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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Honest Discussion

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The neat part is how everyone reading this will assume it's a judgment on someone else.

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iridesce
11 days ago
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philly
acdha
14 days ago
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Washington, DC
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jlvanderzwan
14 days ago
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This is more painful than funny

Time travel

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I’m not a millennial and I don’t agree with all of this post, but I am glad someone remembers what it was really like.

The 90’s were so positive, and it seemed like anything and everything was possible for me and humanity.

It doesn’t matter if any of that hope and promise was true. I’ll have more to say about that in a moment. What matters is how it felt.

And how it felt is just as Lindsey describes it. The internet was going to change the world, to improve it for everyone. Knowledge would be set free. The Cold War was over in a fizzle and we no longer lived under the constant dread of nuclear annihilation. We’d finally started getting raises again, and also seemingly solved financial and economic crises once and for all. The Great Moderation was in effect and the economy was on a seemingly eternal rising arc even while the environment improved. Poverty was declining; well-being for everyone was on the upswing. Jobs were plentiful and housing costs were minimal. Violence was decreasing and even racism seemed to be accelerating the pace of its long, slow wane.

Every fucking day you got out of bed it seemed the world was better than the day before.

I can’t find the words to tell you — for those who weren’t there or who are too young to really remember — just how very much different it felt, how much freer, how it seemed as a nation and as individuals that we could really achieve just about anything we cared to given the time.

No, it wasn’t a utopia. There were problems. Many of them. But here’s the difference: it felt like we could and that we would solve them. That’s the important part.

But back to the question of if any of that promise was true.

Most of I think actually was. And I am a cynic, if you didn’t know. The promise was real; those possibilities were capable of being realized. However, most of them would have made the rich somewhat less rich (the most important reason for the destruction of the dream of the 90s), and would’ve made white people just another group rather than the dominant group.

And then there’s now.

Every day you spill out of bed the news is worse. More tragic. More despair-filled. The president is a dangerous buffoon, climate change is accelerating and enormous financial calamities are in our immediate past and in our immediate future. The Left and the Right are beholden to the ideology of neoliberalism at all costs — even at the expense of the lives and futures of all the children and young people now living and still to be born.

The environment is worsening. Extinctions are increasing, and the rate of acceleration of extinctions is also increasing. The biosphere is in mortal danger, and meanwhile cadres of idiots on the Right and the Left believe that humans have no connection to the one thing keeping them alive. The coral reefs are dying and the oceans aren’t far behind.

No one is getting raises though we are told that we are at “full employment.” The rich are receiving tax cuts; the poor are told to go and die. Health care is likely to be stripped from millions of people while large swathes of the Left and the Right are militating for increased hostilities towards Russia, which has thousands of nuclear weapons. Monopolies and monopsonies dominate our lives and the only improvement in individual liberty is when one mega-corporation battles some other mega-corporation and it accidentally happens to benefit the hoi polloi.

And, oh yeah, Bill Cosby got away with raping more than a dozen women and feminism is in retreat.

I don’t understand nostalgia for the 1950s, because nostalgia for that time is mostly based on remembrance of 50s sitcoms by people who are actually too young to recall it in reality.

But I understand nostalgia for the 1990s because then — and especially in the early parts of that decade — it felt like the whole world was getting better, and that it was getting better for everyone — white, black, all people everywhere — and that we might actually be on a path of shared prosperity in an egalitarian society in a world worth living in.

Then came the first at-the-time small blemish on the dream: the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. Then 9/11. Then Afghanistan and Iraq; the Patriot Act; neoliberalism ever-tightening around our throats; eternal war, ever-present despair.

Now, we can’t solve our simplest problems and are told that even trying is futile, and we believe it. We feel it. We know it’s true, whether it’s true or not.

So yes, I understand 90s nostalgia, because I remember how it felt to wake up in a nation and in a world where the present did not feel like some third-rate dystopia, and the future did not seem likely to be an even worse dystopia.

