poor-kids

As someone who has been there, done that much of my life, this articleScience confirms rich people don’t really notice you—or your problems…is about what I was feeling and trying to explain a couple of days ago.

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This is what I looked like for Halloween. Sure scared me! The neck that ate SLC. Stupid steroids!

I was talking to someone about all sorts of things in my life…like camping all over the country, talking to lots of people, meeting folks who turned out to be fascinating and on and on with what I had seen and felt. Then I was reminiscing about the first ward I was in here in SLC and the one I changed to. I almost always showed up half an hour early most of my LDS life and watched and listened as people filed in. Stuff like that is what fascinates me. Like who comes early and who is always stressed out and coming in at the last-minute. Who hugs who, who greets who and what they talk about.

I also love to watch how families, couples and singles act as church is happening. Mormons are big on scratching each other’s backs….literally. Lots of back scratching going on. From the very first time I ever showed up in an LDS chapel, I noticed huge differences. Families came armed with toys, books and snacks to keep kids busy. And they also had to get up and use the bathroom a lot. I was used to people filing in, paying strict attention and not doing anything else until the service was over. But….an LDS day at church is 3 hours long. It was fun when I was in reasonable shape, but impossible when I wasn’t.

My favorite home ward of my life was the one in Lakeland, Florida. People were always engaged with each other there. Of all the places, there was less of a class divide, I lived for Sundays 🙂 I felt very alive and inspired…more reverent, more vibrant. One of the things I loved, loved, loved about roaming around in my RV, was going to new wards each week. All were unique. And as I always say, it was easier for me because I could yak with everyone without worrying if I knew them. I did not have to identify people by their faces.

It did not help that I had West Nile Virus when I went to my first ward in SLC. I was sick…but at the beginning, I had no idea just how sick. And the building only made me much worse. The bishop was new. He was not a people person. He had few social skills. He was actually mean to me….chastising me for not having a job! The guy was king of jumping to conclusions without getting to know someone first. It wasn’t exactly a good start to my experience in the heart of Mormondom. That tinged everything from then on. It’s not a problem with doctrine…it was a problem person to person.

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Worshipping God and being socially comfortable do not need to go hand in hand. I determined a long time ago that no person was going to get between me and God. People are imperfect beings who are here on earth to learn. People can be having a bad day or a bad life. I need to not take it too personally. One thing that has bugged me about Utah is that there is both a religion and a church called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints….and then there is the Mormon culture. People who are from here blend the 2 together. I joined because of scriptures and teachings….not to be part of some social club.

The closeness of some wards is both a blessing and a curse. Everybody knows a lot about you. That can cause mutual help and respect….or lead to a superficial existence to impress others. In some cases….from my point of view….it leads to a place full of “Stepford wives”, guys wanting the biggest baddest vehicle, teens all looking a lot alike, and all that….that has nothing to do with being LDS…..but everything to do with being Mormon. The seedy parts of that causes families to abandon their children who are not carbon copies….teens who are gay, who experiment with drugs or alcohol, kids who don’t fit in and try to commit suicide, etc. I see things as an outsider. Way too much emphasis on conformity. It’s not the religion…it’s the culture in some places where LDS folks live.

Well….seeing as I was always some sort of adventurous hermit who unschooled, was a homesteader, ran an organic farm and was rarely accused of being normal…there probably aren’t any places I fit in. I’m glad I didn’t feel like trying. I think my life was richer for it….not in money, but in experiences. I was able to blend in just about everywhere….for short stints 🙂

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The homeless person to the left was sitting under a blanket on the sidewalk yesterday, amidst an impossibly large collection of their belongings.

I used to hear on the news that dozens of people would step over a dead body on the sidewalk before someone realized the person was dead. In my Vermont years I could not fathom how that could happen. After 4 years downtown, I totally understand. People lying on the sidewalk, not moving, still scare me….but I know enough to leave them alone. If you wake someone who is sleeping off a high or drunk state, they are liable to jump up and hurt you!

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This person was part on the sidewalk, part on the grass on Monday, asleep in front of Workforce Services.

Even without leaving my apartment, I see dozens of homeless each day. It doesn’t take much toodling around to see them everywhere. The homeless population has gotten much bigger over the 4 years I have been here. There is not enough affordable housing. There was also no Medicaid expansion in Utah, so the ability to provide addiction treatment, mental health help and medical treatments for the most vulnerable is not there. This in turn leads to high rates of burglaries, stolen cars, gang violence, and other unsavory stuff. I hear addiction is rampant everywhere, but I never lived in the midst of it like I do here in SLC.

There is very little help for low income disabled seniors like me. I’m in shock that even as part of hospice, Medicaid will not pay for someone to do my laundry or help with cleaning. That’s not how it is in other states I have lived. So…..there are a whole lot of poor folks in this state who live in squalor and abject poverty because no church can do everything and it’s a state mantra to not pay taxes. The very people who should have the most compassion have very little. They are also insulated from many problems by living in enclaves of similar income folks. Nope….the rich don’t even notice and they sure don’t care.

Here it is seen as rugged individualism to not pay taxes. Of course those same people want decent roads, good libraries, public parks, the best schools, etc, etc. They seem to miss the disconnect. Services cost money. The rich just go to their private schools, spas, golf courses, pools, amusement parks, etc. The poor stay home and watch antenna TV. It really, really pisses me off that so much public money goes to sports stadiums, fancy concert halls and lavish theatrical venues! Most people I know could never afford to go inside such a place.

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I took this pic of the newly completed George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater. There was an interview on TV about it. The place was built with mostly tax-payer dollars, but they go to great pains to not outright say that :-p The guy also went on and on about why they needed to “add on” the office building portion to earn money. Just as an example, I looked up ticket prices for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Wheelchair seats go for $45 to $95! Taxes from everyday folks go to subsidize the rich folks pleasures. Very slick.

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The pompously pious among conservatives say that individual charity should replace government help for the poor. That never works. Charity goes to cuteness…cute kids, cute animals….not who needs it most. And for folks like me with life-long chronic illnesses or people with serious mental and physical problems, charity cannot even begin to take care of needs. The biggest reason people are poor is because even though they work, they don’t have enough money to meet all their needs. Someone is profiting mightily by not paying them what they deserve. Look at the Walton family. They pay Walmart workers a pittance and have a humongous fortune. The Waltons cost taxpayers billions because those poorly paid workers then need food stamps, health care, housing subsidies, etc. Makes me sick 😦

Because corporations and wealthy people are not paying their fair share of taxes, there’s not enough money to support both all the wars and US citizens. Can you name all the countries the U.S. is currently bombing?

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I am getting very weary of politics…and especially the presidential election. We have two creepy people to choose from. Each dangerous for their own reasons. The only way people get that powerful and that rich is through lots and lots of shady deals. I have fallen back on my favorite new line more often than I like to admit. “At least I’m not going to live a whole lot longer”.

And speaking of that, I decided to try to get the opinion of my internist on my failing health, hospice and all this losing consciousness stuff. So far, all the orders have come from my other doc and NP. I want to hear what the internist thinks. I sent him a message on Friday and he finally got around to answer this afternoon. Here’s the whole thing, copy and pasted. Pl.follow up with me asap!. Ummmmm, gee thanks. Instead of answering sooner or giving me an appointment, I have to get in the queue and hope to be seen this week.

I am sooooo tired and weary and disgusted and disturbed….about most everything. Sigh….

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