Friday, November 30, 2012

Whiny Liberals Are Merely Envious! (Or not?)

Are Whiny Liberals Merely Envious?  

A federal bankruptcy judge finalized the liquidation of Hostess Brands on Thursday and approved a bonus plan for senior executives involved in the wind-down of the company.

You can imagine the range of comments to this story.  Read them yourself at the link above.

Here's a good one:
Lots of class envy posts from the whiny liberals. I guess Obama winning didn't make them rich or get rid of their jealousy.

"Class Envy" 

This particular story, the ongoing saga of the Hostess liquidation, doesn't directly have anything to do with who lost or won the election.  But it does emphasize the whole issue of the state of American workers vs. corporate owners in this country.  It highlights issues of income and wealth inequality and the increasing problems of people in the middle class.  And it demonstrates one of the biggest right wing talking points:  That the only reason those nasty "liberals" complain about the low taxes and excesses of the rich is just "envy".

I guess people who write those kinds of comments assume that everybody is as selfish, greedy, and as utterly lacking in humanity or compassion as they are.  But no, not true.  So my reply to Mr. "Govtcheese" above:

I'm really, really sorry that you just don't plain get it.
It's really sad that people who think as you do exist in this country.

Photo of homeless girl from Rock Center by Ann Curry

I read a story yesterday (many of these same kinds of stories day after day, year after year) about a working American middle-class family who is now homeless. Health problems, loss of pay, and a period of unemployment caused them to lose their home.

Papa John's CEO's castle. More here 

I also saw a few pictures of some mega homes that were built by an uber-rich working family. Moats, multiple wings, massive garages and swimming pools, "coach houses" that are twice as big as the average home. 

Bangladesh workers march after deadly fire.

Then there were the stories and related pictures of thousands of  workers marching in Bangladesh in protest after 112 garment workers met their fiery deaths making cheap clothing for Americans while earning a whopping $38 a month. 

These various images are seared into my consciousness tonight, juxtaposed into a very disturbing medley of thoughts. 
It's not envy, Mr. Cheese. It's disgust, frustration, anger. My question to you:  Why aren't YOU disgusted, frustrated, and angered? Why do you think that this kind of disparity is just fine? What's wrong with YOU?

Something Wrong Here

I can't help but feel that something is seriously, deadly WRONG with our country when people defend the mega-rich and chastise the working poor and middle class people who are down on their luck.

How do we fix this? 

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Republicans Complaining About the National Debt Are Like Pigeons Complaining.......

    As the news is completely taken over by debates about the Fiscal Cliff, the National Debt, and Tax Rates, the Republicans try to portray themselves as the champions of fiscal conservatism and frugality.

    But we really know better.

    We know that the deficit was going down, the national debt was also starting to decrease, when Bush took office.  But two unfunded unending wars, tax cuts for the rich, and the unfunded Medicare Part D was then topped off by a recession that started when the housing bubble, fueled by an unregulated financial industry high on exotic new financial instruments, burst.  Gone was the balanced budget, gone were the minimal annual deficit, gone was the decreasing national debt, gone was financial security for millions of Americans.

    Then the Republicans have done whatever they could to blame this stinking mess on the Democrats, in particular, on President Obama.  

    But, as I said above, we really know better:

    Republicans Complaining About the National Debt, now at a sorry 16 trillion (that's 12 zeroes:  16,000,000,000,000), are like cackling flocks of pigeons complaining about bird droppings.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Don't Raise the Eligibility Age for Medicare or Social Security!

    Don't Raise the Retirement Age for Social Security and Medicare!    

    *Update April 2015:  Actually, I'm not going to change one thing.  The whole issue is being raised again as Republicans have now taken over the Senate.  We do NOT NEED to raise the age for Social Security.  We need to raise the cap!
    From   (This pic doesn't quite fit, but I love it.)

    Gather around, those of you in  your 20's and 30's and 40's:  Let me tell you a story about life.

