Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Diet COLA

Since I started receiving my Social Security benefits, I have come to look forward to an increase of my benefits each year. For the first few years, it ran between 2 and 3%. Last year, we received a whopping 5.3% to accommodate the nightmare economy which Governor Bush left us. (As George Carlin pointed out, Bush was never LEGALLY elected president, and therefore didn't deserve the title.) So it was that I expected another increase, at least around 2%, which would have put approximate $16 more in my pocket each month...and instead, I discovered today that everyone on Social Security is getting a 0% increase.

I found this out today because I didn't receive my annual COLA notice. (COLA = Cost Of Living Adjustment.) Seems there's an issue with the address the government has for me. So I called the main number for Social Security, and part of the recording offered an option to simply hear a message about the COLA. I listened to it and was stunned. We're getting nothing.

As usual, the explanation is ridiculously complicated. Somewhere in Washington is a formula that establishes what the COLA will be each year. The base number, which I personally believe is something I think someone just said, "Hey, let's make it this," has dropped from last year. Thus, I suppose we should be thankful the government isn't decreasing the paychecks of those who are retired or disabled.

My issue with this is the fact that I have ranted in the past about how I live beneath poverty level. I am so poor that even Kansas, which has a somewhat better economy than Arizona, is paying for me to receive Medicare, just as Arizona did, and New York before them. So it seems moronic to me that the government would say, "Nah...You don't really need a pay increase, because these imaginary numbers over here say you don't." Really? Because the way I see it, the imaginary numbers you have set up for what you consider poverty level, which is currently $10,830 in the continental United States, with $13,530 for Alaska and $12,460 in Hawaii, are also embarrassingly stupid. I honestly don't know anyone who could live in a small amount of comfort. Heck...The minimum wage set by the government, designed to meet the cost of living, is currently at $7.25/hour. A rough estimate puts that at $15,080 a year. That, my friends, is bottom of the barrel survival, as far as the government is concerned for those that are working for a living. But I, who cannot find and/or keep employment, am expected to live comfortably making $9,600 a year?!?

This is just me ranting, but my belief is that the total annual minimum wage, at $15,080, should be the actual poverty level. And if that's the case, imaginary baseline numbers or no, I should receive an approximate 36% increase just to live IN poverty, and not BENEATH it. And if I'd been cursed with demanding housemates, instead of the great guys I ended up living with, I'd still be here each month, begging for funds to help me LIVE!

As it is, I'm having computer "fun" of late, and am becoming more and more desperate to have a new one built. You see, my computer has started...not starting. When I hit the power button, one of the cooling fans seems to go into overdrive, and nothing else appears to happen. In a moment of panic and frustration, I slapped the side of the tower...and that actually fixed it! Temporarily. It requires the occasional whack every now and again. And despite the fact that I haven't been online with it, due to a lack of proper cables, (which were recently ordered), my computer has also been slowing down.

So...SOMEONE SEND ME $1,000 SO I CAN GET THIS DANGED THING BUILT IN ONE MASSIVE ORDER OF PARTS MY HOUSEMATE CODY WILL ASSEMBLE!...dangit.

*sigh* This whole COLA thing...it's now completely free of a caloric count, as it were. Ever try to live on zero calories? It's alternative name is starvation, and it kills people. So a hearty and sarcastic "thanks" to Social Security for literally nothing.

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