Ever read an article that you found to be so well written, informative and funny (cause its true) you felt the need to put it out there and share? Yeah, me too…from the wonderful writers at Cracked, enjoy this article about the wealthy gaffe-challenged –
“All of a sudden, it’s like you can’t make huge amounts of money without people getting all pissed off about it. And it’s only going to get worse — with the election coming up and the weather getting warmer, this whole “Occupy” movement is probably going to come back strong. The 1 percent will feel even more besieged than before.
“What the hell?” you’re probably thinking, if you’re somehow both rich and reading an article with this title, “I didn’t crash the economy!” You might even be tempted to take to a microphone, to defend yourself and your wealthy friends. But before you do, I want you to stop and ask yourself, “Will this make me sound like an out-of-touch douchebag?”
So, if a state representative from Tennessee says the following about any possible encounter with someone transgendered in a dressing room:
“I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry. Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk. We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts….”
Am I then free to respond by saying to Rep Floyd how it is my sincerest hope I may someday encounter him, outside a dressing room, when someone transgendered tries to enter, so that if he does lay a finger upon this person, I could then lay ten fingers upon him until he is a writhing mass on the ground outside said dressing room?
Or, would saying something like that be illegal, you know, because he holds elected office? Just curious, just asking, because I wouldn’t want to get in trouble for writing what some might construe as a threat to a politician in response to him threatening Tennessee citizens.
So, help me out people…is it wrong to point out another small man, living in fear, whose only courageous act is to brazenly exhibit his worst character traits and utter ignorance when it comes to stepping outside his own, immediate worldview, and then shake my head, annoyed with the abject idiocy of the people some of my fellow citizens deem worthy of holding elected office?
Please, let me know…I don’t need a hassle and I don’t want to break any laws, even by accident.
So, I keep reading these bits about Madonna, about her freaking out because some fan gave her hydrangeas, as in flowers, and it turns out she hates hydrangeas so she trashed the flowers in front of the fan, and not content to humiliate the person once, she then made a spoof video where she trashed the flowers again so the moment could live on in internet history.
Maybe the whole thing was a big gag, maybe not. In any case, soon thereafter at the Toronto Film Festival, apparently some sort of tradition exists where orange-clad volunteers get a big thank you at the end of the show and word is, when Madonna presented the film she directed, these volunteers were ordered to turn their backs and not look her in the eye. Again, maybe it was all a big joke but if not, then the joke would apparently be…well I suppose the joke would be Madonna.
So, why might I write about something like this?
I often write about equality, tolerance, about simple care for other people. I loathe any type of caste separation, which is becoming more and more prevalent in the world and in this country. Sure, nothing politically or culturally official in America, at least not yet…but when politicians refer to welfare recipients as raccoons, or right winged commentators say the poor shouldn’t be allowed to vote and when Tea Party assholes cheer, suggesting an uninsured patient should be allowed to die, what are we supposed to think about what this future might bring to the United States?
Anyways…yeah, Madonna’s a good business person, but artistically she’s a con artist and a hack and not worth this country’s spit, while these political commentators, politicians and tea party types, they deserve nothing more than the back of this country’s hand, hard, painful and ugly…and repeatedly while we read them the Bill of Rights and discuss how we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and weakest ain’t necessarily about how much money you got.
It might have something to do with your character, and those idiots previously mentioned? Oh, they got a lot of self-righteousness, ego and money, but character?
No, not so much. Not that I’m all that much better, but at least I’m honest about it… Oh, and when we’re done explaining how people of a lower tax bracket don’t need to be made to feel like 2nd class citizens in this oh so great land of equality, we’ll take some time to stuff your mouths full of hydrangeas, lots of hydrangeas, a ton of hydrangeas…and not one single solitary slice of cake.
You see, I’ve been doing this job for a long, long time, off and on for about ten years and frankly, it’s getting a little old. If unfamiliar with crisis work, what I do for a living is I get calls from doctors and police officers in various hospital emergency rooms, or maybe jail corporals at detention centers to come to the scene and speak to the client for the purposes of determining the least restrictive setting where the client will be safe, until they can get follow-up professional help. If at the jail, I might place them on a special watch status which can include suicide gowns and isolation. If at the emergency room, I will determine whether they can go home, can go to a crisis house or go to a behavioral hospital either on a voluntary basis or under an emergency detention called a Chapter 51, where they will be escorted to the hospital by the police in handcuffs.
And truth be told, I’m not very good at making these decisions. I don’t want to go so far as to say that anyone has made a succesful attempt because of the decisions I’ve made, but if they did, I’m certain I wouldn’t have just received the usual bonus for a missed call, I would probably instead be put in charge of the entire Adult Crisis Program.
