What is a Pre-existing Condition?

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There has been a lot of talk about pre-existing conditions, what they are and if people who have them can be denied health insurance, or be made to pay more for health insurance.  A pre-existing condition is anything medical that happened before a person’s health care policy went into effect.   In the bad old days, before the ACA, health insurance companies could refuse to sell policies to people who were sick, or who had been sick.  There were companies who did sell policies to these people, however the cost was much too high for the average person to pay.  With the ACA, these people were able to buy policies for about the same price that the average “healthy” person could.  With the advent of TrumpCare, these pre-existing conditions don’t need to be covered by insurance companies.  Here is a list of some of these conditions that no longer will be covered.

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As you can see, a lot of people have these conditions.  For example, I was born of with a heart murmur and I have had asthma in the past.  Heart murmurs, as I understand it, can be a crap-shoot.  It’s a 50/50 chance of needing a medical intervention.  I never even knew I had one until I was pregnant, then I was told that I’d had it all my life – go figure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMNOvVX8e4I

What do you think about these pre-existing conditions?  Are you in danger of losing your health care?  If you do lose it what will you do about it?  Let me know in the comments below.

“Fight Club”- FOAK and What it Means

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The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks such things as hate crimes, terrorism, and white supremacists.  They are a well-respected organization and committed to dealing with facts.  As most of us know, there are a lot of white supremacist organizations throughout the U.S.  What a lot of people don’t know, is that there is a lot of talk within these organizations about military operations against various groups of U.S. citizens.  All a person has to do is look at some recent events to see that this is true.

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However, the specific issue at hand is the formation of a new group, by Kyle Chapman (I am leaving a link below where you can see who and what Kyle Chapman is) which will be a “highly masculine” group called the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (otherwise known as FOAK’s) which is going to be formed for the express purpose to “bring the fight to the streets”.  Recently we have seen an uptick in the violence that protestors are being met with, not only from the police, but also from these groups of the extreme right-wing.

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I am not going to regurgitate the links that I’ve provided.  Instead I am encouraging you to read them, and educate yourself.  With the fear of being seen as a lunatic conspiracy theorist, my thoughts are leading to this:  What if, with all the new violence, the President declares Military Rule, Democracy is suspended and we have a dictator?  I know, it sounds insane, however, don’t these various groups vowing to “fight” against protestors (and others) sound a lot like the Nazi Brown Shirts?  Let me know what you think.

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http://nypost.com/2017/04/27/alt-right-group-tries-to-build-small-street-army/

https://www.adl.org/education/resources/reports/state-of-white-supremacy

http://www.salon.com/2017/03/24/white-supremacist-who-traveled-to-new-york-to-murder-black-men-followed-extremist-racist-online-groups-who-support-trump_partner/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/26/opinions/white-supremacy-is-terrorism-ifill-opinion/

 

A Story – The Life of an 87-Year-old Woman

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My name is Agnes, and I was born 87 years ago, in an area known as Jamaica Plains, N.Y.  I was raised in a shack with an outhouse in the backyard.  My “home” was the only shack in the neighborhood and we were the poorest family around.  My mother ran off when I was five, and my older brothers raised me because my father was a drunk.  At fourteen I got a job working full-time at the local Five and Dime, so I quit school to make money.  At 17 I got pregnant and married Charles.  I had always wanted to work as a secretary and live in NYC, but that was one dream that didn’t come true. Once I had the baby I became a stay-at-home mother, and soon we had four children.

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Charles worked hard, but he was only a “helper” for a carpet-installer and the money wasn’t there.  So, he went out and started his own business.  We ended up living all over the Midwest, and life was pretty good.  Once the children were in school, I took a typing course so that I could become a Secretary, just like I’d planned.  However, somewhere in there Charles’ started gambling his pay away, and then he took up drinking, too.  I never knew if and when he would come home, or what kind of a mood he’d be in when he did come home.  Thankfully, no matter where we lived, I managed to get a Secretarial job.

Our children moved out and began their own lives, so we moved to New England to be closer to Charles’ family.  This was a mistake, since they were all big drinkers, too.  I kept working, but my pay as a secretary never really went up, and Charles’ pay never went up, either.  Eventually we retired and collected Social Security, but that was all we got since none of the jobs either one of us had ever provided a pension plan.

