Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 15, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 17



 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 15, 2012 

HAIL Hamilton My Turn

STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE




Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Pat Birdsall


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Ron Carter

Rev. James Snyder

Bobby Eldridge

Mary Carney

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Greg Wellborn

Dr. John Talevich

Ben Show

Sean Kayden

Jasmine Kelsey Williams



 This coming year, 3.5 million people will experience 
homelessness. The federal government says 42% of them are 
working at some point during the week. Clearly, the work 
ethic is there, but the wage to afford basic housing is not. These 
folks come from our 10.1 million minimum wage workers. 
Minimum wage jobs, the ones that can’t be outsourced, were 
once stepping stones. Now they are the jobs raising whole families, when coupled 
with subsidies.

 The opposite of being housed is homelessness. What needs to be done is to 
fix the Federal Minimum Wage by indexing it to the local cost of housing and 
living expenses throughout the United States. The Universal Living Wage (ULW) 
would end homelessness for over 1,000,000 minimum wage workers and prevent 
economic homelessness for all 10.1 million minimum wage workers.

 The concept is really quite simple: A living wage is the wage that can meet 
the basic needs to maintain a safe, decent standard of living within a particular 
community and have the ability to save for future needs and goals. The living wage 
comes from the basic premise that anyone in this country who works for a living 
should not have to raise a family in poverty. 

 This process must begin with a clarion call at the national, state, and municipal 
levels that institutions, agencies, hospitals, the criminal justice system: “Discharge 
no one into Homelessness” and that the federal government provide the necessary 
funding to make that possible.

 Second, the federal government must provide livable incomes for persons who 
have been deemed disabled and eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, 
which currently provides a monthly benefit of only $623.00, and that it cease 
its practice of destabilizing marriages in which both members receive disability 
benefits but receive fewer dollars than if they were living separately as individuals.

 Third, we must ensure that there exists a National Health Care System* so that 
when the working homeless exit homelessness and again become the “working 
poor” and they are no longer eligible for health care from our local clinics, that 
they do not end up returning to a state of homelessness due to illness.

 Fourth, we must create a National Housing Trust Fund that will ensure an 
adequate national supply of housing at all income levels beginning at a level that is 
below 30% of median family income.

 Fifth, the federal government must fix the federal minimum wage and establish 
a Universal Living Wage by ensuring that anyone working a 40-hour week will be 
able to at least afford basic rental housing, food, clothing utilities, and access to 
affordable health care wherever that work is done throughout the United States.

 Finally, all discharge planning should begin at the time of intake into any 
facility or institution. Also, healthcare naturally includes an adequate amount of 
substance abuse treatment and beds that are available “on demand.” This means 
availability within three hours of request.

Who Benefits from a Universal Living Wage?

1. Workers and their families

Their living standards rise when ULW becomes law. Gain access to better health 
care. Paid days off can be enjoyed as a family. Rely less on government subsidies 
such as welfare and food stamps. Families have greater access to loans and other 
sources of credit (used to buy homes and cars) or finance higher education leading 
to better jobs

2. Businesses

Workers are being paid more, thus morale increases and turnover and absenteeism 
decrease, leading to an overall increase in productivity. In addition, firms also 
experience a better quality of work from their employees, better cooperation with 
management, and more flexibility in the operation of business.

3. Communities

Brings increased spending power to the community through increased disposable 
income. Leads to a higher rate of home ownership, education, and opportunities 
for business investments for local residents.

Other Ways People Benefit

1. Families have greater access to loans and other sources of credit (used to buy 
homes and cars) or finance higher education leading to better jobs. 

2. Workers will earn a high enough wage that they will be dependent on food 
stamps or on other government aid. This will increase their sense of dignity, and 
increase their pride in their jobs, making them feel that their work is worthwhile, 
and hope for a better future.

 Maybe you would have done the same thing. Yesterday I had 
lunch over at Russell’s on Fair Oaks. I gave the waiter my credit 
card and waited for him to return with the bill and the card. I 
had a lot on my mind. My son was home recuperating from 
the detached retina surgery. He’s healing well but the vision is 
not returning as quickly as we had all expected. Additionally I 
was concerned about properly using the validation card which 
the waiter had stamped. I left the restaurant, walked into the parking structure and 
placed the validation card into the proper slot. Next, coming to me in my continual 
disbelief was Stephen Hawking’s computer-simulated voice, Swedish accent and all, 
directing me as to the proper procedure for exiting. I have pointed out to many of the 
strangers who surround the payment machine that the voice coming out is a perfect 
imitation of Hawking and no one ever seems to care.

