30 AUGUST 2013 :: Figuring out how to achieve my GOALS!

My scheduling effort seems to have worked well...I can see the world is going to be "on a schedule" soon. :-( This is good for some things, but not forced human labors...making us into robotic humans...who knows where the ungodly will take us.

For my blog, I have to learn more about the long writing effort. I mostly write this just as a way to let you know what is happening in the moment, with me, with WT, with the battles between Satan and GOD. I am going to have to figure out how to write drafts of entries on topics that take more time to share...single subject, controversial, etc.

I am continuing my daily effort to write a minimum of ten goals. If I write them in the morning, after a good night of sleep, I have more energy and excitement about the possible future. Later in the day I am hard-pressed to write much. I have already noticed how the list is becoming more concrete... I repeat the same main issues/goals that matter. As I write these goals every day, I am reminding myself what I need, what is most important, what I have to focus on. It is really a great tool.

One of my goals is to pay my debts off, especially my student loans, so I don't have that hanging over me anymore. That is like getting my life back to a zero balance, a way of starting over.

The need for a certain kind of property, with an adequate home, is a long-held dream, and a repeating goal. I am learning more and more about our food supplies, and I would rather have more control over what I eat.

Another repeating goal is to get all the things I need to accomplish the work I feel GOD has created for me. I have had to start this process over and over again because of the issues I encountered over the years. I hope that GOD will deal with the problems I have to endure right now, and that I won't have to start over again.

It is challenging to write a goal as though you have already achieved it. Each day, when I write, I try to decide if I should focus on big goals or on little goals. I am getting into more and more details of what would be my ideal future, and I keep putting several goals together or taking others apart. It is an interesting process.

More important than just writing these goals is trying to figure out how to achieve them...especially in my situation (in poverty, health issues, etc.). Breaking a big goal into smaller pieces, achievable pieces, has always been the main challenge.

Through the years I have struggled to overcome my various situations, I have always marveled at the differences in what people call suffering. I think, in America especially, we have come to believe that abundance is the norm. Christians associate this abundance with GOD, others associate their abundance with hard work, talent, education, or other parts of our lives. Obamacare is, to me, another evidence of an increased judgment by GOD on America, a reflection of our slowly eroding condition. It is bringing the "middle class" into dependency through the insurance program/s of the government. When the government began to provide social services, it was to meet the needs of the poor, I think it had a lot to do with soldier's widows and orphaned children. It is now expanding into all levels of our existence. This is NOT a good sign about our economic situation.

As a struggling parent at a Welfare level, I searched and searched for ways to provide my sons with replacements for the normal progress into responsible adulthood. My favorite complaint example is every article using money as an incentive for the better behavior goal -- allowances, chores, etc. Most of the publications I am talking about are focused on middle-class readers. Poverty households don't have too many resources to access, and lots of problems to deal with. There is little energy left for finding solutions beyond government or program mandates.

I think personality is another issue in goal-setting and achieving. I took a bunch of tests through one program I went through as a government mandate. It said business and management were good goals for me. I liked seeing that. It didn't tell me what part of the business process I was best suited for, but I was heading in that direction already.

One of my biggest handicaps is not being as aggressive as some "successful" people I have met, read about, etc. I sometimes wonder if I had start-up funding in the beginning, would everything have been different. Only GOD knows the purposes of the years that have passed, I am trusting that He had a reason for all the issues that have been beyond my control.

With my focus on goals, I am listening to my sales tapes again, reading the sales help books I have, and trying to think of better ways to reach my goals for Working Together and myself. Now that I have a clearer vision of what to do with membership, I am able to see a better future. I can focus on individuals for membership, and seek out churches, ministries, and other organizations for CORD listings as their form of membership.

Pricing is still a guess, but I decided to use my own payment structures and what other online businesses use as a guide. After we have it going for a year or two, and see the way things evolve, then pricing will be better. LIFETIME options are probably a better deal now...when I get it all figured out, they will have to cost more. I almost have a monthly payment option figured out, and have been trying to work out the details for autopayments. All these things cost money I don't have, and have to wait for GOD to provide.

