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Yesterday I read a piece on Dailykos entitled Things That Need to Change: Punitive Attitudes Toward the Poor and it struck me this is a topic that is often on my mind but I seldom talk about. There apparently was right ring vapors over a picture of a little boy holding an Ipad. You can see the photo in the original story here.

His family caught wind of the story and several of his family members responded in the comments trying to set the record straight for those who were making disparaging remarks about those who would dare purchase an ipad in this consumer driven society.

Natosha Thickbutcute
some people are so judgemental.....the little boys happens to be my cousin and he does not live in the projects and yes both of his parents are employed...and he was in fact visiting a relative....and what his parents choose to spend their hard earned money on is their business....and also not everyone that reside in the Iberville developement are unemployed, recieve foodstamp/welfare,or pay low rent...I really hate when people be so quick to judge others or past racial comments and then be so quick to say they're not't too much said when the whites lived in the Iberville Project...for the people that are posting these racial comments, talk on why the white guy took his anger out on all those innocent people at the theater in Colorado and went on that killing spree...and stop worrying on my little cousin and his galaxy pad idiots............
It wasn't even an Ipad. Regardless the bigotry and self righteous opinions of what the poor should be allowed to own flowed. I won't quote those, they were covered in the last diary. This conversation made me draw a parallel that is worth noting and should be a major topic of debate the next time unemployment benefits are discussed in Congress or anywhere for that matter.

You see I'm recently unemployed. It has been a rotating job cycle in this economy and my last full time on the books job at an early intervention center was terminated on my third month into my "probationary period." The official response was that it just wasn't working out for them and that they had had complaints that I was acting more like a teacher and less like an aide. The truth which I thought about afterwards since I was the only one let go (not the girl who had missed 12 days of work her first 3 months and everyday thought she was gonna get fired) was that I was making 14.00 an hour - a rate above all the other staff on the books. And it was no coincidence that on that Wednesday I told 6 staff that shoving a large rubber ball up the back of a distraught autistic 2.4 year old little girl looked like abuse. If that is acting like a teacher then I am damn proud of that as six adults stood around laughing.  They told me to go ahead and collect unemployment benefits and I was too distraught at the time to really question why I was being let go - let alone question my at will employment. God I miss being in a union.

So after that I began collecting unemployment benefits again. It took over a month for them to kick in and by that time I was now a month behind in rent. I had been scrambling to continue doing home cases, babysitting, and manual labor for my friends.  I've had to take a break from working within occupy to make sure I didn't lose my home. Living pay check to paycheck is never easy and it feels crazy that if I see that I have 1000 dollars in my bank account I am amazed.

Now I have a point - I'm not asking for help - I don't want pity - I know my own self worth and my failings. What has been on my mind is the difference between how we treat those who work in the finance sectors and everyone else.

It blew my mind to read that the government offers incentive for Wall street companies to report accurately.

A recent study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners shows that corporate whistle blowers reported fraud in almost all aspects of corporate operations. Accounting fraud constituted 22% of the fraud reported, with each of the following corporate departments also showing fraud: operations (18%); sales (14%); executive and upper management (14%); customer service (7%). Other reported categories included purchasing, warehousing, finance, IT, Marketing, manufacturing and production, director's; human resources R & O and legal. The Securities and Exchange Commission has already set aside $400 million to pay whistle blowers. Dodd-Frank has given real incentives and real teeth to employee reports of financial crime. Prior to Dodd-Frank, only the Sarbanes Oxley Act provided a mechanism to report corporate fraud "in-house", but that was ineffective since no financial incentives were paid. The Federal False Claims Act continues to provide major financial incentives to whistle blowers. This office has handled numerous health care federal false claims with the resulting return to taxpayers of millions of dollars.
Now this primarily deals with whistle blowers and when they report fraud. I encourage this. People should be rewarded for speaking out.  However all the bankers, traders, and hedge fund managers are given money for simply reporting their figure accurately.

William Cohen from the Atlantic wrote in June in How We Got The Crash Wrong

The problem on Wall Street has never been about the absolute amount of leverage, but rather about whether financiers have the right incentives to properly manage the risks they are taking. During Wall Street’s heyday, when these firms were private partnerships and each partner’s entire net worth was on the line every day, shared risk ensured a modicum of prudence even though leverage was often higher than 30-to-1. Not surprisingly, that prudence gave way to pure greed when, starting in 1970 and continuing through 2006, one Wall Street partnership after another became a public corporation—and the partnership culture gave way to a bonus culture, in which employees felt free to take huge risks with other people’s money in order to generate revenue and big bonuses.
Now anyone who is on unemployment benefits like myself is punished for telling the truth about their financial situation. This to me is crazy. Currently if I claim a full week of unemployment benefits that breaks down into 224.00 dollars per week. That equals 896 dollars per month of benefits. My rent is 925 dollars per month. My transportation costs are 103.00 dollars per month. My food costs are 145.00 a month. My cell phone bill is 86.00 per month. My internet bill is 49.99 a month. Unemployment benefits does not even cover the basic costs of living. Granted I live in NYC queens and the costs of living here are higher then the national average.

Friends have told me to sell my guitar, my xbox, my Edward Gorey original and other things I hold dear. Since I have fallen on hard times apparently I am not entitled to continue owning the nice things. I refuse to buy into the logic that I have to sell the possessions I paid dearly for when I was employed to subsidize my poverty now. It has been a rotating cast of bills. Waiting till one is almost at its limit before paying.

I reported that I had worked two days for 1 week. I had worked home cases and made 100 dollars. It was given to me in the form of a check and like a good tax payer didn't want to lie to Uncle Sam. Instead of receiving my full benefits of 224 that week I was given 112.00 dollars.

They cut it in half.

I have no incentive to ever tell the truth about my employment record. This is how we treat the poor. If you tell the truth and say you made a little bit of money then they give you a stiff penalty for working. I would rather claim that I worked 0 days and receive 224.00 a week then tell them I worked 2 day and get 112.00.

In fact we should be INCREASING the amount of employment benefits that people receive when they claim they are working. Not issuing some befuddled arbitrary logic that if someone says they worked then they have to have their money reduced. In fact I've read that some  of the most successful welfare to work programs where the ones that let people keep their benefits as they started their new jobs. I know that when I am fully employed again - and I hope to be soon - that I will not stop claiming benefits until after I get my first check. That early intervention center made me go 3 weeks unpaid training for skill sets I already new, had me pay 200 dollars in certificate fees for online tests, and didn't issue my first pay check till I had been there for a month and a half.

We have to address that we treat people in the financial sector fundamentally different then the rest of the 99%.

The poor are expected to be held to this unimaginable level of integrity, transparency, and reporting that are not applied to the rich or "job creators".

End rant.

Originally posted to Tool on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, Income Inequality Kos, Invisible People, and Community Spotlight.

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