 As most of you know, and the rest of you should know, Hawking is about the most 
famous scientist now living. He happens to be a man who is completely paralyzed 
and who only has the use of a couple of facial muscles. Through miracles of scientific 
technology Hawking can utilize this muscle to begin the activation of a voice simulator 
which produces a voice. This produced voice has a pronounced Swedish accent as a 
playful homage to Hawking’s desire to be awarded a Nobel Prize.

 If a man with his problems and his responsibilities can find the time to enjoy this 
possible spoof it is an inspiration for everyone. Somehow even if he’s not in on the 
joke I find the whole thing kind of entertaining.

 Anyhow, after getting my card validated found my car and the proper exit and was 
soon on the street heading home to my son when I realized that I held in my hand the 
leather booklet that contained the record of my payment. I thought I had left it on 
the table but I had not. Now I was out on the street, absolutely bewildered as to what 
to do. I could just go home and bring the check in the next time I went to Russell’s. I 
could go home and call the restaurant. Certainly there was ample excuse to keep on 
going but I couldn’t do it. I drove around crowded Old Town looking for a parking 
space. Of course, at first look there were no spaces. For some reason I could not bring 
myself to return to the Parking Structure, which is mainly automated, and go hunting 
for an attendant and try and explain my predicament.

 I did not want to pay another parking fee to enter the structure. As I made the 
turn on to Fair Oaks I saw a car pulling out of a space located behind the structure. 
It was almost a full block away from Russell’s but it would do and I headed for the 
now empty space. A little parallel parking brought me into the space but as I pulled 
in I noticed that on the ground the space was marked as being available for only 
handicapped drivers. I decided to take a chance and parked the car and did my best 
to run the block to Russell’s while I clutched the signed bill in my hand. I was certain 
that I would receive some horrible expensive ticket for parking in the handicapped 
space so I tried to go as fast as possible.

 Unfortunately, I failed to realize that it had been quite a while since I had taken 
very many running steps. I have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and 
atrial fibulation which made running close to impossible. I arrived at the restaurant 
covered with sweat and close to fainting. I gave the check to the cashier saying I 
took it out of the restaurant by mistake. The cashier took the check and acted as if 
he couldn’t have cared less. I walked briskly back to the car and, after catching my 
breath, drove home.

 I got home and told my wife the story and her response was a simple and fitting, 
“Are you nuts?” I admit she had a point but I blame the whole thing on Stephen 
Hawking. He was on my mind the whole time and I think the connection that I made 
was something about not letting surmountable obstacles stop one from doing the 
right thing—and just about everything is surmountable.

 Sure I was preoccupied by my son’s condition and I worry if he will regain enough 
vision to work and drive; but there is still the question, “Am I nuts?” Are my decisions 
invariably based on irrelevant considerations? My only defense is that I am doing the 
best that I can and just hope that that is good enough. Anyhow, I’ve lasted another 
year and written 263 consecutive articles without missing a week. It ain’t Stephen 
Hawking, but it’s enough to impress me. See you next week. 

Mountain Views News 
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A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder


Obamacare and ME!! 

Well, if you haven’t heard of anyone directly affected by the 
“Affordable Care Act” aka Obamacare yet, pencil me and my 
family in. 

A little background. My company’s health care coverage has 
been group coverage through my business landlord’s group 
health program. Here’s the drill. We do some business with the landlord and business 
with many of the other tenants. That made us a “collaborating agency” and 
qualified us to be included in their group health insurance coverage. This is not 
uncommon. Big companies like Lockheed, for example, may extend their group 
insurance programs to their vendors and subcontractors.

Well this is what we were told by our plan administrator: “…Provisions in the new 
ACA (Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare), require employers to have additional 
reporting and financial responsibilities for their employee's health insurance 
plans. We will be at risk for financial penalties if our health plans are not properly 
administered. Therefore because a true employee to employer relationship no longer 
exists with your employees and (insert landlords name) we can no longer offer 
your employees access to our benefit programs as of January 1, 2013.”

