Re: Poverty

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When an 18 year old conservative student says "This person is the exception, not the rule," the appropriate response is, "How the fuck do you know what the rule is?"

Although, maybe phrased without the F-bomb. Maybe.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 7:01 AM
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There's a First Semester in College course that I could teach, frex.

""Look to your left, look to your right, because one of you will be a libertarian asshole at least once by the end of the year."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 7:31 AM
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who I would expect to say something like "This person is the exception, not the rule."

I have close relatives who would say: What in the world is she doing getting pregnant when she's living in a weekly motel? (Her answer to that question would be deemed entirely unacceptable.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:06 AM
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It's certainly an interesting phenomenon. When I looked the other day her GoFundMe was up to $57,000. Of course, lots of trolls have showed up to point out that she is not PRECISELY as badly off as one might infer from the original post. Which is stupid, as she is fairly clear that she's not crafting an ironclad narrative of her exact situation here.

It would be interesting to compare her experiences with B. Ehrenreich's in "Nickel and Dimed" -- the lack of teeth thing is a big glaring difference.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:07 AM
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Also, I happened to hear "The Bristol Stomp" yesterday and now I cannot get it out of my head. This is a Demolished Man level of earworm.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:09 AM
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Hoping to insinuate compassion into the Internet-fortified bunker of assholishness that is the average conservative, college years edition, seems rather quixotic, especially with the antiquated technology of the first-person true confession. There's a "Good pitching beats good hitting and vice versa" analogy to be drawn here about subjectivity as weapon and armor in the struggle for solidarity, if it weren't banned/too much work when I have to pack and whatnot.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:17 AM
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Hoping to insinuate compassion into the Internet-fortified bunker of assholishness that is the average conservative, college years edition, seems rather quixotic

I think this is basically right. People like that at that age are just inherently hard to convince of anything. Some eventually change their minds about stuff and develop more reasonable opinions as they get more experience of the real world, but they generally have to figure this stuff out for themselves. Others don't, and grow up to become the sorts of conservatives that you have to avoid and/or outmaneuver to get anything done.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:29 AM
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It's certainly an interesting phenomenon. When I looked the other day her GoFundMe was up to $57,000. Of course, lots of trolls have showed up to point out that she is not PRECISELY as badly off as one might infer from the original post. Which is stupid, as she is fairly clear that she's not crafting an ironclad narrative of her exact situation here.

I've just skimmed the other posts on the first page of her blog, but it looks interesting, and worth reading. Not surprising, she is aware of and responds to that reaction.

I have been interested at the people who are angry at me. People are blaming me for this luck. They are angry that I have it. They think that I am not "poor enough" as though there were an amount of not-quite-able-to-keep-up that was acceptable, that would qualify me to speak. It is as though they think that I would have had the time or energy to write at all when I was at the low points, like you don't have to be relatively privileged to have the luxury of speaking.

We hear, constantly, that people should work hard and lift themselves out of bad circumstances. We hear people moralizing about how people should take care of their families and not depend on welfare. We hear that people are poor because they have failed to maximize their earnings and they fail to live up to their potential and do not grab their chances.

But they will not let you win. If you are looking at how to break this pattern in your life, if you try to climb up a single step, you will be told that you don't deserve it. You're hustling. You're scamming. You're not qualified. It does not matter who you are, only who you've been, unless they do not approve of who you have been, in which case there is no way to win.

...

If you have a single thing about you that does not fit one of two or three approved narratives, you will have people pointing at you and telling you that you are not deserving, not worthy, not good enough, not perfect. You're a single mom supporting her family? None of your kids better get in trouble, because then you are a Bad Mom and not worthy of respect. You failed out of college? You are Lazy and Stupid. You smoke some weed on the weekends with your friends to relax? You are a Drug Addict. You have to rely on food stamps because there's not a decent job available? You are a Leech On Society.

There are plenty of examples, but let's run with these. Let's contrast and compare. If you are wealthy and your husband divorces you and your kids get in trouble? They're having a difficult time at home. You fail out of college? You can go back as many times as you want and call your time off a reflection year. You smoke some weed on the weekends with your friends to relax? You're put on the society pages as "racy" and "daring." And if you take a hundred grand in tax breaks every year, you're not a leech. You're successful.

...

We demand that the poor justify everything and explain everything. And people are not stupid. We only demand this of the poor. We only demand sainthood of the poor. We feel bad for people and then we feel betrayed if they turn out to be more complex than a single snapshot, as though the sum of a life can ever be explained to anyone that has not lived it. We impose these tropes and ideals and stereotypes and punish people who do not fit them. We demand that people become flat and easy to pin down and fit into our heads, as though that were possible.

That isn't as well written as the piece in the OP, but the sentiment is both clear, and totally understandable.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:41 AM
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I read that a week or two ago and some of the things are great explanations, but (and I may be misremembering because I don't have time to reread now) there were some financial arguments that I thought were self-defeating, along the lines of "my bills are already late, so who cares if I don't pay them all when I actually might be able to?" I'm not arguing the asshole line that " Those poors should never eat out if they have an outstanding balance!" but the kind of fatalism described seems to bleed over to things where it does seem a little self-perpetuating.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:46 AM
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9: Right, but that's sort of the point. Being in that sort of situation encourages decisions that make it harder to get out of it than seems necessary from the outside.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:50 AM
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Internet-fortified bunker of assholishness

It's also very much a matter of self-image. The relatively successful young person has a lot invested in believing that their lot in life is based on merit. If you can steer around this there's some chance of getting through. I knew a guy in college who started out as a full bore Randroid and was brought around by his girlfriend, who had a much rougher lot in life but was clearly his intellectual equal, and worked harder than he did. It's not a generally applicable method for conversion, but I think it points the way.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:51 AM
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It's not a generally applicable method for conversion...

Anything that involves the potential for sexual contact with a Randroid really isn't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:53 AM
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Well, maybe I'm missing the distinction between her own situation and her situation as an illustration of being poor in general. She was saying that she recognized not paying a bill when she had the money was stupid so it's not like she wasn't aware, but is she arguing that she knew she was being stupid and said fuck it, or that people don't even realize they're being self defeating?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:55 AM
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13: I don't think she was necessarily arguing either of those things (though she would probably agree with both), just illustrating the sort of thinking that she and other people in that situation often end up in.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:58 AM
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IIRC she says right at the beginning of the piece that she's not trying to make any particular point, just giving a sense of what it's like to live the way she does.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 8:59 AM
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13: I think what you're missing is that she's not arguing that behaviors that look self-defeating are all actually functional, more explaining how they happen psychologically. I tend to get set off a little on similar lines by people explaining how difficult it is for poor people to cook, because I think the practical difficulty does get overstated. But if I step back a bit, cooking really is a serious effort, and it doesn't save that much unless you're really cutting ingredients to the bone -- whether or not simple cooking is as daunting as it gets presented as, it's still an extra load on people who are overloaded.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:03 AM
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"more explaining how they happen psychologically"
Ok, that makes more sense- the disconnect is that obviously she is self-aware if she's writing it (although maybe that's only in retrospect), but I can understand how people might not even want to think about finances when you have 20 other things to worry about even if thinking about finances would actually help alleviate several of those other things.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:07 AM
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An old friend of mine who has since become a moderately important liberal do-gooder once made a keen observation about a summer he spent working in a healthcare facility that serves urban poor people: "Every day I see people who confirm every liberal belief, and people who conform to every conservative stereotype." (Elaborating on the latter, he spoke about people who aren't working, have never worked, have no plans to look for a job, etc.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:10 AM
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She's a great writer, and it's valuable to have writing like this to help generate compassion.

