Category Archives: society

Dear Barack Obama: An Open Letter

Dear Barack:

Thank you for your recent email about your campaign. I’m happy to stay up-to-date on my favorite president’s business, and I’m glad we’re on a first-name basis, even if you spell my name incorrectly. As long as you have the general sounds right, who can blame you? After all, you have to email millions of people every day. Nobody expects you to get it right 100% of the time.

As a person who is slightly concerned with the environment*, I must say that I am happy that email exists. I remember during your last campaign, I received far fewer emails and instead had a chipper college woman barge into my house and demand $50 from me. I only fell for that once and now I lock my doors.

I admit that I don’t donate every time you ask. Why, sometimes I get 7 or 8 emails within a few hours! Though it is nice to know that if I don’t donate right away, I will get another URGENT email shortly after asking me for a second donation.

One thing I especially appreciate is when you send me an email from your personal inbox, and then a few minutes later, I receive the same exact message forwarded to me from one of your lower level employees. Consequently, I always delete the first email, as I know a copy will follow shortly after. This same thing happens to me at work sometimes, and I always wonder if the second person thought I was not important enough in the first place to have received the prized original email.

I really wish I could have dinner with you and your lovely wife. Do you know how many contests I have entered in? I tried to get into gambling a while back, but I wasn’t great at it, so I stopped. I was genuinely sad when I got that email a couple weeks ago about how your employee won. That seems like an unfair advantage. Also, can you please clarify whether wine will be provided with the meal if I were to win? I think a more effective contest would be one of wine and cheese. Or just wine. The details are up to you. Another idea is pizza and beer. I have a lot of good ideas, many of which you would hear if I had better luck in my gambling/contest-winning adventures. A funny contest would be if you were someone’s personal trainer for the day.

 

Affectionately yours,

 

Rachael (you might remember me as “Rachel”)

 

 

 

*Hippies have this covered already.

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An Opinionated View of Welfare Drug Testing (Facts Included)

This is an issue that has been irritating me for almost a year. It’s not your typical conservative vs. liberal tug-of-war; many of my own self-professed liberal friends agree with drug testing welfare recipients. Why? It’s probably because they are too far removed from either the recipients of welfare (they don’t know any poor people) or because they know little about the actual issue.

Perhaps college graduates were taught women’s rights in college but never taught that poor people also have these rights. This morning I was trying to put my finger on exactly what irritated me about my college friends who have no qualms with these new measures. A friend of mine posted a ridiculous article about a proposed abortion law and how she did not agree with it. With one fell swoop*, she added to her post something like “although I agree that welfare recipients should be drug tested.” Why is this? I can see they are technically different issues—one deals with a personal choice and another with tax money. But the issue of abortions has a lot to do with the government trying to control another’s body. And while there is one difference for the drug testing (these people are getting help from the government), it goes completely against every notion that the government should not have control over anyone’s body.

Many of what I like to call “idiots” claim that since their work can drug test them, welfare recipients should also have to be drug tested. Since when did we start treating the government like a private company? I work at a company that often won’t allow people to distribute offensive material to the public through them. These people like to argue that we can’t tell them what they can and cannot distribute, since it violates their first amendment right to free speech. But we are not the government (as mentioned above)—we are a company that can choose to do things that citizens would never allow the government the ability to do.

Somehow my professors were civil enough to teach me that poor people actually do have rights**. While looking at an essay I wrote, I stumbled upon this quote from Vivyan Adair, who grew up as a poor woman on welfare: “Ultimately, we come to recognize that our bodies are not our own, that they are rather public property. State-mandated blood tests, interrogation of the most private aspects of our lives, the public humiliation of having to beg officials for food and medicine, and the loss of all right to privacy, teach us that our bodies are only useful as lessons, warnings, and signs of degradation that everyone loves to hate.” For some reason, poor people’s bodies are public property. People seem to think that welfare is some sort of easy way to live; that people are on welfare because it’s better than getting a job. But this is simply wrong. People don’t want to stay on welfare forever. Like the rest of America, they probably dream of owning their own house or business.

It has been documented by many a people that our society is not actually ridden with drug-addled welfare recipients. Indeed, most drug addicts are not actually on welfare. You probably don’t know this, but drugs cost a lot of money.*** And people seem to think that poor people are more likely to do drugs—thus the perception that welfare recipients are drug addicts and misusing the system. However, as you may have heard from this over-discussed argument, and I quote from the NYTimes, “Recent federal statistics indicate that welfare recipients are no more likely than the general population to abuse drugs. Data show that about 8 percent of people use drugs illegally. Before a random drug testing program in Michigan was suspended by a court challenge, about 8 percent of its public assistance applicants tested positive.” So, as the argument goes, our insistence that we drug test the poor only further propels the belief that poor people are drug addicts.

And furthermore, other statistics show that 70% of drug users actually have a full time job (note the “drugs are expensive” statement above). You can Google this if you please.

For those college students that I may be targeting, please note that most of your loans and grants for school came from the government as aid to you. Since you clearly can’t put yourself in the position of a welfare recipient—I don’t know what you think poor people do, but I can definitely say they are not having the time of their lives living under the poverty line—giving the government this right could easily mean giving the government the right to test any person who is receiving aid. That’s you! And while I sincerely detest the slippery slope argument on any grounds, I don’t really see the difference between welfare and Medicaid and other types of aid us mildly poor people receive.