That may sound like an odd system of rewards, but over the past ten years, social work has largely undergone a transformation from something that was once a total client model to the more black and white corporate model. Sure, the clients are still important, don’t get me wrong, but moreso is the money. Billing, cutting costs, so much of social work today is about billable time and productive, measurable results.
No, I’m not complaining about this. Being as bad at this as I am, it’s probably the only reason I’m still employed.
In fact, the ongoing transition to the corporate model has even improved my career prospects and the many opportunities to receive promotions and raises.
For a long, long time, in the field of social work, traits such as compassion, empathy, client rights, maintaining client focus and making a difference in people’s lives, no matter the cost were how the true worth of a social worker were measured, and in Adult Crisis work, client rights and client safety were preeminent.
That’s why I came close to getting fired, a few times.
The system plays to my strengths, or should I say, lack of them.
Just like the Transocean guys involved with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, or just like Tony Hayward and the destruction of Gulf Coast lives and ecosystem, or just like Ken Feinberg who couldn’t efficiently pay a claim if his life depended on it, or just like our former President who couldn’t even find oil, in Texas, just like all these guys…rather than being fired and left on the streets for my incompetence, the corporatization of social services has got me looking at promotions, bonuses and hell, who knows? If I really screw this up and somebody should die, well, according to the corporate way of doing things not only in the Gulf, but across the country, I could be looking at a promotion to Director of Social Services for the entire state.
It could happen…
Hey, maybe it’s time for some new blood.
I certainly have both eyes on that corporate bottom line, a lackadaisacal work ethic, a solid understanding of corruption navigation and a total lack of concern for the welfare of others which, when you put it all together, might just make me the ultimate envy of every other social worker in my field.
I tell ya, the county I work in better promote me soon because I expect a job offer from Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility any day now. My total amoral response to people in distress is sure to make me quite the draw.
The Gulf Coast Claims Facility was created with the stated purpose of handling claims brought by the people so harmed when British Petroleum spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was supposed to be done fairly, and with haste and this was promised by its neutral arbitrator, Ken Feinberg.
Neither appears to have happened.
The claims process is not perceived as fair. Oil industry workers have been left out in the cold. The GCCF has denied claims British Petroleum had previously paid. Some claimants receive quick money and speedy service while others are given denials and a return of their paperwork marked as deficient for the smallest mistake on a form, which in turn starts their waiting periods all over again. And let us not forget the repeated denials of subsistence claims.
The claims process is not being done quickly. GCCF online forms have errors, resulting in returned documents with residents of the Gulf Coast being told different things at different times by employees of the GCCF, all bogging down the process. There have been arbitrary rule changes, and no transparency which leaves residents often in the dark about why their claims have been denied, and due to their financial need for resolution, then assail the GCCF with questions which remain, unanswered.
Feinberg has gone on for months about poor documentation in the claims, and how it has slowed down his system, seemingly placing the blame back squarely on Gulf Coast residents, on the injured parties…and what does this do?
It creates discord amongst claimants, and it deflects anger from the parties in this mess who truly deserve it: the GCCF, British Petroleum and the President, who appears content to do little about it.
Consider these two attempts at receiving the quick payment:
“I have a coworker whose husband filed a quick business claim. Received it within 14 days.”
“I downloaded and submitted my quick pay form on the 17th, mailed it overnight immediately. The cost was 20.00. They received the form on the 20th and I then waited… called everyday to make sure everything was okay and was told for 12 days straight that the forms I had submitted looked good and I should expect payment within 14 days. On or around the 10th day into my wait, watching the online GCCF statistics I quickly began to feel “leery” about the forms. If the GCCF was indeed paying so many claims according to their website, something was definitely not right. So, I downloaded another form around the 29th and just mailed it into the GCCF regular mail (since surely this was my paranoia getting to me) after all, I had written emails from the GCCF and phone calls reassuring me that I would receive payment in a day or two. WRONG!!! I found out at Propublica.com via a common thread based on happenings with various claimants, the GCCF had sent out a mass letter to claimants which stated the downloaded forms had “changed” in the download process
I immediately called the GCCF and the blame for the faulty form was placed on me… then I was told over and over to wait for the new packet because that was the only accepted form. After all, they did not tell people to use the online method, but told them to use the mailed packet… so… it was my fault, I had indeed read all of the information provided on the GCCF wrong. I did download another form at that time, filled it out completely and mailed it overnight to the GCCF… another 30.00 (FEDEX) I waited, I emailed, I called and yes, they did indeed receive that package on the 30th, it was date-stamped and scanned… I was getting paid within 14 days. Then on the 3rd of January I finally received in the mail the packet they had mailed to claimants with the forms (completely blank) to fill out.. so… me and my paranoia filled that complete form out and mailed it FEDEX another 30.00
I called, I emailed, then lo and behold they receive the forms that I had sent via regular mail and I am now being told that I will be paid from the date-stamp January 3rd! What happened to the Dec. 30th date-stamped form?