But what's the best way to help people who (for example) won't pay the bills when there's enough money to do that? Sending a check isn't the right answer.

Compassionate paternalism isn't actually on offer much of anywhere and would likely segue into control and punishment. What's the best way forward?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:12 AM
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I thought her point that when you're that poor, money becomes irrelevant again was very interesting. If something's going to knock your bank account down and incur the coverage fees, what does it matter whether it is today or tomorrow? At some point, that's the bank's problem, not yours.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:14 AM
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But what's the best way to help people who (for example) won't pay the bills when there's enough money to do that? Sending a check isn't the right answer.

Call me a bleeding heart, but I still think it is. "Won't pay the bills when there's enough money" isn't an innate characteristic of most people, it's a set of behaviors that develops when there wasn't enough money last month, and there won't be enough money next month, so paying bills late is just what usually happens and there's no particular point to paying them on time just because it happens to be possible this once.

If you put someone in a position where they can consistently pay their bills, most people will.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:17 AM
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I interpreted her point to be that there's a system of penalties for not managing money well, and she lives in that penalty box all the time. She's always there, so what does it matter if she gets more of it?

The things she wants are so tangible. Healthy teeth. A week of sleep. Money in the amounts she is likely to see wont get her that. So why manage money?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:18 AM
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OK, I feel for her, would love to help. But I don't see where sending cash rather than dental-care vouchers is a good idea.

I know basically middle-class people who consistently get into trouble with unsupervised credit-card access. If the problem is needing a feeling of security, it's a legitimate question for a compassionate donor to ask how much it will take to create a feeling of security. That's also a recipe for control mechanisms on aid that are terrible from the recipients point of view.

I honestly don't see how the decision whether or not to give money should be made-- there are definitely cases where it's not a good idea.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:27 AM
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I don't like the idea that this is framed as "giving money" or "dental-care vouchers", like the person is begging on the street. It's a societal issue where wages are being deliberately suppressed so that people have less and less chance of working for pay that will support them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:32 AM
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"Every day I see people who confirm every liberal belief, and people who conform to every conservative stereotype."

Definitely, based on (limited) experience working with the homeless - you find some who really are just good kids who've been unlucky and, once you give them a foothold, recover really fast. And you find some that make you realise that a lot of people are homeless because they are so amazingly unpleasant that no one wants to have them in their home.

I tend to get set off a little on similar lines by people explaining how difficult it is for poor people to cook

This for me too. I can't help reading "Broccoli is intimidating" and starting to snort. Broccoli is intimidating? We are not making a souffle here. You put it in boiling water and after a bit you take it out. If it's still too hard you put it in again and leave it a bit longer. (Admittedly it's not normally worth doing so because even if you get it right all you have is broccoli.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:33 AM
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You could put cheese on it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:35 AM
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"Broccoli is intimidating" and starting to snort. Broccoli is intimidating? We are not making a souffle here. You put it in boiling water and after a bit you take it out. If it's still too hard you put it in again and leave it a bit longer. (Admittedly it's not normally worth doing so because even if you get it right all you have is broccoli.)

I thought she did a good job of elaborating that to -- "storing broccoli, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards in a way which is sufficient to avoid the roaches wandering around the kitchen is intimidating."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:38 AM
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If you're in an apartment where the roaches will eat broccoli, I'd hate to think what the neighbors are eating.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:40 AM
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23: I know basically middle-class people who consistently get into trouble with unsupervised credit-card access.

This happens (that is, just irresponsible spending), and it happens to poor people too, they're not immune, but I think it's a basically different problem. She's talking about a situation where perfect money-management that has her scraping every penny is still going to leave her not making all of her bills, and not getting ahead to a point where she can lighten up a little and buy a minor luxury occasionally. Total financial effort means still falling behind.

At that point, you can live on moldy bread and carrots you pulled out of a dumpster, and still miss some of your bills and not get dental care, or you can spend your money a tiny bit more freely and less 'responsibly', but yourself a pack of cigarettes when you want one, and fail to pay some bills that it would have been possible for you to pay with total effort. Either way -- total effort or no -- you're still in basically the same financial situation. But if you're a little 'irresponsible', at least you get to smoke some.

That seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable response to a no-win situation, and one that really is solvable by income support.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:40 AM
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cleaning up afterwards in a way which is sufficient to avoid the roaches wandering around the kitchen

It says bad things about my housekeeping that I did react to that by thinking "Eh, they're gross, but roaches won't kill you."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:44 AM
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OR WILL THEY?


Posted by: OPINIONATED AGENT MULDER | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:51 AM
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irresponsible spending

I wouldn't describe it this way myself. I am thinking of basically ersponsible people (good work ethic, capable of schedule management more days than not, OK but not great judgement for situations where facts are clear) who just cannot deal with money in an account.

Some months the surprise is pleasant (oh, look, $179 left over!!) other months not. It's not going on fancy-shoe sprees or whatever. I'm not sure how to characterize the mindset (or mindsets-- I know a few people with this similar behavior who have differing levels of anxiety and impulse control), but the "solution" is a loss of agency, someone else controlling money and disbursing what amounts to a weekly or monthly allowance, with control over housing funds taken away.

Again, I'm not sure that this lady fits that description. But there are definitely people who mean well and who get bad results making their own money decisions, I think maybe quite a few of them.

I agree that some problems are structural, that a higher minimum wage, Walmart unions, and civilised subsidized housing would all be helpful, amybe enough for this great writer who's up to some clear reasoning but not broccoli.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:07 AM
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I was talking to a friend the other day who grew up UMC, but wound up, through a variety of circumstances, living poor, with no post-secondary education, as a single mom. Awhile ago she got married (to a trans guy, as it happens) and they are both working pink collar jobs with a social services agency. They still rent, so there's always the hassles with the landlord that you expect, and her kid has some kind of autism-spectrum disorder, I think. So, not the worst situation, but it has its stressors for sure. And then the other day the water got shut off because they'd been broker than usual and had let the bill get a couple months behind. And so they scrambled, and paid it, and now things are more or less back to normal, but it was indicative of this kind of question. If one of them was out of work, and they didn't have UMC relatives to check in with on emergencies, where would they have been at? Probably with no water for a few weeks, so now you can't wash dishes or bathe or take a crap in your own house. What do you do then? Pawn some stuff, I suppose, if you've got it. Or sell your car, but then you can't get the kid to her therapy appointment or get over to the Aldi to get cheaper groceries.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:08 AM
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Considering the vast number of institutions dedicated to screwing poor people out of the money they do have, its not surprising poor folks aren't particularly concerned about screwing those institutions right back.

"PayDay loan place wants its money? Fuck them, not this month."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:19 AM
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9, 10, 13: My reading on this was a little different, maybe because I've been in this situation. I read her as saying that, once you've reached a certain level of poverty -- once you're in debt to a certain level, in other words -- it almost becomes irrelevant, whether or not you're paying on that debt.

I mean, at one point I owed over a hundred thousand dollars to various hospitals, and nearly that to credit card companies. And then I would get my $1400 pay check. I mean, yes, I could have sent $140 dollars to Mastercard. But -- really?


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:21 AM
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And it's not like I seriously didn't have better uses for the that $140. Paying the water bill, as Natilo notes.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:24 AM
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Hoping to insinuate compassion into the Internet-fortified bunker of assholishness that is the average conservative, college years edition, seems rather quixotic.

