Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Childhood Memories of Growing Up On and Before Welfare from the 1950s to the 1970s and Drug Testing for Public Aid Today

Every time I see a face book posting or hear in the news about a politician advocating testing welfare recipients for drug use, it makes my skin crawl and my hackles get up. The people that propose this crock of crack for the most part are those that oppose abortion. Now if I had my way there would be a license required to breed or reproduce a kid, proof that the parents were both financially and mentally stable to bring up their offspring without governmental assistance or no breeding allowed. But then I don‘t make the rules. I have no kids and get no welfare, but there was a time on occasion as a kid that I was one of the involuntary recipients of public aid.

I am the oldest of 4, originally 5 living kids of parents that were loving but semi irresponsible bohemian individuals. They didn’t do drugs, other than cigarettes and coffee. They, my mother in particular had mental health issues, plus they were free spirits. I was the oldest and 6 years older than my second sibling, a brother, who now lives on a mental health disability in Illinois. He wants to work but would lose all benefits if he did. Now what is right about that? He makes a little money under the table from time to time doing yard work and hauling, but there is not one person that purposes drug testing for benefits that would envy his lifestyle. He is a 30 year member of AA, does drink coffee and been known to smoke a cigar from time. His wife, who is also mentally fragile and challenged, had one child in 1977. Her only vice is sugar. She is a diabetic.

My youngest sister, 13 years my junior, died from a brain tumor at age 49 on Christmas Eve 2010. I never lived with her but she had a tough life. She did not complete high school and worked in a health food store until her brain tumor made it impossible. The tumor robbed her of her sanity at the end of her life. She left behind two teenage children, one autistic. Her husband receives disability from problems stemming from serving in Vietnam. Isn’t war glorious? It is questionable whether he really needs it or just knows how to play the system. Regardless I don’t envy him, nor did I her or know one person who would. Was she a druggie? No. Is he? No, just booze. He doesn’t even own a car or drive!

Then I have another sister and brother. My middle sister, 10 years younger than myself that lived with me and my first Oklahoma oil company descendant husband of 7 years while she was in high school in the 1970s. She married well, got a good job working as an accountant for another small Oklahoma oil company and finished her degree in Accounting after I moved to Alaska in 1978. She and her husband adopted our grandniece at age one out of foster care in Rhode Island in 2005. Within the last 7 years she has struggled with a neurological disease that makes life a challenge for all those she loves, especially for the adopted child who is now 8. Life is not fair! She is well heeled financially, but I sure don’t envy her, plus she lives in a place I consider Hades (at least at times), Oklahoma. She loves it there because it is her home.

Finally there is my brother who is 11 years younger than myself that has made a lifestyle of living off the system. He is married to a Black woman and they live in Washington state. My brother, Abe’s wife had 5 kids before meeting him by two different men and then they had 2 more together. He had 3 kids prior to her with his first wife. So between the two of them they have 11 kids and neither work. So what is wrong with this picture? Why don’t we require people to work for the state in some auspices to draw their government checks if they are physically able? Why do we penalize or make it impossible for those who want to work that are receiving marginal survival living benefits? What I am told is it would take too much over site. What about the 1930s and the TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority, or the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, or back in my day, the 1960s with the college work study programs?

The question should be clear and simple to one in need: You want welfare or a government survival lifestyle check? you are required to come into work where you are sent, bottom line. Got kids? Required to send them to school and work cleaning school bathrooms and/or work in a lunch room, clean the play ground, etc. etc.! Or send them to the local dog park to pick up missed dog poop. Did I forget to mention my brother Abe with the 11 kids has mental health issues also, as in Borderline personality and receives a disability check? All his offspring with the exception of one have mental health issues. Dear Abe served time in the prison that is in the town where the God forsaken president Ronald Reagan was from in Illinois. The president who with his staff cut mental health services to the minimum in the early 1980s? We continue to suffer from these cutbacks today. Incidentally my brother Abe is a right wing Republican Bible thumper that does NOT do drugs. I told you he has Borderline Personality disorder, he is brain dead and no doubt lazy. He also refused to send his kids to school for many years saying he was home schooling them when in fact he was staying up all night and sleeping till late afternoon, creating another generation in need.

