As Christmas approaches, I tend to think about world affairs in terms of the Christian values I grew up believing.  I look back over the year, and forward to the next year.  I even make some predictions, not of the wheeooooeee type, but based on my analysis of events and conditions in society and in the world.

I read this morning that Ireland has mailed letters to about 6000 unemployed Irish, asking them to move to other EU nations.  This strikes me as wrong on at least two fronts.  The first is that as a Catholic nation, which prohibits birth control, the nation helped create the long term unemployed and owes them better than asking them to leave their home.  The second is that the other EU nations have their own unemployment problems and might not welcome 6000 unemployed immigrants.

The day before I had read that Google (or amazon) was looking to replace clerks with robots.  Prior to this, I have read pieces saying that we will now permanently have a higher rate of unemployment.  I have also read that those  who have been unemployed longer than six months are now considered unemployable.  My Christian values tell me that if society cannot offer people jobs, it should, at a minimum, leave them their dignity, and provide them with life's necessities.  This has made the Christian right's position of blaming the unemployed for their condition, and blaming it on laziness and unwillingness to work, simply unfathomable and immoral.

Love, and charity, Jesus himself, require us to treat the unemployables with respect, and dignity, not scorn and the cloak of invisibility that descends when we assume people "don't want to work."  Honestly, how many of us can say that we would keep looking for a job after we are told by agencies and employers that we have been unemployed too long to be considered?  With dwindling financial reserves, how much would any of us continue to expend on transportation, clothing expenses (even if just cleaning and pressing), printing up and sending out resumes?   Who do you think an employer would hire -- a 32 year old with children, or someone in their late forties or early fifties with health issues?

Do we just toss people away, like disposable coffee cups and razors?  Do we just say "I'll pray for you?'  When we say it, how often do we actually pray for a solution to the suffering and the stress?  Once? Daily until we hear the person's situation has improved?

Into this walks Pope Francis, who is the first Pope since I became conscious of the existence of a Pope, which was the installation of Pope John XXII, who walks and talks as I imagine Jesus did, or close to it.  What does the Christian Right do?  Attack him as "communist" like "Obama."  I heard someone mention that Pope Francis was not even born in the United States!  Hmm, I'm not Catholic, and I know that NONE of them throughout history were born in the United States.  So how is that a relevant comment?  Is it just a stupid one?
If you have been reading my blog, or any of my pages, or my Facebook page, you know that I have SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythmatosis).   What you may not realize is that this is primarily "a woman's disease," as 90% of the patients are women.  Most of them are 15 -45, the childbearing years.  For some enlightening information about pregnancy and lupus, please read this study in Japan about pregnancy outcomes and lupus  .

Women of color, across the board have higher rates than white women.  I once had a former Texas benefits evaluator tell me that "lupus is a made up disease by people who are too lazy to work."  To me, it was clear he was referring to Black women.  Black women have higher death rates from breast and cervical cancer, higher rates of STD's and teen pregnancies, higher infant mortanlity.  SOURCE:  Debunking the myth.  Black women, Hispanic women, Native American women all have higher rates of lupus.  Black women have more severe outcomes more often.  Poor women without health insurance have a harder time getting the help they need to treat lupus.  SOURCE:  Lupus Fact sheet

For some information about lupus symptoms in general, please read this article about two lupus patients.  

My diagnosis was originally made by a gynecologist to whom I had gone for a simple pap smear.  At the time, I had health insurance.  I no longer have health insurance, and my best option for pap smears is Planned Parenthood.  Read one woman's story about not affording to go anywhere but Planned Parenthood.    

Please make yourself aware of two FACTS:
1.  NOT ONE TAXPAYER DOLLAR GOES TO ABORTION.  That has been prohibited since the 1970s.
2.  Abortions are only 3% of their services  FACT SHEET HERE

Finally, let's talk about SOCIAL SECURITY and Disability and Social Security Supplemental Income.  I worked from age 15 until about 40.  I've been fighting to get SSDI so I can get Medicare to cover my lupus medications.  First they told me I ought to be able to work (in 1995) because I am educated.  Know many employers who want employees who fall asleep on the job, or who miss work frequently because they cannot drag themselves out of bed and stay awake long enough to bathe, dress, and get to work?  Or who catch the flu and the miss weeks because the immunosuppressant drugs they take for lupus don't fight the flu well and leave them with bronchitism pneumonia and a lupus flare in which their joints swell and cause agonizing pain?  If so, please send those employers my way!  I'd love to work, use my brain again for pay.  Of course, it has to be low stress and pretty free of deadlines, because stress makes my lupus worse, and I never know which day I'm going to wake up and be unable to stay awake -- which makes it difficult to meet those deadlines.  See this blog for another person's perspective.

