All or nothing

When I heard this last week on the news I couldn’t believe it. We used to live in Minnetonka so when I heard that name, my attention was right there. They want to remove more than 100 bus stop benches. What the heck? Minnetonka says some of them are nothing but a hazard. This winter a bunch of them got covered with snow and did damage to plows. Things like that. When I saw why they wanted to remove some of them, it did make sense. Some of them are nothing more than a mini billboard in the middle of a median. I’d also think that in the middle of an intersection could be dangerous to see around if trying to make a turn. Who sits there anyway? Some of them were nowhere near a bus stop. So why was it ever put there in the first place? There is a video clip of the story on the link.

But then a man came on who needed a bench while waiting for a bus. He had a bum foot and needs the bench. He said there are the elderly and the handicapped and even parents with kids who need to sit down. Okay, that makes sense too. Now I’m on both sides of the issue AGAIN!

So this brings me to the hard question as to why does everything it seems, need be all or nothing?

Why is it when someone needs a helping hand, they have to have nothing at all in order to qualify for help? Why is it if you have a seasonal job, you can’t get a part time job all winter to help you out? Instead, if you get a winter job, you lose your benefits from your seasonal job? Why is it if you’re unemployed, you can’t work part time and get help with the rest? It’s all or nothing. If you can’t find a job that you can live on, you can’t even get a job at McDonald’s or you lose your unemployment?

Can anyone tell me why this is? Why can’t they leave the bus stop benches AT THE BUS STOPS and get rid of the ones that are only there for advertising? Why can’t people get a little help when needed instead of needing to be destitute in order to get a small amount of help?

Why?

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10 Responses to All or nothing

  1. SKL says:

    Because that would require reasoning by a flexible mind. And government is rarely capable of that.

    I was doing someone’s taxes yesterday. She’s been unemployed since 2008. She breeds dogs, but so far she’s always had a loss on that business. She also has done some occasional contracting, which she duly reports to the unemployment folks so they can dock her checks. She had to drop her health insurance though she has health issues (should have asked me about MSAs first).

    OK, so her 2009 income includes unemployment payments, plus a 401K distribution she took out in order to pay bills, plus the consulting business, minus the dog business. After the standard deduction/exemption, she had no taxable income. However, she has to pay a 10% penalty for taking the 401K money out.

    She could get an exemption from the 401K penalty if it was taken out for medical expenses. She had a $18K surgery, but because she is disputing that bill, she can’t get the exemption from the penalty. So she lost her health insurance, had to quit taking most of her medicines, got screwed on a routine, 45-minute outpatient surgery, and has to pay a fine for needing her own money to pay bills and not go bankrupt.

    So OK, we check to see if she is eligible for any of those nice tax credits that we give to folks who work but don’t make much. NOPE! Why? She didn’t have any “earned income.” The “net” of her contracting (positive) and dog businesses (loss) was negative. Therefore she is obviously a deadbeat and has no right to a credit. If she had failed to take her dogs to the vet last year, she would have had about $1 in earned income and would have qualified for a nice, refundable tax credit.

    The government isn’t capable of doing things that make sense in individual situations. So I really don’t understand why people want to keep giving the government more responsibility/power over every aspect of our lives.

    By the way, in the big city near me, they have “bus shelters.” Basically a transparent glass shed with a bench inside. Not likely to get run over by a snow plow. If the drunks didn’t sleep and pee in there at night, it would be quite convenient.

  2. Ellen says:

    I do not have an answer, rather than what SKL says: Governments in general do not have a flexible mind.

  3. Laura says:

    I’ll probably be back later to rant about the lack of individuality in government stupidity, but I have to get a certain little person out of the house and on his way to the bus.

    However… I did think of this: When I was in Alaska (I’m pretty sure it was AK), they have long/tall poles on things like bus benches, so that when the snows come in the winter, the plows can see those poles (maybe they’re flagged in winter? Or maybe the snow is white enough that the poles stick up?), and don’t bash into those things while clearing the streets.

    Seems like a pretty logical solution to me. Which is why it’s unlikely to happen anywhere else… inexpensive solution to a problem, vs ripping out a bunch of benches which is not only more expensive, but also inconvenient for those who need them.

  4. Lucy says:

    I agree with you that it seems silly that the benches either all have to go or all have to stay. It seems reasonable to take out those that are not at bus stops.