So, I waited, I emailed, I called and suddenly my date-stamp is January 4th so I am waiting 14 days from January 4th now and who in the hell am I to ask what happened to my “corrected forms” I mailed in, and they date stamped on Dec. 30 and on January 3rd…yet… the numbers on the website show that the statistics are off the charts and people are being paid in two-three days! Again, this was never an issue with the quick pay personal claims, but it was the same exact form… all downloaded from the GCCF.”
Some people get paid, quick and easy, the way they were promised.
Some people are still waiting to be paid after going to great lengths, sending in duplicate forms, covering their bases so to speak, and feeling the need to do so oftentimes as a result of the lack of transparency, the unanswered questions, the false information relayed to them by GCCF employees and the GCCF website.
And some get denied outright.
As a result, some people caught up in or rejected by the claims process are beginning to turn on each other. Resentments grow against the people who at least got something from the people who have been denied everything. People who were paid quickly brush off the complaints of those who haven’t, telling them to just sit quiet and be patient. The frustration of the people jumping through hoops and still waiting boils over onto everyone.
All while Barack Obama remains quiet.
All while British Petroleum stock prices continue to rise.
All while Ken Feinberg continues to massage the press, go to the opera and use British Petroleum money to pay a colleague to write a letter in his favor, declaring that he is neutral in this claims process.
Dividing an angry public against each other while politicians, big business and those otherwise in charge go about their day is one of the most tried and true political tactics used in our society, having been implemented time and time again. Why? Because it works…so has this been the intent of Ken Feinberg and the GCCF all along?
Difficult to say, but I might ask who has been acting like the politician?
Well, Ken Feinberg was named one of the 100 most influential people in finance by Treasury and Risk, and one doesn’t rise to such heights without a healthy dose of political savvy and connection. And if you should be one of the people who attends his meetings this week in the Gulf Coast, the question and answer sessions being held on Monday and Tuesday, one might ask, does it feel like a politician’s town hall meeting? And if so, does it feel like you’re being emotionally managed at this meeting, as a group, or will your complaints actually change the course of action by the GCCF?
Division amongst Gulf Coast residents only serves the interests of British Petroleum and the GCCF. It serves as a distraction and an energy drain from the protestations that should continue to be directed towards the guilty parties. What is needed now is unity amongst claimants, approved and denied, and whereas nobody can say for sure whether this growing climate of resentment has been fostered intentionally, it would be difficult to argue that British Petroleum, the originator of this whole mess, isn’t reaping the benefit.
Keep the pressure on all the guilty parties, together.
So, when you saw footage of the Deepwater Horizon explosion or the oil blasting out of the Macondo Well, what did you think about it?
The New York Times described it this way:
“Dazed and battered survivors, half-naked and dripping in highly combustible gas, crawled inch by inch in pitch darkness, willing themselves to the lifeboat deck. . . . Crew members, certain they were about to be cooked alive, scrambled into enclosed lifeboats for shelter, only to find them like smoke-filled ovens.”
Well, that would be one perspective (from those alarmists on the liberal left), however Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tx) saw things differently. He described it kinda like…no, he described it exactly like this:
As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion.
Yeah, I’m too cynical in my beliefs and opinions…how about if I mentioned that Mr. Hall is about to become the chair of the House Science and Technology committee.
When it comes to long term damage to the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s oil spill, the University of South Florida, the Coast Guard and even Ken Feinberg have offered their expert and not so expert opinions.
The University of South Florida, in a recent study found layers of residue up to several centimeters thick in spots that span across several thousand miles of the seafloor and more importantly, in many of those spots the sea life that crawls across the sediment appears dead. Tests are beginning to show the residue is from BP’s Macondo well and the dead sea creatures are the bottom rung of the food chain in the Gulf. Their findings indicate the future impact is as yet unknown, and won’t be for some time. Incidentally, the NOAA has also been testing the sediment and found the oil in the sediment to be a match to the Macondo.
A week after the release of USF’s findings, the Coast Guard also issued a report and surprise, it directly contradicts the university’s report, “We are not finding any recoverable amounts of oil” on the seafloor, Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft said. “We are dealing with barely detectable amounts of oil in the parts per billion in many places.” The parts per billion they could find, the Coast Guard was unable to link to the Macondo. They also stressed the report was not a conclusive analysis, but intended more as a guide for the Coast Guard and cleanup crews, not as an assessment of the spill’s damage to the ecosystem.