    Way back in the 1980's, yes, way back when that guy Reagan was the President, they started telling us that there was a real crisis in Social Security.  "We're going to run out of Social Security for you yung'uns", they said, "unless we raise the age for retirement.  And we've got to boost the FICA payroll tax too!"

    Well..  Did we protest?  Did we Occupy anything?  Did we write our CongressCritters?  Did we pile onto Facebook in great numbers to complain?  (Oops.. no Facebook back then, no Occupy back then ... but we did have CongressCritters, and we could write to them via a typewriter, an envelope, and a stamp.)  

    No, we didn't.    

    And why didn't we complain, protest, or take to our typewriters? I'll tell you why:

    We were Strong, Young, and Healthy.

    Many people had gotten new jobs, many people were benefiting from the fast advances in technology, and we were foolish enough to think that we could keep our strength, our youth, and those high paying jobs forever.  We were also plowing money into IRA's and 401K's, and companies were actually engaging in profit-sharing and stock programs. Many companies still offered pensions.  Why would we ever need Social Security, we thought?  A mere thousand or two a month?  Peanuts!  So... who cared?

    Not only that, but some of us were foolish enough to think that the increasing standard of living would continue to.. increase!  We didn't see the caustic and deadly effects of offshoring, outsourcing, and rampant income and wealth inequality.  We didn't see the increasing greed on the part of mega-corporations and the uber-rich.  We watched the movie Wall Street and were disturbed by the Gordon Gekko character who espoused "Greed is Good".  We thought that we'd turned away from that.   

    So... listen my children, and you will hear that many Baby Boomers, perhaps even your parents, have been hit hard by the recession.  

    Some are among the saddest victims of this recession.  Some of these older people in their 50's and 60's have been tossed out of work after decades of fruitful labor.  Many are experiencing long-term unemployme­nt; many have gone through their savings and 401K's and don't have health insurance.   Even though the economy is picking up, somebody who is 62 and hasn't had a full time job for 2 or 3 years is going to be at the bottom of the heap when employers start adding staff.  How are these people, people 55 or 58 or 60 or 62 supposed to survive until they are 69 or 70?  It's tough now for people who are 59 to hold on until early social security at age 62. 

    Those extra years until full retirement are weighing heavily on many of us. Retiring with full benefits at 65 is now just a dream, and a dream that we let drift away.

    Again... listen my children:

    Don't believe people who tell you that Social Security and Medicare won't be there for you.  We heard the same thing 30 years ago.

    Realize that you will not be young and healthy forever and you can't see the future.  Realize that, even if you do manage to stash away a nice chunk of change, your neighbor, your friend, your cousin may not be so lucky.  He/she may really need that Social Security check or that Medicare.  We aren't a good or a strong country if we can't take care of our old and sick; if we can't take care of who are the least fortunate among us.  

    But life expectancy has increased since Social Security was set up!  Shouldn't the retirement age go up as well? 

    I really and truly hope that you, dear reader, aren't thinking this way.  If so, first of all, you need a lesson on life expectancy at birth and life expectancy at any given age.  I would suggest that you read right here to get that information.  Fundamentally, the life expectancy remaining for those who have managed to survive to age 65 has only increased 3 to 5 years (depending on sex and race) since Social Security was implemented, and about 2 to 3 years since Medicare was implemented.  And we have already used up two of those extra 3 to 5 Social Security years when the Social Security age was raised in the 80's.  More about life expectancy (with a chart) HERE.

    Finally, remember that increased life expectancy for those who managed to survive into their 60's does not mean that they can work.  Many chronic disesases are now managed and people actually live, but they may not be able to work; they may be taking medications with serious side effects, even if they don't meet the criteria to be labeled "disabled".   

    Remember also that there is no guarantee that life expectancy will continue to go up.  The harder we work, the more difficult our jobs are; the more stressed out we are, the less likely we will be to live those extra years.  I have also heard, but have not seen the statistics, that people who are poorer have a much lower life expectancy after attaining age 60 than people who are well off.  If that is true, that would mean that raising the retirement age would be a death sentence for people who are poorer:  Those among the working poor  would NEVER attain the new improved retirement age.

