Tag Archives: Social Change

 Let’s Make It Fair Across The Board And Give A Hand Up

This is another blog post that I made about ten years ago that I had tucked away on another server.  I thought it was time to dust it off.


I agree there’s a need for low-income housing in this country but I’m not sure that we’re going about it the right way.  With the exception of the elderly or the permanently disabled, I’m of the opinion that subsidized housing should be a vehicle to help until you’re ready to move to a better position.  Instead it tends to permanent placement.

A recent local television news story highlighted how an upscale apartment complex was about to have a new complex built next to them.  The two complexes would be virtually similar but one would be subsidized.  The “powers that be” assured folks that it would be nice and modern and not “look like” low-income housing so that no one could complain about depreciating property values.  How angry would you be, paying maybe $1000 a month for your apartment knowing that someone now could get virtually the same apartment in the same neighborhood for less than $200?  I know I’d be livid!

Also, what’s the motivation for the person in the $200 apartment to work hard, gain job skills and advance their income only to be in the same place at several times their current cost?  It’s not fair to either party.  It’s also not fair to the taxpayers knowing that the difference in rents is not markup or profit margin for the landlord but rather the bill is being paid by taxpayers in the form of higher taxes. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time paying my own bills without having to pay someone else’s.

I’m of the opinion that percentages are fair.  For example, sales taxes are fair, you pay according to what you spend and everyone pays proportionally.  Flat taxes are disproportionate.  A $500 fee will crush the person making $300 a week but would be only irritating or inconvenient to the person with a 6-figure income.

The housing market in this country is completely based on paying per square foot, in both the commercial and residential markets.  So I think that (again with the exception of the elderly and the permanently disabled) we should make an effort to build smaller housing.

If we’re paying by the square foot, then there shouldn’t be the need (or as much of a need) to subsidize to create affordable housing.  The smaller the housing, the more efficient you make it… Solar power, smaller, more energy efficient appliances, all keeps utility bills low or nonexistent, so there’s less/no need to subsidize them either.   Provide wifi in the cost so that residents still have ample opportunities for schooling, work, etc. especially for folks with children.

Make sure it’s functional and efficient and if you want more room to spread out, then you work harder to make more money so that you can afford a bigger place.   No entitlement, you work and you earn, then you get because you deserve.  Principals that this country was founded on that we need to get back to.

Unfortunately (and I was guilty of this too) a young person often feels that they should continue to live in the lifestyle they’ve been accustomed to while living with their parents, not realizing that this should be their goal, but it’s not owed to them.  Their parents live that way because they’ve worked hard to achieve it.  Sadly, this sense of entitlement causes a lot of heartaches because it’s not readily achievable.  It sets people up for failure.  We need to teach people that you start small and get as big as you’re willing to work and save.

Many people look at Tiny Houses and shake their head, but I know when I lived in a homeless shelter I would have LOVED to have one of these to live in, and I know that many others I was with would have as well.

Imagine a homeless shelter being replaced with a “subdivision” of Tiny houses.  You could easily put 100 of them in just a couple of acres. And in the process help people get re-established so they can work their way back up instead of dealing in depression and anxiety at the overwhelming situation they’re in.  The ability to have a place your own, to keep what few treasured possessions you have, privacy, dignity.  That people can make or break someone.


Places like Hong Kong and Japan have limited space with large populations.  It’s not uncommon for people to live in 300 sq. ft. apartments with all their necessities.   Utilizing their models, not only could we offer affordable housing to more of our citizens but we’d also be able to house more people in less space.  Imagine being able to take a current apartment complex and tripling or quadrupling the number of people that can live there. You now have the potential to reduce waiting lists, people living in cars and living on the streets because they have nowhere to turn without warehousing or supporting them in the process.

26 crazy pictures of micro-apartments around the world

Helping people, not only those who need affordable housing, but also the taxpayers who can’t handle the financial burden anymore while motivating folks to work for what they want in life.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Maggie
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My Epiphany For Social Change

I want to precursor this by letting you know that I actually wrote this about 10 years ago.  It’s just as relevant now as it was then.  I probably should have sent it to the White House as a petition.