I have created an Excel file for all my GOALS and lists of ways to achieve them. I think this will work out nicely. I am putting one goal at the top of a column and then trying to make a list of the smaller parts under the title. I can move the list around by using Excel, and change the priorities as they happen. I keep discovering new things that have to be done. The flexibility of using Excel helps me to adjust all the details. If I had it on paper, I would have a mess, and would spend a lot of time writing it over and over.

I hope you are using this ten goal process to focus your life, too.

7 AUGUST 2013 :: Raising Money in America

When I read the newspaper and other materials, there is so much I want to say. When I finally get in front of the computer, it is hard to decide which topic to focus on. The problems are so many...and my greatest focus is America, and the Christian community.

I have reformatted my original booklet, What If There Is No Rapture, and added my update comments. It is a FUNDRAISING EDITION, meaning I hope to sell it for money to begin building Working Together. I thought $5 was a fair price for fundraising, and it is an email process. I haven't learned how to do eBooks yet, but I will by the time the full update is done. :-)

We are heading deeper into the 2014 election cycle. The "conversations" in the media are as they always are: degrading to the Republicans, and lifting up the Democrats. Neither side is right as far as I am concerned, but I told the Republicans over the weekend (online) that I think they are the only hope for getting our debt down. Obamacare is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back I think. It is almost ALL subsidies, which is another word for taxes.

The political fog of saying the federal government is going to pay 90% of the costs for the state is an illusion...it is all taxes, paid by the citizen, to both the federal government and the state government. After Obamacare officially starts, there will be more cries for raising taxes and creating new ones. The purpose of creating fines is that government has been operating on fine income when taxes don't provide enough. The prison systems are really good at doing this.

If the government did their job well, we wouldn't question their requests for more money, even temporary (which often become permanent) tax requests. But the government is not frugal or well organized. It wastes millions of dollars, or maybe it's billions, or trillions. People in government tend to feel it is an endless supply of money (note the constantly rising tax base), so they don't spend the tax dollar the same way they would their own money. Some take what they can (fraud, theft, abuse), others barter for their slice of the pie (earmarks), and some use their employment with the government as a means to manipulate individuals, groups, and social policy. The power of the government is moving from service to mandate, from protector to police state, and from limited taxation to financial control. The frog in the kettle, which is the population of America, is close to dying.

What can the government really accomplish with Obamacare? Government thinks that if they control the medical process they can control the amount taxes will have to pay for it. The government is not really trying to help Americans with Obamacare, they are trying to reduce their own bills. (Especially the long expected Baby Boomer costs that are just beginning.) What I see happening is government becoming a prison guard, and having more LEGAL access to every detail of our lives. To get government money, people have to agree to let the government have access to every aspect of their lives. It isn't like ordering insurance and sending a monthly payment in. Tax dollars bring with them a lot of paperwork, a loss of freedom, the end to privacy, and great unhappiness.

I haven't read anything that tells me Obamacare is a good idea. People with money, insurance, houses, and the middle class or upper class life don't realize what it is like to DEPEND on the government for your survival... whether that is food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, or any government program. What begins as a lifeline soon becomes a heavy anchor that takes you down into the depths of despair. People turn to the government as a LAST resort, not because it is such a great opportunity.

My greatest question is: HOW MUCH DOES THE GOVERNMENT REALLY NEED TO PROVIDE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF SERVICES, the most necessary tasks, TO OUR COUNTRY, including help for the most needy? What is essential and what is just because someone wants tax dollars to pay for something? How can we save money? Tax reform is going to become the top priority for all government bodies. The Tea Party is the first sign of the revolt that is coming. The repeated votes of the House against Obamacare is another.

