Tag Archives: pull yourself by the bootstraps

Can’t do nothing for ya brotha

6 Oct

Lately I feel like everywhere I turn the signs are there that as a society we simply do not care for our fellow humans. Seriously, we have become a people that figures it’s every human for them selves and if you got problems well you probably deserve them. In my work, I have been coming across folks who love the idea of helping the poor but….gotta have a but; systems need to be in place to make sure the poor are helping themselves. Despite the fact that here in America we have an economy literally in tatters there is still this belief that people can pull themselves up…damn it, use your fucking bootstraps! Never mind the fact that all some folks have are a busted pair of Payless shoes with Velcro straps. Nope, you and you alone are the master of your fate and if your shit is fucked up then it simply sucks to be you.

I think the folks who most disgust me with this attitude are Christians. This is not about bashing Christians because I am a Christian yet for the past several years as I have struggled with my faith and sought to learn more about the man called Jesus. I see a man that had a great deal of compassion towards his fellow humans, he healed folks, he fed folks and he didn’t tell them to bow down and kiss his feet first. He helped them, plain and simple. Yet thousands of years later we have followers of Jesus who put all types of restrictions on helping their fellow humans, that confuses me. Do these folks not read their bibles? My guess is no, instead choosing to listen to the human who leads their local clubhouse…oops that would be a church.

Yet, don’t get it twisted… non Christians are guilty of bad behavior too. I came across this story today and was stunned. You got a man who didn’t pay his $75 bill to have services from the local fire department and well he had a fire. Only thing is the firemen didn’t do anything to stop the fire from destroying his house. Now I just finished reading an in-depth discussion on the legalities for why the firefighters chose to do nothing and guess what? I say bullshit. Yes, the man should have paid his bill but when humans who are trained and have the ability to help a fellow human and save his house choose to do nothing, it says a lot about us as a people. The firefighters were simply following the rules but sometimes rules are unjust and not worthy of following. Common sense and compassion should trump the rules. Especially when the rules can have negative consequences for our fellow humans.

Just yesterday I was reminded of the rules when I dropped my daughter off at school and since she missed the outside line I had to take her inside the school. The kidlet being who she is, was not satisfied to have me walk her in the building and for her to walk down the hall to her class alone, remember she is 5 and still relatively new to school. Yet the simple act of walking my daughter to her class is against the rules. In order to make that happened I needed to get a visitor pass from the office worker. Never mind that the distance between the office and my girl’s classroom is just a few hundred feet, so I asked for a pass and was met with resistance from the office worker who reminded me that what I was asking for is really against the rules. I hit her with the raised eyebrow and explained this is my child and she wants me to walk her to her class which will only take 2 minutes top. After a brief standoff the worker begrudgingly gave me the pass…guess she thought I was going to back down. But I was reminded once again that sometimes we have rules for the sake of having them, and frankly we as humans need to have the ability to do more than follow the fucking rules. (nothing I have seen at the school makes me think they would be flooded with parents taking their kids to class if this rule were not in effect) This worker has no idea that the past week has been in rough at our house and frankly my daughter was just wanting a few extra seconds with Mom and I needed a few extra seconds with her. Nope, it’s all about the rules.

In order to live in a world that works for us all, I say fuck the rules and let’s find our humanity. Rather than saying we can’t do nuthin for our fellow humans, instead ask what can we do? No matter whom we are, we all have the ability to affect change and change for the better, problem is we are too focused on ourselves.

You just need bigger bootstraps

1 Apr

Warning full rant ahead! Yeah, its been a week as regular readers can tell. No rosy skies over me but hey I am doing the best I can, some moments are better than others. That said, and forgive me if I have wrote about this before but with over 150 posts there are times I am bound to do a repeat or close to it.

I’m sorry, but nothing chaps my fucking hide faster than people who think that poor or working class folks should just try harder. After all if you are poor, or strapped with debt it must be your fault? No one ever wants to have an honest discussion about how for the past couple of decades we have set folks up for failure. No one wants to address that part of our credit woes is not about folks buying houses they couldn’tafford or spending their equity on lavish items. Yes, there are some folks who clearly fell into that trap, but I am convinced that much of our credit woes is due to simple shit like wage stagnation, the decline of employer provided health coverage, pension plans versus 401K’s.

See, in the world of yesterday one that I only caught a tiny glimspe of, you went to work, the job paid a wage that actually allowed you to live, same said employer provided you with insurance and maybe even a pension plan. So after you gave the company 30-40 years you knew you weren’t going to be eating cat food in your old age.

