Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Republican Boss Gives Employees Free Healthcare?

You heard it right here folks. My boss greeted me this morning with "so who do you think is going to win in Massachusetts?" (he's rooting for Brown)and before leaving for lunch told me he had decided to cover our new health care package 100%. This means all I pay are doctor visit co-pays and prescription co-pays. Not a dime will come out of my paycheck towards health care premiums.

Amazing, isn't it? I've only had one other job that covered health care 100%, usually companies cover 50-80% and many don't offer health care coverage at all. Often, the companies that do not offer coverage are very small companies or companies with a low-wage workforce. I happen to work for a very small company. There are only three desks in the office in fact. I also work for a company in the medical field.

There are several reasons I can come up with to why this Republican decided to pay for my health care. One is that it's the right thing to do. People need health insurance. At our office, we know just how expensive surgeries are because we sell the medical devices that are used in them. We also know that sometimes the worst does happen, people DO get scary things such as cancer like our CFO and his father. One has beat cancer, the other is fighting it right now.

Another reason could be that unlike enormous corporations where workers don't have names they have ID numbers, and the girl filing papers and faxing paperwork never meets the CEO and probably doesn't know his or her name, my company is so small I see the CEO almost everyday. It's hard to give a shit about someone that is faceless, that is just apart of the mob that toils underneath you. I have a name, life goals, a dog etc. I don't have an ID number. I'm a person. And that's easy to remember because I'm just in the next room.

Perhaps it's because we work in the medical industry. We know how awful the insurance companies are because they nickel and dime us too. Just last week I received a fax from an insurance company offering to pay less than half of what one of our products cost. Why? Just to see if we were dumb enough to accept such a poor offer. We weren't. Trust me, they weren't trying to save the customer money.

So, as I sit here listening to Keith Olberman and the silly pundits argue about the possible death of Ted Kennedy's dream at least I have access to health care. The pundit right now is saying "It's a bad night" - and it is. I have health care but too many do not - my parents and my only sibling do not have it. Eighty percent of the children in the city I live in don't have it.

I still wonder how this could be. I mean, we're in the United States. We're Americans. We declared that our unalienable rights were to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The first right is a right to life. Vague, I know, but that's a big statement. Americans have a right to life, but not a right to protect that life. Not yet.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Greed Is A Deadly Sin

Today, in the New York Times there was a story about Wall Street and bonus checks. Now that we are in the recession, and bailouts were sadly widely misused, are companies going to start rethinking exorbitant bonus checks to their CEOs? No. "Goldman Sachs is expected to pay its employees an average of about $595,000 apiece for 2009, one of the most profitable years in its 141-year history. Workers in the investment bank of JPMorgan Chase stand to collect about $463,000 on average".

Jesus H. Christ, a half million dollar bonus check! I would like to know where the line between fair and greedy is. These are just bonus checks, they are icing on the cake for their normal salary. It would take a person making minimum wage 31 years to make half a million dollars - if they didn't spend any of it.

The difference between the top and the bottom are staggering. During my recent job hunt, I pondered working at a bank - good hours. But bank tellers make like $9.00 an hour. So, a bank teller at Chase makes about $18k a year and the bank executives on Wall Street get $463,000 just as a bonus. Somewhere in college I read that the average joe's paycheck had not really risen in the last 20 years, but CEO pay has risen 300-500%.

The more and more I look at it, these gross injustices are all our fault. The rich people have seemed to hijack everything in this country and the rest of us are left to survive. Did not one worker at Chase Bank stand up and say "You don't even pay me enough to raise a family on! How dare you hand out bonus checks in a recession!" Probably not. Or they did and got fired.

Again, I have no answers. I think bank workers would benefit from unionization. Then maybe the high-rollers would have someone to answer to - the workers. I do know, however, if we keep shrugging our shoulders it will just get worse. One thing in the article that made me happy was:

"Some bankers worry that the United States, like Britain, might create an extra tax on bank bonuses, and Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, is proposing legislation to do so."

Thanks Kucinich! If these guys are getting paid so much, they can afford to give some back. It's not going to hurt them. But back to shrugging shoulders, many of these things that make our stomach turn happen because we allow it to. No one says anything. When was the last time you wrote your Congressman?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On another note...junk scanners?

I am for airport security as much as the next person, but this body scanner thing rides a very fine line between security and our right to privacy. It doesn't seem to hide much. And the cost to the tax payers are going to be exorbitant. Furthermore, is it really going to prevent more terrorism? This Nigerian fellow allegedly got on to the plane escorted by "men in black" (Yes, I think it was an inside job).

I used to have a supervisor who refused to wear a seat belt. One time, we were going to meet some workers downtown and carpooled together. When I reached to put on my seat belt he laughed. I gave him a funny look. He smirked and asked me if I always wore my seat belt. I thought about it, I never used to wear it but now I have a new car that really annoys you when it isn't fastened so I wear it now.

What do seat belts have to do with body scans at airports? This supervisor's seat belt theory was that the government had no business telling you to wear your seat belt. Your body was your responsibility to protect or not protect. Like the flu shot - we are told by the government or the CDC that a flu shot is a good idea - but they don't require us to get one. Yet.

"Give them an inch they'll take a mile", is what my Libertarian supervisor would say. Soon they'll be telling you how many doctors should occupy a municipality, or how many teaching degrees and engineering degrees to hand out. In China, they tell you how many children you are allowed to have. Their government decides the size of your family. Perhaps this is going a bit far (in our case, but the Chinese need to revolt). Perhaps it is being a gullible conspiracy theorist.