If any of you have any ideas or connections to make this happen, or make it better, by all means, let me know and feel free to share this.

A little back story… My ex-husband (Kid’s biological father) was ordered to court when she was 5 so we could start receiving child support.  He never responded to or complied with court information requests for job and income information.  The child support order was written based on minimum wage (which was $4.25 at the time).  Truly, each time there was a minimum wage increase I should have gone back to court to have it adjusted.  I, however, didn’t feel it worth the time since he wasn’t paying it anyway.

President Clinton signed into law a bill making it a felony to flee the state to avoid paying child support.  Shortly afterward, I discovered that he moved to Kentucky.  I called child support enforcement and was told that they couldn’t go after him because even though we were separated we were still legally married.  (I was not able to collect government assistance including him in our ranks however because we didn’t live together.  See a little problem there?  I know I did.)

Fast forward our story to about 3 years ago.  All of a sudden I start receiving small child support checks.  To this day I’m not sure if a) he just ran out of under the table jobs, b) he finally stayed at a job long enough for the support order to kick in or c) lost track of time and thought she was too old to have to pay child support somehow thinking it goes away when they get older.

The checks lasted a couple of months (every two weeks) before child support finally issued me one of their new debit cards.  Then the payments stopped.  Over the next year, I would get one randomly here or there before they stopped again altogether.

Well these sporadic payments triggered an audit and I was required to go to court several times and of course, he never showed up.  After almost 14 years of non-support and arrearages of over $20,000 (remember, this was based on $4.25 an hour) child support they decided that it was the time that an arrest warrant was issued and that he should go to jail.

I asked the attorney when he goes to prison does the state pay the support on his behalf?  No.  So let me get this straight… he hasn’t willingly contributed to the raising of his daughter at any opportunity, he owes me over $20K and now I have to support him during his incarceration via my tax dollars???  In addition, when he gets out of prison he’ll have a record making it even more difficult for him to get a job?  How does this help me, our daughter, him, anyone really?

I know that mine is not the only side of the coin on this issue.  I know that many “deadbeats” are classed as such, not because they don’t want to take care of their kids but because they can’t.  Poor job markets, unfair support orders (ones favoring the child/ren with the ex but not factoring in the children living with you because you don’t have a support order for them since they live in your home), support orders that don’t allow enough left in your check for you to live on but if you get a second job they’ll take that too, etc…

So here’s the epiphany… open the draft to “deadbeat parents” after say, one year of non-support.  Don’t wait for 5, 10, 15 years for things to get so out of control.  Here’s my reasoning…

By being drafted into the military, the draftee’s pay is based on the number of dependants guaranteeing that all parties are covered and no one is getting the short end of the stick.

All parties would be covered by insurance.  Sadly, even if an employer does offer insurance the cost is even more prohibitive when you have child support being deducted from your pay.  In addition, life insurance is also part of the package making sure that your child will continue to be taken care of on your behalf should something happen to you before they reach 18.

Being in the military is recession proof as well as lazy proof.  You can’t get laid off or fired.  Your job will never be outsourced and your hours will never be cut.

Being in the military is salaried position so there are no fluctuations in pay making it difficult to pay a set support amount if you miss a days work.

Being in the military will offer the opportunity for you to learn a trade and/or go to college.  Most Americans can’t afford to go back to college once they take on the financial responsibilities of a family.  This tends to add to the frustration because this is where we truly see the value of an education at its fullest as an adult. We now “get it” that we need the degree to get the better job to better support our families.  The military allows you to do both without you or your family starving and/or becoming homeless.

I realize this is a two-sided coin.  There are those that would find the miliary as a deterrant and that’s fine.  Do what you have to do to keep from being drafted.  For others out there, this would be a welcome solution and a means to get on track as opposed to prison which will have negative ramifications for the rest of your life.  By and large I believe this could be the most proactive step our country could take to reform a system that isn’t working.

Please give me your feedback and let me know what you think.  If you really like the idea, share it with others – including people in position to make change.

Maggie