Problem is the powers to be decided we should all share in things such as providing for our retirement and heath care but never really gave us the workers high enough wages to adequately share in the costs. Oh yeah, we had some good years when the bubbles were growing, markets did well and folks thought they would retire in palatial style. Then we started to ride the real estate bubble and then everyone and his cousin figured he would be the next Donal Trump…we would all be masters of the universe. Truth is the only reason household incomes have risen in the past 30 years is because more and more women entered the workforce so in a 2 adult household with both parties working, a family depending on their skills and jobs might actually earn a decent salary. So nobody noticed that their salaries when adjusted for current day and inflation and what have you, never really noticed that they weren’t doing as well as their parents. It was all one fucking illusion.

Well the chickens have come home to roost and truth is we were all playing a game and now its over. Nobody has any cash which is why all this talk of getting folks to spend isn’t happening. Now that Visa is no longer raising our limits but in fact lowering them in some cases and we can’t tap that equity from our homes, truth is we are broke.

So to say folks need to work harder to rise up is really just simple talk, work harder at what? Flipping  burgers? Come on, we are now living in a climate where hundreds of folks are applying for fucking janitorial positions…that’s a real growth position. Don’t even get me started on the numbers of women trying to fall back now on trading their bodies for cash. It seems record numbers of women are applying for jobs in the adult industry, sorry too tired to post links to recent stories but a quick Google search will reveal what I am talking about.

Lastly there is the issue of education specifically student loans, I have been engaging in some discussions with folks who feel that those of us who went into debt for degrees that are noit sure fire money makers didn’t use their brains. Well the bigger issue is why the fuck does school cost so much?

Once upon a time it was feasible that someone could work their way through school say with a nice summer job, problem is now at many schools the per credit costs has risen so quickly that a summer of flipping burgers even at 40 hours a week won’t put much of a dent in the tuition. Unless a family is upper middle class or higher the truth is its hard to go to college without taking out loans. Even scholarships are hard to come by in any substantial form. I maintained a 3.87 GPA for undergrad and still never got more than about 5G’s in scholarships, same for grad school.

Yeah, I guess I could have did college one class at a time which I actually tried but truthfully it was so hard that I eventually opted to take loans so I could get through quicker since as an adult juggling work and parenting was much easier said than done. Yeah, I know….I’m a slacker.

Anyway while there will always be some who truly are slacking, fact is we have created a system that working hard is no longer a guarantee of anything. It most certainly does not mean you will get ahead and lets be truthful, not all bootstraps are created equal.

Something for nothing

12 Dec

It just hit me the other day that I am indeed getting old, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However I am getting old enough to notice a disturbing trend that’s starting to bug the shit out of me, it seems the younger folks are always wanting something for nothing. Gone are the days of hard work and proving oneself. Look, I know that companies have changed the rules and they no longer reward hard work with things like a lifetime job and a pension.

On the other hand though, I see young folks who think that just because they went to college they should walk into a high paying job despite having minimum experience. Look that piece of paper is valuable and it opens doors but when you are 24-25 and haven’t worked alot, to think you are going to be rewarded with a high salary and perks is just ridiculous.

This week at my gig, I have had to deal with a young lady who I think is trying but uses life circumstances as a way to excuse mediocrity…problem is I am not the one. See, I have been working since I was 14, got my first job by lying about my age, I was tired of being broke and a job was the only way to correct that problem.

Looking back even when I was a young single Mama after my first marriage crashed and burned, I worked, folks tried to suggest collecting welfare but back 16 years ago, the state of Illinois was only offering something like $270 a month, shit rent was more than that. There was a point when my son was little when I couldn’t find one decent job, so I had two, I did what I had to do to put the bread on the table.

No, I am not saying this to pat myself on the back, shit those were hard times indeed for us but I believed and saw in action that it seemed the universe rewarded those who worked hard. Even in the bible in the book of James, it says faith without works is dead, you can pray for change and having your needs/wants met, but what are you doing about it? For many folks, the answer is either nothing or not enough.

Yet I cannot help but think the growing laziness factor with young folks is helped along by the media, on the occasions I do watch tv it seems everyone wants riches and fame yet no one wants to work hard for it. Kids instead of hitting the books, want to come on tv shows and embarrass themselves for the one minute shot at fame, shoot, we only have to look at American Idol. Those audition shows are brutal, the few times I have seen them, its plenty of no talent having fools making asses of themselves. I shake my head and wonder…where is your Mama, friends? Someone to tell you sorry but you need a realistic plan not to make as ass of yourself for the world to review on a endless loop on You Tube.

No to truly accomplish something solid and lasting it takes hard work, when I first started in the non-profit sector many years ago, I had no degree and little experience in the field. However there was an agency that I really wanted to work at, the first job they offered me was the lowest position there and barely paid more than minimum wage. I took it and worked my ass off and in less than a year of working overnight shifts and doing everything that was asked of me, I was promoted to the lowest professional class position they offer me since I did not have a degree. The thing is had I come in with a shitty attitude, I may have ended up out the door and whereas that job opened doors for me, if my attitude had been wrong the doors just as easily could have been shut.