    And let's be honest here:  Who is going to hire someone 65 or 66 for a responsible, high-level job?  If you lose your job at age 65 or 66, You will be struggling as a Walmart greeter until you can collect Social Security.

    The Republicans have been talking and talking and talking about raising the age... Talking so much that people are starting to take it for granted.  If you repeat a story often enough, people accept it as the Truth or as a fait accomplis.  

    We are a rich country, not a poor country. 

    We've got people out there who earn millions and billions (Yes, there are people out there who earn a billion plus a year).  Don't buy this "we're going broke" business.  It's pure folly.  (And don't believe those billionaires earned every penny and are therefore somehow superior to you.)

    Don't let them move your retirement age back.  Don't let them move back your age for Medicare eligibility.  You will regret it if you don't fight this now.

    Update 12/4/2012:  I submitted this comment to on raising the Medicare eligibility age:

    "Seniors themselves would end up spending $3.7 billion more as the benefits on the exchange would be less robust than those currently covered through Medicare. Employers would end up footing part of the bill, too, continuing to sponsor an additional two years of coverage." 
    Another reason for employers to dump or refuse to employ people as they get older.  (Not to mention that many people in that 65-66 age bracket will simply not be able to afford insurance on the exchanges.)   
    As it is, the employment participation rate of people 65-69 went down quite a bit after Medicare was implemented and as Social Security started to kick into high gear in the 60's and 70's.  It bottomed out in the mid 80's with only about 10% of people 65+ working. It stayed in the 11-12% range until the recession of 2000.  And then it started to go up and it has continued to go up even as the economy has improved.  It is now up to 17.5%, the highest it has been since 1964.  
    When old people HAVE to work, something is really wrong.  This is NOT a good trend.  The number of people 65+ who are unemployed is now around 500,000, the largest number of unemployed people EVER in that age range, even as the number of unemployed people in other age ranges has decreased (though some of this is due to Baby Boomers passing into that 65+ age bracket.) 

    Other articles about Social Security and Medicare:

    Important Links and Recent News:

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Right Wing Blogosphere Still Going Nuts

    Almonds, walnuts, cashews, even a few peanuts thrown in for good measure.

    Picture of nuts from No More Dirty Looks

    It's been fun to read right-wing blogs and websites that I have never perused before.  In particular, I was reading at Breitbart over the past couple of days.  Fascinating.  (Yes, Breitbart is gone, but his website lives on.)

    Two things are apparent:  First of all, the haters are still hating.  Secondly, the Republicans have a big, big problem.

    As many of us know, the Republicans were soundly trounced two weeks ago, and some of the more moderate Republicans have begun denouncing the extremists while others have been denouncing the Romney camp.  They've generally been urging a more moderate Republican stance in several arenas.  From an article at the Huffington Post: 

    * Jindal, Walker, Graham aim to broaden party's appeal

    * Republicans must stop insulting voters, Jindal says 

    WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The Republican Party needs to stop insulting voters and broaden its appeal after Democratic President Barack Obama won re-election this month over Mitt Romney with overwhelming support from Hispanics, blacks and single women, top Republicans said on Sunday. 

    Comments made by two leading Republican governors and an influential U.S. senator on Sunday reflected the soul-searching taking place in the party after Obama's victory over Republican challenger Romney on Nov. 6.

    Carlos Guiterrez, for instance, the Romney advisor on Hispanic issues, was on Candy Crowley's State of the Nation yesterday, Sunday, November 18th:

    Carlos Gutierrez, a top Hispanic American surrogate and adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign, on Sunday expressed outrage over the former presidential candidate’s comment that minorities voted for Obama because he bribed them with “gifts.” 
    “I was shocked. And frankly I don’t think that’s why Republicans lost the election," Gutierrez said during an appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union." "I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong."
    I have never read much at Breitbart, but I have entertained myself a bit since the election by comparing Breitbart's take on things with that of the more mainstream and/or the more "liberal" press.   the record, Breitbart appears to consistently edit articles, videos, and information to give its readers less information than other media outlets reporting on the same thing.  Examples HERE and HERE.)