I've found this edition also comes with a healthy dose of Social Darwinism, either in traditional-ish or updated Objectivist form. It's hard to know how to talk to people who really just do believe lots of people are genetically inferior to them. At some point it really becomes almost impossible.

My father was quite religious and a do-gooder of epic proportions, devoting most of his spare time to sponsoring refugees, mentoring children, visiting nursing homes, and just generally helping the poor and downtrodden in any way possible. I remember we used to bring food every week to some kids' house because the mom would sell her foodstamps for crack. My dad's lesson was that even though selling food stamps for crack was the wrong thing to do, it was even more wrong to punish people by making them go hungry, especially helpless children. His overall message in general was always: "but for the grace of God go I." I generally think America would be way better off if it had been founded by Lutherans instead of Calvinists.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:24 AM
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Or saving up to pay my bankruptcy lawyer.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:24 AM
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delagar--Did you get out of it? If so, how did the process go for you?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:35 AM
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I can very much identify with being sloppy with bill-paying, and I think 21, 22, and 29 are pretty accurate, especially

it's a set of behaviors that develops when there wasn't enough money last month, and there won't be enough money next month, so paying bills late is just what usually happens and there's no particular point to paying them on time just because it happens to be possible this once.

During the lean years, it was not at all uncommon for me to miss a payment on something or other despite having the funds in the bank, and a big part of it was being accustomed to not paying because of not having the funds.

But there's another big part (at least for me), which is the security of having a few bucks in the bank. When you're constantly in the one and two figures, getting up to the three (or high two) figures feels really good, and there's usually something better-looking to save it for than whatever bill is due today. And by "better-looking", I'm including rent, or the utility that's really overdue*. In fact, our water company doesn't charge late fees or interest, so I basically treated their bills as 3 month flex loans, because you could fall 3 months behind without getting a shutoff notice.

Even today, I have relics of this habit of mind; I waited until the very end of the outdoor work season to have a rotting dormer (one that was letting in water and causing plaster damage) repaired because, even though I had the cash... I didn't want to spend down what I had to being tight again. I called the guy after I billed out $11k in one glorious day, because that meant I could afford $2k in repairs and still have a cushion. But I'd probably had about $2k in the bank all summer.

*and yes, some personal comforts/luxuries. Spending $5 on a lunch out was one of my rewards for getting a substantial check.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:44 AM
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"This person is the exception, not the rule."

Yes, she's a skilled writer, unusually good at articulating what her life is like and what motivates her to do what she does?

How many people write this well? How many other people do you think would make more sense to you if they wrote this well? Does it make sense to deny sympathy to the ones who happen not to be skillful communicators?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:50 AM
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I mean, at one point I owed over a hundred thousand dollars to various hospitals, and nearly that to credit card companies.

And I notice that medical costs were a big issue for the author too - she wouldn't even visit clinics because she couldn't afford the co-pay.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:50 AM
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More seriously, ask what evidence would change their minds BEFORE showing them the relevant statistics. Or at least ask them to guess.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:53 AM
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I make enough now to cover all my bills comfortably, but the only reason everything get paid timely is that it is all automated now. If my bank weren't doing it, I'm sure something would be late some times. Remembering all of them on a staggered schedule would mostly happen, but not always. So if I didn't have a regular bank account, it would be tht much harder.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 10:56 AM
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I make enough now to cover all my bills comfortably, but the only reason everything get paid timely is that it is all automated now. If my bank weren't doing it, I'm sure something would be late some times.

Likewise. There's usually a discount for paying utility bills and council tax by direct debit, but frankly I'd be willing to pay a small surcharge just so I don't have to remember to deal with it all every month.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:17 AM
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44,45: absolutely!


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:22 AM
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I'm thankful for automated bill pay, but it does mean the occasional bills I get that need to be payed by check mean procrastination and a search for my checkbook, an envelope, and stamps. I'm a failure as an adult, is what I'm saying.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:22 AM
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Some banks you can go online and fill out some info and they'll mail a check from your account to anyone who doesn't take electronic payments. For free!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:25 AM
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Auotpay is a disaster for people whose income doesn't cover their expenses. IIRC my mortgage company was offering me a (very modest) discount for switching to autopay, but it would have had to be scheduled in the first 9 days of the month (a check received n the 15th or 16th wasn't penalized as late), and I simply couldn't guarantee that the money would be there every month on that date (at the time I had another batch of bills due around the 1st, so I was usually building back up from near zero).

You know what would help enormously in terms of preventing these spirals of (modest*) debt? A system whereby you have, say, $100 in cushion below zero on your account, and, as long as your monthly average balance was above 0, it wasn't an overdraft. A huge part of the stress is that you might have enough for milk or OJ, but milk and OJ, on the wrong day, costs you an overdraft fee, and now your next check won't cover the utility bill, etc. etc.

I realize there's no business model for what I'm suggesting, and that the real solution is better wages, but I think it illustrates how tiny sums of money are often the difference between scraping by and just giving up.

*big debt, as from medical situations, are a whole 'bother thing


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:28 AM
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I wouldn't say I'm out of it, but things are better.

I declared bankruptcy about six years ago, which got rid of the crushing debt. Now, of course, I have no credit whatsoever, and I still have all the medical problems.

I had cancer, which -- in case y'all don't know this, even if you have insurance, means you're fucked, medically and financially, forever. It wasn't even bad cancer. It was thyroid cancer. And I'm going to live, which is good -- yay! -- except for how I'll never have money ever again, because even though the acute part of the treatment, the radiation and all, is done with, I still need the chronic part of the treatment, the drugs and check-ups, and will forever, and that shit is pricey.

And then declaring bankruptcy means while I can get credit cards (and you have to have those, because you can't do anything in the modern world without them) your credit score means your interest rate is always going to be 33% and you will always have to pay the $75 or $125/ year for them to give you a card, plus you will always have a credit limit of like $500 or $800. This has been a real problem for me as an academic -- how do I get to conferences? How can I book a flight and a hotel room and then buy meals at the conference?

Especially since usually I'm carrying a balance on the credit card due to -- you guessed it -- medical debt.

Anyway: so things are better, in that I can almost always pay the water bill these days, and usually we have money to eat every month. But Dr. Skull lost his job two years ago, and everything has been getting steadily worse since then. It's rough.

But my students have it so much rougher, really, I just can't even complain. They are literally choosing between eating and buying gas for their cars so they can get to work.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:42 AM
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You know what would help enormously in terms of preventing these spirals of (modest*) debt? A system whereby you have, say, $100 in cushion below zero on your account, and, as long as your monthly average balance was above 0, it wasn't an overdraft. A huge part of the stress is that you might have enough for milk or OJ, but milk and OJ, on the wrong day, costs you an overdraft fee, and now your next check won't cover the utility bill, etc. etc.

You may have already seen this article

Even a few hundred dollars in a savings account could help low-income families weather such predictable but unavoidable crises--provided they have extra money to save. Their budgets are tight, and saving makes sense only if they're not sacrificing food or child care in order to put money aside.

Anti-poverty advocates have long known there could be a relatively cheap, simple way to help people avoid such trade-offs if the government structured savings plans tailored to low-income families. Such plans have to strike the proper balance: They can't require families to save so much that they're not buying what they need but should be substantial enough to be useful. Experts have designed and studied many such programs; the most successful ones provide the beneficiaries with some seed money to start an account and boost the reward for saving by providing matching funds.

...