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popular
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iridesce
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bibliogrrl
18 days ago
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Chicago!
angelchrys
18 days ago
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Overland Park, KS
acdha
19 days ago
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Washington, DC
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digdoug
16 days ago
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The lost promise of the Internet gnaws at me every day. We were wrong about so much.
Louisville, KY
sarcozona
19 days ago
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I spent the 90s in the middle of nowhere in a religious cult prevented from accessing or interacting with most popular culture.

When I read and watch stuff from the 90s, I'm always shocked at how much better things seem then - especially wrt sexism and racism.

millennialsargueback: poutine-existentielle: nightworldlove: guiltyfandoms: thattallnerdybean: d...

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millennialsargueback:

poutine-existentielle:

nightworldlove:

guiltyfandoms:

thattallnerdybean:

dvadad:

cashier: sorry for your wait. we’re short-staffed today

millennial: oh that’s ok no worries :)

 baby boomer:

But listen that’s the thing. 

We are short staffed almost 97% of the time at my retail job. Because corporate has figured out you can overwork 4 people at minimum wage instead of paying for the 8 people you should probably have to be on the clock.  

Baby boomers grew up with stores that were adequately staffed, with workers who most likely had weeks of training for their jobs as opposed to the 1-2 shadow shift training we get now. Also those workers most likely were able to be full time if they wanted. Now retail, except for management positions, is mostly made up of part time workers, because you don’t have to give them benefits. So you have a workforce of perpetually underpaid, overwhelmed, undertrained people trying to do their best all while dealing with an entire generation of people who refuse to acknowledge that the system has changed and the average retail worker has NO control over that change and is being taken advantage of.

Like we got our customer surveys back, and almost every single one mentioned that they couldn’t find someone to help them or we needed more people on register because it was TOO SLOW, but what did management tell us instead of scheduling more people? We need to be quicker on register and call for backup if necessary. Which makes no sense because we can’t call for backup THAT ISN’T THERE.

Y'all my parents haven’t worked retail since the 70s and they absolutely never believe me about the things that happen at work. I explain the schedule for next week gets hung up on the Friday before and they scoff and go “well when i worked at X they had it a month up your manager is just lazy.” No mom, its company policy to only do “two weeks” in advance. They won’t give you a full month’s scheduling in advance cause it let’s you plan for a world outside of work.

Or about the hours, workload or anything. They just assume its an individual’s failing instead of corporate mandate. Or, if they do believe me (that its company policy) they call it ridiculous and point out some survey that argues its Good Business to do (insert decent thing here).As if they think the higher ups don’t know this and are simply ignorant of Good Business Practices. They don’t understand that retail has completely shifted from caring about its employees to squeezing out every penny now instead of investing it for later.

Cause that isn’t how it was when they worked and they just can’t seem to see otherwise.

   I think there should be a ‘bring-your-parent-to-work-day’ instead of ‘bring-your-kid-to-work-day’, it would shock so many parents and would probably make them finally realize how much retail indeed has changed in the US.

when i first got hired as a cashier, my manager who had been doing that since she was like 17 in 1975 told me that back in The Days, when you were hired as a cashier in a grocery store it was a) a well paid job & you could get full time work easily b) a respected career choice c) the store closed at 6pm and was closed on Sundays so the hours were a lot more pleasant d) they made you go to cashier school for 2 weeks, which was basically a fake grocery store and you just learned the trade completely before even meeting a customer
now its like : you get like 20 hours a week, bullshit shifts like 3:45 to 10:15, a 20 minutes training before being thrown to the wolves, customers tell you you deserve your shitty lowlife job as soon as you don’t thoroughly kiss their ass

The millennial experience is tied to growing income inequality and the indentured servitude of student loan debt

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popular
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angelchrys
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Overland Park, KS
bibliogrrl
17 days ago
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Chicago!
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rtreborb
15 days ago
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It's really interesting to think about the generational expectations when it comes to retail jobs
jhamill
16 days ago
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Baby Boomers continue to be blind to the bullshit world they created.
California

Present at the Destruction: How Rex Tillerson Is Wrecking the State Department

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The deconstruction of the State Department is well underway.

I recently returned to Foggy Bottom for the first time since January 20 to attend the departure of a former colleague and career midlevel official—something that had sadly become routine. In my six years at State as a political appointee, under the Obama administration, I had gone to countless of these events. They usually followed a similar pattern: slightly awkward, but endearing formalities, a sense of melancholy at the loss of a valued teammate. But, in the end, a rather jovial celebration of a colleague’s work. These events usually petered out quickly, since there is work to do. At the State Department, the unspoken mantra is: The mission goes on, and no one is irreplaceable. But this event did not follow that pattern. It felt more like a funeral, not for the departing colleague, but for the dying organization they were leaving behind.

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As I made the rounds and spoke with usually buttoned-up career officials, some who I knew well, some who I didn't, from a cross section of offices covering various regions and functions, no one held back. To a person, I heard that the State Department was in “chaos,” “a disaster,” “terrible,” the leadership “totally incompetent.” This reflected what I had been hearing the past few months from friends still inside the department, but hearing it in rapid fire made my stomach churn. As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. Tillerson has canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers. This as if the Navy told all of its incoming Naval Academy officers they weren’t needed. Senior officers have been unceremoniously pushed out. Many saw the writing on the wall and just retired, and many others are now awaiting buyout offers. He has dismissed State’s equivalent of an officer reserve—retired FSOs, who are often called upon to fill State’s many short-term staffing gaps, have been sent home despite no one to replace them. Office managers are now told three people must depart before they can make one hire. And now Bloomberg reports that Tillerson is blocking all lateral transfers within the department, preventing staffers from moving to another office even if it has an opening. Managers can’t fill openings; employees feel trapped.

Despite all this, career foreign and civil service officers are all still working incredibly hard representing the United States internationally. They’re still doing us proud. But how do you manage multimillion-dollar programs with no people? Who do you send to international meetings and summits? Maybe, my former colleagues are discovering, you just can’t implement that program or show up to that meeting. Tillerson’s actions amount to a geostrategic own-goal, weakening America by preventing America from showing up.

State’s growing policy irrelevance and Tillerson’s total aversion to the experts in his midst is prompting the department’s rising stars to search for the exits. The private sector and the Pentagon are vacuuming them up. This is inflicting long-term damage to the viability of the American diplomacy—and things were already tough. State has been operating under an austerity budget for the past six years since the 2011 Budget Control Act. Therefore, when Tillerson cuts, he is largely cutting into bone, not fat. The next administration won’t simply be able to flip a switch and reverse the damage. It takes years to recruit and develop diplomatic talent. What Vietnam did to hollow out our military, Tillerson is doing to State.

What we now know is that the building is being run by a tiny clique of ideologues who know nothing about the department but have insulated themselves from the people who do. Tillerson and his isolated and inexperienced cadres are going about reorganizing the department based on little more than gut feeling. They are going about it with vigor. And there is little Congress can seemingly do—though lawmakers control the purse strings, it’s hard to stop an agency from destroying itself.

At the root of the problem is the inherent distrust of the State Department and career officers. I can sympathize with this—I, too, was once a naive political appointee, like many of the Trump people. During the 2000s, when I was in my 20s, I couldn’t imagine anyone working for George W. Bush. I often interpreted every action from the Bush administration in the most nefarious way possible. Almost immediately after entering government, I realized how foolish I had been.

For most of Foggy Bottom, the politics of Washington might as well have been the politics of Timbuktu—a distant concern, with little relevance to most people’s work. I found that State’s career officials generally were more hawkish than most Democrats, but believe very much in American leadership in international organizations and in forging international agreements, putting them to the left of many Republicans. Politically, most supported politicians that they thought would best protect and strengthen American interests and global leadership. Many career officials were often exasperated by the Obama administration and agreed with much of the conservative critique of his policies—hence the initial enthusiasm for Tillerson. By the end of my tenure, many of my closest and most trusted colleagues were registered Republicans, had worked in the Bush White House or were retired military officers. I would have strongly considered staying on in a normal Republican administration if asked.

I don’t believe my experience is unique: When you see a lot of Bush-era veterans attacking the Trump administration, it’s likely because they had a similar experience. In government—and especially in the foreign policy and national security realms—you work for your country, not a party.

What is motivating Tillerson’s demolition effort is anyone’s guess. He may have been a worldly CEO at ExxonMobil, but he had precious little experience in how American diplomacy works. Perhaps Tillerson, as a D.C. and foreign policy novice, is simply being a good soldier, following through on edicts from White House ideologues like Steve Bannon. Perhaps he thinks he is running State like a business. But the problem with running the State Department like a business is that most businesses fail—and American diplomacy is too big to fail.

What is clear, however, is that there is no pressing reason for any of these cuts. America is not a country in decline. Its economy is experiencing an unprecedented period of continuous economic growth, its technology sector is the envy of the world and the American military remains unmatched. Even now, under Trump, America’s allies and enduring values amplify its power and constrain its adversaries. America is not in decline—it is choosing to decline. And Tillerson is making that choice. He is quickly becoming one of the worst and most destructive secretaries of state in the history of our country.

Max Bergmann is senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He served in the State Department from 2011–2017.

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iridesce
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zippy72
13 days ago
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This rings alarm bells
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These are the people who suffered when Kansas’s conservative experiment failed

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Jaiden Emmons, Elizabeth Baker and Suzan Emmons stand in their kitchen in Iola, a small town in southeastern Kansas. (Ana Swanson/The Washington Post)

IOLA, Kan. — Suzan Emmons has done the most she can for the girls. Her small green house has bunnies in the back yard, class pictures proudly displayed on the living room wall, food in the refrigerator. She has scrimped from her annual salary of $14,000 to pay for one dance class each: tap for Elizabeth, jazz for Jaiden.

But far-off political decisions have made the haven that Emmons built for them more precarious.

Five years ago, she rescued Jaiden, her granddaughter, and Elizabeth, her granddaughter’s half sister, from a dangerous home. Today, she doesn't make enough money to qualify for health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. She would qualify for Medicaid under Obamacare’s proposed expansion of the program, but because the Kansas governor turned down federal funds for that expansion, she doesn't qualify there either, leaving her unable to afford insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, dramatic funding cuts at the state levels shuttered the programs that gave the girls a safe place to go when Emmons was at work and that counseled them to overcome their trauma.

Jaiden Emmons points to the location on a map of their town, Iola, Kansas. (Ana Swanson/The Washington Post)

The combination of deep tax cuts and austere spending that was supposed to ignite economic growth and reduce dependency have hit hard in the southeastern corner of Kansas, where Emmons lives, a collection of some of the poorest and sickest counties in the state that is sometimes branded the Appalachia of the Midwest.

Emmons is an involuntary participant in a conservative program of tax decreases and spending cuts that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, the policy's main architect, once called a "real-live experiment." The Kansas legislature voted to partially unwind these policies last week, when it raised taxes and spending in a revolt against Brownback.

Brownback had promised that the tax cuts would unleash an economic resurgence strong enough to keep the government funded and lift people out of poverty — a similar narrative to that of Washington Republicans, who are considering a comparable plan that pairs tax reductions with steep cuts to welfare programs. But five years after Brownback's first tax cut, Kansas has become a warning sign about what happens when promised economic growth fails to materialize, leaving families such as Emmons's to deal with the consequences.

“I just hope the country will use Kansas as a case study in what not to do. Because we tried it all. And it failed,” said David Toland, who runs the community organization Thrive. He sat across from Emmons in the attic of a thrift store in downtown Iola, where his organization is housed.

“Kansas is the canary in the coal mine, and the canary is on life support,” Toland said.

“Are you sure it’s not dead?” Emmons asked.

What happened in Kansas

Brownback, a former senator and 2008 presidential candidate, came into the Kansas’s governor’s office in 2011 on promises to eliminate the income tax, reduce the number of people on public assistance, and overhaul public schools.

The changes came quickly. The state limited eligibility for welfare and instilled a lifetime ban on welfare recipients who broke certain rules. It dramatically lowered taxes, by reducing the number of income tax brackets in the state from three to two and slashing rates on both. It also exempted small-business income from taxation entirely — creating what analysts described as a pernicious loophole when individuals started representing themselves as small businesses to qualify.

Yet the fast growth that the state's tax cuts were supposed to generate never appeared. In each of the past five years, the pace of economic expansion in Kansas has been below that of the country as a whole.

Dan Rickman, an economist at Oklahoma State University who created an index to measure states with similar economies, says that Kansas was performing in step with other similar states before Brownback took office. But after the tax cuts were implemented, it began to lag.

The small town of Iola in southeastern Kansas has a high rate of poverty, and programs that aid struggling families have seen deep cuts under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. (Ana Swanson/The Washington Post)

“To be honest, I think it’s their policies,” Rickman said. The economic benefits from tax cuts can take many years to materialize, he said. In the short term, reduced spending hurt the government’s many employees, suppliers and contractors, he said.

The policies also blew a substantial hole in the state’s budget, turning long-standing budget surpluses into yawning shortfalls. To pay its debt, the state government delayed payments to school boards and local agencies, canceled or delayed road maintenance and put off payments to pension funds.

In 2015, Brownback and Republicans in Topeka increased the sales tax to raise more money. Sales taxes are disproportionately paid by the poor, who spend more of their money on everyday goods that are subject to the tax.

Last year, with the reserves all but exhausted, the state drew down $400 million from other sources, the bulk of it from the highway fund, and put off making payments totaling about $200 million.

It wasn't enough. This March, Kansas's Supreme Court ruled that the lack of support for public schools violated the state's constitution, and ordered the government to increase funds.

“That’s essentially lawmakers shaking the couch cushions for change,” said Duane Goossen, the state’s former budget director.

'The experiment has been conducted'

Rural Kansas school systems, which were already burdened with high poverty and mental health issues, saw their budgets fall and class sizes balloon.

In Coffeyville, a small town 70 miles south down a pot-holed two-lane highway from Iola, the superintendent of the school system pointed out that the cuts to the schools were themselves deeply damaging to the local economy.

One of the town’s biggest employers, the school district has seen its budget fall from roughly $13 million to $11.5 million in the last nine years. “That’s a lot of jobs being lost in the community,” superintendent Craig Correll said.

As Brownback predicted, the lack of funds made communities like Coffeyville and Iola band together and get more creative to support one another. They turned to grants and pooled funds between programs to plug funding gaps, and had charities fill in for government services. But even so, locals say that the system has left many people behind, especially those who are most vulnerable.

In Iola, community workers talk of tragedies that could have easily been prevented.

Holly Jerome, a director at the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center, spoke about a patient who lost a leg to diabetes and a disabled drug addict who couldn't go back to work because his insurance wouldn't cover a nonaddictive pain medication. Angela Henry, project director of the community organization Safe Base, told of a 13-year-old girl who lost part of her jaw when her parents couldn’t pay to finish a dental operation, and the packing pellets a dentist put in her tooth rotted.

“The experiment has been conducted, and I don’t know how anyone who looks at data or who hears the stories that we live every day could say the experiment has been successful,”  Toland said.

Southeastern Kansas is sometimes called the Appalachia of the Midwest because of its high rate of poverty. (Ana Swanson/The Washington Post)

Some of the people who run the schools and community organizations in these small towns are more hopeful now that the Kansas legislature revolted against Brownback and voted to reverse his tax cuts.

But even after the hike, the rich are still paying less and the poor are paying more, and it will take the state a long time to recover.

“The damage from these tax cuts — the financial damage — has been so great that it may take up to a generation to really repair it,” Goossen said.

Some conservatives say that the state just hasn’t cut spending enough — including Brownback, who was not pleased by the legislature’s vote last week to overcome his veto, reverse his tax cuts and direct more funding to the schools.

“I think it’s wrong for the long-term view of the state of Kansas. I think it’s wrong for growth,” Brownback said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a positive for this state moving down the road.”

In the gap

Standing on the porch of her little house, Emmons described how she came to fall in a limbo-like insurance situation that is known as the Medicaid gap. In March, the governor had decided to veto a plan that would have expanded Medicaid coverage to 150,000 more Kansans — including herself.

“What does veto mean?” Jaiden, her 10-year-old granddaughter asked, as she fidgeted, impatient to head to the nearby pool and practice diving off the diving board.

“It means the governor said no to the plan,” Emmons said.

“He sucks,” Jaiden said.

Emmons earns about $14,000 a year from cleaning houses 40 hours a week — too much to qualify for Kansas’ Medicaid program. If she was living by herself, she would qualify for Obamacare subsidies to make her health insurance more affordable. But because she took in the girls and her household has expanded to three, she also earns too little to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance through the marketplace.

She says she can’t afford insurance premiums outright, which would come to nearly half her earnings. At 57, she is going further into debt and has no hope of retirement.

In February, Emmons traveled to Topeka, where she gave testimony urging lawmakers to expand Medicaid in the state.

Elizabeth Baker, Suzan Emmons and Jaiden Emmons stand on their porch in Iola, a small town in southeastern Kansas. (Ana Swanson/The Washington Post)

Other programs on which the family depends are also being squeezed. A community program that gave her daughters a safe place to go when Emmons is at work has seen funding cuts of 90 percent, and this year it canceled its summer program entirely.

She dreams that her girls might one day go to college — but more realistically, she hopes that they will have a better life than their mother and father. She hasn't heard from them in five years.

“If I had not taken the girls out of their situation, they would have followed in their mothers’ footsteps. You know they would, because that’s all they know,” she said.

“I’ve said all along, I’m not looking for a handout. Nobody should ever get anything for free,” she said. “You should work for what you get. But they make it harder and harder every day.”

Max Ehrenfreund reported from Washington, D.C. 

See also:

Kansas’s conservative experiment may have gone worse than people thought

It’s time to stop blaming poor people for the financial crisis

Republicans are predicting the beginning of the end of the tea party in Kansas

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acdha
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iridesce
33 days ago
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Trashing, Pile-ons, Accountability ... and AEDs

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I've written a new MetaFilter post, "Distinguishing character assassination from accountability", pulling out quotes from eleven writers from the past 40 years on how we take and charge each other with responsibility and power within communities, and in particular how we do accountability in progressive groups -- from Jo Freeman and Joanna Russ discussing "trashing" in the US feminist movement to people in the last few years and weeks talking about times to get on the phone, making trusting relationships for accountability, and lessons from Occupy. Perhaps the most immediately useful link in there is this "pod" discussion and mapping worksheet.

Speaking of MetaFilter: after the US election in November, I decided to take some concrete steps to be a better neighbor, so I took a CPR and first aid class. In it I learned about how amazing and underappreciated automated external defibrillators are. I did a bunch of reading and wrote up this MetaFilter post:

If someone had a heart attack right next to you, could you get to your nearest automated external defibrillator, grab it, and use it within 3-5 minutes of their collapse? More and more, the answer is yes, because of Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs (that statement is from 1995; 2015 update to AHA guidelines).

On average, when a person in the US calls 911 because someone's suffered cardiac arrest, emergency medical responders get to the scene in 8-12 minutes (Red Cross) -- but for people suffering cardiac arrest, for every minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival goes down about 7-10% (American Heart Association, PDF). Bystanders (even untrained ones) who use AEDs on victims can save lives; "Application of an AED in communities is associated with nearly a doubling of survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest."

But where's your nearest AED?...

In that post, I commented about how difficult it can be to get PAD data, in New York at least. I ended up sending in a document request to the New York State Department of Health, and need to review what they sent back to me. Also I happened to mention my amateur AED research while talking to my city councilmember at a local Democratic Club meeting, so he might be introducing a bill soon to make the PAD data for NYC more accessible? So that's cool.
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iridesce
38 days ago
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Neat points. I hadn't paid much attention to AEDs before.

Also, in regards to skills that make you a better neighbor, I've heard good things about the Mental Health First Aid course too.
philly
brennen
38 days ago
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Boulder, CO
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