Charles died from his many illnesses, and I had to move out of our two-bedroom apartment into a smaller one-bedroom.  I had to part with most of my furniture that I’d been able to keep over the years because it didn’t fit into a smaller apartment.  They also only gave me one week to leave my apartment due to “regulations”, so I had to plan a funeral and pack to move at the same time. This is because I am on housing assistance (funded by the federal government) because my Social Security payments fall below the federal poverty level.

It makes me sad when I see people in our government who want to take these programs away from people like me.  I not only get help with my rent, but I’m on heat assistance, I use food stamps and I get Meals on Wheels.  If I can’t have any Meals on Wheels, I don’t know what I’ll have to eat because I only get $75.00 a month on Food Stamps.  After I pay my rent which is a set price, my heating bill – which is also set at $75.00 per month, so I can’t pay less because if I do, they’ll take away my assistance, I don’t know how I will eat on what I have left-over plus the &75.00 food stamps.  Usually at the end of the month all I have left over is enough to pay for my telephone and my very limited cable service.

My family doesn’t usually help me out since they all have children and payments of their own.  I’m very worried about this new budget that’s been proposed.  Charles and I worked all our lives, but now I’m being made to feel like I am a drain on society.  I would like to try to enjoy my remaining years, but mostly I sit at home by myself with my heat turned down as low as I can tolerate it and watch Turner Movie Classics.

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*Just a note, I paraphrased some of this story, and changed the names of the people, but it’s pretty accurate.  Most of the seniors that I work with have small lives that consist of going grocery shopping and watching movies on t.v.  They don’t have money left-over at the end of the month.  Also, they get government assistance for the following: heat, housing, food stamps, and the notorious “help I’ve fallen and can’t get up” button.  For the seniors who qualify, they also get either a homemaker or companion for a few hours a week so that they can stay in their apartments, as that is a cheaper solution than sending them all to nursing homes.  Most of them see their families very infrequently, in fact, their closest relationship is usually with their homemaker.  It’s very sad to see people who have worked hard all their lives reduced to such circumstances.  These are the people who will be hurt by these deep cuts to social welfare programs.

 

Corporations vs. Citizens

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I don’t know if any of you have been following the Dakota Access Pipeline story, but here is the story in a tiny little nutshell.  Energy Transfer Partners is building a pipeline that will extend thousands of miles across the U.S.  The problem is that these pipelines have a long history of leaking and exploding, and then, of course destroying the environment.  (I will be leaving links to news stories that prove this point at the bottom of this post.)  In this case, the pipeline is being built extremely close to a river, with the potential (and given the history of these pipelines) the distinct probability of polluting the river and groundwater.  As a matter of fact, the pipeline was moved from close proximity to the town of Bismarck to where is being built now, due the environmental fears of the mostly white citizens of Bismarck.

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Oil pipeline spills since 2010

What I really want to discuss today is that since the Native Americans have begun peacefully protesting, the reactions by both Energy Transfer Partners and the police have been excessive in their use of force, criminalization of peaceful actions, and cruel in their treatment of arrested protesters.  While I often listen to NPR, I have been disappointed by their reporting of this, since they do indeed take money from the oil industry (Constellation Energy Group, Vanguard Group, and CITGO Petroleum Corporation) are just a few of these donators.  Therefore, coverage of this story has been spotty at best.  But, I’ve also noticed that there has been little in the way of coverage in the largest newspaper in my state.  I can only assume that not that many television stations have been covering the story either, however I can’t say that for a fact, since I don’t have cable.

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Tonya Sands after being pepper sprayed for swimming across a creek to gain access to Indian Land.

The one news source that has been on the ground since the first days of this story is Democracy Now, and they have been stellar in their reporting.  I don’t know if any of you have been looking at some of the videos that have gone viral, but if you have, I hope that you are worried for your own safety as well as the safety of the protesters.  If peaceful protesters are being assaulted with various weapons such as pepper spray, tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and sonic devices what does this say about our ability as citizens to peacefully protest?  Energy Transfer Partners have also used dogs to bite the protesters.

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If these actions aren’t worrisome for you as citizens of the U.S., maybe being arrested, stripped and kept nude overnight might be.  Or, if not that, perhaps having numbers written on your arm (reminiscent of an infamous Nazi regime), and kept overnight in a dog kennel after being arrested for peaceful protest might be a little disconcerting.