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 11:54 AM
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What they need is a bank account that tells you your balance is balance - $100 or so, then people are always planning out what they need to do to avoid overdrawing but in the cases where they do overdraw they don't get hit with all the fees because they actually do have that reserve and most people don't overdraw by huge amounts. But it has to be a secret no one ever knows about or they'll in their minds just recalibrate the red line to -$100.
Remember when banks were allowed to order purchases on any given day to result in the most overdraft charges possible, which has now been outlawed? Thanks, Obama!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 12:04 PM
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Can they still do that thing where they order the purchases largest to smallest to maximize the number of overdraft charges? You really have to wonder how the guys whose job it is to fuck over the poorest sleep at night.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 12:11 PM
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ING Direct/ Capital One 360 has an overdraft for no fee of about $100.00

Overdrafts without high fees are, I think, pretty common in the UK.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 12:28 PM
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We have a couple of banks here in Fort Smith that don't charge overdraft fees -- credit unions, mostly. Overdraft protection, they advertise it as. It's excellent, but as was noted above, you get so you work that into your budget. (Okay, we can go X amount over what we ACTUALLY have in the bank before we're in serious trouble...)


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 1:04 PM
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I mean, they become like tiny payday loans, but without the 900% interest.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 1:05 PM
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53- No, I think it was the CFPB bill that made that practice illegal.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 2:20 PM
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re: 54.last

Yeah, we have a fairly large pre-arranged over-draft with a very small fee. We don't use it much, but in a month where a lot of big bills come in, it's really handy.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 3:30 PM
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I had an account that allowed up to $500 in overdrafts for no fee in the late nineties, but that nice, friendly, small bank got eaten by a large bank that ended that policy on regular checking accounts. It was really nice while it lasted


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 3:58 PM
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My bank recently sent out a message saying it would start processing items in the order received and no longer sorted largest to smallest. Naturally the bank took the opportunity to say that this makes overdraft protection even more important. I didn't bite.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 4:12 PM
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From the OP, the point that impressed me was that poverty isn't just about lack of money, it's also about lack of time, lack of social connections, lack of physical mobility, lack of pretty much every resource you need to "get ahead in life." Whereas a lot of armchair arguments about how a poor person should be able to save money and find a better job are assuming that money is the only thing that's in short supply.

Also, from the quoted passage in 8: We demand that the poor justify everything and explain everything.

That is sad but true.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 4:47 PM
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I recommend (not really, but) reading the comments to the linked article. My favorite is the gentlemen who advises those in poverty that they can climb out of poverty with the aid of determination and "free library books."

Yeah, that's the ticket.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 5:18 PM
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You steal the library books and sell them on Amazon.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 5:19 PM
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50: And I'm going to live, which is good -- yay! -- except for how I'll never have money ever again, because even though the acute part of the treatment, the radiation and all, is done with, I still need the chronic part of the treatment, the drugs and check-ups, and will forever, and that shit is pricey.

Yay for living. delagar, is the ACA going to help you at all on the priciness?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 7:10 PM
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I'm glad you're alive but very sorry to hear about the financial fuckery, delagar. I hope it improves.

I read the piece quoted in the OP on gawker's bloggy outpost. the thing that was killing me was the sleep. I mean, I'm sick and I need to sleep twice as much as normal people (I went to bed last night around 11, told my husband not to wake me up, and woke up on my own at 11:30. granted I probably fell asleep at 12:00 or something, still.) THE SLEEP. I would be dying of death.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:21 PM
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I couldn't run on that little sleep either and I'm not sick except for a head cold. I didn't even run on that little sleep when we had a newborn and I was being supportive and helpful.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-13 9:59 PM
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Or sell your car

Many, many years ago finding myself with an "extra", I took a pretty crap car to a fly-by-night joint near where I lived. They offered me what what struck me as an insultingly low amount (I think $150, I thought I could get $500). When I pointed out that basically the same car was on his lot for ~$1500 he just looked at me and said, "Some people need money in a real hurry."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:58 AM
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42: And I notice that medical costs were a big issue for the author too

Remember that time when everyone pretended to forget the role of that health issues played in so many, many people's financial problems*, and that it was a much bigger issue that some middle class people had to pay somewhat more for health insurance? That was awesome!

*And yes, I understand that insurance alone does not remove all of the financial burden.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 4:11 AM
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68: not to mention that planning ahead and making good long-term decisions are even more difficult if you're not just fatigued but actually ill or in pain a lot of the time...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 6:32 AM
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Did everybody else take off from work today?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 7:48 AM
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67 So what did you get?

70 No.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 7:52 AM
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I don't think any of the regular commenters work at at airport.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 7:54 AM
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The piece linked/quoted in 8 is fantastically well written. She's a really good writer, although that is not really an economically beneficial skill unfortunately.

There were plenty of things that she said in the OP that I thought indicated self-defeating behaviors that she could change, or excuses she was making that didn't quite hold water. (Speaking as someone who cooks frequently and also frequently does not clean up until the next morning, the roaches will not descend on your house instantaneously). But along the lines of what some people above have said, that's kind of the point. Poverty is so tiring and depressing that you just don't have the psychological or energy or time resources to be 'perfect'. And if you know you are limited in that way then that drives you away from trying -- e.g. cooking really could become a hoarders-type disaster if you never get around to cleaning up (and without a dishwasher cleaning up is a real pain), so you are taking a risk by cooking if you have a very stressed life.

Really, you can say you don't want to argue about this stuff with young people/college students, but they're the ones who need it most. After you have some experience in life it should be very easy to see what a collosaly fucked-up situation it would be to be poor in the U.S. Now that I'm a parent (of just one kid! and not a single parent!) I constantly marvel at how poor people do it. I mean, I have leeway to come in late or work from home, reasonable financial resources for child care, a partner, etc. etc. and it's still tough. I have no freaking clue how a poor single mother manages it. A lot of help from relatives, I imagine.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 7:55 AM
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72: I think just essear and even then maybe not technically.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 7:59 AM
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71: Didn't sell it then. Had the hassle of two cars for a while and traded it in a couple of years later when I got a new car.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 8:17 AM
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I think PGD is just wrong about roaches. Or rather, your experience is based on not living where she lives. Food out overnight would bring roaches in our place in NYC. My parents roach stories from Philly were much more harrowing.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:05 AM
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||

I am on a holiday mission to twist DMV's arm into giving a poor schlub who can't fill out forms correctly his drivers' license back. (Given the totality of the case, I'd be doing the same thing any time of year, but on the day before Thanksgiving it feels festive.)

Wish me luck.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:11 AM
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Ever since I won the mouse wars, I've been really half-assed about leaving out food overnight. Not food we're going to eat, but dirty dishes and the like. We've never had a roach. Thank you winter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:12 AM
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77: Good luck! Do you have to go to the DMV and wait in line to do this?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:13 AM
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On roaches; our building has roaches -- not nightmarish, but we probably have a sighting at least every couple of weeks. But they don't seem to be highly sensitive to how clean the kitchen is. I'm as likely to see a roach when it's as close to spotless as it ever is as I am when I've left crumbs all over the counter overnight and forgotten to take the garbage out.

I'm sure being consistently filthy would make them worse, but they aren't obviously immediately responsive to food.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:14 AM
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Going to the DMV feels festive? You've already started drinking for the holiday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:15 AM
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78: Thanks for the food! I've gotten a lot smarter about where I poop, so now you don't even know I'm here!

Oops! Maybe I shouldn't have told you!