None of these people I mentioned ever did a drug other than perhaps alcohol, cigarettes or coffee. But if they did and failed a drug test what would happen to their children? Do all the anti Abortionists not really give a crap what happens after a kid is born? I grew up off and on welfare and have never had to turn back to it for help since a child! I didn’t breed, because I was going to help save the planet, by starting with adoption. Plus I knew there are already too many people on earth without me adding to the problem. What a colossal mistake that was. But I can tell you the shame of having to need something to eat or wear and feeling the pangs of hunger before welfare was instituted in ‘64 (I was 16 then) and those memories I will never forget! There by the Grace of the Creator go all of the self righteous wanta be drug testing enforcers. You want drug tests? How about for politicians first and foremost. One congressman’s salary is more than equal to 20 welfare recipients aid. There are required drug tests to work at McDonalds, but none to be president! Instead of drug tests, how about licensing for reproduction? You have to have a license to own a dog, catch a fish, drive a vehicle and isn’t bringing a kid into the world just as important? Repeated government misplaced priorities!

Before the government issued checks and food stamps established during the Johnson administration in 1964 with the questionable “War on Poverty” my parents received commodities (food) in Tulsa . The commodities included stacks of beans, flour and rice, peanut butter and huge blocks of “government cheese“. Unfortunately no one cooked, unless my grandparents came around to do it when they were alive. The cheese and peanut butter always got eaten first, but not much else except maybe the spam. When Grandma was alive she would get the spam from my parents and put brown sugar on it and bake it, then slice and fry it for making sandwiches. It was tasty enough to have been eaten at the late great Anchorage Whitekey’s Fly by Night Club with the spam glorification menu back in the 1980s .

In conclusion, I recently asked my oldest brother Matt and my sister Angie what they remembered about growing up on welfare. Matt said, “the question you asked about growing up on public aid. It is not something I would have preferred, but it was better than what would have been the case if we hadn’t had that going for us. I suspect we may see a lot of people humbled in our society in the future. If that’s the case, we may see a lot of people eat crow for insults they gave people like us.” My well heeled ill sister, Angie, never replied but as I said before she is ill, has lost the ability to talk but still can text. I think she would prefer to forget she ever lived with that shame. She did have a severe case of rickets as a toddler, born in 1957, before welfare and caused by malnutrition. Eventually her situation improved, but today what’s up with her rare neurological disease? One specialist implied that rickets should have been rare growing up in sunny L.A. as she did, perhaps, but not when you consider the early malnutrition.

We are talking incompetence and dysfunction folks and hungry kids. What good will drug testing do for this? Are we assuming the food stamps and public aid are used for heroin and other drugs? How many heroin dealers do you know that accept food stamps? Just another way to humiliate those in need, not to mention the unnecessary cost to institute needless testing because the majority of welfare recipients do Not do drugs, they simply reproduce needlessly!

Mary Alta Buckingham -
 Childhood Memories of Growing Up on and Before Welfare and Drug Testing for Public Aid Today -  Feb. 11, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My/Our Year in Review - 2012

What I liked and didn’t like about 2012, Negatives & Positives, Pros and Cons:

(I did it! I finished my 2012 Year in review on February 4, 2013, slow but sure.)

January and February:
Southcentral Alaska was plummeted with endless record breaking snow and other than shoveling it, my husband Joe and I went skiing at Conner’s Bog with our 2 year old dog Pogo when not taking her on her daily walks and doggie social hour. Granted most people walk faster than I ski, but isn’t it always the thought that counts? One ski outing was on Super Bowl Sunday which insured a quiet day. This year we spent the occasion in the emergency unit of Alaska Regional, also quiet thanks again to the football game no doubt. Fortunately the end results were not as bad as feared. Joe was just full of it and the cancer tumor which surfaced in May has not returned. Hopefully a Vegan diet proves to continue to be worth the effort when his growing lower neck lymph node, the Devil’s Node or Birchow’s Node is checked out with a biopsy in the near future.
The early months of the year were also filled with various University of Alaska Ole’ (Opportunities for Lifelong Education) classes on Friday. Classes such as “senior life” and others that were really not that memorable. There was of course my endless face booking, our trips to the Capt. Cook Gym every other night, Memoirs on Tuesday, Senior Tai Chi on Thursdays, First Friday Art Walk, Anchorage Genealogy Society monthly meetings and meals and movies from the Lucky Wishbone to the Bear Tooth, probably spending more money at the latter than when we made when we had a bookstore in the same location 20 years ago.

A great week long Road Scholar trip to San Diego. Saw my sister Angie and her husband, Steve on their 25th wedding anniversary as well as our grand niece Angelica a few brief times. Enjoyed not having to do anything but attend daily Road Scholar events.

April & May through August:
Joe’s esophageal stomach cancer diagnosis and dealing with the cancer treatment medical establishment would drive a sane person crazy. Fortunately the chemo didn’t start til August when the Alaska summer really got serious about rain. We were able to get out and about from Homer, to Seward to Palmer in our “new” RV. Looking forward to this summer doing more of the same, camping that is, hopefully not more chemo.
Also we lost our long term neighbor Sheila to her move south to Surprise, Arizona in May. Also due to cancer and discovered she was an art collector unbeknownst to us after 35 years as neighbors.
Garage sales in April and Mother’s Day to celebrate the season and unload stuff.