    But I do have to disagree about the unemployment system because it is relatively flexible and allows a certain amount of part-time work/income.
    For instance, the following rules apply in MA: (and I’m pretty sure there is something similar in every state)

    “You may supplement your UI benefits with part-time work if you continue to conduct an active work search and you report your earnings to DUA.

    DUA will adjust your benefits according to a formula set by law. You are allowed to earn up to 1/3 (one-third) of your weekly benefit rate (not including dependency allowance) each week before deductions are made from your benefit check.

    Example:

    If your weekly benefit rate is $270 a week, you can earn $90 a week without deductions from your UI benefits. If you earned $120 a week, $90 would be disregarded and $30 would be deducted from your UI check. You would receive $240 in benefits, plus any dependency allowances.

    Any earnings in excess of 1/3rd of the weekly benefit amount are deducted from the benefit amount until the benefit amount is reduced to $0. Any claimant who works 30 or more hours in any given week is considered employed “full time” regardless of earnings and is not eligible for UI benefits for that week.

    (http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=elwdterminal&L=4&L0=Home&L1=Claimants&L2=Unemployment+Insurance+(UI)&L3=How+to+File+Weekly+Claim&sid=Elwd&b=terminalcontent&f=dua_weekly_claim_working_part_time&csid=Elwd)

    Now I do have to say that it not necessarily an incentive to start working part-time because it often means getting a “pay-cut.” I also think that the whole unemployment system is rather complex for the majority of individuals to navigate and that there is a lot more that needs to be considered. For instance, there are a lot of single women or families with children that get unemployment benefits ….when they go to work -part time or full-time- they have to pay for someone to watch their children. This might not be affordable on their incomes… and they are financially better off staying home. There are some “welfare to work” programs that have shown that the only way for families to be better off working (instead of collecting benefits) is if they get some kind of child care supplements. This allows them to keep the majority of their income for “living” and not spending it all on childcare.

    So, I guess what I’m trying to say with this LONG post is that while the unemployment benefits system is far from perfect, it is relatively flexible.

  5. starlaschat says:

    Good questions. A lack of common sense seems to be the ills we suffer as a society lately. What happened to basic common sense looking at the situation and not make a sweeping all or nothing decision. I agree a simple answer would be the logical one.

  6. Nikki says:

    “Because that would require reasoning by a flexible mind. And government is rarely capable of that.”~SKL

    That’s why…I have no other explanation. SKL hit it right on the head!!! It’s not fair. It makes it so hard for the ones that DO work to get ahead. Oh but if you don’t work, we get school payed for, our utilities payed for…our food bought for us. In no way is it fair, and it makes me resent the people who sit on their asses collecting money.

    I don’t know why they have to get rid of every damn bench! That’s seems asinine to me!

  7. kweenmama says:

    I find myself wondering the same thing about the rules governing child support. NONE of it makes sense in the “real” world. The government seems unable to do things in the most simple, logical ways.

  8. Joy says:

    I guess my main point was why don’t they just leave the benches where there are bus stops? If you watched that clip, some of them were in the middle of intersections Why?? They were only put there for advertising. Leave the ones where the bus stops. Come on people!!

    Also, I remember when I was very young and just starting out, we went to see if we qualified for food stamps… just for now…just because we needed a touch of help. I was told in order for me to get food stamps, I had to quit a part time job I had. That I was working. To bad kinda thing. Why is that? Someone willing to be working but just needing a little help. I also know a couple of people who are laid off now and it’s the same with them. In order to earn extra money to make ends meet, they will lose a lot of their unemployment benefits and with the part time job they would need less unemployment but it’s not enough money to live on so it’s like they are forced to just sit and collect unemployment. I just don’t get that.

  9. SKL says:

    Well, Joy, the other thing is that some people will lie about their earnings in order not to have their unemployment cut. Of course that is wrong, but our government doesn’t exactly inspire honesty, especially when honesty costs a lot more.

    My friend was shocked to find that because she’s single with no kids, her unemployment check is only a small fraction of what it would be if she had a family. Well, single people also have homes, mortgages, health issues, cars, etc. Her employer paid in a lot more (she’s an engineer) and she’s getting a lot less. Then she gets penalized if she tries to supplement. Financially, she’d be better off going bankrupt. Isn’t that sad? It’s not like she wouldn’t jump at the chance to get a regular job.

  10. Sue says:

    Some people just can’t think outside the box and unfortunately, that is most of our government. I would love to see the city take a poll from the citizens to see if they have any ideas for the benches and which ones should be removed. But, that would require them to think outside the box, so never mind!

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