When Non-Profits Only Care About the Money

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On Facebook I shared a post about some tax changes that are being made to churches and non-profit institutions. The debate that started, made me think about my own experience working for a non-profit organization and I wanted to share a little bit of that here. For around 6 months or so, I worked for a non-profit religious hospital system. My job was to be one of the people in the emergency department who collected patient information (especially insurance information) and processed payments.

From the beginning, it was drilled into us that it was about the money. We were hounded to make sure we collected certain percentages of money from patients while they were still there in the building, whether they could afford it or not. We were encouraged to apply pressure to them to pay at least a percentage that day, regardless of their personal circumstances. Although patients could legally ask to be billed later, we were told to NEVER tell them that, and only offer that option if they brought it up first.

We were told bluntly that the hospital had to make sure to look like they were doing enough “public outreach” to keep their non-profit tax status, so when they did run public assistance programs we were told to advertise them when talking to patients. It became clear that they didn’t necessarily do programs for the poor because they CARED about them, it was so they could continue to get the tax breaks and other non-profit advantages. I heard so much negative talk there about Medicaid patients and the poor. I was also told flat out that the company was purposefully looking into opening more locations in areas where the people were more likely to pay, and closing locations where the populations were poorer.

One huge issue I had was that even when someone was brought to the ER and died, we were pressured to try to get money from their grieving relatives. More than once, those in charge actually chose not to tell family members that their loved one had passed away until AFTER we collected insurance information and copays/deductible payments. They would send us in, and we would know the family’s loved one was gone, but we were told to lie and pretend we knew nothing. This killed me to have to do. One time a lady begged me for information on her husband who was dead, and I couldn’t tell her anything. I also struggled to go up to a mother whose child has just tried to commit suicide and ask her for money. I felt like scum.

In the end, I couldn’t keep this job due to my own health issues, but I couldn’t have kept doing it with a clear conscience either.

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Weekend Life Update: Depression, Meditation, Politics

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I am currently experiencing a real downturn mood-wise, but I’m going to try to write a life update post anyhow. I tried to write a blog post yesterday, but was simply to depressed to complete it. Today I’m just going to sum up a few things that went on this last week, so hopefully, I will get something done today.

  • This past Wednesday, my husband and I tried out a new meditation group (new to us anyhow). I haven’t meditated in months at least, and it felt good to “get back in the saddle” so to say. Even though I don’t find that meditation is all that great at relieving my anxiety and depression symptoms overall, it does at least give me some perspective and allow me to step back a bit when I am feeling my worst and realize that it will pass if I just wait it out. That awareness is definitely beneficial to keeping myself on this earth when part of me wants to check out.
  • My blog post about not being a social media doormat really became popular! I guess many others struggle with all the bullies and haters that tend to hang out on popular social media platforms. Glad to see I’m not alone in this experience.
  • Today I am taking my bike and aerobics trampoline to sell them to a used sports equipment store. I have had to face the fact that I am not physically healthy enough to use them anymore and they are just taking up space. Hopefully someone else will get some use out of them. It is a bit depressing though to just give up.
  • I am so disgusted by American politics right now. I am disgusted with Trump. I am disgusted with his blindly loyal followers. I am disgusted by those on the left that display blatant hypocrisy and pretend to be “the opposition”, but are just as sold out to big money and corporation interests. I am disgusted by all the pointless warfare my country perpetuates. I am disgusted by the news media that twists everything and often outright lies.¬† I am disgusted by the lack of empathy many people have towards anyone who is different from them. I am disgusted by the fearmongering and scapegoating. I am disgusted that in the richest country on earth, Flint, MI still doesn’t have clean water, and much of Puerto Rico still doesn’t have power. I am disgusted that 40 million Americans don’t have health care and that 40% of the country can’t afford basic necessities like food and shelter. I am disgusted that conditions have deteriorated to the point that suicide rates have risen 30% since 1999. I am simply disgusted and feel powerless to help.