    The Republicans Are Moving Away from the Tea Party and to the Center?
    So.. It's a good thing that the Republicans want to moderate themselves, right?  Thank heavens that some Republicans are opening their eyes?

    To those of us who have some sense, yes, of course.  But not to the uber-righties at Breitbart, as expressed below and in dozens of similar comments  (Emphasis added by me):

    This is such crap. We haven't moved Right at all. The fact is that we've moved so far Left that we ended up nominating Mitt Romney-- the ultimate Establishment , Liberal, Rockefeller Republican candidate We nominated the guy who invented RomneyCare (the prototype for ObamaCare), the guy who donated to Planned Parenthood, the guy who had a program to use taxpayer money to pay for abortions, the guy who kicked the boy scouts out of the Olympics to appease gay rights groups, the guy who said he would always defend a "woman's right to choose", the guy who bragged about having tough control laws in Massachusetts... we nominated THE MOST LIBERAL REPUBLICAN IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY and they still say we need to move further to the Left. How much further to the Left can we move?!!
    332 likes for that comment.
    we are infiltrated by marxist evil pigs- and they are trying to make us think we must be like them to win.NO WE MUST NOT
    117 likes on that one.  Spelling and grammar unedited.
    It seems like everyone, our own leaders included, are buying this false narrative that the "far right" in this country are trying to legislate morality.  That simply isn't true.  Are they out there trying to outlaw contraception?  Make it illegal to have sex out of wedlock?  Obviously not.  Where they are making a stand are on legitimate issues of life and liberty, and we're allowing the left to cast us as religious zealots out to impose our religion on others.  And our own leaders won't even stand up for us!  This is such a caricature, that the "far right" wants to make this country into a theocracy.  I'm sick of it.  The positions we take are perfectly consistent with our founding principles.  It is demeaning to pass us off as bible-thumping wackos just because our positions happen to be consistent with biblical teaching.  We can argue every position from founding principles, without every resorting to the bible for justification.  And the reason that's true is because the founding principles are inspired by and perfectly consistent with God's laws, as stated in the Declaration of Independence.  It is the left that has strayed from the course set forth in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and, ironically, they often justify these deviations as biblically inspired, as being necessary in order to satisfy biblical social justice.  So it is the left, in fact, that is forcing their religious beliefs on us.  But the media never mentions this.  It doesn't fit the narrative.
    These guys (referring to Republicans who aren't as right as the reader feels that they should be) need to be put back in their cage for good!.....they only tolerated Reagan and couldn't wait til his time was up. Bush played the good Conservative VP for 8 years then pulled the rug out from under Graham Rudman. The "thousand points of lights" was the beginning of the end for the short lived Conservative era. Daddy Bush gave us Clinton, Baby Bush gave us Obama, what more can I say?  Until we run another true Conservative a la  Reagan we will never win another election. We may have already lost the WH for good. .....and THIS is what progressive Republicans do. When we run as Conservatives on Conservative principles we win......anything else and we lose.  A TRUE Conservative would have wiped the floor up with Obama. Romney with this aholes help couldn't even bring in as many votes as McCain. 
    Time to purge the party or leave this one to rot.
    Try winning any election without the conservative / Tea Party vote.  Good luck with that.  Here's a new concept.  Try running a conservative next time, you idiots.
    So... the Republicans have problems.

    To be fair, I don't how representative Breitbart readers are of the right wing base of the Republican party.  But it is clear that Republicans have the same problem that brought the Tea Party people to prominence in late 2008:  The uber-righties are not interested in moderating their ideas nor are they interested in supporting Republicans who are more moderate.  If the Republican party moves to the center and refuses to condemn "illegals", refuses to condemn people who are pro-choice, refuses to trash people who are unemployed, struggling, or just poor , the Republican party may just alienate the right wing of their party and continue to lose national and state-wide elections.  The last comment above makes the issue for the Republicans very clear:

    Try winning any election without the conservative / Tea Party vote. 