Posted by: Opinionated Hick Household Mouse | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:15 AM
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I am on a holiday mission to twist DMV's arm into giving a poor schlub who can't fill out forms correctly his drivers' license back.

On the topic of the OP, last night I read this article by a journalist who was an observer in civil court in Detroit over a couple of years and it is excellent, well written, and no more depressing than you would expect given the subject matter.

The 31 judges elected to the bench at the 36th handle more than half a million cases a year, in a city with a population of about 700,000 people. They hear the most basic criminal and civil cases for Wayne County: traffic violations, misdemeanors, landlord-tenant issues, land-contract suits, and small claims. It's one of the busiest courts in the country, and as the court's website notes, it's where most citizens of Detroit meet the justice system for the first time. The website also says the 36th is called the People's Court. I've never heard anyone call it that. I've never heard anyone say anything good about the place. Everyone I've ever talked to in Detroit hates going to the 36th District. People laugh when I say I go there voluntarily. It baffles them.

...

Detroit's municipal meltdown may be extreme, but the lopsided justice of the 36th is the national norm. We have an adversarial system of justice in America, yet in the nation's civil courts, we are one adversary short. In almost every case I witnessed in the four years I attended the 36th, the defendant stood alone in front of the judge. In a criminal case, if you can't afford an attorney, the courts are required to provide you with one. In civil cases, litigants who can't pay for a lawyer are on their own. In theory, they can turn to a legal-aid office, but those groups have never been able to keep up with demand. There are 134 federally funded legal-services groups around the country, and they turn away approximately one person for every one they can help.

"The current system is nonfunctional for all its participants. It's not functioning for courts, for litigants, for the profession, for legal aid," says Richard Zorza, a lawyer who for many years coordinated the Self Represented Litigation Network. "The system is built on the assumption that everyone has a lawyer and then fails to give it to them. It's completely illogical."

I have a clear memory of one case from three or four years ago, which involved a woman who had been robbed and beaten in the middle of the day in a parking lot outside a grocery store on Woodward Avenue, Detroit's main thoroughfare. She had lost her job while she was in the hospital and fell behind on the rent. The landlord was just someone who owned another house or two besides his own, not a big real-estate company that could float someone for a while, not that it would be inclined to. Neither had a lawyer. She wound up being evicted. The woman stands out in my mind because she had such a cascade of problems. It's rotten luck to have your whole life unraveled by a trip to the grocery store one summer afternoon. Sob stories are common at the 36th District, although I've only ever seen one person weep.

...

A lawyer can bring up issues that tenants don't think to raise or don't know how to raise. A lack of heat, electricity, or running water--these are all valid reasons to withhold rent. They can also affect an eviction order, either stopping it or lowering the amount owed. Even if there are no maintenance problems, a lawyer can press for a solution that doesn't result in a judgment against the defendant, which can render a person ineligible for subsidized housing or Section 8 vouchers down the line. I once saw Snow representing a client in an eviction case, and while the young woman did have to move, Snow made sure the agreement was a voluntary termination of tenancy rather than a nonpayment of rent, the kind of maneuver that can keep options open.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:22 AM
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79, 81: No, no, they talk to me on the phone. I'm feeling festive, but not festive enough to go wait on line for someone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:24 AM
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When I briefly lived in Cairo the amount of roaches that we saw in the kitchen cabinets when we were apartment hunting was frightening. You'd open up a cabinet and there'd be hundreds of them swarming all over the dishes. That caused us to break our budget and get a place in swanky Garden City.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:24 AM
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72: Dude, are you crazy? AT-ATs can't fly. They're Imperial Walkers -- cause they WALK places. It's like you ain't even seen the movies or something.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 9:46 AM
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70: Slogging away at the City today. But a new Sacramento meeting on Monday means that I'll be away from tonight through next Wednesday... very worrisome.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:05 AM
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"Every day I see people who confirm every liberal belief, and people who conform to every conservative stereotype."

This is true. Running for election has a similar quality. You head out and meet the General Public...

Meanwhile, Kotsko's post about being a broke grad student is very much on topic. If you're short of cash, the distinction between "angels would repay this debt now" and "it is actually necessary to repay this debt now" is really important, and you may as well be coldblooded about it because they sure as hell will with you.

Also, corporate treasurers do it all the damn time - football clubs are notorious for using their VAT liability as an overdraft.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:13 AM
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It's a step up from the whole trampling Belgians thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:16 AM
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My understanding, which could be wrong, is that roaches are attracted to water. So it might depend on whether your dirty dishes are in the sink or not.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:19 AM
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How much overdraft credit did they get in their bank accounts for every Belgian trampled?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:20 AM
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Well, the laundry is on the sofa already.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:21 AM
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I grew up in an apartment. The little fuckers are very pH sensitive-- strong preference for anything acidic. I never tried leaving messes sprinkled with baking soda, since the alternatives were usually either
-zero effort, permitting filth
-rinse and stack
-wash


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:26 AM
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It may be the case that an occasional dish left out isn't going to attract the local population, but I'd bet if you habitually left them out the roaches would catch on.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:27 AM
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After several infested apartments in Chicago I was almost obsessive about not leaving traces of food out. I once left a baking sheet with some charred bread on it only to be woken up by the sounds of a roach scraping the metal clean.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:30 AM
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Did you also leave a little spatula out for it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:30 AM
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only to be woken up by the sounds of a roach scraping the metal clean.

Gosh! I was only trying to help out!


Posted by: Opinionated Chicago Roach | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:32 AM
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I thought the tiny scouring pad was enough.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:32 AM
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I've never been able to get a clear answer to this question: do roaches serve any important ecological niche? Let's just say we eliminated them all, possibly with extreme prejudice. Is there anything that would be worse off?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:43 AM
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The pest control industry.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:44 AM
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Exterminators?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:44 AM
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You dirty roach.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:44 AM
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I am right now trying to get my students to explain to me, in very concrete terms, what they mean when they say someone is "street smart."

The question I'm really investigating here is whether their notion of "street smarts" is derived from actual experience with poverty or from movies. My hypothesis is that even students who are quite experienced at being poor don't always classify this knowledge as "street smarts" and that really they think this phrase is more about a hollywood image of a tough guy from a rough neighborhood.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:49 AM
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99: I think if they have a niche, it's in the tropics -- my understanding is that they only live in temperate zones because we heat houses for them. So, maybe something important in the Amazon relies on them for food, but eliminating them in NY wouldn't do anyone a bit of harm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:58 AM
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99: There seems to be one variety we could eliminate because it's so human-adapted (at least if we could do so by waving a wand), but others play important roles in decomposition.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:00 AM
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DMV is resisting. I am escalating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:00 AM
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106: LB vs. DMV! Battle of the Titans!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:04 AM
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DMV and I are usually thick as thieves, and they're as a general rule both competent and well-intentioned. Today's disagreement is a letter of the law/spirit of the law thing, with a bit of discord over what that spirit is, but the fact of the disagreement doesn't say a bad thing about my interlocutors.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:15 AM
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Please forgive me, totally OT, regarding health insurance coverage:

Hey! I finally decided on the health insurance plan I want (Gold, $1000 deductible), but ... is it the case that one can only get the subsidy with a Silver plan?

The MD exchange site is suddenly not showing me the Gold options, just the Silver ones. Damnit. It showed me the Gold (heh) before.