And, obviously, I wouldn’t end this without noting the fact that drug testing welfare recipients does not save the government any money, as noted in this recent Floridia article. I should also point out the the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who pushed this bill into action, owns the majority of shares in the company that does the drug testing, giving him significant financial gain for these measures.

*Yes, that’s the correct wording.

**Check your local library for a copy of the Constitution.

***Don’t quote me on that.

WARNING: I did not proof-read this very closely, as I find it boring to do.

Reflections on a Childhood, Couches

The first time I realized my family was even crazier than I’d ever imagined was in 1997, the year my mother began renting couches. At first, this seemed to be a marvelous idea. A new couch was an exciting addition to the family of furniture that already existed, although it did not much match the “rugged individualism” of our very American decor.

As time went on, my mother paid off the new couch. But eventually the appeal of it settled and one day, out of the blue, another couch suddenly appeared. And later, another. Again and again the couches appeared, always taking place of a slightly new but not properly pristine couch. I believe this is something like people turning in cars to get newer ones, but with couches. Or perhaps it is more like buying a new bag of popsicles once frostbite sufficiently covers all the leftover purple ones. Either way, it was couches galore in the Wallace family household.

RAC Logo

$17 a month will buy you a pretty nice couch.

When I moved out of my parents house in 2006, I lived with a few roommates who had acquired a couch from a rather suspicious source. I immediately realized how my world view would be forever tainted by the couch-rental mania that engulfed my mother. I was often frustrated by the sight of the pattern and wear of the couch in my apartment, and quickly took to the nearest chair. On numerous occasions I would ponder the life of the dirty couch, questioning its validity and worth. Who had been on that couch before my roommates? Where had the couch been? And Christ Almighty! How did it get into our apartment? Was it possible that new couches weren’t the norm?

I never thought about buying a couch for myself. My tiny studio hardly fits my possessions, not to mention Zack’s (he is quite the pack rat, although he allows me to control it a bit). I think the ability to live in a small space for so long is born from a comfort of a working class childhood. Perhaps I am also secretly avoiding a general addiction to rent-to-own furniture—there’s really no way for me to know. I could go into some pretty costly therapy to figure out my aversion and attraction to this type of furniture, but that’s clearly a silly and worthless endeavor.

This whole couch debacle not only changed the way I see my mother, but more importantly changed the way I see other people. I realized that the ways people relate to one another are deeply ingrained in the environment and surrounding in which each was raised. For me, a clean couch will always offer the comfort of home, while for others it may be a special food item, a certain blanket, or a type of book that symbolizes those special (sometimes very special) people in our lives.

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Living With Your Lover

“Lover” is a pretty repulsive noun, and I wouldn’t normally use it except in cases of extreme sarcasm. But boyfriend just doesn’t seem to cut it and manfriend is a little too lame. For a while I toyed with the term partner, which evokes memories of picturesque cowboys and political hippies (worst kind), not to mention the fact that people just assume I’m a lesbian if I call anyone a “partner.” Which is another thing. Because that’s the point right? That people shouldn’t be worried about the gender and/or sex of my partner, and I shouldn’t have to label people in these ways? And really, who am I to care if others think my boyfriend is actually a lady? Maybe he would care, but I don’t. So, on we go.

Living with your lover is not hard. Let’s face it. People suck, and that’s what’s hard. It turns out that everyone is more selfish than they’d actually lead you to believe, but once you live with another person you learn that really you both suck, and that’s that. This is not an attempt to beguile you and I am not in  any position to give out serious love advice, since my relationship sort of fell into my lap after years of dating other, okay-but-not-really-my-type-men. But since people are easily shocked, or at least feign shocked-ness whenever I tell them how long Zack and I have been together and how long we’ve lived together, I’ve finally decided to address living with your lover (and why it’s not hard).

Zack and I in San Fransisco

Having the best time, best time.

For the past two years, I have lived with Zack in a 395 square foot studio. And we just signed the lease for another year. Before this charming little—I’m serious about little—studio, Zack and I lived in a house with some of our closest friends (which was hard, but not nearly as hard as the time before that). People always ask me something along the lines of “how do you get away” or “don’t you need personal space,” or anything like that which suggests that people don’t realize how busy we both are. Continue reading

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Awkward Encounters

Following the realization that my education would soon cost me a humble mound of gold, and that my (then-current) rate of education was brutally worthless, I have become less and less able to respond to awkward strangers in attempt to force my resume into a handsome and alluring work of art. In the beginning I thought clumsy clashes with strangers were my fault. Over time, though, I have realized that it’s not me, it’s them. I am not the weird one. I can function like a socialized human; I’ve only become intolerant of the inability of other people to act as our rigorous society dictates. Let me expand, and perhaps give advice on how to avoid these painful and time-consuming meetings.

Cafes

Cafes have become a notorious hot-spot of ham-handed conversations, causing me to avoid lattes and espresso altogether. There is always that certain someone who I barely know and am forced to say hello to, even if I have nothing to say or know absolutely nothing about the person and don’t care to fiend a convincing exchange of interest. The best way to avoid these conversations—a tried and true technique—is to stare intently away from this person of  alarming inconvenience at something in which you are desperately interested in. Gaze adamantly at whatever object you must, whether it’s a painting of a dead bird or a collage of faux-antique fashion cut-outs. Your awkward moment will subside.

Continue reading

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