passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
2011-10-13 10:18 pm

Oh for...*headwall*

Can we NOT with the conflating of "does not pay Federal Income Tax" and "does not pay taxes"?


For the last handful of years, my household has paid little to no Federal income tax, mostly because our household income has been moderately low and we've been eligible for education tax credits in sufficient amounts to cancel out whatever tax liability we had based on adjusted gross income.

I can assure you that, since 2007, our household has paid ALL of the following taxes:

1) FICA (Social Security/Medicare)
2) State income taxes, which follow different rules from Federal
3) State/local sales taxes
4) Local property taxes (to the extent that the T in PITI makes up almost as much of my payment as the PI)
5) Gasoline taxes
6) Hotel occupancy taxes (except when I'm traveling on official State business, which I did a lot of this year)

Back when I was a single working adult and not going to school simultaneously, I paid Federal income tax as well. However, the tax code is structured in such a way that right now taxes aren't collected from me by that particular method.

John and I have also appropriately paid self-employment taxes (employer-side FICA) in the years when we've owed those taxes.

I also DO pay for my family's medical insurance plan (at a bit more than $100 per biweekly pay period) and I pay into a use-it-or-lose-it pre-tax medical account and pay my employer-mandated 3% of salary into a retirement account that I have no damn clue whether or not I'll ever actually benefit from because who knows how broke or broken it'll be 25-30 years from now?

I also participate in SEFA (payroll-deduction charitable contribution that I direct to a few organizations I believe need supporting) to an extent that is apparently much higher than many people "manage", even though I'm certainly nowhere near the top of my department's salary structure. And since I'm not in a financial position to itemize deductions, no, I don't just "take it off my taxes". (And yes, I'd be supporting organizations with time as well as money if it weren't for the fact that, by way of being a social work student in a field placement, I am literally paying to work for the agency where I'm placed.)

In short: We are not the freeloaders you're looking for. Nor are most of the 47%, though their stories and circumstances are sure to vary from ours.
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
2011-04-29 09:10 pm

In which I am a negative bubble-bursting crank

[Note: "You" is general. I don't mean you personally. There is no one person who set this off, and the person who comes the closest is my 19-year-old self who almost got involved in a certain glorified pyramid scheme, since I was reminded of that recently, and my last-year self who could have easily wrecked my chosen career before it got off the ground because of the Epic Fail. Also, a couple of items could be ED/self-harm triggers, maybe possibly, so warning just in case.]

Point the first: You will NOT, repeat NOT, "do anything" to achieve your goals. And if you actually will, you are a sociopath and I want nothing to do with you. That's about as ridiculous as the wide-eyed cute submissive girl who goes to her very first kinky shindig and insists that she has no limits.

You HAVE limits. Everyone does. You owe it to everyone, especially to yourself, to be HONEST about what those limits are. For example, I'm assuming that you're not willing to murder your way to the top. I'm also hoping that you don't believe that crack dealing, armed robbery, or embezzlement are excellent paths to wealth. :)

Point the second: Likewise, there probably isn't one consistent thing you want more than anything in the world. If you genuinely want something more than anything in the world, on a consistent basis, you can probably have it. But, well, let's say you want to lose weight "more than anything in the world" - you're not going to chop a limb off to do it, are you? I hope not! I'm guessing you want your arms and legs more, actually.

Point the third: You know that item on the Evil Overlord list, about having a five-year-old child of normal intelligence as a trusted advisor, and not proceeding with any plans if you cannot overcome the child's objections to the plans? Speaking as the parent of a perhaps slightly brighter than average five year old child, this is actually a damn good idea.

And yet there is so much advice out there to ignore all negative feedback, and to kick "negative people" out of your life. Even when those "negative people" are pointing out very clear flaws in your plans. Flaws like:

- Dude, that's illegal. Seriously, you could go to JAIL for that.
- You do realize you've only scheduled yourself for five hours of sleep a night, right?
- You end up in serious physical pain after walking two miles. How exactly is walking five miles a day, every day, going to work?
- Actually, NOT everyone wants to buy what you're selling. Or can afford to. Why are you budgeting for everyone to say yes?
- You don't know how to make widgets. If you make your own and do it wrong, you're going to have exploding widgets everywhere. EXPLODING WIDGETS, I say!
- You might want to do the math on all that extra overtime or that second job, if it's going to kick you into another tax bracket or push you over the income limit for something and thus just cost you more money.
- Are you sure your spouse is OK with watching the kids every night/maxing out the credit card/changing the family vacation plan from NYC to Nowhereville or vice-versa/moving to another country? Hadn't you better ASK first?

Point the fourth: Everything in the previous point goes double for using "negative thought stopping" on yourself. Yes, when what you're dealing with is recognizable Depressed Logic ("I'm the piece of shit the world revolves around!") or over the top internal criticism, stopping THOSE thoughts - or if you can cope with this (which sometimes I can't) mocking them the hell out of existence - is fine.

But the "negative thoughts" that someone who is encouraging you to "be less negative" is complaining about might just be the thought "THIS PERSON IS A SCAMMER" - and might just be absolutely correct. Or they might just be a very important reality check, that even if something is not an actual scam, it's also not the right path for you to go down just because it was the Best Thing Ever for someone else. Or they might be a clear signal that "hey, this isn't working and I need to stop and re-evaluate."

Sort of like how pain is not necessarily a sign of weakness, nor is enduring it a moral victory - it's a signal that something is up that you might want to look into. Especially if it's NOT the same old pain from the same old thing that's bothered you for years. If it's bothered you for years, you know how to live around it, and just how far you can push and where the "you will REGRET this!" point is. And "negative thoughts" are a bit like that. If it's the same old self-defeating crap, that's one thing. If it's something new - pay attention now, or risk paying a very unwanted price later.
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
2011-04-13 07:43 pm
Entry tags:

[LJ Idol 7: Topic 21] Child Protective Services, by the numbers

[Note: Although this can be read as a stand-alone, why would you want to? :) LJ Idol is doing the Intersection Thing this week, and my beloved spouse ([personal profile] invisionary/[ profile] ravenshrinkery) has written a companion piece about how he learned more respect and less fear for the police - from a very unusual source. Read it here on LJ or here on DW.]

[Disclaimer, and one of the few times I feel obligated to write one: Although some of this comes from what I have learned at work, I am not in any way speaking for my employer, nor is this any kind of formal professional or legal advice.]

This is the Anti-Anti-CPS rant. Warnings for child maltreatment, obviously. )
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
2010-09-20 03:19 am

In which AJ has had ENOUGH

[Consider this trigger-warned for Everything Under The Sun, at least in passing, though mostly for mental illness-related Fail.]

I have had ENOUGH of the anecdata about public benefit “abusers” and poor people in general, ENOUGH of the assumptions that one can tell what a scammer a poor person is just by looking at her, ENOUGH of the “my less-stigmatized benefit is legit, while your more-stigmatized benefit is not!” nonsense that so often dominates these debates, and FAR MORE THAN ENOUGH of the mentality that equates PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for the poor with an unlimited supply of spare time AND spoons.

The thing is? You DON’T know what’s going on when you look at someone.

I have plenty of anecdata I can throw right back at you. Everything that follows is an experience of mine, an experience of someone I know, a composite of many similar stories from multiple people I know, or something I have encountered in the course of my various social services employment.

Example )
passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
2010-06-25 11:24 pm
Entry tags:

Stuff that bugs me: Intersectionality, silencing, and characterization

[Rant. May be NSFW. Warnings: sexual language, people being stupid about mental illness.]

also cutting for length )