I was ready to commit!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:19 AM
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Don't rely on this, but I thought the amount of the subsidy was set with reference to the cost of the second-cheapest silver plan, but that it could be used on any qualifying plan, gold, silver or bronze.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:23 AM
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110: Yeah, that sounds vaguely right. I've just made it show me the Gold (by refusing to answer certain questions about how often I see a doctor, which it thought would help me choose an appropriate plan), and it *says* the subsidy applies for those. Erm. I will plow ahead. I want to be done with this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:27 AM
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109: You can access the premium subsidy with any metal level, but...

(1) Your subsidy is based on the cost of the 2nd lowest cost silver plan (for which you pay x% of income on a sliding scale). If you buy bronze, or the cheapest silver plan, you pay less. If you buy gold, or a more expensive silver plan, you pay more.

(2) You are only eligible for the cost-sharing subsidy if you buy silver. The cost sharing subsidy is separate from the premium subsidy and is only available to households with incomes up to 250% FPL. This subsidy reduces your maximum out-of-pocket spend and effectively increases the actuarial value of the silver plan to gold level or better.


Posted by: kermit roosevelt, jr. | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:28 AM
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108: I will say that the two government bureaucracies with whom I had the "best" experience in dealing with semi-complicated situations have been the IRS and the New York DMV. So tell them the lurkers commenters support them in email comments but that continued support is contingent on them being flexible.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:30 AM
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Yes, the subsidy is based on the subsidy determined for the second-cheapest silver, although that subsidy in turn will vary by the enrollee's FPL to keep the same silver plan within a certain percentage of income.

So for a single person making $17K, the benchmark subsidy will be enough to make their share of the silver plan premium 4% of income; for a single person makiing $29K, it will be enough to make their share 8.1% of income; but either of these people could get a more expensive silver plan or a gold or platinum plan, and the subsidy would not change.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:35 AM
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I'm still pissed at the Pennsylvania DMV for all the fuckery they put me through ten years ago when I moved here. Ever since then, it's been perfectly reasonable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:36 AM
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re the broccoli and all -- I think her other point, about wanting to eat crap food that gave instant pleasure, was more to the point. When you're poor and working 60-80 hours a week, you don't want to come home and eat steamed veggies and broiled chicken. You want a bit of something tasty, as Orwell points out in Road to Wigan Pier, and you want it fast, because you're exhausted.

So yeah, Doritos and cheese dip over salad and sauteed beets every time.

Re the ACA -- I've got health insurance, in fact, at this horrible university. It's horrible health insurance, and we just heard it's getting worse in some ways -- much higher deductible -- though better in others: no lifetime cap, and it's actually going to cover things. So that's nice. (Before, for instance, it didn't cover Dr. Skull's sleep apnea expenses.)

The deductible is going from $1000/family to $3000 family. That's....unpleasant.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:41 AM
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112, 114: So here's a question from a family member: Quite variable income but generally low. Can range between Medicaid eligible and subsidy-eligible (state is Pa). What is consequence if estimates too high* and sings up as if and then come in below subsidy level? Must pay back all of the subsidy?

And there is a chance of gong back to school which would most likely throw it below that line?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:44 AM
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Doritos and cheese dip

That's just too much of a good thing for me. I like either Doritos by themselves or regular nachos with cheese dip.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:44 AM
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111: They're probably steering you to the silver because of the cost-sharing subsidies that make it a much better buy as per 112.2. California does that too. (Although if your estimated income is >250% FPL I don't know what's going on).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:46 AM
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117: Yes, you would pay back subsidy if your income increases, or get a refundable tax credit if it drops. But I'm not sure what happens if it drops far enough you're in the Medicaid range, which also means no premium subsidies. Hopefully no payback required since you can't get retroactively covered by Medicaid (even if it were expanding in your state).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:50 AM
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112.2, 114: Thanks, kermit and Minivet. I'm okay foregoing the cost-sharing subsidy for a Gold plan, though others might not be. (I can even wade through for you my reasons for desiring this plan over the available Silver ones, if anyone's remotely interested.)

Sadly, the MD site has crapped out on me. Making that final "Enroll" commitment yields ... crickets. Peh. Will keep on trying, obviously.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:52 AM
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119: They're probably steering you to the silver because of the cost-sharing subsidies that make it a much better buy as per 112.2.

Sorry, I hadn't seen this before. The cost-sharing subsidy makes a Silver plan a minimally, and actually really not, better buy for me, given that the Silver plans have 20% coinsurance (after deductible), while the Gold have 10%. At a lower percentage of FPL than I am, cost-sharing subsidy would be more important.

Not to get into the weeds or anything.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 11:59 AM
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121.last: Yes, Maryland is a state where the state exchange rollout has apparently been quite checkered. An interesting "experiment": Ranging from very good in Connecticut to total disaster in Oregon. Somewhere I saw that someone was keeping a list of contractors for state sites (and of course a lot of variability on the state side).

As I recall Deloitte had done a few that worked pretty well (Kentucky, for instance), and CSC a good one. California which has been decent was Accenture. Hawaii was a mess and used the guys who did the Fed one, and the Oregon fiasco brought to you by ... ta-da... Oracle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:06 PM
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From what I can tell, "checkered" is the right term for the MD site. I've explored all over it a dozen times with no problem until now. However, my housemate (self-employed artist, est. $20,000 AGI) was told by the site that he was not eligible for any subsidy. Poor guy: it's unclear how he corrects this misapprehension on the site's part; I had to insist to him several times this morning that that was just wrong. He's eligible for a subsidy, period. Really. The site is wrong. Start over, or something.

Still, it's not remotely as bad a site as the federal exchange, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:17 PM
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124.last: Fed site has been working fairly well recently from reports (some from folks I know). I suspect it might get a bit rockier next week after it is officially "fixed" + Cyber Monday phenomenon. And it is approaching end of year for Jan. 1 coverage--although the biggest batch of Jan. 1 cancellations was in California with own exchange (and Ca. did not take up the "keep your plan" offer).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:28 PM
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But Oregon had those cute hipster ads to get you to sign up.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:40 PM
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123: and the Oregon fiasco brought to you by ... ta-da... Oracle.

My understanding was that the Oregon fiasco was a result of a too-ambitious, too universal, framework for coverage:

Some of the complications, though, are self-imposed, by the aspirations of the Legislature, the governor and the exchange's own leadership. When other states delayed or gave up on a concept called "no wrong door," Oregon held on, and is still holding on. The goal is to give people one portal -- the Cover Oregon website -- to sign up for insurance, whether they qualify for commercial insurance or Medicaid. In most other states, people who appear to qualify for Medicaid are sent to a separate enrollment process through the state Medicaid office.

Is that really on Oracle?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:47 PM
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I have no idea why I wrote "too-ambitious", yet "too universal". I may suffer from hyphenation confusion.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:48 PM
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I may suffer from hyphenation confusion.

Yet another malady not covered by Obamacare!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:53 PM
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The story in 124 is pretty bad. Having a slow or malfunctioning website is one thing, telling people they aren't eligible for subsidies when they are is another.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 12:54 PM
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Semi-OT: Wow. My sister's not-quite-ex-husband is actively trying to ruin her by dragging out the divorce process, and will almost certainly succeed in soaking up all her money and assets without being liable for anything because he quit his job and is just sponging off his mother. I don't think he has any idea what to do with his life other than this. He's not having as much fun as he'd hoped after leaving her & the small baby on their 1-year anniversary to sleep with other people, nor has it increased his social status, so he's trying to figure out some way to "win," and making her lose is a good proxy. This rarely ends well, does it?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:10 PM
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Maybe you could suggest that sleeping with other people is easier if you don't live with your mother.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:24 PM
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130: Yeah. I couldn't tell what had happened, and wondered, to be completely honest, whether my housemate had engaged in a typo when putting in his annual income (understood as net self-employment income). Surely I wouldn't tell him that he had, mayhap, fucked up, but it was difficult to understand how the site had misunderstood otherwise.

The problem with the site in this regard is that, once you've input your income and related data (household size, etc.), there doesn't seem to be a way to view it again. All you can do is resume application from where you left off. This is utterly specific to the MD site, of course, but it seems a glaring lacuna.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:25 PM
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127.last: It was a combo effort I'm sure; but I never pass up an opportunity to bash Oracle, warranted or not.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:27 PM
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I'll take that as a retraction. I don't care about Oracle one way or the other.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:37 PM
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Gah, the story in 131 is really awful.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:48 PM
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117, 120: Getting off my lazy ass, and doing some searching on my own question it looks like repayment has been anticipated (assuming this paper has the right facts) and would not be too onerous. (Someone sliding back into Medicaid territory would be capped at $300 ($600 if a family)--$25/month.

Repayments are capped on a sliding scale for families
whose annual income is under 400 percent of the
Federal Poverty Level (FPL):
• If annual family income is under 200%
FPL, repayment is capped at $600 ($300 for
individuals).
• If annual family income is at least 200% FPL but
less than 300% FPL, repayment is capped at $1,500
($750 for individuals).
• If annual income is at least 300% but less than
400% FPL, repayment is capped at $2,500 ($1,250
for individuals).
• If the final annual family income is 400% FPL or
greater, the subsidy must be repaid in full.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:54 PM
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131: My cousin has been trying to get divorced for about 2 or 3 years--in more than one state. (Maybe 3--Colorado, New York and Virginia). Colorado, because that's where his parents were, and that was his U.S. address when he was in Cambodia prosecuting human rights. New York, because she lives there now, and Virginia because he lives in a DC suburb.

They have no money and no kids, only student loans. In 20 something years he'll be the beneficiary of a small trust but that's not his money. And yet, he's been unable to get divorced.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 1:57 PM
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Why do people get married? Divorce seems like such a clusterfuck so often that I don't see the point.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:06 PM
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The triumph of hope over experience? Also, health insurance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:08 PM
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Triumph is fleeting, defeat is forever.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:09 PM
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when he was in Cambodia prosecuting human rights.

Somehow that doesn't sound right . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:09 PM
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That's where he met Roland the headless Thompson gunner.


Posted by: Cryptic bned | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:12 PM
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Also, let me hint at my ev psych theory on why willfully ignorant optimism was selected for on the veldt.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:12 PM
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Oops, forgot the hint: "These rats won't fuck themselves, people." Although one must admit that some more urgent built-in mechanisms with far stronger evolutionary pedigrees are in play as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:15 PM
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143: One of my thoughts reading about the utter fiasco of the 60 Minutes BENGHAZI!!!! story was that if you're main source sounds like someone pretending to be a character in a Warren Zevon song, you better really assure yourself that he is not in fact someone pretending to be a character in a Warren Zevon song.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:17 PM
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I don't think he's living with his mother, just hitting her up for cash -- at least for lawyers. For a while he was embezzling from my sister's business, too (it used to be his, but was justly transferred to her because she'd been running it singlehandedly for years -- her only source of income).

People get married because, unbeknownst to all you singletons, the government secretly gives us a lot of candy. I don't just mean Halloween leftovers; this is serious premium candy. If you haven't had it, you don't know. The Mint Peppers alone are worth the risk of divorce-- Christ, now I feel like I'm cheapening the institution, but you did ask.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:17 PM
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146: And the story was 10 kinds of awful even without the lying little rat. CBS utterly debased itself.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:20 PM
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BTW, the pope is a fucking commie, but still doesn't have any divisions much less nukes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:23 PM
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WILL NO ONE RID ME OF THIS MEDDLESOME PRIEST


Posted by: OPINIONATED MAMMON | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:39 PM
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147: the government secretly gives us a lot of candy.

I've heard that. Maybe I should marry someone, just to get the premium candy. (I actually have no idea what the nature of the candy is, but I know you get it, awesomely and congratulations for winning it.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 2:49 PM
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And when you have babies out city sends us stuff too.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:01 PM
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S/b "crimes committed by the khmer rouge."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:01 PM
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The city sends out a Pol Pot for toilet training.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:04 PM
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Too soon?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:08 PM
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Why do people get married?

There's a lot of money at stake when it comes to things like survivor benefits of SS and pensions.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:30 PM
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Because giving the person who has the most opportunity to kill you the greatest motive to kill you means fewer people to watch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:38 PM
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OT: Meatloaf, hooray.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:41 PM
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I just ate the green, leaf part of a strawberry. Apparently, it was more of a garnish than a part of the meal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:54 PM
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It was nestled on a single leaf of lettuce. I shouldn't have been so surprised.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 3:58 PM
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At least I wasn't intimidated by the broccoli. I was unwilling to eat the red pepper, but that's just common sense, not intimidation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 4:07 PM
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It was both common sense and intimidation.


Posted by: Opinionated Red Pepper | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 4:13 PM
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I say you can eat the leafy part of a strawberry. Also, the entire tail of a shrimp, when you're served chilled shrimp with the tail on. Anyone who says otherwise is a fucking wuss.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 4:55 PM
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Also, the entire tail of a shrimp, when you're served chilled shrimp with the tail on. Anyone who says otherwise is a fucking wuss.

As god is my witness, I thought...


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 5:13 PM
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I'm guessing you're one of those people who eats the green shit in a lobster.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 5:19 PM
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Sure, because I'm not a pathetic wimp.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 5:21 PM
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Sure, because I'm not a pathetic wimp.

Really it's just 'cause you're a New Englander at heart


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 5:29 PM
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I guess we all are on this holiday. Fucking New England.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 5:43 PM
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149: BTW, the pope is a fucking commie, but still doesn't have any divisions much less nukes.

Which is why we are totally shutting down the Vatican embassy.

Raymond Flynn, the first ambassador under Clinton, told the National Catholic Review that "It's not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it's also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See." Flynn "described the move as part of broader secular hostility to religious groups."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-13 10:54 PM
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Ray Flynn is such a moron. I know someone who liked him as mayor but then thought his religious utterances were horrible. I thought he sucked as mayor too.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-28-13 9:57 AM
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Considering Vatican City isn't actually a country, they should be grateful there is an embassy.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-28-13 11:34 AM
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I have a work thing going on with the Vatican, which launches on the 2nd of December. They were originally going to hold a press conference, then changed their mind as (and here they got all mysterious) something else was happening on the 2nd. Cue much speculation at work: 'he's getting gay married'; 'psych! on the infallibility thing!', etc.

But it turns out it is just going to be Netanyahu meeting the Pope.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-28-13 11:54 AM
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But it turns out it is just going to be Netanyahu meeting the Pope.

Cue more speculation! Is Netanyahu converting to Catholicism or the Pope turning Jewish?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-28-13 11:57 AM
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131
Sympathies with your sister. What a nightmare, and how frustrating. It's awful how much a vindictive ex can wreak havoc in the divorce process.

138
They have no money and no kids, only student loans. In 20 something years he'll be the beneficiary of a small trust but that's not his money. And yet, he's been unable to get divorced.

