would have to borrow in public debt markets or raise taxes.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the head of the trustees group, said the new reports were a reminder that "the longer we wait to address the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security, the sooner those challenges will be upon us and the harder the options will be."

Geithner said that President Barack Obama was committed to working with Congress to find ways to control runaway growth in both public and private health care expenditures, noting the promise Monday by major health care providers to trim costs by $2 trillion over the next decade.

However, Republicans pointed to the newly dire assessments as evidence the Obama administration has failed to come forward with actual entitlement reform to close the funding gaps.

"Instead of getting existing public programs in order right now, some are saying we should create a new government-run health insurance plan," Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a reference to the administration's health care proposals. "When we can't afford the public health plan we have already, does it make sense to add more?"

House Republican leader John Boehner said the trustees report "confirms what we already knew: Our nation cannot afford to continue this reckless borrowing and spending spree."

The findings in the trustees report, the annual checkup given the two benefit programs, did not come as a surprise. Private economists had been predicting that the dates the programs would begin to pay out more than they take in and the dates the trust funds would be insolvent would occur sooner given the economic recession.

The deep recession, the worst the country has endured in decades, has resulted in a loss of 5.7 million jobs since it began in December 2007. The unemployment rate hit a 25-year high of 8.9 percent in April.

Fewer people working means less being paid into the trust funds for Social Security and Medicare.

The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that Social Security will collect just $3 billion more in 2010 than it will pay out in benefits. A year ago, the CBO had projected that Social Security would have a much higher $86 billion cash surplus for the 2010 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

The trustees report projected that Social Security's annual surpluses would "fall sharply this year," then remain at a reduced level in 2010 and be lower in the following years than last year's projections. The report said that the Social Security annual surplus would be eliminated entirely in 2016, reflecting increased demands from the wave of 78 million baby boomers retiring.

That means Social Security will have to turn to its trust fund to make up the difference between Social Security taxes and the benefits being paid out beginning in 2016. The trustees projected the trust fund would be depleted in 2037, four years earlier than the 2041 date in last year's report.

At that point, the annual Social Security taxes collected would be enough to pay for three-fourths of current benefits through 2083. To tap the trust fund, the government would have to increase borrowing or raise taxes because Social Security bonds exist only as bookkeeping entries.

While the smaller surpluses that will begin this year will not have any impact on Social Security benefit payments, the government will need to borrow more at a time when the federal deficit is already exploding because of the recession and the billions of dollars being spent to prop up a shaky banking system.

Medicare's condition is more precarious, reflecting the pressures from soaring health care costs as well as the drop in tax collections.

The options available to deal with the Social Security shortfall include raising the payroll tax that funds Social Security, such as removing the cap on income subject to the tax, or cutting benefits in some fashion such as raising the retirement age.

The administration is pushing Congress to pass legislation this year to extend health care coverage to some 50 million uninsured Americans, preferring to tackle health care before Social Security.

The trustees report is likely to set off renewed debate over Social Security and Medicare. Critics have charged that the Obama administration has failed to tackle the most serious problems in the budget -- soaring entitlement spending.

The administration on Monday revised its federal deficit forecasts upward to project an imbalance this year of $1.84 trillion, four times last year's record, and said the deficits will remain above $500 billion every year over the next decade.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What's UP (with) CHUCK?

You forgot to mention in your e-newsletter...
Every so often I get an e-mail from my Congressman Charlie Wilson of Ohio's 6th Congressional District. He usually gives a brief synopsis of a few statistics and then outlines what a good boy he has been in working for the constituents of our district.

I haven't patted Chuck on the head yet but I have written to him and did get a response that he disagreed with me. It took several months to get that response - former 6th District Congressman Wayne L. Hayes would have responded in SEVEN DAYS.

What did the Chuckster disagree with? My suggestion that, instead of bailing out the Big 3 automakers, issue to all Americans in need of a vehicle a voucher for $20,000 for the purchase of a new or late model used vehicle. This in turn would move inventory presently on the lots plus the vehicles would need maintenance and parts which would support those manufacturers and suppliers. Now wouldn't this have cost less than the billions of dollars given?