The next time I applied for SSI/SSDI  they told me my $3000+ savings account made me ineligible for  SSI and I no longer had enough qualifying quarters for SSDI.  I appealled and they told me I wasn't disabled!  NOIT DISABLED?  I cannot shop without either my husband pushing me in the wheelchair or an electric cart.  Some days my knees hurt so badly the 8' from my bed to the toilet  has me in tears.    I cannot stand in lines for more than 30 seconds without the knees and hips begging me to sit down. That's not disabled?

Now their story is that we cannot prove I was disabled WHILE I STILL HAD ENOUGH QUALIFYING QUARTERS.  THEY have the 1995 records with the doctors names, but OOPS  I can no longer get those records because the doctors who made the disagnosis, and who treated me, destroyed the records 10 years after my last visit.  I'm SURE those records are in the SS records;  they just demand that I produce them, knowing I can't.  

So now I'm still 5 years too young for SS and Medicare.  What if they raise the retirement age?  First how will we tap into our retirement accounts without penalty to pay for medical expenses?  I will NEVER see my SS money that I paid into the system all those years I worked (sometimes at 2-3 jobs at a time!).  I WILL NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH!

Let me repeat that  I WILL NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH!  I can no longer take Methotrexate because my platelet levels drop too low and I am in danger of bleeding to death internally.  The prednisone I have been on for over a year now will, according to my rheumatologist "take five years off your life."  It also induced Type II diabetes, which is implicated in heart disease, even if I didn't have the extra clotting factor from lupus.   The Hydorxychloroquine (Plaquanil) no longer controls the disease by itself.  I also cannot take aspirin, NSAIDs like ibuprofen.  So I take ginger and turmeric for the constant pain.  Some days it works, some days it doesn't work so well.  I need Ben Lysta, according to my rheumatologist, but she's not going to administer it.  It's about $2000-$3000 a pop.  I think it's once a month.  I tried to get onto a drug trial, but the diagnoses (both of which I think are wrong) the county hospital gave me of non-alcoholic cirrhosis and heart failure keep me out of the trial.  I need a liver biopsy to rule out the cirrhosis, and an echocarcdogram for the heart failure.

My only hope is Obama's health care plan, because I could not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.  If I cannot afford the private health insurance or the high risk pool insurance, I could, as I understand it, get Medicare without having to be on SS, SSI, or SSDI.  So think twice before you pull the lever for someone who wants to repeal Obamacare;  that lever pull will be a death sentence for me and many others with my illness or others like it.  Of course, it you want to be a good, compassionate Christian, you can send me money at PayPal to help with my medical expenses. Leave a comment on this website and I'll send you my email.  They are. or would, if I were seeing the doctors I need to see and taking the meds I need to take run from $3000 in a good year for routine meds and visits and tests to upwards of $24,000 if I had to be hospitalized.  My brother is currently supporting us and paying our medical expenses.  He's nearing retirement age.  He spent years paying for our mother's needs because her SS didn't cover the utilities, food, out of pocket medical expenses.  Now he has us, and his own family.

SO please look into your heart and see if you want to pull my plug by voting to kill "Obamacare
I heard Ann Romney speaking the other day.  I cannot quote her now, but she seemed to imply that "real" women cared about "real" issues, like jobs and the budget deficit., not contraception and women's health. Those, she suggested were "a political distraction."  Shades of spinning sophistry!  

