Tuesday, October 01, 2013

You're An Idiot! An Observation About our Current Political Climate.

The current government shutdown seems to be bringing out the worst in some people. I know this won't matter in the long run, because I'm pretty sure nobody reads this thing anyway. But I wanted to send out a reminder to everyone that I know, whether you are on top of this developing situation or if you don't give a crap one way or the other.

I'm not going to get into the REASONS for the shutdown. We all think we know what the problem is. The truth is we don't, and we haven't for a while. Too many people think that THEIR side is right and the OTHER side is wrong and the fact that we are talking about SIDES is proof that we don't know anything.

I wanted to remind people that it is important for us to remember that this issue is not simple. There's not an easy solution. The thing you find important in this crisis is not the ONLY important thing in this crisis. Some of this weighs heavily on you. There's a good chance that what weighs heavily on me is something different.

And that's ok.

Let's remember to cut out the hypocrisy and the arrogance. If the Democrats pull something stupid, all you have to do is jump onto Google and I promise you will find out that the Republicans pulled the exact same stunt at some point. If you think the Republicans aren't listening to reason, trust me when I say that 50% of this country believes the same thing about the Democrats.

Congress is acting like a bunch of idiots. They have forgotten how to compromise and make the tough decisions for the good of this country. When the main goal of a public servant is to be re-elected, he or she becomes a politician. The difference between a public servant and a politician is that the former understands that there are hard decisions to make, and the latter doesn't make any tough decisions so that 51% of his or her constituents re-elect him. How do you keep people happy? By telling them YES.

The American People are also acting like a bunch of idiots. We open our collective mouths and make two things abundantly clear: We know very little about the Constitution, and we seem to have forgotten that if we ran our household budgets they way we think the government should run theirs, we would go to jail.

When was the last time YOU ran out of money and simply decided to raise your debt ceiling?

BE REASONABLE. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't make me an idiot, it doesn't make me wrong, and it doesn't mean that I hate this country or you.

MANY THANKS to my politically liberal friends who can have a conversation with me. I love you and you make me feel that, in spite of what's going on right now,  there is hope for us collectively acting like adults in the future.

Monday, August 05, 2013

One Small Step...

Blogger.com's dashboard tells me that yesterday, I had 31 views of my blog. Since the latest blog post was written nearly 2 1/2 years ago, I'm sure these 31 people shared a common lament for the recent absence of a brilliant writer. Or, they didn't care one way or the other. I refuse to speculate which would be more likely.

I have been inspired by a certain someone to start updating my blog again, though, so I figured I'd start small.

So now I have an updated post, a lot of topics swirling around in my head, and a desire to share a little of my life with the world. A call to arms, if you will, even if the call is for an army of one.

Check you again tomorrow, world.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Personal Look At A Friend's Predicament

I recently read a blog post that, unlike a lot of blog posts I read, actually touched a chord with me. I felt compelled to leave a comment, which is unusual for me. The topic was pretty near and dear to my heart though, and brought up a lot of feelings that I had a difficult time dealing with until fairly recently.

The subject was child support. The sentiment expressed in the post was that the system is flawed and someone is being punished well out of proportion to their "crime". I personally agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly. I have a similar situation going on in my life, and let me tell you, don't try to change my mind. For those of you who know me and how laid-back and open-minded I am, you know how out of character that is for me!

What started as a worthy cause has been politicized and bureaucratized into an unrecognizable and misguided mess. In the mid- to late-1980's, there were a series of very high-profile deadbeat dads that caused our state legislators to overreact and do three things that had all kinds of unintended consequences.

First, they created a set of laws that pigeonhole everyone. Square peg in round hole kind of stuff. There are enough transgressions, both real and perceived, to overload the system, which is badly designed to begin with. Depending on the level of involvement that your ex-spouse has decided to take (more on this later), you can owe nothing, miss one payment 5 years down the line, and be treated the same as the deadbeat dad who has managed to avoid paying anything and moves around to stay ahead of the law. Toss in the fact that the people who actually work the system have so many cases that they can't afford to humanize their subjects. They have to treat it in terms of statistics. This many files, this many successful collections, etc. If you've been unemployed for half a year, it makes no difference to The Machine. They will treat you the same as the person who makes a million dollars but doesn't send in a dime.

Next, they endowed an agency with virtual carte-blanche to do whatever it takes to recover their money. The amount of power the Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division has is unbelievable. With no prior warning, they have the right to place a lien on every single asset you own - your bank account, your home, your car, your business. I have heard these exact words come from a caseworker's mouth:

"Well, I can remove the hold on your account if you give us half the money you have in there."

Are you KIDDING me? No formula, no desire to work with me, no attempt to find out what my situation was. The ironic thing here is that the check really was in the mail. While my account had a hold placed on it by the Attorney General's office, the check arrived and was returned NSF BY THE SAME AGENCY. So not only did I have to pay over twice the amount of child support that month (yes, I had to give them half the money in my account), I had to pay the NSF fee that was caused by their actions to begin with!