2 AUGUST 2013 :: Is food a necessity?

I am trying to get ahead of my weekend, Sabbath, and long list of things to do. This is Friday, the day to prepare for the Sabbath at sundown, and it is the day I am suppose to get my food stamps for August. One person (in Oregon) gets a maximum of $200 a month right now, depending on their income. My income is very low right now, so I recieve the maximum amount. I try to keep all my food purchases, except an occasional value meal somewhere, within that budget.

Since my first effort to "have something left at the end of the month" in about 2004, which was food stamps at the time, I have been trying to make my food stamps last all month. One of the best ideas I ever came across about food budgeting was to create your weekly meals based on what was on sale at your market/s, so I have tried to establish a weekly food budget. It seems like an easy task, but it isn't. When there is a good sale, you want to take advantage of it, but if you go over the budget for any week, especially the first week, the rest of the month suffers.

This summer I am trying to shop at local Farmer's Markets, too. This is something I have never really been able to do. I finally decided to try to have $10 a week for Market items because the one nearest me offers food stamp households a $5 match for spending $10 or more in food stamps. That means I can get an extra $20 in food each month IF I can manage to do that. The Markets here distribute $1 wooden coins for food stamp purchases. Vendors aren't allowed to give change to food stamp customers, so shopping is a challenge. And I try to save what I can of my $15 allotments for the weeks I am not able to budget the way I want to.

Farmer's Market foods are very different than shopping at a store. They are generally fresher, I am told. Some of the Market produce is harvested close to the selling time, I think...that's what one farm booth told me. I suspect much of it is picked for/during the week for each sale day. I don't know if they have a lot of "leftovers" from week to week...keeping produce fresh is a challenge for farmers I am sure. I have been struggling to figure out the best way to store, make and eat the foods I get from the Market. I don't want to waste my food money, especially the foods I buy at the Farmer's Market.

I always assumed that the food at a Farmer's Market was organic. I have discovered that some of it isn't. I'm getting better at noticing the difference, and figuring out which farms have which products. This is my first summer, and the Market I go to nearest my home is advertised as year-round. I will be continuing my experience with Farmer's Markets for the year, and beyond that I suppose. I like the way fresh foods taste, the connection with the farmer, and some of the other differences between Market food and grocery store food. I still have to resolve my dislike of GMO foods and how they are hidden in our food purchases, but right now I am somewhere between grocery stores, Farmer's Markets, and growing your own.

I don't have kids with me these days, so shopping is different for me now. I would never have been able to try Farmer's Markets as a low-income parent. The prices are higher than I could afford. Food stamp families have to buy as much food as they can with each dollar they have, and include some extras that the rest of the world enjoys for their kids and themselves (chips, soda, ice cream, etc). Finding a way to buy enough good food and make it last through the whole month is a challenge...and when you make a mistake with your efforts, you have to find another way to make it through to the next food stamp supply.

At one point in my life, I had to buy almost the entire month's food in one shopping trip. That means a lot of canned and packaged foods, not fresh and organic foods. That was because I had to pay a taxi to get the food home. One trip a month was all I could afford, so I did my laundry on the same trip. Transportation makes a difference in every area of our lives, including how you can stretch your food dollars.

Now that I am getting older and have senior limitations in view, I see that shopping can be even more of a problem. I am thinking that the European style of shopping may become a necessity as long as I am healthy. (I have read they like to shop daily for their meals.) If I get to the point of needing a walker, very small purchases will be a necessity. Wheelchair shoppers have been on my mind for a long time...how do they shop for what they need and get it home on the bus? I need to find the best solutions for my individual situation...as it evolves.

$200 a month is about $6.50 a day for all your food needs. I think that's the price of a combo meal at a fast food restaurant. If you subtract $1.50 a day for condiments like butter/margarine, mayonaise, mustard, ketchup, and other foods like sugar, salt, pepper, and other flavorings, three meals and snacks would really need to cost $5 a day. When there is more than one person in a family that gets food stamps to live on, the increase is about $100 more per person. So, two people would need to live on $7.50 a day, three people on about $10 a day, and so on. As food prices rise, the ability to survive on government programs decreases. What kinds of meals do you know that would fit into that budget?

