Category Archives: poverty pimping

Heroes and Villains – The Daily Show in a Homeless Shelter

Now, during our catastrophically idiotic war in Vietnam, the music kept getting better and better and better. We lost that war, by the way. Order couldn’t be restored in Indochina until the people kicked us out. That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today’s war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

These ain’t popular topics, for sure, brother/sister American. You see, the entire homeless problem in America is a bigger problem of the almost homeless, the disposed, the enslaved youth heading to State U, the Amazing Theft of Wages (Tax Day, Man), Theft of the Commons by Bureaucrats Working the Soft Shoe Corporate Game — kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), and representative government has been rejected in favor of a kakistocracy (a government run by the most unprincipled citizens that panders to the worst vices in our nature: greed, violence, hatred, prejudice and war).

There is no skip in the beat with Boss Tweet, fawning over military hardware hustled to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the entire Empire Protecting Planet. This fawning this fourth-grade thinker does is a lot like his days at Studio 51 or the Playboy Mansions or the Pageants where his spittle lubricated his huffing and puffing orgasmic dead space between his ears. He is the leader of the pack, sad-sack of a playboy and land baron, thief, who gets the book deals, TV contracts, cameos in movies, his brand plastered all over Madison Avenue – make no bones about it, Trump is America. He is Dollar Store plastic and Neiman Marcus glitter. He is the freewheeling liberal lover of money and play things and parties, and he is the mean-assed inexperienced one, yellow belly, calling for war, a hater of soldiers, a hater of my people I serve daily – military veterans, not retired NCOs and Officers, but mostly those ending up in the Poverty Drafts and some drafted in Vietnam, Korea. A few years in and bam — total physical and mental calamity!

All PTSD-living, poverty people (most are poor). Trump would lambaste my work serving as social worker and finder of funds, and he’d laugh off PTSD as “nothing but an entitlement dream in your white cracker and people of color case loads’ heads.” Trump or his filthy generals, all of them, even cabinet-level creeps running all systems foul in DC, they hate the poor, the misbegotten, the broken, the addicted, the mentally cracked, the physically cleaved.

Make no bones about it, gents and dames, Trump is Obama is Clinton is Reagan. These people would love to see Soylent Green is People scaled up, now, and they openly love the $5 a day prison labor, and they love the stock maximization of everything private – drugs, prisons, health care, education, water-sewer-lights, and every bureaucratic thing that makes this tax time a time of death and loathing in a time of absolute penury cholera.

There is one hell of a lot of Non-Trumpers — those oh-so racist, rotten to the core Democrats or liberals or whatever creepy foodie-hot sauna-farmers’ market going folk that gentrify, who end up as WASP-Jew heads of every-self-loathing non-profit – absolutely holding onto the glory of the dollar, of the endless jujitsu that is standing for the anthem and going on and on about a few Trump loyalists and Alt-Right scoundrels being bad hombres too. Remember, these whites are voting against the people, the 80 percent, no matter how many pet projects they may undertake or scramble for Sundance documentary glory or big-time book glory, and they can go onto Amy Goodman’s show, talk the talk, but in the end, the people who should be talking or yelling or attacking, the very victims of the theft – grand theft of agency-past-future-progeny – they never get on that “liberal media.”

Make no bones about it, Democrats, with or without life coaches, all solar-powered up, bamboo floors and kids doing secular missions in third world depravity before going onto college and those non-profits, they are voting for war, voting for more jobs in the death industries, more and more work holding up the death machine of capitalism that eats at the very soul of their own, yet, for the time being, these 5 and 15-percenters, they sigh and get all Rachel Maddow like when they think they are caring about another black woman in jail, shackled during labor, or when some deranged (mentally challenged) black youth jaywalking gets mowed down by the police. The police – ahh, the variations on a theme when we say police, as in the HR departments, the school boards, the city and country code enforcers, the law firms, the forced arbiters, the endless thuggery of tax-levy-fee-fine-GAT-toll-penalty-surcharge makers and collectors, the endless Little Eichmann lever pullers and auditors, all those regulators and deregulators, all those heads of the departments and sub-agencies of all those alphabet soup Government Agencies – the grim reaper of compliant consumers, the toasty 15 and 20 percenters who make either a killing or a cool million from the depravity of these systems of usury and penury and PayDay loan-sharking.

Okay-okay – heroes and villains, part one:

Hero in Merced, California, way past mid-sixties, Joe, who has worked the land as an agricultural purveyor, and he’s seen water rights go the wrong way, seen the endless corporate theft in his neck of the Northern California woods ramp up yearly. He knows the crimes of school boards, the crimes of the big businesses, big ag, big energy, big everything.

I’ve been in communication with him for several months, and his wisdom and ire, his history, and his perspective over time, and his heart and soul, and his humor, man, well, this is a hero. He just sent me some links to Counterpunch and Global Research and came up with this quick reaction, triggered by Tax Day, and comments on a great writer’s works, stuff that has been published at Counterpunch and Dissident Voice to name just two – John W. Whitehead. Here’s Joe’s take on Whitehead’s most recent:

An electorate as indoctrinated as the American people are by corporate media would have a hard time distinguishing between shit and a poor grade of mush. This country’s citizens have never experienced war except for the fantasy war that Hooligan-wood and the latest X-box crap-app subjects them to 24/7. The public’s minds have been Disney-fied and fried by corporate media. The sad thing is that even Europe has few citizens left that remember the horrors of war. I’m afraid we are going to have to relive that lesson all over again. Maybe after the idiot populace of this country experiences the ravages of war right here in the land of easy credit, fantasy and denial, they won’t be so stupid as to support idiots that lead them into this misery. I don’t hold out much hope though. This country has been electing these corrupt war mongering bastards from both parties as long as I can remember. I don’t think it will change until the American public is walking around with their flesh dripping off their bones. Even then the public is so indoctrinated with this endless military crap brought to them as patriotism they will still be clamoring for revenge and more war. Stupid, ignorant and arrogant rules in this country, whether it be from Democrats or Republicans.

I hope some of the wildlife I hold so dear makes it out alive.

Hero, versus villain – I’d say anyone looking to bullseye Joe for being cantankerous, for being old and critical, for pointing out the futility of a country prostituted by both parties and ravaged by the stupidity of its populace, for having a keen sense of humor (not this one blurb, but he has some hilarity in this series he’s been writing – Letters to Cousin Linda) that person is the villain.

Hero – Three strikes and you are out. Now, out at age 64, African American, in prison for using drugs, and, whoops, when you use drugs, well, the excess is sometimes bartered off, traded and sold. Black man with cocaine equals the villains’ mark – criminal courts, public defenders, bail bondsmen, lawyers, municipal departments, prison systems, PayDay crap, probation officers.

This man is working at my shelter, a veteran, though he doesn’t pull that card much, and he is doing some amazing work making music, electronic stuff, sampled and using his own keyboard. There is no way in hell this fellow isn’t a hero: he is looking to reconnect with his sons and daughters in California. He ran the streets of Portland, and the villains – cops, judges, prosecutors, the entire carnival that is the criminal injustice system and its auxiliaries, including some social service non-profits – are a constant reminder to me that the white class – whatever that is – has ensconced itself into this people-killing, African-American defiling, people-of-color-community-imploding monster.

My hero and I talk about the way of the black man, the way of the white racists, this supremacist shit-hole that is America, and he calls me his advocate, his rare white man on the side of real justice friend.

Hero, 78, calling himself the gravedigger’s son, grew up in Massachusetts, near Boston, and he’s been a vagabond, man, and I am helping him get his studio apartment, getting him some free furniture, helping him think outside the meth-amphetamine box. Fucking 78, and he relapsed, recently, one day bender, and, he’s got COPD and hallucinates – talks about the people around me he sees and I do not.

He’s well-read, not college educated, and grew up in an Irish Catholic family, and he’s been to Ireland and parts of Europe. He hates the military, and talks about being in Korea, and seeing the shit hole America created in both zones. He is Irish and socialist, but he has been wandering the world, cook here and dishwasher there. Imagine, he’s been wandering the country and the world for more than 40 years, and, alas, Portland is his home.

He’s been throughout the Pacific Northwest, to encampments of hard-living people in the  Cascades, living hard and off the grid. Story teller, gift of gab, and he’s the typical detritus of America – whether Trump or Hillary, whether young or old. People do not listen to him.

Villains? Think of the thousands of people who have shut off when he’s been around. Think of the hundreds of people lording over him in the social services and government agencies. Think of the hundreds that look right through him on public transportation or when he’s at the side of the road.

A dignity in drifting, and he’s kipped in more than just a few cemeteries around the country and the world. He attended a poetry workshop I was holding, and his memory is amazing, and his son of the gravedigger narratives are more amazing. Pure poetry!

Villains – not one soul would want his stories published. The American attention span is all hooked into Zombie-Land, faux memoir writing, Marvel Comics thinking, absolute shit-hole narratives and fiction.

Hero – Irish American socialist who questions every step of the military might of this messed up country.

Villains are the takers, the judgers, the ticket givers, the processors, the CPAs, the balance sheet coveters, the liberal social services folk who talk like HR people and who know shit what it’s like being old or imprisoned or full of meth nightmares. It’s the villains who soft-shoe through the DSM-V and saunter through workshop after conference on what it is to be trauma-informed social workers, or what harm reduction principles are, or what it is to be middling people and middling social workers.

Heroes are the ones that live it out in tents, on the road, under overpasses, who crunch down in old cars and pick-up trucks, who cardboard surf in warehouses and in friends’ garages. These people are heroes in the sense that my social services non-profit believes everyone who served their country in the armed forces is a hero.

Heroes know that’s bullshit. Golden ticket for what? So, that family of four, mother with children, mother who works two jobs and has friends watch the kids, whose husband booked – yes, military veteran dude – so she’s not worthy of the golden ticket because she sweated over hamburgers and cleaned up feces of the rich and decaying, or she turned beds and sheets at the multi-billionaire’s chain of hotels?

Heroes and villains. Not difficult to spot the true hero, the survivor, the ones with a sense of dignity or perspective or time on the road, versus the ones who cut homeless programs, who vote against more food stamps, who demand drug testing for the shit pittance one might get in benefits.

Villains who gutted social security and gutted the post office and who closed the libraries and who Dread Scott-ed the world, who attack the good schooling public schools used to give. Villains are the militarists, Lords of War, the heathens and devil worshipers in the military industrial complex.

I am working with veterans who have been shot up with bullets, shrapnel, chemicals, toxins, propaganda, debasement, demands. Soldiers who were put on military bases/forts where the water is so bad, so polluted by solvents from military machinery and laundry (dry cleaning) that the Veterans Administration even has a name for the Parkinson’s — Camp Lejeune  Parkinson’s: various chemicals, including the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) known as PCE (Tetrachloroethylene aka Perchloroethylene), TCE (Trichloroethylene), DCE (Dichloroethylene), Vinyl Chloride and BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene). These chemicals are either known or suspected human carcinogens. Many Marines, Sailors, their families and loyal civilian employees have been affected by the contamination in various ways including, but not limited to: liver cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver disease, miscarriages, birth defects (cleft palate, heart defects, Choanal atresia, neural tube defects, low birth weight, and small for gestational age),etc.

Heroes are the one’s shaking so hard at 65 they can’t even sign their names on forms that will get them subsidized housing. Heroes who are homeless, misbegotten, broken, incapable of navigating systems and job markets and economic hoops with Parkinson’s and the other effects associated with the decay caused by the military pollutants.

Villains? Just imagine the cadre of corporatists, the protectionists, the Little Eichmann’s, anti-whistle blowers, the lock-step ones fighting the science behind the disease and destruction and decay and denuding of humanity and ecologies because of that profit margin, and that grim reaper’s scythe chopping off the heads of us, the 80 percent. How difficult is it to see those lip-less white men and women, hear their ameliorating, their HR bullshit, listen to their shallow and pedestrian articulation?

Facts – the systematic lack of affordable housing and the Draconian limited scale of housing assistance programs all contribute to the current housing crisis and to homelessness. Foreclosures? In the hundreds of thousands each year! Result? Homeless.

The 2008 recession forced two million more people into homelessness over the following two years, according to estimates by The National Alliance to End Homelessness.

One or two out of 50—or about 2.5 million—American children are homeless each year, according to a 2009 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. These are nine year old stats.

Here are some of the causes of homelessness:

For persons in families, the three most commonly cited causes, according to a 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors study are:

• Lack of affordable housing
• Poverty
• Unemployment

For singles, the three most commonly cited causes of homelessness are:

• Substance abuse
• Lack of affordable housing
• Mental illness

Veterans are more likely than other populations to be homeless.

We are talking around 40% of homeless men being veterans, although veterans comprise only 34 percent of the general adult male population, according to research on veterans by the National Coalition for Homeless. On any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless.

Do wages count? The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the 2017 Housing Wage is $21.21 per hour, exceeding the $16.38 hourly wage earned by the average renter by almost $5.00 an hour. This $16.38 an hour exceeds wages earned by low income renter households. In fact, the hourly wage needed for renters hoping to afford a two-bedroom rental home is almost twice ($13.96) higher than the national minimum wage of $7.25.

What about the food insecure. It’s 51 million people in the United States living in food insecure households, 15 million of whom are children. While the magnitude of the problem is clear, national and even state estimates of food insecurity can mask the nuances that exist at the local level.

Here: Feeding America; Foreclosures; Minimum Wage; Wage state-by-state; True Minimum Wage.

What is the real unemployment figure for US of A?

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.

The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for March 2018 is 21.7%.

Heroes and Villains? Rage and reckless indignation. Anger and attack, those are the hero’s tools, and the villain’s tools are based on hierarchy of consumption, the power of the people who have and the impotence of those who do not have.

What is it to have anything, that’s what many of my heroes ask, those who are homeless, on $1,200.00 a month for Social Security? Imagine this world with heroes. One hero, oddly, is the lady doing my taxes. She despised what has happened to this country, and she knows the true figures for saving and investing in a social security system – average person would come out at age 65 with $250,000 or $500,000 in his or her retirement account based on social security deductions. If this fact came out, parsed and discussed daily at the water cooler and forklift bay, we’d be pounding constantly how this country is one giant theft-creating/theft-inducing continuing criminal organization . . . then would more people revolt?

Heroes are guys like Whitehead or Nasser!!!

Whitehead: All of those nefarious government deeds that you read about in the paper every day: those are your tax dollars at work. It’s your money that allows for government agents to spy on your emails, your phone calls, your text messages, and your movements. It’s your money that allows out-of-control police officers to burst into innocent people’s homes, or probe and strip search motorists on the side of the road, or shoot an unarmed person. And it’s your money that leads to innocent Americans across the country being prosecuted for innocuous activities such as raising chickens at home, growing vegetable gardens, and trying to live off the grid.

Just remember the next time you see a news story that makes your blood boil, whether it’s a child being kicked out of school for shooting an imaginary arrow, or a homeowner being threatened with fines for building a pond in his backyard, remember that it is your tax dollars that are paying for these injustices.

So what are you going to do about it?

There was a time in our history when our forebears said “enough is enough” and stopped paying their taxes to what they considered an illegitimate government. They stood their ground and refused to support a system that was slowly choking out any attempts at self-governance, and which refused to be held accountable for its crimes against the people. Their resistance sowed the seeds for the revolution that would follow.

Unfortunately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in the 200-plus years since we established our own government, we’ve let bankers, turncoats and number-crunching bureaucrats muddy the waters and pilfer the accounts to such an extent that we’re back where we started.

Once again, we’ve got a despotic regime with an imperial ruler doing as they please.

Heroes are students trying to solve this shit-hole’s problems, hitting the books, and attempting to coalesce around strong thinking, critical solutions-generating thinking, and holism. Villains are the ledger counters, the money changers, the actualizers of debt.

Nasser: The burden weighing like a nightmare, to coin a phrase, on 44 million indebted current and former students will haunt these people for a good portion of their lives. The average student debtor graduates owing close to $34,000 and is projected to spend 21 years paying it off. At present, the average monthly payment for those between 30 and 40 years old is $351.00. It is not uncommon for repayment obligations to be borne by underwriters of these loans, typically the primary borrower’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Taking these co-signers into consideration, we have about 100 million people adversely affected, directly or indirectly, by the difficulty very many have repaying these loans.

Because the serving of warrants and jailing of debtors has begun picking up steam in recent years, and the financial situation of these potential prisoners has been gradually deteriorating, we have reason to expect that student-loan debtors could come to make up a significant portion of the growing ranks of those threatened with debt prison. Arrest warrants have been issued in California, Florida, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas. Arrests have been heaviest in California, Texas and Minnesota. In many cases there was no announcement of court orders or that the debtor was being sued. U.S. marshals in Minnesota conducted “Operation Anaconda Squeeze” to arrest student-loan debtors who had failed to appear in court for a “debtor’s examination.” Whether they had received prior notice was often thought by the court to be beside the point. As with the cases described earlier, often defendants are ordered to pay much more than the amount of the original loan. A Texas man, who received no prior notice about the debt or the court case brought by a private collection agency on behalf of Uncle Sam, was arrested by seven armed U.S. marshals for an unpaid $1,500 student loan he had borrowed 29 years earlier. He was ordered to pay, after interest and court fees, more than twice the amount of the original loan. $1,258.60 was added to reimburse the marshals for his arrest.

Why I Was Put on Administrative Leave Toward a Termination: Planned Parenthood, A Vaccine, Doublethink Alive and Well in the World of Non-profits

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

— Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd, London, part 2, chapter 9, pp 220

Part One

I was taking a sex education class with 40 other social workers in Seattle, Washington, at the Planned Parenthood office, this past sunny October 16. It was innocuous, infantile, silly and with a room-full of young (except me, my colleague and the trainers) social workers and providers for youth – young folk, teens, into their twenties. Homeless, drug affected, with mental health issues, identity questions, you know, youth at risk! I was cooperative, not argumentative, and rather “chill” to use the parlance of many generations.

At the end of the day, less than two hours after the session, I was called by my boss in Portland and I was told not to return for Day Two of the training. In her words: “You are not to go back to work Wednesday until I find out ‘what was going on in Seattle.’” That phrase, “what was going on in Seattle,” is one key element of how a 32-year-old supervisor with a master’s in social work from the so-deemed liberal social work program at Portland State University sees the world. She never told me what it was that got me expelled from the second session of the two-day mandatory training.

This story is on-going, unfolding, a sort of discombobulating process even (especially) innocuous non-profits, run by social workers, engage in when they want to sack someone who has shown passion for the youth and the work, created radical (social justice leftist radicalness) work around’s dealing with bureaucracy after bureaucracy, and who is loved by his clients/youth. I have been told to stay away until further notice. I even missed out Friday on a yearly retreat with my cohorts from other Portland area sites whom I have never met before.

Moreover, even under the precarity of my position (this is a ‘we got the right to fire and frog-march ya’ right out of the premises on a whim or a prayer’ state, and this behemoth of a non-profit is not worker organized; i.e., unionized), I have to believe it’s okay my sticking my head out there on the proverbial chopping block – writing about it — since it’s now October 21 and I have three days before I have a one-on-one behind closed doors meeting with the HR Director. I’ve been on paid administrative leave since October 17 (my sister, the social worker’s birthday); forced to drop my appointments with youth in crisis and others I depend on professionally; been informed to wait for the head of HR to return from vacation (this from a non-profit with over 700 employees, and only one person can hear me out, so I’ve had to stew and stew and then second- and third-guess what is the actual “charge” against me by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest to Include Washington, Idaho and Hawaii, Alaska).

What A Wonderful Day of Sex, STIs, and LGBTQI Training Turned into a Storm

We had all sorts of fun activities and ice breakers and plenty of Seattle food during the tax-funded training. It was a mix of what we might have to tell our youth in times of trouble; i.e., possible STIs contracted, possible pregnancies to be faced, possible physical abuse endured, possible queries into what to expect during first-time sex, possible questions about sexuality and sexual identity. It was taught at times in that silly sort of way, as if we were the youth.

I went with the flow, and while I was one of only three males as students, and while my grizzled beard and sport coat put me into that other protected class – anyone over fifty – I did blend in fine. Or at least I thought I had . . . .

I headed back to the hotel 19 blocks away, with my African-American colleague, female again in that protected age class. We decided to meet up later, for a drink. However, the supervisor in the program for the non-profit I work for in Portland called me up 90 minutes later and said I was on administrative leave and to not to return to work until the HR director could be contacted and then “my side of the story” would be aired. My supervisor was dry mouthed, didn’t give me a chance to ask “why” and was curt. End of debate (sic).

In the scheme of things, one 60-year-old socialist/Marxist getting sacked – this is what the unfolding reality of what’s occurring – is nothing. No tsunami, no reverberating story of my house burning down in the Columbia Gorge, or three nights weathering a hurricane hitting Puerto Rico, or surviving a Las Vegas mass shooting spree.

High turnover rates and no cause dismissals and pile-on workloads is the defining characteristic of social work/mental health healing. This is typical in my field – social services – where people in their mid-twenties are coming onto the job market with big hearts, a dedication to social work, and a big school debt load for their vaunted masters in social work, AKA MSW. Coming out of the flagship university of Portland, PSU, they might have $50K or more for debts incurred for tuition, books, living – i.e., rents that Robin Leech from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous would have been citing as his millionaires’ monthly mortgages for regular lower middle class youth and adults. Make that a master’s degree holder getting $12.25 an hour working with some very challenging cases of people on the edge.

Fighting for the Young-Old, Tired, Hungry, Poor, Disenfranchised, Houseless, Young, Misbegotten isn’t Radical, it’s Normal

I am not laughing, but the insanity of what happened to me in a 12-hour period also shines the light on the corrupt Planned Parenthood, specifically the trainers and development directors at PP who see anyone who might be both against a Trump and an Obama (me) and a dyed in the wool Marxist (me) and doubter of Western medicine (me) and this boondoggle Gardasil (me) — [more on the vaccine now forced on young girls and boy at an early age to prevent HPV — Human Papillomavirus] — as a threat . . . . But a real threat to what, that’s the question?

First, the very nature of what I do in social services is suspect every day when I work with non-profits and some of those MSW supervisors who not only make life a living hell for their workers through impossible caseloads, impossible work hours, obscene paychecks, but also through very little emotional or institutional support. We are always on the chopping block, cogs in a social services scheme that ties state-federal-philanthropic funding to our jobs – this is a veritable shitstorm of begging for funding from various agencies like Planned Parenthood (who gets money from Bill and Melinda Gates, Starbucks, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, Wells Fargo, Stanley Morgan, et al) and federal and state entities to smear on the Vaseline and adhere the Band-Aids to a very stressed-out/underfunded web of mental health and addiction issues killing this country.

We all should be on the streets during breaks, in between client visits, around town with sandwich board signs espousing an end to exploitative criminal capitalism; tooling around in our private vehicles plastered with all sorts of political and social justice billets glued on – “we are social workers and the mental health and homelessness and drug addiction and medical health issues are a crime, perpetuated by Capitalism, and in the case of Oregon, by Intel and Nike and the others who fight paying their fair share of Operating Their Billion Dollar Industries in Oregon.”

Instead, we work our caseloads with a passion and continuous trauma cortisol-laced operating procedure while in many cases the entire rotting non-profit affords us zero agency, zero trust, and in my case, my word (and the words of two colleagues who were at Planned Parenthood training, at my same table, perfect witnesses to my stellar behavior) against whatever word the Planned Parenthood trainers (three total with a fourth PP observer – we’ll get to her later).

You don’t have to get the Catholic Worker or World Socialist Web Site to see which profession is the number one stressed and most difficult in America – try CNN:

Median pay: $43,200
% who say their job is stressful: 72%

Social workers step in when everyone else steps aside to help people and families in vulnerable situations. They provide patients with education and counseling, advise care givers and make referrals for other services. And with social workers in short supply and programs underfunded, few must juggle the work of many, while reaping little reward.

Just ask Heather Griffith, a social worker who works with children in intensive foster care in Boston: “You’re getting paid $12 an hour and kids are screaming at you, telling you that you are just in it for the money and you’re just like, really?”

Portland is plagued with a huge class divide while homelessness, addiction recovery, physical/emotional trauma and mental hygiene are churning up a bloody storm of Biblical proportions, precipitating this glasshouse we are living in that shines the light on the fallout (victims) of Capitalism and neoliberalism. But, also, this quadruple storm and tsunami is illustrative of the inhumane nature of so-called liberals, white liberals, and in my field, mostly white female liberals, who have set up so many chinks in the armor of safety nets and true communitarian support and radical social work (there’s really no radical social work being done in the USA) that the people working with youth and adults in crisis are then put into crisis after crisis, daily traumas from management, threats of firing, and in my case, warning after warning for disagreeing with police who laugh at youth drug addiction or individuals with Department of Human Services branches who continue to propagate the virus that Donald Trump is good for homelessness because he is picking up the local economy.

I’ve been called on the carpet by my much younger supervisor with her shiny MSW and white privilege smirk actually because I was advocating for my foster youth, for not accepting misstatements and for denying the ageism-sexism-racism that comes from so many people’s mouths – those in some minute form of authority. I’ve been called on the carpet for voicing both a wise and no-backing-down support of my caseload – young kids and those up to age 21 who have been in foster care.

If you think I’ve strayed from the current thesis of my job now in the balance because of an outside non-profit, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (I do not work for PP), think otherwise since I have to get to the nuts and bolts of my current fight to stay employed not only with L———-W, but in the field of social services. Count the number of men social workers and DHS case managers in any given organization or county-city-state agency on your hand. Some meetings I go to and the trainings like this one held in Seattle by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest reflect a less than 9 percent (or less) male attendance or worker ratio.

I have been with 60 case managers, and was only one of five males in the crowd.

This is also the terrible nature of the beast – out of balance demographics. Youth and adults want-need-should have male workers as well as female ones. But, the nature of this field as a female field over time has ratcheted up the idea that women are givers and men aren’t. Anyone with a socialist underpinning knows that the fields with nurses, teachers and social workers have largely been populated by women because of the patriarchy and outright misogyny of a white Christian-Jewish male dominated upper echelon in the fields of education, medicine, psychology/sociology. Low pay and no power, that’s the jig in social services, education, journalism, and now, almost in every field in America, counting 80 percent of us as members of  the precariat. The elite class and upper echelon of the fields I have worked in have largely been from Ivy League schools, and many are self-described Jews or Democrats. Count other professions I have been a worker in to include English studies, higher education, journalism, mainstream novel publishing, union organizing, environmental activism, urban planning, and now social work.  Many fields are populated largely by women, and our pay is obscene.

Back to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest – Sasquatch Ate the Homework!

The Seattle Planned Parenthood office looks like it was designed and built for Patagonia executives: lots of old growth beams, exposed cedar wood, metal I beams and tons of windows from floor to ceiling. This is not a welcoming place, but I did what I was supposed to do as a social worker for youth in foster care: these incredible 16 to 21 year old’s who I help with mentoring, health, education, employment, cultural, physical and intellectual and spiritual pursuits. I manage funds and sources of support for them, too, as well as provide invigorating, thoughtful and fun conferences and outings and the like.

This Planned Parenthood training is a curriculum that is two days of exposing social workers and youth advocates on the basics of sex ed. It’s a cross between adults – us—getting a childish bunch of things pressed upon our brains and then some up-to-date’s on STD/STI (sexually transmitted infections) and contraception.

We do some really juvenile things as ice breakers, and, well, I am a team player and active kind of 60-year-old, and my belief is that if I am being paid to go to a training, getting a fancy hotel to stay in and per diems, then I throw in with an open and engaged mind. But I am no wall flower.

What will follow will be highly informed speculation as to why I am currently on paid leave from L———W and am faced with a Monday morning HR visit tantamount to a termination hearing:

And that’s the problem I am facing – I threw in and took the PP spiel and promise about safe space and respected opinions and in the case of my situation, anonymity, seriously. Again, I work for L———W, not for Planned Parenthood, and as of Tuesday October 17, my job was on the line because Planned Parenthood called my boss (a white thirty-something Portland State University MSW graduate) who put me on notice I am in deep shit.

I have to riff here with some common threads in my life as an activist and leftist-socialist: This is the epoch of the neoliberal and Political Corrupted left, and it’s a world of warped Political Correctness, Identity Politics, and a lot of bullshit ranting at cocktail parties, lots of railing against the Orange Monster, but in public, these people are bereft of voice, passion and spine. Few I see in the social services rail or rant or debate against the Trump-Pence-Neoliberal insanity of this world. How is this, when the reality TV Dystopian outgrowth of elitism and corrupted patriarchy power, this obvious creation of neoliberalism and anti-worker Democratic Party, Trump et al is front and center and no one tackles his presidency as an obscenity, in the lines of previous presidencies?

Our field of social services and in PP’s case, reproductive health services, is tied to the almighty government dollar entwined to the power brokers who fund these outfits and ask for all leftists’ mouths to be taped shut: Here, Planned Parenthood’s money trough: Adobe, American Cancer Society, American Express, AT&T, Avon, Bank of America, Bath & Body Works, Ben & Jerry’s, Clorox, Converse, Deutsche Bank, Dockers, Energizer, Expedia, ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, Groupon, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, La Senza, Levi Strauss, Liberty Mutual, Macy’s, March of Dimes, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Oracle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Progressive, Starbucks, Susan G. Komen, Tostitos, Unilever, United Way, Verizon, Wells Fargo.

Now, I believe this is a tale of Big Pharma and Big Non-Profit colluding together to write a false narrative about one vaccine that has gotten a lot of negative press and more negative testimony from young women and their parents on the vaccine’s debilitating and life altering (negative, full of chronic pain/fatigue, sterility!). But, that’s part two of this story – after I end up in a one-hour fact-finding meeting with my non-profit’s HR to “discover” exactly what went wrong in Seattle October 16. On all accounts, not a single untoward or odd or explosive or demeaning or contentious thing occurred in my physical participation in the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest training.

Also, this is a story of how the Political Correct non-profits do not follow the rules of safe space, anonymity in written comments and evaluations, fail to honor all people in one setting, and go on a witch hunt if even one thread of their nationally made reputation is untangled in the fabric of their overreach. Look, I am one worker, old, through the ringer in other jobs, other professions, who is now awaiting word of my future.

Twenty bucks an hour, some paid time off, health insurance, and an office and a large caseload. I have been left since October 16 to stew, to ruminate, to consult a labor attorney and to visit a psychologist as part of our company’s three free visits with a counselor tied to stress in life, stress at work.

We Are the Gift That Keeps on Giving — Social Services Worker!

I’ve been red-flagged in the minds of my youth, since I’ve never dropped appointments, and now I’ve been forced to. My teammates are left wondering what happened to me and what might happen to them. My office mates from other departments in this non-profit are wondering where I am since I’ve always been a stickler for showing up and not taking time off. I’ve been told no work, no emails, so I can’t even let my teammates know that I am okay, not terminal (maybe terminated) and let them know I am under forced administrative leave.

Here’s the rub about places where the workers aren’t organized, where there is no contract, where the bosses run roughshod over workers, though we outnumber them 100 to one: whatever the bosses do in their convoluted process and whatever they might think is due process, they are wrong.

Due process is not accusatory and is not a process of railroading — setting up an employee as presumed guilty before a fair airing of the complaint. This sort of management and supervisorial style is counter to these non-profits’ (mine especially, since we were trained recently on it) motto that we have to be social workers who use trauma informed care as our operating principle. They in turn have zero sense of trauma informed supervision.

Definition:

Trauma informed care is grounded in and directed by a thorough understanding of the neurological, biological, psychological, and social effects of trauma and the prevalence of these experiences in persons who seek and receive services.

Trauma informed care is about creating a culture built on six core principles:

1. Trauma Understanding: through knowledge and understanding trauma and stress we can act compassionately and take well-informed steps towards wellness.

2. Safety & Security: increasing stability in our daily lives and having core physical and emotional safety needs met can minimize our stress reactions and allow us to focus our resources on wellness.

3. Cultural Humility & Responsiveness – when we are open to understanding cultural differences and respond to them sensitively, we make each other feel understood and wellness is enhanced.

4. Compassion & Dependability – when we experience compassionate and dependable relationships, we re-establish trusting connections with others that fosters mutual wellness.

5. Collaboration& Empowerment – when we are prepared for and given real opportunities to make choices for ourselves and our care, we feel empowered and can promote our own wellness.

6. Resilience & Recovery – when we focus on our strengths and clear steps we can take toward wellness, we are more likely to be resilient and recover.

Recovering reputations, no mater how micro-aggressive the impugning is, directly or secondary, is not an easy thing when management assumes guilt — in my case, something so terrible that Panned Parenthood would ban me — and puts an employee through this process of locking him or her out of the team, out of the unit, out of the safety and sanity of fellow workers who are the front-line of work and of supporting fellow workers in times of need.

Second, having the rules of discovery broken by a non-profit during a so-called investigation is not only unethical but unprincipled. I do not have any sense of the nature of the complaint leveled against me by Planned Parenthood, so when I go into the meeting with HR Monday, it’s cold, lacking context, lacking any ability for me to get my head wrapped around this entire event.

I’ve sent emails to the four trainers for PP, and I’ve sent emails on a very human level to the supervisors’ supervisors, and even one to the company’s Executive Director, who espouses an open door policy on our web site.

Nothing in return. No phone calls allying my fears. Nothing. The Planned Parenthood people who called for my ban from the second day training did not email back, my supervisor has told me zero about the nature of the complaint, and the ED of my non-profit didn’t reach out. This is a 55 year old Portland-based non-profit, and I am being treated as a non-entity. I can’t imagine an HR person holds sway over the ED’s compassion or ability to engage with an employee.

I have two colleagues who were at the Seattle training who have told me in written texts that nothing went awry and they are more than willing to attest to my composure and level-headedness at the training. There were others there, people from Seattle, who would be just as capable as witnesses to attest to my professionalism.

This is the issue, then, a non-profit following some secret plan to investigate me after putting me on forced administrative leave. This is quasi-judicial, and I have no union to back me, no negotiator, no representative or ombudsman. In some circles, this could be called a witch hunt, monkey trial or a rail-roading.

Assume positive intentions is another mantra in the non-profit world, and again, the positive intent of whatever might be the craw in the throat of the Seattle Planned Parenthood trainers should be on my company to hold to me.

Finally, I gave these people — supervisors, HR, PP, my colleagues the thought experiment: Now, what if I was one of the many Christian social workers, evangelical, even, coming to a training put on by Planned Parenthood and funded by taxpayer money (it is)? What if this person stood up and espoused her opinions about the greatness of the current leader of the USA, President Trump. What if she went further and said that while she is willing to sit through two days of training, she wants it to be known that she supports Mr. Trump’s anti-Planned Parenthood stance. And she continued by saying she supports Oregon and Pacific Northwest lawmakers fighting against abortions and federally funded services around birth control and contraception? What if this person continued by stating that while she will listen to the trainings and participate as best she could considering her Evangelical Christian views, that she also disagrees with the LGBTQI designations bandied about cavalier like by Planned Parenthood? And what if she was in favor of the Oregon baker who refused to make a cake for a same sex couple? What if she added that she was President Trump’s calling for the US Supreme Court to rule in favor of the Colorado baker who too refused to bake a same-sex marriage-wedding cake?

That thought experiment is key to where I stand —  I am the exact OPPOSITE of that hypothetical social worker above, in both my actions, my words, and my writing. Further, I am philosophically and politically and fundamentally for anyone’s right to get birth control, birth control services/education, and to access abortion. I believe bakers or dress makers or baristas have zero ground to stand on by refusing services to African-Americans, dwarfs, people with Down Syndrome and gays or LGBTQI, anyone, including frosting a cake. It’s discriminatory. Period.

I have seen a psychologist, and he’s recommended I do not keep all this in my head. “To find some release,”  Paul. Here it is, in writing. One lawyer I called pro-bono said to keep copious notes and be as lawyer-like as possible Monday. My friends and significant other and relatives all say this is an insanity, whatever I have been accused of to be banned from a mandatory training (for my job) at the Seattle Planned Parenthood.

However, Part Two will be started the hour after HR meets with me. What will happen I can’t crystal ball into the future, but my gut feels like a process of termination, one that looks above board compared to other firings this non-profit has engaged in.

I’m no Karen Silkwood here, or Erin Brockovich. So, on the scheme of things, I’m what Death of a Salesman’s about — small potatoes, nameless worker, one of the masses busting his head against the wall of capitalism, for profit or non-profit.

But mark my words — even if one person reads this, then one person more bears witness to this injustice after injustice. If I’m sacked, the clarity of how Planned Parenthood and Big Pharma are interlinked in a nefarious game, and deadly because of the product both are pushing, will be clearer.

What more can I do in an age of dead journalism, that is, the so-called traditional and mainstream? There’s not a bunch of editors in Portland for the three alternative rags and for the mainstream dying rag waiting to report on my case. You the reader will get my own personal journey and the larger colluding of Planned Parenthood with the forces of Big Pharma. In that process, my catharsis will be evident, and the storied history of Planned Parenthood will be developed.

This is a simple case of an unfair labor practice, a violation of my free speech rights, a violation of confidentiality, and now workplace harassment, wrongful suspension and possibly wrongful termination. In a right to fire/right to work state, no less, my words and my calls for justice crumble and float away like the very parchment of treaty right given to all the great first peoples of this land and of Canada after they were torched! What’s worse is that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is creating a specter of insanity, Orwellian, a flipped over reality where someone, me, not even associated with the organization, is being called to task by his employer. What is the definition of insanity? Someone else’s projection?

He [Trump] has stepped out of our celebrity reality-TV screened world to carry on the media’s task of what Orwell said was a necessary task for the rulers in a totalitarian society: ‘to dislocate the sense of reality.’ … We have now entered a new phase of propaganda where sowing mass confusion on every issue 24/7 is the method of choice.

But therein lies hope if we can grasp the meaning of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical statement: ‘When both a speaker and an audience are confused, the speech is profound.’

Ed Curtin