What I'm Working On Now

Wow, it’s  been a while since I checked in. All sorts of things have went on in my life. I did talk about moving to the country, but I didn’t get into detail on how losing unlimited internet has hurt my work. Being unable to work on content sites without eating through my data limit has change our finance situation considerably. The amount of data used by what most people consider normal use is insane. We’ve used the satellite internet providers and now Verizon wifi.

Instead of writing full time I now sell handmade goods andnature photography. Walking in the woods to find great pictures has been cleansing, while painting is just fun.  I also crochet, one of my most popular items has been amigurumi. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s basically creating dolls or replicas of other things in the single crochet stitch. My daughters all loved the Elsa from Frozen replica.

Eventually I may branch out into selling herbs, but probably not until next year. There’s quite a bit of St. John’s Wort growing. My favorite discovery has been the staggering amount of Boneset growing a few miles from home. I gather it from where I get my elderberries. It goes right into my healing salve.

I have been selling most of my items through my store on ShopEnvy. Unlike Etsy I’m not charged to post anything. There are two formats of my store, one is in their marketplace and the other is my custom storefront. All sales made through the marketplace nets the ShopEnvy folks a small percentage.

Up until a few months ago I had been selling off some things through word of mouth because of needing to raise money for repairing the van we bought, but when I tried doing an auction nothing happened. I did find out about AuctionMobility, it’s a software that allows auctions to be livestreamed on mobile- phones or tablets. That seems like something that would be  beneficial, especially for people like me who don’t have reliable, unlimited connections at home. I don’t know of anyone who has integrated the same type of auction mobile software, but until I can access sites with a better mobile platform, I won’t be able to use auctions for my works.

Something else I found interesting when reading about Auction Mobility is that they just acquired a fine arts/collectible site, Lofty.com. So if I can get my work moving through such an auction, I will be in company with other artists. The neat way they have their bidding set is through swiping or sliding, not clicking. No fake bids or having kids just click away.

Anyone else still using Etsy? Would you be more into using auctions (if you don’t now) if you could put them on a mobile app? I really hate the way Ebay looked on mobile, but not using them these days, it’s too easy to get conned.

Pics of my pups

I haven't posted in a long time...again. Just slapping some pictures of my Shepherds so I can share with folks on Ravelry.

Artemis is a black 2 1/2 year old German Shepherd. Her half brother War is almost 5 months old now...and he's her size! They're awesome. We've had Artemis for a year and her brother for a little more than a month. Artie is pregnant and due to whelp on the 24th of this month.

Sharing is Caring

I have awesome autocorrects. From now on, to entertain myself and others, I'll post the best.

This gem came while talking with my friend Wendy about duck eggs.

Civil Rights For Public Assistance Recipients

In 1996 many changes were made to how people in the United States receive TANF - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. These changes were hailed as a way to help people on assistance move back to self sufficiency.

The original idea seemed good. Have people look for work as a requirement for receiving assistance. In the previous post how this actually works is covered. The program has been considered a failure - not only by those using it, but by people on all sides of the issue. When looking at the way many counties - not just Allegany County, NY - uses recipients to avoid using 'real' employees. City and county governments fire or lay off regular employees in order to receive free labor from what are in essence slaves to the state.

Democrats and Republicans alike dislike such programs. While it is true that there should be safety nets in place for people around the country, how these programs are implemented can be a dangerous, slippery slope. Recipients can end up dependent on the system because of how the system is using them.

As a Democrat I am not ashamed to say that this is one area where the non-insane Republicans have it right. Using welfare makes users dependent. This dependence isn't always due to any fault of the recipients. For example, in the previous post it was explained how people forced into JobTrak and similar programs must work without pay for what equates to full time employment hours.

Several Allegany County recipients (non-parolee workers) have been sanctioned for missing JobTrak work due to going to job interviews. While this is against regulation, the practice continues. One JobTrak 'liasion' in the Allegany County JobTrak department told another recipient to schedule physical therapy and doctor appointments around JobTrak work.

How is this possible? How are people to gain employment if they are punished for going to job interviews? How can a person be punished for trying to improve health in order to become employable?

It is possible because recipients allow it to happen.