I am in a similar boat. We were married and together for a year, separated now for 2.5. No kids, no joint assets, no debt, and nothing to argue about. The problem is he's been on the opposite side of the world for the entire time, and it's remarkably hard to divorce someone out of country, especially if they're minimally cooperative. Now we're both in the same country, I think, but since I'm trying to get divorced in a different one, it's not making it any easier. You would think your ex up and moving to literally the opposite side of the world would be a big point in favor of divorce, but apparently it's not. After several false starts, we're in the middle of the process, and I'm waiting on some a notarized signature of his that he's informed me will take several months to get. Luckily he's gone from not wanting to get divorced to being peevishly annoyed we're still married, but that's not sped the process up much up. We got married in large part because the options were marriage and green card or breaking up, and we decided we weren't ready to break up. If I had known how difficult divorce would be, I'm not sure I would have gone through with the marriage. For comparison, I applied for my ex's fiance visa and green card and I've successfully sued a former landlord in small claims court, all with no legal help, and both were a walk in the park compared to getting divorced.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-29-13 9:38 PM
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I'm guessing you're one of those people who eats the green shit in a lobster.

That'd be me. I don't even like lobster much, but the green part is yummy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 8:06 AM
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The green is essentially its liver (and pancreas according to Wikipedia). In a bottom feeder that seems like an unhealthy thing to eat.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 8:31 AM
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Apparently, appearances are not what they seem for the woman in the OP. https://twitter.com/jbouie/status/406813306637524992


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 9:31 AM
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Tweet just references the link. But on phone in a museum .


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 9:32 AM
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Here's the link.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 9:48 AM
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Must be a boring museum.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 9:50 AM
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Was waiting for slow people to come out of the restroom.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 10:02 AM
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Right, so you could pounce on them and steal their money. It's OK, we know what poverty can do to a person.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 10:29 AM
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But the woman in the OP does sound like a pretty awful scam artist. OTOH, it's perfectly plausible that she's somewhat mentally ill, as a fabulist/narcissist, and now finds herself reasonably poor, and will find herself as such in the future. It's lame that this now gets to be more right wing talk radio fodder.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 10:40 AM
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And OTOOH pretty much every confessional essay on the Internet is from a fabulist/narcissist. Trust nothing, all writers are bullshitters.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 10:58 AM
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Huh. Where are the excerpts blockquoted in pink in the Houston Press piece coming from? They link to just a .jpg picture of the quoted text. The second one excerpted (on second page of article) is particularly bizarre:

'By the time I graduated high school I was fluent in German, French, Spanish and Italian. I got awards for that too. ... I was an award-winning singer, piano and flute player by seven. I owned 23 instruments when I was 12. I toured Europe as a featured soprano the summer after I graduated high school.'

Assuming these are legitimately the words of the woman in the OP, I'm going for mental illness of some kind.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:04 AM
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I'm pretty sure "scammer" isn't in the DSM.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:17 AM
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If she really is lying then clearly I won the thread at 13.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:18 AM
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By age 13 I was already winning threads; I was the writer of 23 blogs when I was 18.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:19 AM
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I'm not sure I can even come up with a plausible list of 23 instruments one might own at age 12. Is she counting recorder, harmonica, and kazoo?

Bleh. I just waded through her let me explain myself blog post.

I struggle with things sometimes. I do not know why, whether it's inherent or whether my mother is right or whether what happened to my mother is what did it. But sometimes the world seems suddenly bizarre and I have to practice a strict control in order to behave as though the world were real. I have seen many therapists. I know what it is. I can't afford the medicine, and so I have learned simply to control it because it is not the worst case in the world. But it took me a lot of years to figure out how to function properly.

She knows what it is? What is it?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:35 AM
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Anyway, she's digging herself a hole with all the yacking on and on, saying contradictory things, claiming that she's written a sort of compilation or representation, a portrait, of what it's like to be poor, sometimes her own story, sometimes that of others she's known, and anyone who misunderstood the original viral post was taking her statements out of context (because actually she owns a home, has insurance and probably dental coverage through her Marine husband, and did she forget to mention that?)

I'd love to know just who's offered her a book contract; it has disaster written all over it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:43 AM
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a plausible list of 23 instruments one might own at age 12

Circus organ, church organ, theatre organ, bamboo organ, chord organ, Hammond organ, Lowrey organ, Rodgers organ, steam organ, sporting organ, portative organ, positive organ, parlor organ, American reed organ, barrel organ, organette, dutch street organ, sea organ, water organ, wave organ, wind organ.

Dang. Not quite 23.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:47 AM
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She strikes me as the kind of crazy person who's able to be a scam artist while simultaneously not quite realizing they'r being a scam artist -- the belief in the delusions becomes sincere even though she's also manipulating them fairly brazenly. Oh well. I wonder if she'll give back the money. Trust nothing that you read. Her life sounds fairly unhappy, regardless.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:55 AM
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Ugh, now I (obediently) hate her.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 11:57 AM
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Dang. Not quite 23.

Claviorgan, mouth organ. Done.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:05 PM
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192: This is true, that she sounds fairly unhappy, though I doubt she'll give back the money. I'm not even sure she should, but I'd rather she not compound the delusion by writing a book. She actually reminds of that female blogger -- the one with Asperger's? who's a 'life coach'? -- whose name I cannot remember, but whose writing heebie favors.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:06 PM
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I've had queued up here for my reading a Guardian review of Scarcity: Why having too little means so much by Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Sharif. It refers to Kahneman and Tversky's work. I haven't been particularly familiar with any of this, though I know you guys have mentioned it repeatedly.

What's sobering is that this came to my attention via a Bill Moyers (dot com) piece on our lady of the OP:

Tirado was trying to put flesh on the sort of ideas that Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan and Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir popularized in their much-discussed new book Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much. Among other things, that book flipped the conventional wisdom about bad decisions leading to poverty, arguing instead that poverty impedes good decision-making. This was something Tirado understood intimately and she wanted to communicate what it feels like to live that way.

Hrm. That Moyers post -- actually cross-posted from The Nation -- has just now begun to raise the debunking that's now going on. I might see, later, what The Nation's folks have to say.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:27 PM
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Strunk or something? Penelope?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:28 PM
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Yeah yeah, Penelope something like Strunk. Do you see the similarity?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:31 PM
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I'm not sure I can even come up with a plausible list of 23 instruments one might own at age 12. Is she counting recorder, harmonica, and kazoo

23 kazoo(s)


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:45 PM
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Wow, what a mess. On one hand, Tirado oversold her personal story. On the other hand, when is anyone ever "worthy" of having their short essay go viral on the Internet? It's like winning the lottery. (Hello, just world fallacy. Fancy meeting you here...)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 12:59 PM
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198: I can


Posted by: turgid jacoban | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 1:17 PM
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200: On the other hand, when is anyone ever "worthy" of having their short essay go viral on the Internet?

The question of worthiness is troubling. Let us suppose that it's true that Tirado owns a home and has medical/dental coverage through her Marine husband: that doesn't actually mean she's not in a relative state of poverty. Not at all: she could still easily not able to afford the deductible/cost-sharing involved in getting her teeth fixed, say. Okay.

As for her essay going viral on the Internet, it seems she actively promoted it by writing to Gawker's editor to suggest that it be front-paged. So it's not as though this happened miraculously. She's good at self-promotion.

I think my final thought on this is the one voiced by someone or other -- can't find which discussion it arose in -- to the effect that this sort of prevarication just feeds right-wing rhetoric about scamming welfare moms and such.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-30-13 1:37 PM
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when is anyone ever "worthy" of having their short essay go viral on the Internet?

I'm pretty sure we could set some basic rules like "when the essay's not a fucking scam".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-13 1:56 AM
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