    But can the Republicans win any election without the votes of moderates, women, and minorities?

    How do they become more moderate when millions, of people who might be "the Republican base" are still racist, hateful, judgmental, and often without knowledge or common sense?

    Grab some popcorn.. or perhaps a bowl of nuts.. and let's see what happens to the Republican party.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Demoralized Ann Coulter Whines That The "Takers" Have Won

    Ann Coulter as found at Newsone

    Conservative media darling Ann Coulter was chastised by another conservative media darling, Laura Ingraham, while lamenting that the "makers" have lost and the "takers" have won:   
    "Pep up, move forward girl," Ingraham told Coulter.

    Look, the right wing conservative media people believe their own press.  They all listen and contribute to each other, whine to each other, and no fresh breeze is allowed entry.  They have no idea what is really going on out there, outside of their own little pocket of rightie fog.

    But this is what IS going on out there, and this is why Obama and the Democrats won:

    There are 5.4 million new jobs in the last 2+ years.  There are about 3 million more people who report that they are employed this October vs. last October.  It doesn't mean that things are peachy, but if Coulter and the right actually walked out of their fog and looked around, they would see what most Americans see:  Things getting better, not fast enough, but a definite improvement, more businesses opening in the last year than closing, and most people again feeling optimistic.  

    People are starting to like ObamaCares.

    Not only that, but people are looking forward to actually having health insurance next year.  People without health insurance know that real "tyranny" is being sick and not being able to get health care due to the cost.  People with health insurance know that real "tyranny" is coming down with a serious disease and worrying about whether you will be able to keep your health insurance or whether or not you will exceed some cap.  That is real tyranny; being "forced" to purchase health insurance is NOT tyranny.  Little by little the number of people supporting ObamaCares is increasing, but that fact doesn't seem to have penetrated the rightie fog.   

    A Decent and Good President...

    The right wing pundits are missing the fact that MOST Americans are really and truly angry that a decent and good President has been relentlessly attacked, demonized, and racially profiled by a disgusting subset of the population.

    "We have more takers than makers and it's over. There is no hope," Coulter said.

    About that taker vs. maker business:  As a whole, Americans KNOW that the so-called "makers" are often the true  "takers":  The CEO's, the hedge fund guys, and other investors who actually make not one thing while they take more and bigger bundles of cash from workers both here and abroad.  

    Most Americans also know that most of the so-called "takers" are actually hard-working people who have had lower salaries and less opportunity for decades now.

    Most Americans know that many of the people classified by the right as "takers" are people hurt in this recession who relentlessly looked for work, who took whatever lousy temporary or part-time job they could find, who went back to school, got training, sold stuff, started mini-businesses, who did whatever they could to keep their heads above water during the past four years, often with some kind of government assistance.  They then hear themselves being demonized as dependent low-lifes and "victims" by the Republicans, including the Republican candidate for President.  

     Stay in Line!                                                                       

    People waiting in line to vote in Miami
    On top of it, there were blatant and well-publicized attempts to keep those "takers" from voting, and anyone who didn't look at those long queues of people who were STAYING IN LINE and didn't realize what that meant for the Republicans was just plain clueless.

    So, Ann, and Laura, and Rush, and all of the rest:  You lost.  You don't get the American people and you probably never will.  They aren't rich guys who hang around golf courses and whine about having to pay a few bucks more in taxes.  They aren't billionaires who threaten to lay off workers instead of coughing up money for health insurance for them-- while they contribute millions (made off of the backs of those same workers) to Republican leaning PAC's.

    No, you guys don't get it.

    But, finally, at long last, the majority of Americans DID get it.  And they showed up Tuesday --- and the days and weeks before Tuesday.  

    And they STAYED in those lines.    

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Both Parties Suck?!

    Found at City of Ann Arbor's government page
    The Two Party system is a joke...

