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In politics, the poor almost always get screwed. Plus: Reader's Poll!



Investigating child abuse is not a priority. Neither is providing mental health services to children who need them. And providing child care for low-income parents trying to stay off welfare? Ha! says California's governor, who sliced funding for the above out of the most recent overdue budget. Just a little reminder that the least powerful -- children, the poor -- are the most politically mistreated.

On a happier note, from an Oct. 12 NCJ blog post, Open Door Community Health Centers is scheduled to receive $9.8 million in federal funding to build a new facility in Eureka. As a long-time Open Door user, I'm thrilled for all of us. Sure, some people continue to believe health care is a privilege, not a right -- but seriously, folks, an educated society realizes the benefit in taking care of its people. To know that low-income and insurance-less folks in Humboldt will have expanded and improved options definitely brings a little light into our currently bleak economic picture.

If doctor visits are not in your budget, take extra good care of yourself. You can't stave off every illness, but you minimize your risk by the obvious: don't smoke, take walks, do some yoga, meditate, eat your beets and please, oh, please, don't skip the flossing. Uncared-for teeth can develop cavities, which can abscess or rot, needing expensive treatment that, when you can't afford it, means you end up having your teeth yanked like some poor backwoods hillbilly -- or the infection can spread into your brain and kill you. Brush for two minutes at least twice daily and floss once a day. Tedious, I know, but I remember the sound of my tooth cracking as a dentist broke it apart at the roots -- extraction is cheaper than a root canal. Neither pass for fun. Better 10 tedious minutes a day than hours of pain, potential infection and dooming yourself to gumming your food in your old age. Listen to me now and you'll thank me in the future!


Speaking of what we wished we'd done when we were younger, I recently asked people a question: "What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago about money?" Unsurprisingly, people had a lot to say. What surprised me was how contradictory that advice turned out to be.


On education:


"Go back to school and get your degree."

"Teach your children that what university you go to matters if you want to make some real cash."

"Don't get suckered into spending twice as much to go to a 'name-brand' college."

"Avoid student loans!"

"Why I thought it would be a great idea to take out student loans for a degree in social work is still a mystery to me."


On real estate: Most everyone still thinks home ownership is the way to go.


"Buy real estate. People always need a place to live."

"Don't spend his trust fund on household expenses. Keep your part-time job and put it down on a house instead."


Still, a dissenter noted that


"Debt is not an affectation of being a grown up ... You can achieve a lot if you just think about things differently. The status quo isn't necessarily the only path to creating wealth."


On working for The Man:


"Don't work for an evil boss even if the money pays the bills."

"Stay in a job with health benefits and a pension."


On retirement:


"Retirement is for people who plan to die in their skin suits waiting for the oxygen to run out. You shouldn't save up all your good times for after 65."

"Don't focus on a retirement plan (they are successfully robbing us of all those monies with a scandalous stock market and a corrupt government), but find a profession that will allow for reasonable work hours so you can enjoy life while young and not be idle when older."


On saving:


"Eat out less, save more."

"Save even more!"

"The Bank of Dad will not always be around."

"Pay yourself first. Put a little cash aside into a Roth/bond fund/CD/under the mattress with every paycheck or windfall and don't touch it. Make it a small or moderate amount so you don't ruminate about it. Start young. Do it regularly."

"Create lots of sub-accounts. These are free at Coast Central. I have a main personal account. I have a car account, a tax account, a credit card account.... When a check comes in, I throw a few bucks in the car account. I throw some in the tax account. When payment time comes around, I'm ready to write out a check ... I also created a little reserve account, which is just enough to float for several weeks. It's a bunch of little games that I play that somehow work -- at least for the time being."

"Pay as you go, but when it comes to travel, don't wait until you have time and money, just go!"

"I would be quite rich now if I hadn't eaten out, traveled and bought unusual clothing ... but all those great meals and wine... I don't know if I would give up all the learning and laughing with friends for money."

"The meaning of life is not exhaustively explained by one's business life, nor is the deep desire of the human heart answered by a bank account."

"'Starving artist' isn't a very lucrative career choice."


Some very practical tips:


"Buy a slightly used car instead of a new one; Good sheets are always worth the money; A quality vacuum cleaner will last for 20 years, but a cheap one will only last a few; Investigate buying household appliances before buying them because you like the way they look; 'Don't go to the grocery store hungry' holds true today as it did in college; Always buy your alcohol at Safeway or Costco; Grow your own weed."


From me:


Take care of yourself. And vote to take care of those around you.

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