Low-income households don't have a lot of options. I wish that we had a better system to deal with crisis poverty and ongoing needs, but right now this is all we have: government programs and community/church outreaches.

I know that food stamps seem like a "frivolous" program, but they are the most critical program the government provides. We MUST have food every single day in order to survive. Not having food leads people to do whatever they can to get it. If the American economy crashes, there will be millions more in need of food to get through their trials. My view is that the government better make sure it has more than it needs in funding for this program. The consequences would not be good when there are no food options for people who have nowhere else to turn.

I went into that issue without planning to, but the current budget crises are threatening our nation. It won't matter what party you belong to if you are hungry, starving, or threatened by desperate people. I hope we can find a way through this without too many innocent, struggling people being hurt. Finding the right places to cut back and changing the way we see the responsibility of our government is really very essential to our future as a nation. As morals decline, each area of our existence is going to be affected. I think we need to create a survival focus :: What matters most? What can we do without? How do we save as much as we can? What can we finance in other ways? How much do we really need?

I am not fond of government programs, but they are something we have established and are now essential for those who have no other option. The Bible tells us that the family structure is going to be destroyed as the End Times continue. Some kind of alternative intervention system is going to be necessary to help people in crisis. I would prefer it was the church, a loving and involved effort to meet the needs of those who cannot provide for themselves for whatever reason, who don't have families to support them through a crisis. As the End Times continue, the resources of our churches are going to be needed by its members...leaving less for those outside their congregation.

Those who do not want GOD to be the source of their help need another place to turn to, and the government seems to be that source. These are the people who want the government to provide for every need.

Once we establish a program, it is very difficult to eliminate it. We become dependent on it...whether it is a farm subsidy, food stamps, Social Security, or student loans. As we go through this financial evaluation of our budget, why don't we think about what programs are most critical to the most in need. Food, shelter, and income are the basics of survival.

We can find solutions, if we really look for them.

20 JULY 2013 :: Is America next?

Detroit is declaring bankruptcy...I think there have been several others in the years since the recession and housing crisis. The article I read by the Associated Press (AP) in my local paper (The Register Guard) today, "Will bankruptcy really help Detroit?", said that their decline has been 60 years in the making.

According to the AP article, Detroit has already destroyed ten thousand abandoned houses, and they have another 30,000 to go. These houses have been stripped of wiring and plumbing, have doors and windows missing. It says tens of thousands of city lights are not working, in neighborhoods and on freeways. The article also says that trash services have been missed. Police services are very strained and seem to take hours or not be possible. The city says that bankruptcy will make things better for residents in 30-60 days. I don't see how this is possible, and they don't either.

Government runs on taxes. There are all kinds of taxes : Sales taxes, gas taxes, income taxes, lodging taxes, building permits, license fees, transit taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, liquor taxes, recreation taxes, park fees, parking fees, internet taxes, property taxes, county taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, import/export fees, customs fees, business taxes, manufacturing fees, inheritance taxes, capital gains taxes, etc. I'm sure there are more. When the government wants to do something, for whatever reason, it always thinks of taxes, raising taxes, new taxes, any kind of taxes. As Detroit's population fell, its income fell, slowly, year by year, until they felt forced to declare bankruptcy, like several other cities during our national financial crisis.

This event is just one more sign of impending crises and avoided issues our nation is going to have to suffer through. How long the "decline" of America will take is an unknown. We can't last much longer if we don't change the way we operate this country.

The relationship between citizen and government has changed since our country was founded. Like our revolt against the King of England in the beginning of our country, tax issues are becoming an irritant, a cause for rebellion, a weight too heavy to bear. The ongoing clashes between Democrats and Republicans reflect how great the problems are. One sees the solution as more taxes, the other sees the solution as a balanced budget. One sees government as more programs, and the other sees government as less intrusion in the affairs of men and business. Both have their own motives.

The socialistic governments in Europe and elsewhere are struggling with financial issues as well. "Austerity measures" in socialistic countries are the same thing as Detroit having to cut services to pay bills. Reducing pensions, wages, jobs, services, and assets all become part of the income/payment process -- the budget -- whether you are a socialistic country or a democratic/republic form of government. America is no different. Our nation cannot keep creating more programs and mandates that are not funded. In time, America will be in the same position as Detroit... and the ordinary citizen is the one who will be the last to know, and the one to suffer the most.

For years I have been trying to figure out how we can meet the needs of those who have nowhere else to turn, with reasonable programs and tax structures. I have finally decided the tax structure needs to be changed to a flat-rate SALES TAX ONLY relationship with our government...a flat rate tax that doesn't overwhelm anyone, and that reflects a right relationship between government and citizen. I think 10% is fair. It is what GOD requires of His People, it should be enough for our government. I have already stated my idea of how it should be dispersed (in other blogs), with one percent devoted to international government, which is going to be necessary in order to deal with global crime issues. The remaining 9% can be equally divided between our three main governing bodies: Federal, State, and County.

There is a lot of waste and abuse in government, at all levels. This type of tax limitation may create a need to focus on what is essential, what can be saved, how the income can be distributed by priority, and what services can be operated as government businesses to meet the needs of employees and the poor. Government doesn't operate like a business because they feel they have an endless source of money/funding in taxes. The need to deal with reducing their infrastructure will only happen when they HAVE TO DO IT to survive.

Do we want to wait until America is in the situation that Detroit and other cities are in? What can we do to prevent this from happening to us as a nation? What is most important in our budget structure? How much is the REAL minimum tax income needed? How can we change things to be fiscally fit as a nation, without debt, living within our means? What would happen if we did get rid of income taxes and property taxes, and switched to a flat-rate sales tax only? What would happen to America if we didn't need such a huge IRS department?

What if we changed the way we operated our medical programs... I have seen people get $25,000 wheelchairs with government medical support, for their temporary or long-term needs. I am not aware of the government getting this equipment back when the need is gone. I think it would be more cost-effective to operate government medical programs with leased equipment, requiring payment for it if it isn't returned. Prisons can be used to refurbish the equipment for the next person. There must be a better way to deal with the way medical equipment is handled.

What if people could CHOOSE government medical insurance as one option among all the options available? Military / Legislative / Congressional / Senate / Executive / Medicare / Medicaid / etc. could all be VOLUNTARY chosen deductions, not a assumed or mandated programs. (Unemployment could also be voluntary, as could other programs.) This would change the entire structure of the programs, and payment options. It would become a business service with the same limitations and benefits process as other insurance/program providers. Since the poor are the main ones that need government help, it could be structured to meet the needs of the poor, and then modified across government benefits at a higher pricing. Obamacare is not good for this country... and government healthcare needs to be similar to the care of ordinary Americans.

Governments would still be able to issue bond measures for special projects.

There are other options, but Government will not look for them until they have to. The financial crisis is forcing those in charge to look for savings, to decide what is essential, and to change the way they operate. We need to keep going in this direction!

14 JULY 2013 :: Taxes and Tithing

As I was going through my years of poverty and struggling to find my way out of it through various business and education options, I thought about how GOD works in our world, and in the day to day lives of Christians. Being on government assistance, and community assistance programs, much longer than I ever wanted to be, I wondered where GOD was in the process. If He was my "husband," He was a pretty nominal provider... especially when I attended churches with people who seemed to have a lot more than I in terms of money and possessions (which is a subconscious measure of their place in Christian hierarchies - where they fit in GOD's Kingdom). I kept searching for the answer, and I don't know if I have found it yet.

I am up in the wee hours tonight, and at about 2 am I made a comment on the Speaker of the House's website about the Farm Bill and food stamps. I shared some details about my life that applied to that topic...and my view that the government better put food stamps at the top of their priority list because, even when you are homeless, food stamps keep you from being desperate and heading into crime. The Farm Bill/food stamp issue never seemed to mention that the people who were going to be deprived of assistance were "violent rapists, murderers, and pedophiles" ...people we don't need desperate for food.

Writing that comment brought back years of memories... hard times... wasted efforts... and problems with the poverty systems we have in America. When I was trying to get through it, I reasoned that GOD used taxes to force people to tithe and care for the needy. Over the years, I could see the shift in the church toward sending people to the government as a solution to their benevolence problems. I discovered endless circles of information provision, searching for help and ending up worse than when I started. As Working Together formed in my life, I began to look for better options for the future. I began to realize that the Church is going to suffer greatly in the downward spiral of prophecy.

As a nation, we have to find a budget that we can live with, one that includes help for those who have no one else to care for them -- which will become more and more people as our society becomes more damaged. Here are some of my suggestions:

  • I think we need to get rid of the current tax system and change to a SALES TAX ONLY system because it is the only tax that can be applied at a global level. A 10% flat sales tax could be divided between international government (1%), federal government (3%), state government (3%), and county government (3%). Each section of the government will be responsible for separate activities. Every citizen (and visitors) will pay taxes at the same level. Poor people will pay less, and rich people will pay more. It creates a fairer support system.

    The Internet is going to require a global court and police/military system to cope with rising global crimes on the Internet. Terrorism and Dictators, disasters, and other global issues will require global interventions, too. How to maintain our national freedoms in the process of international law is going to be the challenge. Sales taxes allow each level of government to be funded.

  • Getting rid of income taxes and property taxes will greatly reduce the need for an IRS oversight. Once our homes are paid for, they will be ours. There won't be a fear of losing one's home to the tax court. Not having to pay income taxes makes our wages really our own. A flat sales tax of 10% keeps the level of government involvement in our lives at a fair level. Some programs can be operated as business options, like Social Security and Medicaid, with separate particpation fees and the option to join or not join.

  • I have always hated huge government subsidy programs, especially for farming, which is a business like other businesses. Farm subsidies aren't good...but a small farm lending program would help those who need a hand through a hard time. Farmers need help when things go wrong, not payments to keep them from growing things. Every business has to deal with making decisions about their growth. Farmers are no different than manufacturers and retailers.

  • I don't think our founding fathers expected elected officials to be in office for their entire working life. Government positions are not meant to be career positions, and their benefits are extravagant. I think we need to make them more focused on "public service" income levels. Maybe we need to tie their wages and benefits to the economic health of the country, like minimum wage and Medicaid.

  • School loans are a real sore subject with me! We need some changes in how people can finish their educations. Sometimes people can't go full time, and need to take a longer time to finish. Single parents, especially, but any family needs to balance their time and money issues. Some students need part-time school and full-time work, others need part-time work and full-time school. To get funding with the government you HAVE TO go to school full-time, even in the middle of a crisis. I think it would be better to work out the funding relationship on a one-to-one basis.

    It's not like the government doesn't have access to our financial lives. They know what we make and how we make it and take our refunds until we pay it off. Policies in the debt repayment system are ridiculous. I could have finished my education and been working for more money by now. All these years of struggle have taken my school debt from $30,000 to about $150,000 (I think), and I still can't make minimum payments. It is a really stupid system. People can't even qualify for a scholarship with school loan debts in place. If I have to live on food stamps, I should be able to qualify for student aid...as long as I am in school at least part-time. My mantra is that I hope to win the lottery and pay it off before I die!

  • I have been trying to talk the prison systems into creating a website for inmate sales options, with listing fees to cover expenses and try to make money for the various corrections systems. I think the federal government needs to establish and maintain it, with all the prisons and jails, parole and probation departments being able to link into it. I call it "eBay for Inmates". It would change the lives of so many people, and create a much better focus for both the corrections and inmate populations. The details are too many to mention here...and I am getting tired.

    I hope we can use this budget crisis to create positive change at all levels. I am sure other American citizens have ideas on how to save money instead of waste tax dollars...maybe we need a comment page for that.

    May GOD help our country to be the country we once were : strong, healthy, and brave.