Lastly, the system puts 100% of the burden of proof on the non-custodial parent. (80% of the time, that's the dad.) Practically speaking, that means the Attorney General OR your ex can shoot first and ask questions later. In another example, I had a very unexpected hold place on my account. In this case, I had paid two months back to back, so I would be early for the next month. When I called to clear up the confusion, the overloaded caseworker condescendingly explained to me that I had missed a payment. When I insisted she look at her records, she got angry with me. We went month by month, and when we got to the back to back payments, there was literally 10 seconds of silence from her. I HAD her! She was going to admit she was wrong! Well, wasn't I wrong! No admission of a mistake was forthcoming from this defender of justice! The only concession I got was that instead of the familiar formula of "1/2 the money in your account", she insisted on a fraction of that. I guess that's as close to an apology as I am going to get.

It's not about the kids anymore, it's about the stats. As a society, we can feel good that this watchdog agency "punished" the deadbeat dad when the truth of the matter is that if you don't toe the line EXACTLY as you were told, there will be consequences ANYWAY. The child support division of the State Attorney General's office uses extortion tactics, plain and simple, and when you call them on it they have the ultimate weapon to use against you. They can threaten you with financial hardship or jail time and you have no recourse. You either bend to their demands or you get a lawyer and fight, but if you fight, then things tend to get messy. The mother has a moral advantage that is sometimes completely out of proportion to the reality of her situation. Many times a simple phone call from said mother will bring down a world of hurt on the father. It can't be avoided. It can only be suffered, with the hope that, in the end, the consequences will be mitigated. And there are rarely consequences on the non-custodial parent because, technically, no laws were broken. So if you fight the system, prepare to fight the system's ally as well.

When I was young, I also let my child support debt get out of hand. It has taken me a long time, a lot of sweat, and not a few tears to get to the point where I can see the light at the end. I personally have swallowed a TON of crap, as well as every drop of pride I have in my body, to just make it through until my kid graduates. Get this, though: I have been paying religiously for nearly 8 years. But since I am in the system and on their radar, there is NO leeway. None. If I am late, FOR ANY REASON (including extended periods of unemployment) I get harassed. They don't call, they don't bother to find out what your situation is. They lien and hold and garnish and, quite often, your first clue is when your debit card is declined or your payroll department calls you.

The whole system is a mess. It's too easy to paint people with a broad brush, and where racism is the standard against which all such brushes are measured, the child support issue is the dirty little secret brush that nobody talks about. If you're male, you will suffer the wrath of the system , whether or not you deserve it. I applaud those men who have successfully navigated the waters and have made the most out of a bad situation. They are rare. Let's hope that one day they get taken off the endangered species list.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A New Beginning

IT Manager.

I really like the sound of it. What I like even more is the hard work and post-graduate education in the School of Hard Knocks (Colt Exploration, thank you very much!) that it took to get here.

I won't bore you with the details, but in a nutshell, I have taken on the responsibility of building an Information Technology department for Coastland Federal Credit Union.

Why is this such a new beginning? Well, professionally, it's the culmination of a lot of lessons, a lot of disappointment, a lot of determination, and a fair amount of luck that has put me in a position to secure my future. Personally, it has required a change in scenery.

How about New Orleans?

I know that I just elicited a heck of a response from you. Whether that response was positive or negative is the question!

More details to come. Thanks to everyone who has supported this decision.

That means you, Jessica!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I was just talking with my wife and I had a thought. Am I the only one that thinks it is NOT a coincidence that 1 month ago, our President was talking about our economy as if it was the second coming of the Black Plague, and now he sounds like, of all people, John Freaking McCain?

I am adamant that the next four years are going to be great for this country - IN THE LONG TERM. If the GOP can get their collective heads out of their collective rear ends, it will be a windfall of Regeanesque proportions for political conservatives of all walks of life.

The only question is if any of us will survive it intact.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Don't Pinch Me. If This is a Dream, I Don't Want to Wake Up...

I've said it once, and I'll say it a thousand times more. My wife is the best EVER. Not only did she watch the baseball game with me - the Astros pummeled the Cards, by the way - she is whining that I haven't bought a grill for us yet. A grill. Are you KIDDING me?

Now she reminds me that I need to buy tickets for a Cubs - Astros game in August.

In Chicago.

Have I mentioned that I love my wife?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

This Post Is About Making a Point...Any Point

It has been so long since I posted anything that it is a little hard for me to get in the groove. I can't understand why, there is a LOT going on in my life right now. I just got promoted at work, and the work load doubled as a reward. Jessica and I are going on our first month of marriage (she and I have decided that the 26th of April will be our anniversary...2 dates in one, so it's easy). We also finished our third week at the Culinary School of Fort Worth. I start a new class at the University of Phoenix tomorrow. When I'm not thinking about it, it doesn't seem like a whole lot going on, but now that I put it down on a blog post, it seems almost overwhelming! What the heck, though, I will look back on this period of my life and realize that these were the golden years, so I am determined to make the best of it.