Let’s just jump right in. I worked for over two decades, mostly as an information Technology professional and homeowner in Montgomery County [Aug 1979-2000]. During my tenure as a full time IT worker, I earned and paid Federal, State, and Local taxes on over one million dollars, and paid property taxes on a property in Germantown (1983-1985, value about $85,000) and Rockville (1986-2005, valued at $260,000 in 2005). I have been mostly unemployed or occasionally under-employed (I was a 50 year old, Caucasian Male, my Bad) since my lay-off in April, 2000. I started writing a book, Why Women Are So Problematic: A Memoir and Whimsical Polemic, in the summer of 2002. At the time, with assets and on-demand credit of about $200,000, it seemed like a reasonable plan to write the book and start a new career as an author. Well, the little secret about writing is not that it is difficult. It is that when you can write, it is easy and wonderful; but you cannot write all the time, and when you go flat, you can’t really even edit effectively. I do not know how people write for money they need to eat, or feed their loved ones…
To make a long unpleasant story short, in early 2008, the book still not finished, and my money ran out. I had help, My Valerie does like to eat and go out for entertainment. A friend told me in 2002 that I was loved and lived a blessed life because I was (relatively) rich. Damn if he wasn’t right. My idea of material things is: a 1996 Saturn 2-door, a descent digital camera, a vacation in Canada (2002), two vacations in Jamaica (1994 and 1998), a week or two each year at the family condo in Ocean City, MD, dinner out once a week, and a home that had been a rental for years before you bought, gutted, and rebuilt it in 1986 and over a period of years. With my lifestyle, $120,000/year is about $30,000 more than you can spend. Even if you move in your Future Former Fiancée for Life, who’s hug tits, short chubby body and freaky slut sexual tastes you love, and who’s beautiful 4-year-old son, you actually love as much as your three biological children, in 1993—to save her from a failed marriage and him from two clueless “parents” and have them live with you for free for almost a decade—it is still hard to not have an obscenely high set of credit scores, pay all your bills on time, and live debt-free with tons of on-demand credit at very low interest rates. In short, I could solve ones of thousands of dollars problems for myself, my lady, her son, my children, my sibling, even my parents with a personal check, and tens of thousands of dollars problems with an equity line check, 24/7/365.
However, once you become “poor:” your new lady friend of four years, your soul mate; (and with your father safely dead) your four younger siblings you helped raise for their entire lives; and the mother you supported emotionally and kept married to your dead father for 48 years); even two of your three biological children (the “self-made” sons, of course) all conveniently forget your years or even decades of faithful love and service. It is a fucking Greek Tragedy, to be sure. I’m not as poor as real poor people, who never had anything, have nothing now, and will never have anything. I’m more of a former rich liberal suburban white guy appearing, but actually Italian-American, Agrarian Socialist Democrat, somewhat more radicalized by my new found “poverty.” And that hyphen is misleading, I love this dying culture as much as Osama did before my brother, Barack, sent those Navy Seals to send him to his virgins in the afterlife…
The Poverty Experiment
So here is what this Poverty Experiment, as I have begun calling it, has taught me:
1) Poverty really sucks
2) No matter how much it sucks right now, it will soon suck even more a few minutes/hours/days from now
3) Homelessness sucks even more than other poverty “perks” like having to beg for social benefits you paid for a thousands of times over with your own taxes
4) You can’t finish writing a book when you are mostly just thinking: “If I don’t kill myself before noon, I wander what I’ll have for lunch? Should I take a nap, surf some porn and jack-off, play Minesweeper for a few hours, or just watch the Discovery Channel?”
In mid-2005, after a “Psychic Tune-Up,” I told a great Insight Therapist, Dr. Frank Doyle, in Chevy Chase, MD, the following: “Well, I hope I’ve finally gotten humble enough now.” His response, damn him, was to laugh and say: “Probably not!” At least I’ve learned to never again say what I said then, out loud. Seven years and a lot of humility later, I bet I’m still not humble enough, but I fucking better be almost there or I’m going to start randomly kil… um, or something really bad is going to happen.
The Food Stamp Application (Part 1)
In October, 2011, my middle child, Tony, trying to emulate his father, me, the ultimate Good Son, invited me to live with him, his beautiful wife, Dawn, and my then 14 month old grandson, Logan, as an alternative to homelessness, My Valerie having decided she could no longer afford me, long before the balance sheet was balanced. Well, wanting to be a good son isn’t really the same as actually being one. Let’s just say we lasted five months under the same roof; his wife only threatened to throw me out once or twice. [Just forget the fact that in most cultures, for almost all of time, a son doesn’t “own” anything, it belongs to his father, unless his grandfather is still alive. And yes, I did want to scream “God is Great; fit Dawn with a Burka, and perform an sacred Honor Killing when she threatened me, knowing as I do, that in most cultures for most of recorded history (about 10,000 years) a daughter-in-law only spoke to her father-in-law when he invited her to do so, and even then she choose her respectful words very carefully. At least now I know the real reason the “Terrorists” hate us—our corrosive dying culture has “empowered” women to threaten their husband’s fathers. And Bush told you it was because they resented and/or feared our Freedom and Democracy; please… What a complete and utter dumb-ass moron idiot that Baby, AKA “W”, Bush is.]