Yes,Ann, REAL women do care about jobs and the budget deficit.  We also care about contraception and women's health.  Women who are working when their husbands are not are concerned about the impact of being the breadwinner on their marriage, their children, their health, and their family's future.  Since women, generally, still earn less than men, we are concerned not only about our husbands finding work, but about being paid equally for equal work and having access to the same promotional ladders

Real women know that an unplanned pregnancy can lead to the loss of their job, depending on what that job is.  If you were a widow with five sons in school and college, without your husband's wealth, you might be concerned if you found out you were pregnant a few weeks after your husband's death.  You might think about abortion, or you might just worry that you could die in childbirth, or be crippled, or that this sixth child might be handicapped and need resources far beyond your ability to provide them.  If you were a young woman, you might, even after marriage and before any children were born, look at the economic situation and desire birth control in order to have only as many children as you can provide for.  This might be true even if your husband had a good job.  You might even decide that zero children are what you can afford.

I am not assaulting your choice to have five children and be a stay-at-home mom.  It is your husband's political party which is assaulting the choices women with fewer financial resources are ALLOWED to make.   It is the Republican party which is talking about raising retirement age, reducing SS & Medicare benefits.  Real women, like my mother widowed at 41 with two children 10-13, are more likely to end up impoverished in old age than men.  My mother did, after working from 1963 until 1996.  Without Medicare, she would have died well before age 89.  In fact, she did die, of heart failure, and was revived in the operating room and went on to have triple bypass and heart valve replacement.  

I went to college because I was able to live on and attend the University of Texas on SS Survivor's benefits, small grants and loans.  It is your party which is talking about eliminating the grants and loans that put me through college.

I am delighted for you that your MS and cancer have been resolved.  At the same time, I am an uninsured SLE patient who is going without the proper medical care because there simply is not enough money.  My brother is graciously supporting my husband and myself, and paying for what medical care I do get.  The problem is that I now need a medication which costs around $2000-$3000 a month.  I am not asking for pity, or even sympathy.  It would be nice if you and your husband, and your political party could develop some empathy. Some true Christian compassion might also be nice.  For the record, I have been denied SSDI, SSI, and we could only get food stamps for about three months in Texas, since we have no children.  It's frankly not enough of a stipend to make it worth the humiliating application process.    Instead we are shopping sales, clipping coupons, going without, selling scrap metal, and growing many of our own vegetables and fruits.  We are also both looking for employment or ways to earn money.

Your own husband said "Government does not create jobs.  The private sector creates jobs."  Then he turned around and blamed Obama for the unemployment.  Mrs. Romney, if tax cuts created jobs, why didn't Bush's tax cuts create jobs?  Real women understand that our husbands' jobs were outsourced, that there is a wealth redistribution from our income brackets to yours, and that jobs are being held hostage until corporations get the tax breaks (0%) that they want.  

As for the federal deficit, I propose that should your husband achieve the office of the President, he accept only an annual salary of $1, and urge the millionaires in Congress to do the same.  I make the same suggestion about Obama, so this is a non-partisan suggestion.

Above, Mrs. Romney, your recent remarks on what women think about and focus on came across as a rather condescending implication that women cannot think for themselves and need to be told what to think.  Women are 51% of the population of the USA, in case you haven't noticed.  Perhaps you need to get out among us real women a bit more if you want to help your husband's campaign.  You're an attractive woman, but, frankly, my dear, you connect with most of us about as well as Sarah Palin did. 

 So here's my offer, bring your camera crews and come to Houston for a week.  Spend the week in a cheap motel.  I'd invite you to my house, but frankly it's not in any condition for company.  I'll take you to school on what living on less than $30,000 (as I have all my life) is like.  You can go shopping with me, spend hours doing comparison shopping online for every purchase, help me in the garden.  I can teach you about the quality of healthcare in our county hospital system, about trying to get insurance with SLE or my husband's high blood pressure.  you can watch as I take food to the food bank for those less fortunate than I (and they do exist), deliver school supplies to the public schools which provided me with an excellent education,.  Do you know that there is not a single item of clothing in my wardrobe which cost over $20? and most of them cost $10 or less.  After a week, you may have something to tell real women about what their concerns are.  If you're interested, there's a place to submit contact information on this website.  I'm going to assume you're intelligent enough to find it. ::nodding my head in the stereotypical female communication mannerism you use to obtain agreement from one's audience::