Needless to say, Ian McDonald, an oceanographer from USF was surprised, “We went to the same place and saw a lot of oil,” MacDonald said. “In our samples, we found abundant dead animals. It points out that different people – trained scientists – can get different answers.”
Also needless to say, British Petroleum? They love themselves some Coast Guard reportage, “The scientific evidence in this report is consistent with our observations that the beaches are safe, the water is safe and the seafood is safe,” said Mike Utsler, BP’s cleanup commander.
And then Ken Feinberg wades in to give his expert(?) opinion: “We’re asking everybody right now, scientists, biologists, give us your best estimate … of the status of the Gulf,” Feinberg said. “We’re hearing right now, not much long-term adverse impact.”
Kert Davies, director of research for the environmental group Greenpeace, fired back by saying Feinberg’s assessment is premature. “We’re talking about a very complex system, and it’s impossible to say there’s minimal long-term impact at this point,” Davies said.
So then, to sum up:
The University of South Florida stakes their science department’s reputation on their findings and stands by them. These findings indicate the oil is there and a lot of it is BP’s oil, sunk by the dispersants, and wherever that oily sediment is found it is killing off coral and the other sea life that forms the lower rungs of the food chain. They are continuing to study the long term ramifications. The Coast Guard, much like they appear unable to find oil when it is on the surface also can’t find it on the seafloor and then they strangely issue the caveat that their analysis shouldn’t be taken as conclusive. Ken Feinberg…well, he thinks things are looking rosier than ever and tells this to USA Today, a national publication, while also talking about his oil spill claim options and since things are looking pretty good, hey everybody, you should probably all choose the best option for you, so long as it is the two options that bar you from suing BP. Why would ya wanna sue BP? Things are good and getting better! And those pesky interim payments, that second option, well, since I’m the one deciding whether you are still suffering damages from the spill every three months and since I’ve indicated in the national press that it is my belief that things in the Gulf are shaping up, well take a guess whether I will be thinking three months, six months, nine months down the road that you are still suffering damages.
In other words…take the money, now…no pressure. The University of South Florida, the ones without direct financial incentive, they might be wrong.
My father is a minister which meant I went to church every Sunday, did the whole baptism, confirmation, altar boy thing and when I was twelve, he took a new job at a church populated with a lot of people who had a lot of money. Not all, granted, but enough of them and I remember being about fifteen and watching this new couple begin attending services. They didn’t seem to be like the rest of the people in the church. The guy looked like a biker and his wife wore the road map of someone who’d ridden the harder life. He smoked. She wore too much make-up. He had tattoo’s. Her eyes were worn. As a teenager who was just learning the rejection of everything I’d previously known, I found them fascinating and looked for them every Sunday. I also noticed how they were treated by the other parishioners in nice suits and comfortable dresses.
I watched the parishioners whisper. I watched many be less than welcoming. I remember watching my father trying to make that couple feel comfortable, but soon enough the couple left, and I remember all of this because on that snowy morning, a cynic was born. No mangers, no wise men, no kings, just me looking on disappointed at my father’s congregation and a newer confirmation of what I had begun to realize about the people of that church…many of them were snobs, many of them wouldn’t or didn’t try to put themselves in that couples shoes.
Well lately, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of reading the comments sections of a number of online newspapers articles and I’ve realized a couple of things, yet again…
1. There are a lot of assholes out there and they like to write in the online comments sections.
2. Oftentimes, the person who rose up against the odds through self-professed hard work, determination and a lot of luck seems to check his compassion at the door to trash the people who don’t conform to his very rigid bootstraps.
3. Rather than helping others, a lot of people would rather just reject those in need, except at Christmas of course, sometimes.
So when I read stories about people who have lost their businesses as a result or indirect result of BP’s oil spill and Feinberg’s Scroogian ways, or even just the bad economy and then I scroll down to the comments section and see this or that person trashed by those that take the time to write such things…while it does make my cynical heart beat a little faster it also reminds me of those days at fifteen, and I feel disappointed all over again.