Reasons Why I Would Commit Suicide

 

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Kind of a downer subject today, but it is something I feel like I need to say. Please note I am not in any immediate danger, nor am I planning to hurt myself in any way. This is simply a post about WHY I would likely commit suicide if I ever did. I am sharing this in the hope that others will come to care about these issues and learn to empathize with people like me.

If I were to ever commit suicide, there are two likely scenarios why, and both have a lot to do with our often selfish American culture/government and the view that many people have that everyone should just “fend for themselves”, regardless of their actual ability to do so. I honestly cannot see myself committing suicide simply because of depression, loneliness, bipolar, Asperger’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or any of the myriad other struggles I face on a daily basis. I have survived those things for years and will likely continue to do so. However, if I did ever kill myself, here are the two likely culprits:

  • Lack of medical care. This is a real possibility. In our country, basic healthcare is not guaranteed to everyone like it is in most of the developed world. Were I unable to afford treatment for my conditions (especially the depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other chronic pain/illness conditions I have) I can see myself being simply unable to bear the pain for extended periods of time with no relief in sight. If you have never had a pain condition that unbearable you are extremely lucky, if you have had conditions like that, you likely understand how lack of treatment, and especially adequate pain relief, could drive you over the edge.
  • An inability to provide for myself or take care of myself without any help. Due to the many conditions mentioned above (and the associated conditions I didn’t mention), it would be extremely hard for me to provide entirely for myself. If my husband were to die and I was unable to get help for basic survival, my greatest fear of becoming homeless and penniless might indeed come true. There is a great lack of resources for many of the conditions I have, especially for Asperger’s. High-functioning is a title I semi hate because it gives people the illusion we don’t really struggle as much as lower functioning autistics or that we should be able to “fit in” with the “real world” and be entirely self-sufficient. Many of us simply can’t. We try. We fail. We fail again. And again and again… We panic. We often have ptsd and enormous amounts of social anxiety. We feel like little kids trying to “play” at being an adult. We struggle with selective mutism. We have meltdowns. We are intellectually intelligent, but often severely lacking in common sense and street smarts. We suffer sensory issues that neurotypicals can’t even imagine dealing with. Combine all that with the bipolar, and is it any wonder that half the time I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing in this world?

*Art by Maranda Russell

My Thanksgiving

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  • Double ear and sinus infections wreaking havoc ūüė¶
  • New antibiotics tearing up my stomach
  • Had to miss out on Thanksgiving with the family (too sick to travel)
  • Still thankful for all the blessings in my life, glad to have food in my belly (even if it is going right through me right now), glad to have a roof over my head, and a nice, soft bed to lay in when not feeling well
  • Glad to have a loving husband and kitties to keep me company, even when ill
  • Still thankful to be living in America (albeit, less thankful as the years go by and the corporatocracy takes over more and more)
  • Always thankful for the gift of artistic expression and the comradeship of other writers and artists

A Few Words About Applying for Government Disability Benefits

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(The below was written out of simple outrage from what I have seen happen to fellow human beings who are genuinely too sick and weak to work, but are expected to wait years for any help from the government programs they have paid into all their lives. I am fortunate to have other resources to survive on while unable to work, but not everyone is so lucky. Many homeless you see on the streets are actually disabled veterans and citizens who deserve so much better…)

Applying for government benefits, even those you have worked for and earned yourself, can be a ridiculously long, complicated, and humiliating process BECAUSE they design it to be so. They want to break you down, make you give up, make you give in. They expect the sickest and weakest among us to jump through hurdles on command, knowing it is almost an impossibility unless there are others propping us up.

Honestly, I think they hope that you will die on your own before they have to do a damn thing. I can picture Uncle Sam with fingers crossed, hoping you buckle under the stress and poverty, or even end up taking your own life from the hopelessness and despair of feeling useless, discounted, and vilified by a media that touts how “easy” it is to fool the system and labels those who are disabled as leeches or lazy.