The thing is as the ole folks used to say easy come, easy go….you can get riches, fame or whatever quickly but many times when it comes without sacrifice, it goes just as easily as it comes. Look at folks who were driving SUV’s, living in fancy McMansions, many of them now are scrambling to survive. It used to be folks understood your first house wasn’t going to fill all your dreams, it was a starting point but now folks want their first house to be perfect, sorry kids it doesn’t work like that.

Well have a good weekend, its storming up here in Maine, so I am chilling this weekend in the house.

Personal Responsibility

30 Jul

First off I am not some raving pull yourself up by the bootstraps type nor am I a closeted Republican….let me just say that since I know words like personal responsibility have been completely misused by such individuals. That said, I have a rant that’s been brewing off and on for a while and I need to let it out.

When the hell did folks in America stop exercising any type of responsibilityover their lives? No, seriously… I grew up in a working class Black family, some times life was good and hell, Moms and Pops even bought us name brand cereal and sometimes we were just lucky to have food. However Mom and Dad despite the rough times always worked at least Dad did most of time and one of the few times he tried to be a slacker and we were staying with my grandparents, I still remember my Grandpa saying “If I got to work everyone up in this beyotch needs to work or be looking for work.” Needless to say my Dad got off his ass and manned up and as one might say these days.

No, work has always been in my vocabulary, when I graduated from 8th grade at 14, that summer before high school started I lied about my age (this was back when you didn’t need to show id to work) and got my first job and I have been working ever since barring late pregnancy and right after having my babies. Now when I got pregnant with eldest child at 18, a few months into what these days would probably be known as a starter marriage, I didn’t have insurance and well babies cost money. So I had to sign up for state medical insurance which after baby boy was born turned into a very brief stint of getting welfare benefits. Let me just say that was one of the most humiliating times in my life.

Back then in Chicago it was called Public Aid aka the Aid office and even then at 19, I knew this was not some shit I wanted to do or be on long term, by the time my son turned 13-14 mos, I landed a decent gig and have never looked back. Don’t get me wrong, it has not always been smooth sailing for me since that time, but barring some really bad shit, the idea of getting a gubment handout just is not for me. There was one period in my life when my son was 2-3, where I was working 3 jobs, I had people ask me why was I doing that when I could apply for XYZ benefits, yes I could but sorry that was not for me.

However because of my humble roots if you want to call em that I have always had a compassionate heart towards helping people, back when I was working at a homeless shelter, I will admit I often bent the rules to help folks out especially those that showed some spunk. There were times when the shelter didn’t have transit money to help clients yet for those clients who had just landed a job, I often would slide them some carfare from my own money.

All that to say while I know what its like to have hard times, been there, done that and as Dave Ramsey would say I even got the t-shirt. The truth is sometimes we make poor choices that get us in a bad situation and unless we own up to it, our shit won’t get better. For me that was the realization that I have/had a spending problem, the spousal unit had been trying to tell me for years that I spend too much but last year, our lives too a sharp right when I wanted to go straight and I had to own up to the fact that sista-girl spends way too much. I am happy to say I am taming that beast, some days are better than others but awareness is a big part of it.

No this is a rather sensitive issue but why the hell do people have babies when they know they are broke and as my Granny used to say don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of? Look, I know the desire to have a baby is real, shit when that bug hit me almost 4 years ago I jumped on it but not before I looked at our finances and had a realistic idea of whether adding another child was reasonable and even doable. In our case we knew that by giving up certain pleasures we could afford it. However in the past several years I have run across some folks who are in real dire straights who keep having babies when they don’t have a pot or window or anything else and I am sorry but its madness to me to do so.

In one instance, a couple where both parties are on a fixed income (SSI) and already had 3 kids decided to have another baby, this is a family that every month must go to the food pantry because their food stamps don’t last the whole month and they have no additional money to buy food. I barely know this couple but when they announced they were expecting baby #4, I really wanted to go why??? I’m sorry but if you are at the food pantry every month maybe another mouth to feed is a bad idea….

By the same token, you have so-called middle class folks buying half a million dollar homes and yes I know in certain parts of the country that is nothing, but folks buying homes with either no money down or fancy loans like the interest-only loan. Duh, it used to be you needed to put 20% down to buy and excuse me but what the hell is the difference between a interest only loan and renting? Nothing except that one gives the illusion of ownership but you are no closer to owning than the guy who rents outright. Yet now droves of folks are losing their homes now and yes some of it is because of predatory lenders but in some cases people did not sit down and think the situation through. I know because had it not been for having a savvy ass father in-law and doing a bit of research, my ass might be joining some of y’all.

Look my point is not to rail against folks and kick anyone when they are down but as I get older, I see there is a lot of value in searching ourselves and really assessing things before we make what could be bad decisions and that is part of being an adult and taking some personal responsibility for ourselves.