Thursday, 29 OCT 2015 :: A long day of budgeting

When I finally got to the TV for the news, there seemed to be a lot of talk about the budget and about the debate.  I spent the past two days working on my own SMALL budget efforts, end of the month details, and plans for NOV.  It is a challenge to get through a month at my income level. 

I wonder what will happen to my small income
if the government falters...

There was also a report about China ending their one child policy finally.  I was surprised that their motivation was the future support of their senior populations... which seems to be a common argument for everything in America, too.

I didn't hear much that was new about the debate.  It seems to be a sound bite world we live in... and that isn't going to help any of us.  The deep facts about any subject are buried under mound of paper and text... or files and archives.  It use to be that magazines were the source to find out more.  I have always said that TV news is like a headline, newspapers are like a summary, and magazines are (were) more in-depth... I suppose books would be even more detailed.  The problems with our news sources is that they all have their own bias, so you have to read a large spectrum of viewpoints to even get close to the truth about anything.

I'm not sure we will ever be a country that does that anymore.

I guess I budget because it takes a lot of time to get ahead, to save anything.  Unless GOD decides to bless me through at least one of my efforts, it would take a century to reach my goals.  I don't have that much time.   :-)   I spend a lot of time trying to decide what I might be able to accomplish before I die.  I would love to have that ability... that freedom... the opportunity to actually work a budget that wasn't too small, to build a reserve for unexpected problems (which always happen), and to have a permanent place to build on. 

GOD doesn't seem to provide for me in traditional ways, so I still buy a lottery ticket every now and then...  if He's a GOD of miracles, "it could happen."   :-)   I keep hoping.

How much is enough?  That is a hard question to answer.  My view has been that it is a lot more than I realize... and whatever GOD provides, it won't be enough... the problems we are facing are too big, and they keep getting bigger.  I decided that if I won a really big lottery, I would take a year to plan the best way to spend it... including both personal and business uses for it. 

Because I have been very poor all of my life, it is hard for me to understand spending $5000 a night on a hotel room, no matter how nice it is, when I have had a job cleaning them.  The thrill is gone for fancy hotels, but it might be something to share with others.  :-)

I have always thought it would be good to share wealth-related experiences with poverty households, especially kids, because some thing lose their appeal once you actually do them, like riding in a limousine or going to Disneyland. Somewhere along my research path, I read that the reason poor kids do so badly on college testing is because they don't have the experience base that wealthier kids have.  I can't help all the kids in the world, or the rest of their families, but I always hoped to help as many as I could.  Most of the kids I am thinking of don't know what they don't know... their whole world might change if they learn to surf or scuba dive, to climb a giant mountain, to see what it's like to live on a huge ocean vessel, or make their own ceramic bowl to eat out of, or have the internet and a tablet to access it with, or eat at a really fancy restaurant, or wear a formal gown to the symphony, or .....  lots of things.

The cry of our Republican government is less dependence on social programs for survival, they want to bring back self-sufficiency because they think people love to live on welfare and food stamps.  If the economy falls, everyone is going to need food stamps, and some may even need welfare.  Maybe a lot of the people who find themselves in the middle of a natural disaster have to become government aid recipients. There has to be some kind of program to help those who don't have anywhere else to turn.  I would like that place to be GOD's people, but some who need help don't like GOD... and they still need help.

Self-sufficiency... what does that look like? 

I have existed on very low amounts of resources, but that also cause problems I couldn't overcome and that led to worse ones.  No money meant no insurance, no tags, no gas, no where to go... and lots of tickets that I couldn't pay... the loss of my license... the loss of my beloved van, which was my house... the loss of faith in people I relied on... years of homelessness... the loss of all I owned... and places I would never go to if I didn't have to. 

  • Was I self-sufficient?  What is the definition of self-sufficiency?  Is it different in the city than it is in the country?
  • Could I have been?  If I was allowed to exist somewhere, in my van, in a tent, in a safe place, could I have created a self-sufficient life?
  • What is the FIRST thing that is needed to change the direction of economic upheaval?  (In individuals and in countries/governments...) 
  • How long should it take to become self-sufficient? (...a LOT of social agencies create programs that give you 30 days, sometimes less, sometimes more, to change a lifetime of issues, all with a bus pass and program adherence.) 
  • Is the path the same for every single person?  (NO!) 
  • How can we create a system that is available to all who need it, and that allows them to find their own way to the best future for them?  (My real goals were never acceptable...)