Apparently discrimination laws don’t apply to the government either, since they clearly indulge in age discrimination, something every lawyer will blatantly tell you up front. Even publicly, you can find legal representatives in the field explaining why you are simply fucked if you dare get too sick before age 35, 40, or even 50. So if you are a young adult or middle aged person struggling with a chronic illness or severe pain condition, you had better tell it to get lost and come back in 10 or 20 years. Yeah, that works. After all, young people aren’t allowed to be sick or disabled.

You know, it is really funny, that many of the same people who are so public about being pro-life are also always trying to cut social safety net programs like disability or make them harder to access. If they could, I think sometimes that the government would perform adult abortions on those too weak or sick to continue to prop up their sick, twisted system. Getting rid of us all would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

I Fell in Love Today

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I fell in love with a glimpse of you today…and you never even knew.

But there you were, sitting cross-legged, Indian-style on a gravel walkway winding through a field of scattered tombstones. You wore a grease-splattered McDonald’s uniform and were happily occupying your own world. Your head was down, but bobbing slightly to the rhythm of whatever music was streaming through your earphones.

Was it simply a short break or was the work day done? What was it like to leave the circus that is the home of Ronald McDonald, only to take shelter in the land of the dead a few hundred feet away? The image of you, of all that you represent washed over me and still remains in my mind’s eye – a jumbled collage of America, commercialism, youth, morbidity, and the ever-present hope of eternity.

Why I, In Good Conscience, Cannot Vote for Hillary

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I have been struggling for a while about what I should do on voting day. Part of me said that I needed to vote for Clinton because I live in an important swing state (Ohio) and there is a reasonable possibility that the unknown loose cannon that is Trump might be even worse than Clinton. Not to mention the fact, that since getting the nomination, Trump has been surrounding himself with establishment right wing Republicans, which definitely don’t represent my own point of view. Also, I couldn’t help but think of those all-important Supreme Court vacancies that the next president will undoubtedly fill. Surely Clinton would pick people at least a little better than Trump, since I am personally against theocracy in any form and don’t think religious beliefs should be used to form law.

However, I do have some major issues with Clinton. #1 – Her ties to the establishment, big banks, and corporations. #2 – She has made some horrible decisions (voting for the Iraq War, NAFTA, initial support of the TPP, her email stupidity, etc.) #3 – She is often described by those who know her personally, or have worked for her (such as secret service agents)¬†as narcissistic, angry, cold, vengeful, and calculating…aspects it is definitely easy to see in her. However, I could look past these aspects, as they still didn’t make her necessarily worse than Trump. What I can’t look past, is her hunger for war and destruction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete pacifist. I definitely believe in protecting ourselves¬†and others whenever possible, but not in being a bully or trying to force our rule on the entire world. I support our individual troops, but I do not support our current Military-industrial Complex. Hillary’s obvious intentions to continue or even escalate our current conflicts, engage in war with Iran, and now her threats to further combat with Russia, make me feel that I can no longer vote for her and just hope for the lesser of two evils. If we enter into a war with Russia and/or China, there is a good chance things could end up literally going nuclear and I can not willingly play a part in putting people into place that I feel might intend to lead us that way. I am no fan of Putin, but I do wonder why he has been so adamant that if Hillary becomes president, there will be no turning back and there WILL be all out war between the US and Russia. What does he know that we don’t?

For this reason, I will likely vote third party¬†(or maybe just write in “Turd Sandwich”), even if it is “throwing my vote away” as some accuse. I would rather vote my conscience than vote for the same status quo or even worse that is leading us towards what may look like the destruction of our entire planet if we aren’t careful. If I seem a bit crazy or conspiracy-minded for being worried, please take the time to check out some alternative media, since the stuff we are being spoon fed by the mainstream media is little more than propaganda for the establishment and their cronies.

Political Posturing and Endless Arguing Do No Good

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As I watch the massive amount of political posturing and relentless fighting come across my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages daily, I get sick of all the mudslinging, unfair attacks and hateful commentary that accomplish absolutely nothing. I’m not saying that it is wrong to have political ideas and feelings or to stand up for what you believe, but when both sides become so rigid that they won’t work together at all, everyone suffers in a multitude of ways.

