I was watching the Daily Show with John Stewart the other night and he had a guest who mentioned something that sounded kind of shocking: The majority of people receiving food stamps [EBT or CalFresh as they’re called now] are White. If you’re White and horrified by what you just read don’t be. We can be poor without having to be White trash.
Sure all of us have run into hard times before, but to run into hard times where you have to ask the government for a hand out is not something Caucasians ever really think about. Nowadays, it’s doesn’t matter what color you are, po’ folk is po’ folk. Sometimes you need a little help and you have to ask for it.
My family it currently on the San Francisco Health Plan because we can’t afford nor do I qualify for insurance because of pre-existing conditions [I could get us on the HIPAA plans, but that would cost us $2500/month]. I’m glad that it’s an available option for San Franciscans and if you don’t have insurance you should look into it.
Putting food on the table when you aren’t making any or enough money is another story. I’ve looked into this and a family of three can get up to $526/month to feed themselves. Sure you can include the food banks if you’re heavy eaters, but there are things you can buy that go a long way that are cheaper.
CalWorks is San Francisco’s version of welfare and while it helps out it doesn’t very much. I did a little research and again, for a family of three you can get $695/month, but that cuts into your CalFresh money and cuts it down to $377/month. So if you are able to collect unemployment you can get a little over $1000/month to feed and house a family of three. I went to a meeting just to check it out and CalWorks has a program called Welfare to Work where at least one of the members of the family has to attend a 40 hour a week job training service for a month. If you haven’t found a job by then, then you have to do it again.
If you’re someone like me who has a college degree and a high level of skills this program won’t work for you. The jobs they are offering are low paying and short term. Even more so it doesn’t work because you have to spend time learning how to get a job which you already know when you could be spending time doing freelance work. Even when you get a job, if it’s a contract position they don’t count that as a job so they tell you that they’ll cut your benefits if you don’t show up for the job training which you don’t need. In short the system is broken. They don’t know how to deal with middle class people who have a college degree and more skills than the person who is your job counselor who doesn’t speak English very well.
As I heard one of the people working there say, you don’t want to be on welfare because it only leaves you pissed off and poor. I seriously think they need to work on adding additional resources for helping skilled people find work instead of offering temporary part time minimum wage jobs just so they can check you off the list. That doesn’t solve the unemployment problem it just regenerates it.
So today, after a minor delay, I get to leave the house to go to work. I’ve been freelancing from home for the past several months and while there are advantages, there are also disadvantages. Let’s take a look from my perspective.
- You get to make your own hours.
- You don’t have to dress up
- You can go at your own pace
- You don’t have to deal with work place authority
- Family interruptions that break your train of thought.
- You can smoke in your home office which means you will smoke more than you need to.
- No one will fire you for drinking on the job so you probably drink more than you need to.
- You forget about what time of day it is so you don’t eat regularly.
- You have to find your own health insurance coverage.
- You don’t get out of the house as often.
- You get less exercise.
I like job stability and while I’ve just got a temporary in house freelance job which means it won’t be long lasting, it will at least give me a reason to have some focus in my day and to get up and move around. I’ve been trying to stop smoking and since smoking isn’t allowed in workplaces here this will help. I’m one of those people who smokes because I’m bored, not because I’m stressed. I have managed to cut down quite a bit, but now it will be even easier.
I’ll get to be more mobile and meet new people which I always like. Some of them might come in handy in the future which is always a good thing. This will also give me a change to get outside the city since I don’t get to do that very often and it’s usually down the peninsula. I also won’t have my 18 year old cat sitting next to me yowling for attention all day and night. The only bad thing about this, is that I’ll have less time to spend with my daughter which only means that when I do have time I’ll enjoy that even more and it will spur me on to do more with her when I have time to.
So here I go, off to work a journey into the unknown, but at least I know that I’ll have a regular paycheck coming for a little while. I will also be able to count myself as not one of the hundreds of thousands of unemployed for a little while that will hopefully turn permanent. So here I go, full guns blazing!
Yesterday I started my CalWorks program to find out what my best skill set was to assist me in finding a job. I went in for what was supposed to be a four week 9-5 program to help me out. This of course would cut into my time I could use looking for a job, but as I was told prior, We are required to say that by law.
OK, that should have tipped me off right there and I’ll know better int he future. So I go down to their offices at 3120 Mission Street and prepare for my day with a chip on my shoulder. We all get called into a room and the first thing out of the guy in charge’s mouth is, we won’t be here until 5pm, not 4pm, not 3pm. We’ll be out of here today by 12:30-12:45. OK, good I can look for work again.
Then they moved us into the testing room. First test is reading and math. Easy enough, except that for the math part they give you a piece of paper and a pencil, no calculators allowed. It was during this time that I realized that I had to remember how to do multiplication [easy] and division [that part took me awhile]. Who has to do math by hand anymore? 15 minute break. We go back and then go through a list of small tests that we’re supposed to do quickly without even thinking. I couldn’t help but think that if they’re telling me to go through tests without using my mind that they might suggest a mindless job for me. The tests were actually kind of interesting, because after having to match up circles and squares it moved on to complex shapes arranged in different position and then to deconstructed 3D shapes that we had to build in our mind like a sort of visual origami.
I finished first and was out of there and on my way home a little before noon. I did have to come back for a performance review at 2:40pm so that was no sweat. I head home, relax and eat lunch and come back for the interview. The guy I have to meet with is looking for my test results and can’t find them. He tells me to wait a minute and goes off to a back room. When he comes back I hear him say, Oh, right, you’re that guy. Uh oh, what does that mean? He shows me my results and tells me that I was off the charts in artistic, scientific and leadership skills, but what most amazed him was that I had scored the highest he could remember in spatial geometry [that was the visual origami part I talked about earlier]. He asked me about my past work experience after which he told me that I essentially had such a good skill set that there was nothing they could do to help me. He even asked me, why are you even here? To which I replied because I was told I was required by law to be there. Now I am required for the next four weeks to get up in the morning and come down and spend from 9am-10am at which point I get to go home. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing during this time, but at least it will get me ready for getting up every morning to go to work which I haven’t had to do in nine months.
Strange times do we live in, but at least I’m awesome. If anyone needs an evil scientist to lead them give me a call. I think I’ve got that covered according to the State of California.
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