Now that the government has access to our naked bodies - for our own protection at the airport. When are they going to install these scanners in public schools, and shopping malls, workplaces, and sports stadiums? So, is our own naked image our property anymore? Doesn't sound like it. Sounds like the government has taken over our right to our own nakedness. I won't even get into the pedophilia problem this practice will cause. What's next? How far will we although them to go??

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Nine More Days

Well, the job is going great. My bank account, however, is pretty shallow. Empty in fact. Nine more days until I get my first paycheck. It seems like forever. Luckily, the freezer is stocked with meat and vegetables. The dog has enough food too.

One step forward and three steps back it seems. I feel like my life is finally back on track. But I'm trying to finish college this semester. Classes start on the 11th, I get paid on the 15th. The money my father had given me for school all went to bills. I have nothing but two credit cards that are almost maxed out. And this job requires a commute and regular gas refills.

So, I feel like I'm in a catch-22. I could afford class on my salary, but I'll only make it if I can get on a payment plan. I don't want to ask for my dad's help. I'm 28. It makes me feel pathetic. I think they need a new label for this sort of stress: economic stress. I have the economic blues.

I also have started to get migraines again. This freaks me out. I've had two "baby" migraines, but they usually follow with the whoppers a week or so later. No medication left, no money for the doctor, 90 days before health coverage kicks in. I can't help it, it's hormonal. I cut out all caffeine when they start popping up. For those who have never had a migraine, it feels like Rambo kicked you right between the eyes with some big ass steel toe boots. Oh, and you get so dizzy you can't turn your head. Driving, like to work, is out of the question.

So here I am, employed, and praying nothing happens. No headaches, no car brake downs, no trips to the vet. Maybe I need another santo candle, (which saint is the one for I hope nothing goes wrong?) I feel like the athlete you watch during the Olympics that misses the gold by a split second, a toe over the line, a missed baton. You can have everything and still have nothing. 2010 is going to be the year of the bills. And that's ok, as long as I can pay them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pavlov's Front Desk Agent

As most of you know, I started my new job this past Monday. I have to say that it is going great! It's a growing company, the CEO is only 32 and is the oldest in the office, and I feel very well taken care of as an employee. I feel like I won the lotto.

As standard in many office jobs, I get an hour lunch break. This I am especially thankful for since my previous job I had a "working lunch" which mean during my 11 hour shift I was allowed to go downstairs, microwave my lunch, and take about 10 minutes to eat. Let me repeat that: 11 hour shift and ten minute lunch. There are labor laws for a reason, but some people just don't give a shit about them.

Anyway, this past Monday lunch time rolled around and I did a interesting thing. Instead of taking off for an hour, I ate at my desk and when I was finished went straight back to work. The next day, I went downstairs to the building cafeteria ordered a club sandwich and planned on eating there and reading my book which was in purse. However, right when I was walking to sit down I saw the CEO walk in and I immediately changed my course, got on the elevator with him and ate at my desk as I did on Monday.

Why on earth did I do that? I had been waiting to have a job where I actually got a lunch break for 7 months. Seeing the CEO in the cafeteria made me feel like I was breaking the rules and should go back to the office asap. But he didn't care if I went back to my desk or stayed downstairs to eat. After I got home that day, I was thinking about it. I felt quite silly for feeling like I would get into trouble if I didn't go back and eat at my desk. Why was I holding on to the rules from my previous job?

I was Pavlov's Front Desk Agent. I had become an example of "operant conditioning". The definition of Operant conditioning, according to Wikipedia, is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. Operant conditioning deals with the modification of "voluntary behavior" through positive and negative reinforcement. So, at my previous job I had been conditioned to believe that taking a long lunch was not being a "team player" and was not "how things were done' and therefore I agreed to work an 11 hour shift with only a 10 minute break.

This learned behavior carried into my next job. Wanting to convey to my new bosses that I was a team player and cared about the rules I cut my lunch hour short. I'm sure if I explained this to them they would think I was nuts. And they'd be right almost. It is simply irrational behavior.

That takes me back to my union days. I would get so frustrated talking to workers about the benefits of being a union member and get replies that were simply irrational. Many of them seemed content with the status quo even though they were being given a chance to better themselves and their working environment. Why would someone choose to continue a low standard of living? I got some pretty sad responses. One guy told me that he was a Mexican and he would always be a Mexican. I asked him if he thought that being a Mexican meant that he deserved less in life. He shrugged and told me "that's just the way life is".

When we get used to accepting a lower standard of anything it's hard to break the cycle and we forget that (1) we deserve better and even worse (2) that there's even something better out there. It's hard to break out of the cycle. Especially when know one is there to tell you there's something more, something better. We're like the people in Plato's cave that believe the shadows against the cave wall are real entities and not just shadows because they had never seen the fire behind them that cast the shadows.

I have no answer to this problem except to practice your beliefs. Be fair, be honest, not only with yourself but everyone you come in contact with. When you see something is wrong/unfair/unjust say something. Otherwise you just enable the behavior and the cycle continues. You become part of the problem and a promoter of it if you stay silent. Never hold back.

I have no

Friday, January 1, 2010


1. Do more yoga
2. Read more books
3. Learn to sew
4. Take the Christmas tree down before February
5. Stop smoking cigarettes COMPLETELY
6. Travel outside of SATX more
7. Kick ass at my new job
8. Write less blogs that are really rants/whines/complaining
9. Get signed up for spring classes at SACC
10. Spend more time with Keishu, my adorable Akita