This behavior by police and corporate-backed security is unsettling.  In the U.S., we not only have a right to protest, but our constitution requires us to do so.   https://www.loc.gov/law/help/peaceful-assembly/us.php

If you want to look into this matter more yourself, I suggest Democracy Now, as their reporting is extremely well-informed.  What do you think of these actions by the police and private corporate security forces?  Do you think that Native Americans (as well as all Americans) have the right to peacefully protest?  Have you seen other videos of peaceful protesters being pepper sprayed directly in the eyes by police officers, and what do you think of that?  Let me know in the comments below.

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http://www.alternet.org/environment/white-tribes-onslaught-against-native-americans-isnt-history-tale-its-alive-and-well?akid=14682.302291.avRCV9&rd=1&src=newsletter1064310&t=10

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/27/1587590/-ND-police-and-National-Guard-currently-using-LRAD-sonic-device-weapon-to-disperse-Water-Protectors

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/7/1591511/-Standing-Rock-Update-Rubber-bullets-500-clergy-represent-matriarchal-leaders?detail

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixEKJ0oo-dk

 

What is a “Regulation” and How Does it Affect People?

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There has been a lot of talk about getting rid of many regulations that corporations are required to follow in order to keep manufacturing in the U.S.  I recently listened to a story on NPR in which a linguist was speaking about the use of the word regulations, and why so many people seem to think that they are bad.

As I didn’t hear the entire conversation, I’ve come up with my own theory of why people seem to think a regulation is a “bad” thing.  The word itself sounds a lot like rule, and people don’t really like to follow rules in general.  That’s my take on the word.  However, a regulation when it comes to corporate practices is more like a protection.  And a protection is usually a good thing.  It is used to protect citizens from a variety of troublesome corporate actions.  The very reason that we have many of the protections that we do is due to the lack of corporate accountability in the past and the cancers, harm and deaths caused by those corporations.  Look into the past actions that unregulated and poorly regulated corporations have done that have destroyed citizen lives.  This is the link to the Superfund that keeps track and reports on both past actions and current actions of corporations.  https://www.epa.gov/superfund

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Understanding that most regulations are imposed in order to keep citizens safe and healthy, it is beyond my understanding why a great many people seem to think a regulation is a bad thing.  They are law in order to protect citizens from a corporation whose only reason for being is to make as much money regardless of the environmental, economic and human cost.  A regulation is a protection from unmitigated greed.  Isn’t that a good thing?

 

Money

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Money is an issue.  Love of money is the root of all evil, or so they say.  Do I love money?  No, I do not.  Would I like to have enough of it in order to pay my bills?  Why yes, yes I would.  That would be very nice, thank you.  In fact, that would be wonderful, fantastic, awe inspiring, and great!  I’ve written before about how money is an issue for my family.  As, I’m sure it’s an issue for most families.

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I have a B.S. and a B.A.  I never worked in my “field”.  I had a series of jobs as a receptionist, secretary, legal secretary and Paralegal.  I never made more than $9.25 per hour.  I only ever enjoyed one week of paid vacation (until I worked as a secretary with a Union shop, the plant was closed for two weeks every summer, so only at that job did I receive two weeks of paid vacation – thanks Unions!).  I didn’t get any over-time pay or time compensation when I did stay late, and this was at a lawyer’s office.  Because I stayed home with my kids (I did care for a neighbor); I was out of the official “work force” for too many years, and the only job I was able to land was as a homemaker/companion; ironically my highest paying hourly wage but at the same time, my smallest paycheck.  These are not jobs that give you many hours.  So, when people talk about wage inequality, low wages and stagnant wages, I truly understand.  I’m living proof of it all.  I may be college educated, but my fellow workers are mainly recent immigrants.  I understand the frustration of working hard for little pay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKgWmAI4KfI

While wages have actually decreased, the price of things has gone up.  A lot.  Bernie Sanders gets it, Elizabeth Warren gets it.  Mr. Sanders actually had ideas and solutions to the problem.  Elizabeth Warren also has solutions.  Educate yourselves, look into the solutions, and sign petitions, get active, write letters.  Let your voice be heard.  Stand up for each other, after all we’re in this together, together we will either rise or fall.  It’s up to us.