    ...perpetuated by the two major parties and third parties are bullied out of debates?  I personally am not as down on the two party system as is William Hamby, writing at the Examiner, but I really do agree with much that he says:  

    "Let's talk for a moment about third party voting and abstaining. To begin with, I get it. The Two Party System of voting is a joke. It's perpetuated by the two major parties, and third parties are bullied out of debates. The two parties collude to keep it this way. They cheat if necessary. This is all true, and pardon my colloquialism, but it sucks. But a lot of things suck, and realists deal with it.
    ...Next, let's address the “both parties suck” argument. Both parties are corrupt. Both parties are sucking at Wall Street's teat. Both parties are following the Truman Doctrine. Both parties are neglecting the middle and lower classes. Again, this is all true, and again it all sucks. But it's a terrifyingly na├»ve and idealistic perspective. Both parties suck in the same way that being kicked in the head and being shot in the head suck. Ask me if I'd like either, and I'll say, “No, thank you.” Tell me I have to choose one and I'll take the kick in the head every time."

    Unhappy with both parties?
    Mr. Hamby writes as an atheist, and his comments are aimed at those who are "skeptics, atheists, and other non-believers", but he is also addressing those who are unhappy with both parties: 

    If you're not in one of the 8 or 10 swing states which will decide this election, you could be thinking it's pointless to vote, or that casting a third party protest vote is a reasonable thing to do. In the next few paragraphs, I hope to convince you otherwise.
    The consequences of voting for a third party: 
    He goes on to say:

    There are real consequences to choosing one of these candidates over the other, and by extension, one party over the other.
    Among the "consequences" he mentions:
    • Vote for limited drone strikes, or vote for war with Iran. 
    • Vote for the Affordable Care Act, or vote for private vouchers. 
    • Vote for gay rights and woman's rights, or vote for Theocratic Biblical values in law (enacted by a Mormon).
    (There are several others; you will have to check out the article to read the rest.

    What's in President Obama's Second Term for Libertarians
    In the rest of the article, he addresses libertarians:

    If you vote for President Obama, you're not going to get a lot of what you want on an economic front. ... What will happen if Romney wins the election? You will lose a startling number of civil liberties. America will become more Theocratic.
    Don't Forget the Supreme Court!

    He mentions the impact of this Presidential election on the Supreme Court, one of the best and most important reasons for voting for President Obama.  Definitely check out Mr. Hamby's "Bottom line".  It ends with this appeal to "secularists" (and just about anybody who is concerned about the religious right):
    Today, we must be pragmatists and vote for the candidate who will give us the best chance of even being able to talk about secular politics in both the near and distant future. We must prevent the Theocratic Republicans from using their last grasp at power to sabotage our ability to create a realistic secular America across party lines in the next twenty years.

    Emphasis mine... Though I don't consider myself an atheist, Mr. Hamby makes many good arguments for those who are cynical, skeptical, or libertarians to vote for the President.  Again, HERE's the link.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Surviving a Disaster: Why We Needed FEMA

    Disasters suck.  No two ways about it.  And cans of food really don't help.  Especially canned pumpkin. 

    One evening you are home, safe, secure, warm, comfortable, cooking a meal, grabbing a cold drink from your refrigerator... and a few hours later you are living in an alternate universe of filth, chaos, water, destruction; a world that is dark, cold, scary, depressing, and overwhelming.

    After a disaster, you live in an alternate universe.

    We had our chance to be part of that alternate universe of a disaster a few years back.  I wrote about it here, at my Albany Park Flood blog, as my first inroad into the world of blogging.  Our disaster, while a FEMA-declared disaster, was so, so MINOR compared to the incredible mess left by Superstorm Hurricane Sandy that so many people in New York, New Jersey, and other eastern states are dealing with.   

    When I look at the pictures of New York and New Jersey and think a bit, I can put myself right back where we were four years ago... dealing with a life that will never be the same.  The feeling of shock as you look at valued possessions that are now just water-logged junk alternates with the joy of reclaiming a few family photographs or possessions from mildew and water.  Sometimes all you can do is to concentrate on little things to avoid the reality of the calamity that you have to deal with.

    But we did have FEMA.  Let me tell you how FEMA helps.  