All recipients of TANF, SNAP, and other public assistance in ALL states have rights. Their rights are often disregarded by workers. These social workers or other social service employees must follow state regulations concerning the rights of ALL recipients, no matter how much or how little the individual or family receives in assistance.

A discussion of civil rights and Workfare is discussed here: A New Paradigm for Welfare Reform

For those that feel their Civil Rights are being violated, again this is NOT just in New York. The US Department of Health and Human Services have forced other states to comply with Civil Rights regulations. Information for anyone in need of help can be found here: TANF INFORMATION US Department of Health and Human Services.

Next post- A look at SNAP benefits for people on SSI, SSD, and other incomes. Who qualifies? Who needs it? Why aren't more people being helped?

It's Not Just Us

“It's not just us.”

This is what I said to a friend when describing the current situation Allegany County public assistance recipients are dealing with. Trying to describe how Allegany County 'JobTrak' is using those on public assistance to cut corners and save money; it became clear that this could no longer be allowed to go on without someone speaking up. The following information is all cold, hard fact that has multiple forms of proof to back it up – just in case anyone trying to do 'damage control' for the county stops by.

Anyone that is unable to find work due to transportation problems, illness, or disability, that's who else. One of the people on the 'work crew' in this county is an elderly man, past retirement age and visually impaired.

What happens in Allegany County when you can't meet certain obligations set forth by the JobTrak/DSS rules?

They're abused. Harassed. Made to feel like trash and leeches. By the very people that are paid to help people in need. You see, in 1996 the government changed how 'welfare' worked. If you received assistance then you needed to work it off if you didn't find a job. That's fine, that's great. Or so it sounds. Let's take a look at the program and how it is supposed to work:

People on assistance receive help with their financial obligations. Rent, utilities, heating, and some cash in hand for necessities. These people are expected to work a certain number of hours per week or spend that time in search for gainful employment. If these people are unable to meet the required hours, they may be required to work on a crew in the county doing work that will help them learn skills to be self sufficient.

Sounds awesome! Sign me up, right?

Hold on a second...let's look at the reality:

Begin at the 'required hours' portion. What you're not told is that if you do not have transportation no one will provide it to you. Most social service departments in NY state will help by giving bus tokens or other means of transportation. In Allegany County the recipients are told, “We don't do that.”

(Legal aid of Western New York had to force the department to comply with state regulations in this area)

If you have no transportation and they deny you any, you are 'sanctioned' if you cannot comply with the requirements. When you are sanctioned it basically means your benefits are cut to some degree or stopped altogether. NO MATTER IF THE DEPARTMENT REFUSES TO HELP YOU COMPLY.

Work requirements are chosen by the JobTrak employees. Those involved in the program must have physicals to determine if they are eligible to do physical labor.

A doctor or the Health Department can fill out the medical release forms. There's three areas to be checked: No limitations, Some Limitations(2-4 hours), Disabled (cannot do in any capacity). The doctor(s) may write in the nature of the limitations, but the fun part – JobTrak and the employees have FINAL SAY on if a person is exempt from physical labor or not. That's right, a person that is not a medical professional makes final determination on how physically limited a person is no matter what a doctor has written on the forms.

People are then taken to job sites where there may be no clean water to drink, no bathroom facilities, and no proper tools. They are not allowed normal work related breaks per rules from the Department of Labor. Why not? Because JobTrak and other workfare entities call the workers 'volunteers'. One county worker at a local cemetery told a 'volunteer' who inquired about a break, “Breaks? You people don't get breaks.”

You people.

A fun fact that many aren't aware of is that the work JobTrak forces public assistance recipients into doing is the same work that the county requires from parolees. Community service. UNPAID – even counting the amount of financial assistance the hourly wages are far, far below minimum wage. That's right, if you are poor in Allegany County, NY then you are treated the same as people who have committed crimes.

The crime of being poor.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. In coming days I'll be sharing more of the corruption in this county and asking the question of Governor Cuomo and his welfare to work committee: WHY?

Why are the poor treated as criminals?

Why does DSS have the right to break HIPPA laws?

Why can Allegany County (and other DSS offices) break NYS ODTA regulations?

Why are the poor not allowed normal breaks?

Why is any of this allowed to happen?

Why is raking leaves and picking up trash promoted as self sufficiency training?

Why isn't JobTrak and the 'Employment and Training Center' soliciting employment for participants from companies?