One of Tony’s demands was that I apply for Food Stamps, so I did with the help of my social benefits expert daughter, Christy. Apparently poor people keep really good records at their fingertips, because years of no W-2 income was insufficient to justify the awesome $50/week benefit. In addition to the tens of pages application which I filled out, the idiots wanted my non-existent tax returns and a birth certificate. I think I paid for not one but two duplicate ones, each time I got a DoD Secret Security Clearance—I bet they’re in the same folder, stored somewhere in the greater Metro Area right now. I haven’t filed a personal tax return for years. My company, Anything for Life, Inc. grossed about $2,500/year from me teaching Tai Chi classes for the County part-time until it was revoked in 2011 for not paying the $300 yearly filing fee with Maryland, so I don’t jump right on filing those returns either since I never owe any taxes.
For fun I actually got on-line and paid the private company $35 to pay a kid $5 to walk across the street in Philly and pay them $3.50 to get a duplicate Birth Certificate and snail mail it to me. Unfortunately, that process takes a month, and the Social Services idiots, for some reason, are very slow but demand that you, the poor person, jump through their bullshit hoops really fast. So on the day that my tax returns and birth certificate were due, at about 4:30 PM, I went to the Social Services office, since it is impossible to call from off-site. I asked to speak face-to-face with a supervisor, which was sadly impossible. I could, and did, call her on the House Phone. My voice message was: “Hello, sorry I missed you. Who is qualified to comment on my soon to be posted blog, It’s Not Easy… [the one you are reading] before I post it?” She picked up immediately, having been tipped off by the “greeter” and sitting there in her undisclosed location bunker and asked for my case number. Needless to say, with no tax returns and no birth certificate, I received the computer generated rejection letter and the override, no doubt upper management expedited, custom letter congratulating me on getting my new Food Stamp Poor People [Independence] Card, which I was assured was retroactively approved and would have a fat first time $200 extra—sweet.
The Food Stamp Application (Part 2)
I received and put to good use the $50/week food benefit for six months, when the idiots informed me that I needed to reapply. I figured sure, “I certify that nothing has changed, ba bye and keep that money coming.” No, you fill out the same forms again, and submit the non-existent tax returns and (at least I have a valid duplicate) Birth Certificate. Surely they couldn’t be that stupid/inefficient/asinine, I went to talk to my supervisor friend. No, it’s a two hour wait to see a social worker who takes your information and then says the supervisor will call you to set up an appointment. She didn’t, but the fucking idiots—or their idiot on-auto-pilot computers—did send me a form letter cancelling my benefits effective May 14, 2012. That’s why you are reading this blog, which I compassionately withheld in good faith after the Social Services Supervisor applied The Big Picture to my application and coughed up my benefits in early December, 2011 with a little retroactive bonus from before the day I went in.
A Simple Solution to the Social Welfare Benefits Bureaucracy Problem
So here is my simple solution: I call it The Trusted Citizen Program. Like every American, I have a Social Security Number. Like very American, every penny of my wages and any other generated active or passive income is reported to the Federal government, and my State government. Computers already owned by the Feds, using real software correctly and competently written and tested by red-blooded, actually give a damn, Americans like me —not by Rich Spoiled High Brahmond Caste Indian Nations who can pay the bribe to get a visa and are here as a matter of their nation’s deliberate policy to destroy Americans IT workforce on a work visa pushed by greedy corporations who want cheap compliant foreigners, not people like me, working for them. The software program crawls through all the government collected income data and finds American citizens who have not worked, or have worked only a little, in a given year. If your lifetime taxed earnings exceed, let’s say $500,000, and/or you made $100,000 the year before, and/or you paid $10,000 in property taxes, the software system identifies you as a Trusted Citizen and sends you a form letter informing you of all the social service benefits you not only qualify for, but have been enrolled in and are now receiving, forever, until your financial plight improves, which the same software will identify for you. The few people who aren’t picked up by the software system can apply for benefits on line or in person, the form is: “I certify I’m poor, give me the fucking benefits I qualify for, now.” Half of the bureaucrats now employed checking massive inefficient handwritten paperwork applications and re-application for benefits are retrained as fraud specialists who just look through on-line government databases, not hand written applicant forms, to find the cheaters and put them in jail for mandatory 10 year terms without parole.
No longer homeless! Met a young ebony goddess, Tasha (age 38), three weeks ago. I offered to help her: gave her a light and cooked her some pasta primavera. The next day while hanging out with her and giving her a ride, she invited me to crash at her place while her 15-year-old out of control baby goddess is in a holding facility for 90 days. It wasn’t as crazy as that sounds, but pretty close. As I live in “The Ghetto” for the first time, it occurs to me that Ridgeline Drive, Montgomery Village, Maryland, 2012 is the 60s all over again–maybe to stay this time… (Everybody just sharing what little they have, staying alive and trying to make things better than they are. There is a lot of pain and hate, but also a lot of love there and people who are real.) Between Tasha and Tisha, my very spiritual authentic Muslim dear friend and 30 year old goddess, and Tasha’s neighbor, there is much reason for hope. Maybe we will survive as a species after all.