When I see all the pointless arguing and hateful vendettas waged by certain politicians and their followers on both sides, I often think of a poem I wrote a while ago and included in my last book “Searching for the Truth“. I would like to share it here in hopes that people begin to keep the bigger picture in mind and not get bogged down with every ridiculous detail or distracted by every political¬†tantrum.

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The labels we give ourselves –
Democrat, Republican,
conservative, liberal –
why do we let these
names
fool us
into believing
that’s all we are?

The truth is
we need each other
like it
or not.

Left to ourselves
and those of our kind,
we lose balance
and perspective.

We forget

that there’s a whole world
outside
of our own narrow view.
A world of trouble,
a world of tragedy.
A world that
desperately
needs our help.

A world
that doesn’t benefit at all
from another pointless debate.

Racial inequality and injustice – why should I care?

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This post isn’t about one particular incident, but the numerous incidents of the last few years that have happened in the public eye. I know some people who still claim there is no real racial inequality or injustice in our country, but I just don’t see how someone can truly¬†feel that way. Perhaps they don’t want to believe it is true or they are listening to media that spins everything a certain way, I don’t know. But I don’t see how anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave can say that racial inequality and injustice are not problems in America.

Now, on to the next question…why do I care and why do I think everyone else should care? I know some people who have posed this question or at least implied it. Why do I, a white woman who lives somewhere between poverty and middle class care so much about racial inequality and injustice that doesn’t affect me? Because it DOES affect me. It affects us all. So below I am sharing some reasons that I personally care so much about this topic. Some of the reasons are personal and some are universal, but they all make me care very much.

1. I care about racial inequality and injustice because I have seen people I love experience it. Growing up I had a step-father named Charlie who was African American. I loved him dearly and considered him family, but many people thought it was wrong just because of his race. I care because my mother had two white children but she also had a child who was half African American. When that child died, people told her it was “better off that way”. They never would have said that about me or my other sister. I care because when my husband and I fostered we saw a huge difference in the way schools and even our prior¬†church treated kids of other races. Some in our church even told us it was wrong to take in kids of another race. One school secretary said she wished¬†that those of us who foster¬†would stop bringing “kids like that” to their school, yet no one ever¬†had the nerve to say¬†that about our white foster kids.

2. I care about racial inequality and injustice because it breeds hatred and violence, which affects us all. When people are angry, hurt and oppressed,¬†many turn to violence to show their rage. I do not condone¬†these violent reactions, but I do understand them from a psychological view. When no one listens or cares about your suffering, it is natural to want to draw attention to the pain.¬†Often people end up¬†choosing negative ways to do so because they don’t know how else to get people to notice and care.¬†And when violence breaks out, it is no respecter of persons. Anyone may become a victim, even you and your kids. That is a reason to care very much.

3. I care about racial inequality and injustice because prejudice grows. The LGBT and African American communities may be two of the most oppressed groups in America right now, but they aren’t the only ones. As a woman, I know women are oppressed and disrespected in many ways too. As are Hispanics and Jews. I could go on listing, but the point is that when we approve of prejudice in any form it spreads and can rapidly grow out of control.

4. I care about racial inequality and injustice because I love this country. I love the ideals of equality for all and the “land of the free”. I was proud growing up to say I was an American. I loved knowing and befriending people from all different races and cultures.¬†I loved growing up with heroes and role models of different colors. Now I’m not as proud. Slowly this country is feeling more and more hostile and uncaring. High profile people are saying blatantly hateful and cruel things about people who are different than them. Even worse, many vocal supporters agree with them. I still believe in the American dream, but I fear many others don’t.

5. Lastly, I care about racial inequality and injustice because I am a Christian and Jesus cared very deeply about those subjects. He cared about the hated and oppressed and fought constantly with those doing the oppressing. WWJD? He sure wouldn’t be hating on the poor and mistreated.