When I read about Matt Drouillard, or Patti Wooley or the situation I mentioned yesterday, with Candi Cook who filed a claim and though paid a little by BP, was denied anything by Feinberg and the GCCF, and then I click to the comments section and read such things like:
WHO CARES…. Your business isn’t creating revenue then go look for a job like the rest of the USA. You were denied because you couldn’t prove a loss on a business that wasn’t creating revenue since 08 in the first place
New rules coming next year; you have to stand on your own two feet. No more pay for not working, this country has to return to the principles that made her great or we all go under and there is nothing left for your children. There was never a rule everyone was entitled to everything, just the opportunity to try. If you are not trying the rest of us are not going to carry you. I have been unemployed, I have gone without health insurance, I have never taken a handout, and I can speak the truth, I have earned it as so many others. Let us not write stories on these people, let us write stories on the heroes making success with hard work and sweat. Stop trying to prove how bad it is and start showing what can be achieved!
When I read that, what am I supposed to think?
Well, I could agree and say, hey…they’re right. If one person can do it, anybody can. America is the land of opportunity and if you don’t make it, it’s obviously your fault for not trying hard enough, for not being smart enough, for just not getting it.
Or, I could say, “Hey, you collective pair of jackasses, maybe you could lend a hand rather than a kick in the face. Maybe if you’re such a sound business person, ya might give a call with a few business tips. Maybe you could stop your rhetoric for a minute to think about how not everybody has two feet to stand on and a lot of people have three or four and maybe, just because you were there once and found your way out doesn’t mean you have to be so ridiculously bitter towards those that are there now. Maybe someday you will finally get rewarded and someone will write a story about you, the hero, the one who did it with no handouts, who speaks the truth.”
Or maybe you can stop your self worship for a moment and help out because one of the principles of this country, the principles that made this country great was the way people looked out for one another and built communities, the same kind of communities your judgmental bullshit destroys.
Or don’t, your choice.
I’m a cynic, so no matter what you do I get to win, either by confirmation of my cynicism or the good feelings produced by seeing others helping others get by.
Again, your choice.
In either case, just like I wonder about the people of the Gulf Coast, what it is they are going through and how they are going to make it, I wonder about that couple way back at my dad’s church and I hope if they did find a new congregation, they found one that wasn’t filled with a bunch of jackwagons from the online comments sections.
Congregations are community and community is what we need more of, especially these days, because cynicism without productivity or any hope whatsoever is a zero-sum game.
December 15th is looking to be a disappointingly memorable day for citizens of the Gulf Coast. This is the deadline when all emergency claims to BP’s $20 billion fund must be processed and since August 23rd when Kenneth Feinberg took over the fund from British Petroleum, he has denied 173,000 claims including 100,000 in the past seven days alone.
“The number of denied claimants continues to soar for two reasons,” Feinberg said in an e-mail Monday. “1) Thousands and thousands of claimants, who were asked over the past few months to submit additional documentation have not done so; so they are now being denied. 2) Claimants who filed in the past few weeks with insufficient documentation have automatically been denied.”
This is an excuse to give Feinberg cover.
He has been in charge of the claims fund for over three months and it would seem reasonable to believe that Feinberg knew of documentation problems early on. When you take into account that the average amount of fraudulent claims in any national disaster have been about ten percent, and in the Gulf there have been 455,000 claims, this would indicate that only about 45,000 of these claims should be considered fraudulent. When Feinberg denies 173,000, or 40% of the claims, this strongly indicates that thousands upon thousands of people being hurt by this oil spill are not being compensated. Even worse, this simple math doesn’t take into account all of the people who feel they have been shortchanged, getting pennies on the dollar for their losses.
According to my math, 120,000 legitimate claims are being denied and that is simply, wrong. That’s 120,000 families, businesses and individuals and that is a lot of people, too many. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe there is nothing Feinberg could have done, or could do now to help. Sure, by the letter of the law, he is doing what is legally permissible, but by any kind of moral law, he is a dismal failure and should be removed.
120,000 legitimate claims denied, 120,000 rent payments, homes, businesses, dinner tables, families abandoned by the neutral arbitrator: it’s simply another criminal gut punch to the residents of the Gulf Coast, after British Petroleum’s oil spill slashed their jugular.
And lest we forget, any of the money Feinberg doesn’t pay out of the fund gets returned to British Petroleum, the company paying his salary.
I gotta wonder how Feinberg lives with himself. Like the Halliburton technician who wasn’t watching the pressure readings rise on the Deepwater Horizon, maybe Feinberg is just out smoking cigarettes while the claims are being denied and needy families are sent home.
Perhaps it’s time to get back in your office, Ken. Unless something is done to “make things right,” this situation is just as likely to explode.
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, I mean come on…you had me at “Road Warrior,” and then you lost me at “Passion of…” I gotta say, if there is one thing that always brightens my day, it’s when people who put themselves on moral pedestals crash and burn, or in Mel’s case crash and crash and crash and burn…
Alright…that’s about as much times as his story deserves…
Hear what Mel has to say to his wife…listen to the audio: