I Did The Math, We Definitely Shouldn’t Raise The Minimum Wage to $15/hr

I haven’t always supported raising the minimum wage. In fact, I have been adamantly against it. It makes sense to me, from a math perspective, why minimum wage shouldn’t increase at too rapid of a rate. Inflation…economy….$10 loaf of bread…blah, blah, blah. You see, I like to think of minimum wage jobs as entry level positions, not as careers. After the compelling State of the Union Address, I decided to take President Obama up on his offer to try living (hypothetically) on minimum wage, which has just gone up to $8.05/hr here in the Sunshine State.

Let’s say I’m a  single mom of two children, a boy and a girl. I work a minimum wage job, 40 hours a week. Stay with me here, we’re gonna do some math. At $8.05/hr I would make $322/week (x52 for annual salary) would come up to $16,744.00 per year. Our President is correct, that is not much money to live on! In fact, for my (hypothetical) family of three, we are below the Federal Register poverty level which is $19,790.00 per year for a family of three. Raising minimum wage to $15/hr would put me at $31,200.00 per year. Great! I’m above the poverty level to support my little family. Let’s ignore, for one moment, the inconvenient fact that almost doubling the minimum wage will most certainly increase the cost of important commodities (like food, clothes, eating out, pretty much everything).

Thank you, Democrats, for raising my family above the national poverty level with your minimum wage hike. I would be so much better off…..except for one thing. My little family of three used to qualify for a lot of government assistance that we no longer qualify for!

At below the poverty level, I qualified for SNAP (food stamps). According to the USDA I should still qualify for some assistance at up to 200% of the poverty level. At minimum wage, I qualified for $140.80 per month in SNAP benefits, but at $15/hr, after doing the math, I don’t qualify for any SNAP benefits.

Assuming my children are under 5 years old, they would qualify for WIC while I was under the poverty level. According to the USDA, the average monthly WIC value is $43.00 per person. At $15/hr my children no longer qualify for WIC.

My poverty status while making minimum wage also qualified me for Section 8 housing. The government subsidized my rent of anything over 30% of my income . That means I paid $370.20 per month in rent and the government paid the rest. Since the average median income (AMI) for my county is $48,039.00 (according to the Census Bureau), I no longer qualify for subsidized housing (I must fall below 50% of the AMI). The HUD fair market rent for a three bedroom home in my area is $1193.00/month. I must now come up with the $822.80 difference!

We all used to qualify for no-cost insurance through Medicaid, but no longer. Even under the healthcare.gov website, an equivalent, subsidized plan will cost me and my kids about $350/month. Yet, if we get sick, I will pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses. Pray I don’t get sick or the kids don’t break a bone!

One last and vital thing. While making minimum wage, come tax time, we would qualify for Earned Income Credit (EIC) of $5372.00 (monthly that would come to $447.67). Now, with my new wage, I still get EIC, but only $2487.00 (207.25/month).

Now, lets add it up shall we?

Making minimum wage:

Monthly gross Income: $1395

SNAP Benefits: $140.80

WIC $86.00

Section 8 Subsidy: $822.80

Insurance Payment: $350.00

EIC: $447.67

TOTAL: $3242.27

Making $15/hr:

Monthly Gross Income: $2600.00

EIC: $207.25

Total: $2807.25

Of course this is a hypothetical situation (that many single moms are living right now). These numbers are estimated as close as possible using the information I had readily available. There is no warranty of accuracy. Just my best effort. Isn’t it strange? On the surface, raising the minimum wage seems like a good idea. These calculations don’t take into account the (unknown) affect that the minimum wage hike will have on the cost of everything.

Before long, the Federal Register poverty level will rise exponentially, I would again fall below the poverty level and qualify for government subsidy. Only this time it will be much more money, because everything now costs more due to inflation. Will we then hear shouts of protest for the minimum wage to be increased yet again…..maybe $20/hr would do the trick.


Unaccompanied Minors (Written June, 2008)

The gate agent pulled off the back copy of the form I had filled out in triplicate. He handed it to me with a “there you go” smile. I gazed down at the pink slip of paper in my hand and then down the gangplank where my children just disappeared. It occurred to me that I just received a receipt for the most precious people in my world, as if they were a coat I was checking.  I think, “I got the short end in this deal.” They got my children and all I got was a piece of paper! An image flashed into my mind of standing in the airport, my children nowhere to be found and me waving the paper in the air saying, “but I have my claim ticket!”

The thing is, it hasn’t become any easier to place my children on an airplane and sent them two hours and several states away. What if something happens and they need me? It will take me hours to get to them! Of course, worst case scenario always crosses my mind. What would Jet Blue do with me and my claim ticket if their plane crashed? I push the thought from my mind before I become a blubbering idiot. Too late.

I stand at the large picture window and gaze out, trying to make eye contact with the pilot who is whisking my children away. “Take care of them,” I silently plead. I wonder if he can hear what I’m thinking, just a little whisper right there in the back of his mind, causing him to be just a little more cautious, check the equipment with just a little more vigilance. One can only hope.


A Daughter’s Pain

I have been estranged from my mom for the better part of 10 years. Oh, there were a couple of years in there that I did allow her back in for a while. Big mistake. Recently I realized how long it has been and I felt really, really sad. I have already gone through the stages of grief over this relationship. I have already mourned the loss of the mother I should have had, but didn’t.

A daughter should have her mother to lean on and share life with. I wonder what I’m teaching my daughter? That the mother/daughter relationship doesn’t matter, that it’s temporary until we disagree? More importantly, I hope I know I will never do to my own daughter the horrible things my mother has done to me. Still, I wonder. If my mother is so damaged, am I damaged as a mother too?

The thing is, I can’t imagine causing my daughter the emotional pain that I have endured from my own mother. Seeing my daughter in pain hurts me. If I knew I has inflicted that pain intentionally, I couldn’t live with myself. Yet, there goes my mother, living and unremorseful (in my opinion).

Let’s face it, no one wants to have such a relationship with their mother. No one wants to have the guilt of not feeling anything at all about their mother, as if she never existed. I can remember as a child, feeling that exquisite love that a child feels toward their parent, I just don’t feel that anymore. I have forgiven her. Ok, I am forgiving her, because, honestly, it’s a daily struggle to not harbor anger. A daily prayer to God to release me from the anger I feel. Usually it works. Just because I forgive, does not mean I will ever leave myself vulnerable to her hurting me again.

Honestly, I wish she would make things right between us. I wish she would acknowledge that what she did was wrong and hurtful to me. I wish she would apologize sincerely, not just in words, but also in actions. I wish she would swallow her pride and initiate a relationship with me, knowing that it will take years to rebuild the trust and willing to work every single day of those years to build a new relationship. Yes, it would all be on her, and it will be hard. She may endure some anger and rejection from me, but she would have to be resilient and persistent in her love. It would pay off, because I’m pretty soft-hearted and I forgive readily, but trust takes time.

So, basically, I wish she was a different person. A mother with a healthy mind and a loving heart. Because I know she is incapable of doing those things. Incapable. I also know that God gave me to her for a reason. I am stronger than any adversity that life throws my way. That is the gift she gave to me.


I’m a Bully and a Stalker

Apparently, I’m an “online stalker” and I “hate” someone enough to make their “offline life extremely difficult.” Also, I’m a “tormented soul” and my example will help “teach [her] granddaughter about…bullying.” Seems pretty serious, right? So, what horrible thing did I do? I reported my stepdaughter’s grandmother to the DMV as an unsafe driver.

Stepdaughter’s maternal grandmother has a public blog which I discovered and read. In this blog she mentions some health conditions, including the fact that she has had several seizures. But wait, I’ve seen her driving. She was making the 45 minute drive to and from our house to pick up her granddaughter. So, she’s driving, with a child in the car and a seizure disorder? There’s a reason why the DMV requires that you give up your license when you have seizures. It’s dangerous.

As a health care provider, I feel I have a responsibility to report this knowledge. So, I printed the form on the DMV’s website, filled out the facts as I knew them, and sent it off. I did not make anything up or lie in any way. I simply quoted her own words from her blog.  According to this DMV brochure, the reporting process is “completely confidential as required by Florida law.” It wasn’t. I’m not ashamed of what I did, I would have done it even if I wasn’t told it was confidential, but obviously it makes a high-conflict situation even more tense.

So, yes, I did a horrible thing. I told the truth. It wasn’t easy.  My stepdaughter’s safety, and the safety of other motorists was my motivation, not hatred. I don’t mind that she is angry with me for reporting her to the DMV. I’m being berated as a horrible person with a vendetta, a bully, a tortured soul and an online stalker. I’m ok with that too. I know better and that’s really all that matters to me.



No, I’m Not An Alcoholic, I Work Night Shift

Top ten things that night shifters and alcoholics have in common:

1. It’s normal to drink beer for breakfast.

2. We get grumpy when we don’t get our “fix” (sleep).

3. We sometimes doze off while you are talking.

4. We drive really poorly.

5. Sometimes we pass out on top of the covers, with out bothering to remove our clothes or wash our face.

7. We forget things. A lot. (Like the number 6)

8. It becomes difficult to articulate a full, coherent sentence.

9. We stay out all night.

10. We obsess over when we can get our next “fix” (sleep)

I have nothing more to say. It’s time to sleep. Yay!

health care

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Ebola?

Today a nurse is lying in a hospital bed thinking about her own mortality. Wondering if she may die, if her family may die because of her. Wondering if they will decide to euthanize her beloved dog. This ICU nurse suctioned sputum, cleaned up stool, blood and body fluids from a patient known to have Ebola. Yet, she bravely carried on. Trusting that she would be safe, that the precautions would be enough. Or maybe knowing that she had slipped up, run into the room in an emergent situation improperly protected, not thinking at the time of her own safety, but of the life of her patient. A patient who ultimately died. A patient who’s family is now blaming the hospital for their loved one’s death.

Let me be clear. The staff did not know, nor would they care that this patient did not have insurance. If he was poor, black, foreign or any combination, it did not matter. Never, ever, ever did the thought cross their minds that this patient maybe couldn’t pay. Ever. That is just not how it works in the business of saving lives. Trust me, as a nurse I have never spoke of, nor heard mention of insurance or reimbursement while I’m at the bedside of a critical patient trying to save a life. Nurses go the entire patient’s stay without knowing their insurance status or ability to pay. It is insulting to the profession imply that we would care less for a human based on their inability to pay.

It saddens to me to think about these nurses, who risked their lives in an attempt to save a stranger’s, being criticized for the job they did, having doubt cast upon the depth of their caring, hearing the media speculate if they failed this patient because of the color of his skin. Then, the final insult, being blamed for contracting the virus themselves. Why? Why place the blame on this already suffering human? I realize the CDC is trying to prevent the spread of panic and misinformation, and they should do that. It’s good that they issued an apology to the nurse.

Nurses, we must not forget, in the hype of this disease, that this is what we do. Let’s rely on our knowledge and education, remain calm and not buy into the fear-mongering. Our communities, friends and families are looking to us to be prepared, be calm and do what we always do, step up to the plate and knock it outta the park.

PS. The dog, Bently, is currently in quarantine and will not be euthanized unless he shows symptoms. There is no real evidence that domesticated dogs can carry Ebola. Thankfully, we are more loving and humane towards our animals than Spain was! Still, I would be devastated thinking about my dogs in quarantine, treated like they are contagious. No loving human contact 😦


How a Pit Bull Stole My Heart

As a child growing up we had a lovely dog Samantha, Sam for short. She was a black and white pit bull/lab mix. In most my memories of childhood she was a best friend and companion. I can recall running through the desert with her running gleefully by my side. She would grab me by the wrist and pull me towards home if she thought we had strayed too far. When our cat had kittens, Sam was enthralled by their little squeaks. She would lick them lovingly, her large tongue could engulf the kitten. She was never anything but tender with the other animals and people. No one, in those days, was scared of pit bulls. She was an amazing companion.


Recently, in an effort to pass some time and also teach responsibility, I took my step-daughter to the local animal shelter to see if we could volunteer to walk the dogs. Turned out she’s too young. The cages were full, probably about 75% were pit bull-type dogs. Most will be euthanized. It’s a heartbreaking fact of this breed.

His pleading eyes, broke my heart.

His pleading eyes, broke my heart.

We saw this sweet boy on our visit. His eyes were so sad and knowing. He had been at the shelter for a month when I took this photo. I posted it on my social media site begging someone to please save this sweet boy….we already owned two cats and two dogs-an elderly Brittany Spaniel (who we adopted 13 years earlier from the same shelter) and a Chihuahua. So it seemed unreasonable to bring another animal, especially a pit bull, into the mix, but something about him spoke to my soul right from the start.

A month later, figuring he had been adopted or euthanized, I looked on the shelter’s website. He was still there. He was an intact male, heartworm positive and a bully breed. Three strikes against him. Yet, there he was, still alive. He was sweet, but scared. He had scars all over his neck and chest. Abuse? maybe. Perhaps he was a bait dog. We will never know. We made the decision to bring him home one weekend on an overnight visit. The shelter calls it “pajama pup” program.

His freedom ride....more of a terror ride.

His freedom ride….more of a terror ride.

He was terrified. We had to pick him up and carry him into the house. He was too scared to leave the blanket that we put down for him. We had to drag him out of the house to go to the bathroom. It was sad, heartbreaking. What had this poor dog suffered? I was worried about having this “special needs” dog. Would his terror turn to aggression? Would he eat our cats while we weren’t looking? Would he be too much work for this busy family? Was he going to be too rambunctious for our elderly dog and our little Chihuahua? Was he going to maul our 9 year-old? But he was oh, so sweet.

First day home, happy but scared.

First day home, happy but scared.

Meeting the Chihuahua. He was scared of her.

Meeting the Chihuahua. He was scared of her.

My concerns were unfounded. We adopted him, how could we not? Of course we were and still are careful. He is just an animal, after all, and a powerful one. But I think the Chihuahua is more likely to bite someone than he is! He has come out of his shell. He’s still very needy and follows us around the house, trying to get as close as possible to the humans in his life. His terror has turned into affection, not aggression. He is the sweetest, most loving dog. Even the cats are willing to put up with him.

IMG_4170  IMG_4156

As I sit here writing, he is sitting practically on top of me. He looks at me like he has something important to say, and I wish he could tell me everything he has endured, everything that’s on his mind. He is one of the sweetest pets I have ever owned. And that is how a pit bull stole my heart.


Please consider adopting from your local animal shelter.