Actually, no one really knows the answers for poverty and violence and all the difficult parts of societies, including ours.  We keep trying to find one solution to all the problems we face in this moment, in the current budget, because that is all we have, and we never think that tomorrow could destroy everything we built our plans on.

The Democrats have been vetting Hillary Clinton for a long time... her primary competition is more for show and conversations about the issues.  I don't think she will win, but that is my opinion.  I hope she doesn't win... that is also my opinion.

Not having enjoyed the middle-class life, I find it hard to understand some of the arguments I hear about wages and jobs.  I understand poverty, and the prisons it makes, and the lack of options that exist, and the difficulties when you try to rise from the gutters. 

America is treading in our own financial river, trying to stay afloat, and moving faster and faster toward the edge where solid ground no longer exists.  The debt ceiling is just one evidence of our pending doom, there are many others.  America is much like every other example we have of failing economic status... they "never saw it coming" because they didn't want to believe it could. 

Think of a wealthy movie star, or other aging notables like musicians, singers, writers, politicians, businessmen... if they don't plan for the day when they won't be able to do what they have always done, there won't be any money to help them survive, and their lives will be forced to change. 

Think of the Great Depression... in one day people lost everything they had. There wasn't any welfare or food stamps then... would there be now, if the government / economy falls?

Think of floods, and earthquakes, and tsunamis, and tornadoes, and fires... we see disasters on the news every day.  No one plans to be in a natural disaster, and there's NOTHING you can do to stop them.  No one can be blamed for them, but we still have to recover from the damage they inflict.  It costs money to do that... it requires temporary resources for living for lots of people... where will that come from if there is not more money?  We can't raise the debt ceiling forever... it is already using up half of our income (or more) just to make the interest payments!

Budgeting is going to be critical to all of us surviving, and it is only one part of the solution.  I can only budget the actual money I have.  The government creates estimated budgets and then borrows or prints money to meet its needs. 

The Democrats have put us in the middle of this danger, and it will probably take Republicans, with advice from the Libertarians, to get us back to solid financial ground.  In my view, the battles in government at all levels will only become real financial conversations in the middle of a deep crisis.  I hate to think of life in the middle of all that pain.  I know how hard it is to be poor, to try to survive in a city, and to be alone in the struggle.  I know that suffering will change everyone.  It would be better if we could find answers before we get to that point.

If I won the lottery, or had money to help reduce our debt, I would be willing to help my country survive, and get back to a place of financial health.  The problem is that government legislators will just do the same things that got us here, and it will be an issue again.  My search is for a way to save America without feeding its addictions.  I haven't found that answer yet, but I am still looking for it.

Wednesday, 28 OCT 2015 :: political access to national debates

I didn't get to watch the Republican debate tonight... it wasn't available for free anywhere (TV or online).  I don't have cable.  Isn't a political debate for the future president of our country worth sharing with those who want to see it?  Maybe we need to make it a mandatory provision for getting a media license.

As a long-term low-income household,
the costs of access are a continual issue. 

We miss out on lots of thing... sometimes by choice, but usually because of costs.  Pay per view might have been a good road to go with time access for a very low price. I have never done a pay-per-view screening, but I am sure it can't be hard.  Maybe Netflix is a good option for reaching the poor.  I could go for the $.99 iTunes thing... they have video now, don't they?

It is irritating to miss all these events now that I am deeply concerned about the effects of our government on our lives.  My kids are grown, I can hardly work, and may not even make it to the next vote, but I am really upset by the financial issue that jeopardize our country's survival... and the care of the poor, and ill, and elderly.  I can't really comment on something I don't get to watch.

When access is denied once, you think it is just a temporary mistake.  But as each event becomes a forbidden access simply because of the cable TV issue, there is a bigger problem.  And it isn't always easy to know what that bigger issue is.  Is it a Republican versus Democrat problem? Or is it a Christian versus Atheist problem?  Or could it be a money problem....

I have been noticing a lot of things in the past many years about the change of government focus and the demise of Christian influence... things you don't always think about... like important meetings always being arranged on the nights most Christians are in church (Wednesdays).

I have also been noticing a slow effort to change our calendars so they start on Mondays and end on Sundays... ( was one place, I can't remember if is that way, or maybe Yahoo!... I don't frequent too many sites on a regular basis.  It might have been Facebook, or Twitter.  You might want to check FedEx... maybe even the US government. ) 

The decision to change a calendar is a subtle statement about the leadership of the company, their philosophies, their biases, etc.  Since the current calendar system is associated with Christ, the changes are a reflection of anti-GOD views.  Is it a little thing, or a big thing?

It is said that what we do speaks more about our real feelings than what we say.  (Actions speak louder than words.)  I would make sure certain things that reflect GOD were part of my business.  It is something we do... as humans, as groups, as citizens.

What the media does with a national debate is just the same kind of evidence.  It is a measured effort to keep the average voter ill-informed, especially Republican voters, so that the information they have or don't have is under control, managed, filtered. This happens every day, it just seems more evident attached to a big event like a political debate.

Just as I started to write this post, I remembered the debate and checked for some follow-up information, using a search engine.  The only link I noticed was at so I watched a few of the video briefs available.  I was able to watch a brief message of disappointment in CNBC by the GOP Chairman.  I saw the battle between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.  I watched a brief sample of Bobby Jindal. And later tried to watch some summary videos of the entire debate in less than 3 minutes.

One of the issues I noticed was comments by more than one candidate on the quality of questions being asked.  America is facing a number of serious issues in this campaign, but political drama seems to be the main goal.  After I heard those statements, I tried to remember what kind of questions the Democrats were asked in their debate. I couldn't remember...  I didn't see a lot of that debate either.

We always have to remember that the media is owned by liberal (Democratic) forces, so there is a bias against everything Republican.  I thought Rubio's comment about the media being the biggest Democratic Super-PAC in existence was important. There is only an argument about Super-PACs when there is a Republican villain... and never a mention about the Democratic Super-PACs.

Since I wasn't able to view the entire debate, I don't know if any of the candidates offered solutions to the serious issues we are facing as a country.

The other day I commented on a Facebook video that was shared onto my timeline about America already being a socialist country.  It was against Republican goals and theologies, and lifting up the social programs of the Democratic party. 

I wasn't able to comment on all the issues I saw in the video, including how bias affects the materials being present, so I eventually asked the person who shared the video how they would solve all these real problems that affect real people, often without money, or education, or health, or family.  The government has been taking over the tasks that should be handled within the church or community if they can't be handled by the family.  The government has never really done a good job at anything.  The problems get worse.

I found another post on Facebook recently, which I printed and mailed to one of my sons.  It was a list of the tax increases put in place by Obamacare and that were in effect as of the first of January this year.  The tax increases were very big.  I had never heard about the taxes attached to thousands of unread pages that were approved.  I told my son that there was going to be a tax revolt or the government was going to win the battle by taking over our lives, our work, and our wages...  we would have to be assigned jobs, not choose our own... and we would be lucky if we got paid minimum wage.  When the government went under, we would all go under.

I really don't understand how that kind of financial system works in a government-controlled country -- how do you pay wages using taxes and tax those wages again to make government income to pay wages again and then tax those wages......  it's a weird cycle......  I have heard that taxes are over 50% in European countries.

A country would have to generate income even if it was paying wages to its citizens and then taxing the wages it paid those citizens.  The government-owned companies that citizens work for would have to make products that sell and make a profit.  That sounds like capitalism to me... with the government making the profits instead of owners or shareholders.  Does anyone really think the government will do a better job?

If you have solutions to the problems we face as a nation, I would love to hear them... I have about a hundred (well, maybe 10-20) ideas myself.  This would be a good time to get them out in the open and considered.

Tuesday, 27 OCT 2015 :: getting out of the house

I'm running late again... I actually went out into the big wide world today.  :-)  I had to make sure I didn't waste the last $8 in Senior Farm Checks I got this year... a kind of food stamps for seniors that can only be spent at Farmer's Markets and can only purchase real fruits and veggies... no processed foods.  I bought six apples for one of the $4 paper checks, and three small squash and a medium parsnip with the other $4 paper check.  I hope the small squash taste good... I have been wanting to get some for this time of year, and small is always better when you are feeding one person with it.

I accomplished a few other "goals" on my list, but that is enough on that.  It was a day without rain, so I had to get as much done as I could !!

I bought my first eggnog of the season, too.  I LOVE this part of the holiday season. I try to have at least ONE carton of eggnog.  Sometimes I am able to buy two or three.

I have been going through my recipes lately.  I was trying to find specific ones, but in the process I discovered my holiday recipes.  I am trying to decide what I want to make for this year.  With no kids to make for, there isn't any joy in the making unless I can find people to share it with.  I'm working on that problem, too!  :-)

The rain is going to start in the night tonight, and be with us for a long while now.  I hear that the "official" normal weather is back... lots of rain.  I may stay home a lot.

I really can't think of anything deep to share right now.  I am very tired, and can hardly type.  I hope to share more tomorrow. 

Enjoy your days... remember that each one is a new beginning and could also be your last.  Don't waste any of them.

Monday, 26 OCT 2015 :: war and weapons

As I was sorting through my piles of papers this weekend, I found a note I had made recently.  I can't recall where the information came from, but I listen to a lot of PBS documentary and news programs.  It's possible I noted it while listening to one of them.  I also listen to public TV news programs like 60 Minutes, so it may have come from one of them.

The note said that in 14 years of war in Afghanistan, there were only 2200 military deaths... on our side.  This number says a lot about the direction of our weapons development, our military interventions, and our ground and air forces.

For some time I have been noticing news facts about war casualties, and the weapons used.  In places with less military might, the amount of deaths in wars and other forms of conflict are huge... in the hundreds of thousands for larger uprisings, like the Arab Spring. I also noticed references to the Civil War dead, to those who died in WWII and Vietnam, and more current issues like the Middle East conflicts, ISIS, Al-Qaida, Ukraine, Iran, Syria, etc.  The numbers of American dead are always miniscule in comparison to those countries and groups with traditional weapons.  It seemed to me that as our weapons become more technological, they become more precise, and less people seem to die. 

I recently heard a program on military drones being developed to carry out important military tasks, including enemy strikes with sophisticated weapons.  I heard another program showing that robotics are being used to find land mines left over from other wars, or newly planted in some countries without the ability to possess new weaponry.

It is true that fewer humans may die with the use of modern technology in military weapons, but there are other perspectives to consider as well.  As we all get "up to speed" with technology, which is relatively cheap, money will be less of a factor.  We will all be attached to the internet.  Anyone will have the capability to infiltrate safety measures we think will protect us. 

All the measures we take to be stronger than our enemies will dissolve into their ability to use our weapons against us.  It is already becoming evident that our power grids are as much of a threat to our safety as our enemies possessing nuclear bombs and the will to use them.  Chemical and germ warfare are become weapons of choice for those who cannot buy drones, or are kept from creating their own military strength.  Overcoming America becomes the goal, and nothing else seems to matter.

I remember reading that Obama let the Chinese have the manufacturing plans for the Humvee.  I wondered why.  I have always thought it was a military vehicle, and part of the protections we have for our soldiers.  The Chinese are technologically our enemies... philosophically our enemies... and potentially our military enemies.  Should they own anything that is related to our military equipment?  Should they even own our debt?  It makes us vulnerable in ways we don't need to be.

For many years, I have read Christian articles or listened to Christian programs about services like OnStar, the satellite protection system.  It has been noted that from way out in space, this satellite program has the capacity to stop your engine, to lock your doors, to find you wherever you are, and intervene on your behalf if there is a problem.  I suppose there are video capabilities by now.  My point of view has always been that, if someone can lock your doors to keep intruders out, they can also lock your doors to keep you in...  they have the capacity to make you a prisoner as easily as they can rescue you. 

I think it was 60 Minutes segment I watched that reported on hackers being able to take control of your driving functions because our cars are now deeply integrated with technology.  Wireless services are convenient for us, but they also are convenient for those who wish us harm.  It will be years before we develop ways to protect against the misuse of our technology.

Our factories are being connected to the internet.  Our homes are increasingly connected to the internet.  If we can afford them, we have phones that are connected to the internet. 

Smartphones are becoming our primary pivot point in life. They have our memories, our personal data, our music, our books, our schedules, our apps, our sense of safety, and our connection to those we love, including our houses, our work, and everything about our existence.  If we somehow lose them, we don't just lose a phone.

Military weapons and the definition of "war" are changing faster than we can keep track of them.  The internet is creating a global environment.  We are all going to be connected to it one of these days...  what will happen to freedom, education, safety, and war when all our lives can be controlled by our access to the internet?

It's a scary thought... especially when we don't know who is going to be in charge of all that power.