Anyhoo, in the latest e-newsletter from Chuckles and he points out that "The Recovery Act" provides a $250 payment to Social Security recipients (he noted exclusively seniors).

Well, I receive a monthly SSDI payment and found that the U.S. Treasury has deposited my $250 Economic Recovery Payment. But there are TWO POINTS that Charlie neglected to mention...
  1. The $250 is a one time only payment; not a monthly cost of living raise.
  2. There will be NO COST OF LIVING RAISE in 2010 and 2011 - (mine was $65 per month).
Click on each image to read.

Also, please notice that I do not have a link to Charlie Wilson in the column to the right.

My have provided a link to my former congressman of 10 years from Ohio's 10th Congressional District.
His name is Dennis Kucinich.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

News From The Homefront

I received two parking violations...taped to the driver's side window of my truck; found them posted today - in the rain.

Toronto Police might as well have TP'd my vehicle because the papers - with the bright neon orange label that screams to all passers by that I have been a naughty girl - were so saturated from the rain that they couldn't be peeled from the glass without falling apart (see picture).

The truck needs a transmission. That has been purchased from a salvage yard but I am short $150 to install it plus, because along with that I couldn't afford the registration renewal in January. I didn't think this would be a problem since the truck is parked on my property; not on the street.

Unfortunately, the guys who removed the old trany left the truck jacked up on ramps. Hell, I might as well post a sign beside it that says " A Redneck Lives Here!" And while I'm at it, I'm trying to get my gardening done so if anyone has any spare tires they want to get rid of, I could paint them white and plant geraniums in them. If they are tractor tires, that's even better. I like that scalloped look.

So why isn't this a problem?

This building on the corner behind my house has an exterior wall that is buckling away from the upstairs window frames.

When I was a kid, it had a small market run by the family that lived here. It was a nice building with two spacious apartments that each had two bedrooms and the property was beautifully maintained.

The last owner of it died and rumor has it that he owed back taxes of the five-figure variety, yet he was still charging rent.

I reported the condition of this building to the city months ago. Orange cones were set up along the parameters to no avail.

The residents of the upstairs apartments vacated the building but there are still occupants downstairs who are still paying rent and don't seem concerned that they may be ordered to move.

Several weeks ago I told one of the residents about Ohio House Bill 9, introduced by my friend Mike Foley of Cleveland's 14th District. This bill offers protection for renters living in buildings that are subject to foreclosure.

Well, ignorance certainly must be bliss because this tenant was not at all concerned or worried about losing her home. She even said that her landlord was very good to her (imagine that!).

She and her husband have made absolutely no attempt to apply for other housing and the property has been turned over t0 the heirs of the deceased owner.

It's going to be grab and go! I am keeping my battery charged and my memory card open on my camera so that when I hear the creaking sound of the wall starting to collapse I will be ready to run out in time to video the roof coming down. Keep checking in to my YouTube Channel - thiznat. You can link to it on the right side of this page.

I'll get to it soon...
That's all I can tell my friend Sarah who posted on Facebook, "I'm impatiently waiting for your blog post on life at CWS. Were you there when it was called "Guantanamo Cleveland"?

Yes, I was and when telling my story of being a resident at Cleveland's most notorious women's shelter, I promise I will open up more than I did when I wrote about what I witnessed while there. I now have no fear of retaliation from the staff as I did when I wrote my A Fly on the Wall series for "The Homeless Grapevine" newspaper.

Sarah blogged about her return to the shelter.
We have plenty of notes to compare. Mine from the stand point of being a homeless shelter resident and hers as an activist; trying to help empower the residents.

Status on Jet and Bandit
Both of the girls are doing great although they are not growing as well as their brother Topper and sisters Tipper and Miss 'V'. Our wonderful neighbor Kristy bought two large baby medicine droppers which has been easier to use when feeding the kittens.

Jet and Bandit have had problems eating; neither one knows to suck on a bottle or tip of a syringe but they are finally coming around.

Jet was very near death and Bandit began to have problems with lethargy possibly due to malnourishment. You can read more about what happened at "Paws for a Moment" by clicking here.