    Our disaster came rolling through our home just a few months after my husband was out of work after major surgery.  He was back to work, but we were just getting caught up with bills and we didn't have a lot of spare cash lying around.  In fact, we had no spare cash lying around.

    Fortunately, we did not have to evacuate and we were able to stay in our home.  The damage had been confined to what had once been a fully finished beautiful basement/T.V. room/bedroom/laundry room.  Some would probably say that we didn't have enough damage to be "entitled" to any FEMA funds. 

    Now we did have "sewer/drain" insurance--- private insurance-- to the tune of $10,000.  The damage was well over double that, but $10,000 was a nice chunk of change.  The insurance adjuster came a day or so after the four feet of water had drained from our bedroom/T.V. room, and told us that we certainly would be entitled to the maximum on our "sewer/drain" insurance rider.  

    Great!  We used the last of our cash reserves to put a down payment on a new water heater and furnace.  (You'd be surprised how fast cash goes when you have experienced some kind of disaster.  Loss of food, loss of clothes, loss of shoes, loss of bedding...  many things that you need to replace NOW.  Many things, like cleaning supplies and a dehumidifier, that you need to buy NOW.)  So now we just had to wait for that 10 grand. 

    Which took two months.  

    Two months for private insurance money; a few days for FEMA money.     

    Meanwhile we waited to be declared a FEMA disaster. Because we weren't as widespread a disaster as Hurricane Superstorm Sandy, we weren't declared a FEMA disaster for about two weeks after the event.  (New Jersey and several other states have already been declared disasters, just two days after the storms.)  We had a FEMA adjuster in our home within a day or so after we were declared a disaster.  Because we had private insurance, we would not be entitled to much FEMA help.  

    But, surprise, surprise!  Just a couple of days later there was a deposit for about $1000 in our bank account.  And a few days later, a deposit for another $600.  It was MUCH faster than the money that we eventually got from our private insurance.

    We were also entitled to emergency disaster food stamps.  That was a more difficult process involving a long wait.  Eventually we were cleared for about $400 worth of food to replace the food that we lost as we had no power for days.  This came about a month after the flood;  we really could have used that money about 5 days after the flood when the electricity was turned back on and we were cleaning out the refrigerator, but we were still struggling financially so it was a great help.

    Why did the insurance take so long compared to FEMA?  

    Well, it's the federal government vs. private corporations.  There were fewer levels of approval for FEMA money apparently.  When we got the money from FEMA, it was directly deposited into our bank account.  We had immediate access to it.  When we did finally get the insurance check (six weeks after the flood), after many phone calls and many people telling us different things, we deposited it in the bank.. which put a ten day hold on it.    

    So we finally had access to that insurance money about 8 weeks after the flood.  

    Disaster damage lingers; emotionally, physically, financially

    We have still not been able to repair all of the damage; our basement is now just that... a basement, not a value-adding lower level living area.  Houses in this area are still selling very slowly (and for lower prices) because of the huge flood four years ago, not counting the housing slump.  But sewer work and various projects designed for improved flood control are ongoing or completed.  I believe that the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA are or were involved in the planning and/or funding for some of these projects.

    Counting on the states and the private sector for disaster assistance? 

    There is no way that states can go it alone when disasters are involved.  And as for that Republican adage that somehow that competition in the private sector makes the private sector more efficient... well, not always, as most of us know.  We waited eight weeks before we had access to private insurance funds.  We waited about a week (after our disaster was approved for FEMA help) to get government funds.

    My most heartfelt prayers and thoughts to the victims of Sandy..  I wrote about Hurricane Irene last year, and I can't believe that Sandy caused havoc in some of the same states.  I'm glad Vermont was spared.

    I can bet that many people who were harmed by Irene are still struggling, a year later.  It is very hard to recover from such extreme loss.

    Why We Don't Need Cans

    And I wouldn't have been that thrilled had someone knocked on my door with a bunch of cans.  No power, no gas, no running water for some people (we did  continue to have running water).. and cans?
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