In May we bought our first new full size bed for the house in 30 years from Coscto and rented a U-haul to move it in with the help of our late teen neighbor boys.  Had roof guards installed in June, so we don't have to worry about falling snow.  Then we replaced the upstairs carpet for the second time in five years.  The berber just didn't work for us.  It unraveled and got dirty easier than we could ever imagine.  We almost didn't have the old carpet removed in time for the new installation until late the night before.  Again we had to ask the young neighbor Aussie/Irish teens for assistance in tearing it out for a small fee of $60. 
Also in the early part of the summer we discovered our estranged former adopted son that hadn't lived with us in 9 years had a fake driver's licensce with our address on it.  The discovery was made when Carrs/Safeway sent a request for payment of a fine for shop lifting at Sears Carrs/Safeway.  We contacted the police and they could care less.  We also contacted Les Gara and it too was a deadend.   At least the authorities are aware he has false identification for what it is worth.

Anthony Rollins, the decorated Black Anchorage police officer convicted of sexually assaulting five women and the $5.5 million dollar municipality settlement lawsuits to the victims who never fully recover. What is wrong with this man? And moreover his supervisors? What were they doing when all this happened? They knew something was amiss but did nothing.
On the personal home front, sickening of all the people and traffic in Anchorage, Joe and I decided to apply for a loan to move a new one level unit with a mountain view in the over 55 community “Mountain Rose Estates” in Palmer. We were approved but after reading the endless rules and regulations and spending a quiet Sunday afternoon there, I knew it wasn’t the place for me. The master bedroom view was of the barbed wired Mat-Su Youth incarceration facility. No thanks, even though it brought back fond memories of working a year as a bilingual tutor at Anchorage’s McLaughlin Youth Center in 1978-79, I didn‘t relish the idea of living out my life‘s end with that view.

In the fall we started Ole courses again and signed up for too many, most of which we gave up going to after one or two sessions. One of the best ones was “The Working Poor: Invisible in America”. David Shipler author of the book by the same title was a presenter at one of the sessions. (His blog is http://shiplerreport.blogspot.com/) In the same vein, in August I read about the Anchorage School Board member Don Smith opposing free meals for poor kids. Unbelievable. Bring them into the world and let them go hungry?
Obama and Biden won the election against the Mormon Mick Romney and Catholic Paul Ryan. I was thankfully in many ways even though I was and am not fond of either party or any of the candidates. Recently the Democrats really pushed the bullet starting with sanctioning Gay marriage, accepting Gays in the Boy and Girl Scouts and welcoming women to fight in combat situations. Not a comfort to know Mothers as well as fathers with PTSD will be raising the next generation. Again I don’t really like any of it or anybody, but c‘est la vie, I am old school and not politically correct. Never was and never will be, like to march to my own drummer. But things could always be worse like living in a fundamentalist Moslem country as Pakistan with their religious right wing Taliban that will try and kill any female that wants an education. October 9th the young 15 year old girl Malala almost lost her life to such scum, but fortunately survived. The same day I read in the UAA Northern Light about Bethany Brunelle, a Muslim Association vice president wearing a hijab and prays to Allah five times daily. According to the news article by Nita Maugioa, “she (Brunelle) is a UAA student studying journalism, public communication and music. She is white, an American and a Republican, raised in a Conservative Christian home”. She goes by the name Suhaila, her chosen Muslim name. Well the gal is fat and not too pretty and guess what she is the only female in the club. One way to get attention. Wonder what she would be studying in the Arabic world? She is obviously brain dead, makes my skin crawl needless to say, just like drug testing for welfare recipients. If I had my way the hijab, would be against the law as in France. Included would be laws against wearing shorts and inappropriate attire in cold weather including sock caps in sixty degree weather in places like Arizona. All this type of crap just goes to show a person, common sense sure isn’t common.
In November rain and wind lashed Northern California. Reminded me of my husband’s, Moonshine’s and my time there in the winter of 2005-06. Was glad to miss it for a nice mild winter at home in Anchorage with our bow-wow Pogo and Wiley the cat.

My 64th birthday. the 14th was the same unfortunate day of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shootings. The big positive December event was finding out that Joe’s tumor was gone. We had a mini birthday party for his 73rd birthday the 29th to celebrate. Here’s to 2013.
Mary Alta Buckingham - 2012 Year in Review Memoir - February 4, 2013,
 Joe’s brother Don’s 75th birthday, RIP, 1938-2002 (age 64)