I have to go out and try to find coverage. So… we will find out whether pre-existing 
conditions will render us uninsurable. And also, what we might find out there 
pricewise. And if we can even qualify for coverage, I suspect it will be “less” affordable 
under the Affordable Care Act.

I will keep you updated as to how this plays out. 

As troubling as this new unknown future regarding insurance coverage is, it is 
certainly nothingness wisps of air compared to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary 
School in Newton, Connecticut. My heart aches for the families who, 
one moment, were cheerfully planning for the holiday festivities and now struck 
down with the worst of all evils. Next to celebrating the birth of Jesus, Christmas 
is a celebration of family and friends. I strongly suggest each one of us reevaluate 
our quality of relationship with friends and family, particularly those from whom 
we are somewhat estranged. You see, in the twinkling of an eye they could be gone.

Finally if, like me, you could use catharsis (relieving of emotional tension) please 
make plans to come see Cinderella’s Christmas at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. 
There are performances Saturday the 15th of December and Saturday, the 22nd of 
December. Time is 11:00 am at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. (626) 355-4318. The 
interaction between the cast on stage and the young kids in the audience is endearing 
and priceless. The Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. Tickets 
are $18.00 for adults and $12.00 for children 12 and under. 

RICH Johnson

The Christmas holiday season is always ablaze with beautiful colors. 
I find it hard to be gloomy or grumpy this time of the year. I 
must confess, not everybody belongs to this "Holiday Cheer Club." 
It is an exclusive club but open to anybody who is tired of being 

Colors abound throughout the season and the Christmas songs highlight this. "I'm 
dreaming of a white Christmas." "I'll have a blue Christmas without you." "Rudolph the 
red nose reindeer."

Oh, the wonderful colors of Christmas.

One of the most obvious colors of Christmas is green. Right at the center of this Christmas 
holiday is the Christmas tree decked from top to bottom in beautiful colors and 
lights. Nothing says Christmas quite like an old-fashioned Christmas tree.

My thoughts along this line are, let the grumps and grouches complain about the Christmas 
tree. For myself, I will look with admiring wonder at the beauty of the Christmas tree.

Then of course, who could forget good old Santa Claus dressed in his red suit. I never 
could figure out why Santa's suit was always red. Throughout the years, I never gave it too 
much thought and assumed it was a fashion statement from the North Pole.

I had some time this week to do a little rummaging through my old thought gallery. For 
the most part, we only celebrate Christmas once a year. I think Charles Dickens had it 
right with old Mr. Scrooge, after his conversion, celebrating Christmas every day of the 
year. I wonder what kind of world this would be if all of us would celebrate Christmas 
every day of the year?

If I were president of the United States, I would enact a law that would set aside one year 
to be a year of celebrating Christmas all 365 days. I think I would only have to do it once 
and nobody would want to go back to the old grumpy times of celebrating it only one 
time out of the year.

I was thinking about this the other night when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage 
jarred me back to reality.

"Have you," she queried most seriously, "finished with your Christmas shopping?"

Christmas shopping! I had forgotten about it. I know we celebrate Christmas every year 
but I sometimes get so caught up with celebrating Christmas I forget about buying Christmas 
presents. After all, that Christmas tree would be somewhat naked if there were not 
Christmas presents to litter around the bottom.

I had to look at my wife and say, "No, I haven't even started."

By the time the dust of that thought settled I had to ask her, "How many Christmas presents 
do I have to buy?"

"Silly boy," she said with a chuckle that could compete with good old Santa Claus any day 
of the week, "you got to buy Christmas presents for everybody in our family." Then she 
chuckled some more just to set that thought into my cranium.

Everybody in our family? Now I am beginning to see red.

Santa's red suit has nothing to do with a North Pole fashion statement; it has everything 
to do with my financial statement.

I got a piece of paper and together my wife and I jotted down all of the members in our 
family. A few members I wanted to veto, but my wife vetoed my veto. By the time we were 
done, I would have to purchase Christmas presents for hundreds and hundreds of family 
members. Boy, did I see red!

At the beginning of the month of December, my checkbook is in the black, but each day 
of the month the black begins to fade into expanding shades of red. By the time the 24th 
of the month comes around my checkbook is a solid, brilliant, scarlet red.

I sighed quite deeply as I closed my checkbook. I almost said to my wife, "Remember 
the day...?" I stopped short of vocalizing that thought. I thought back when we first were 
married, which seems like hundreds of years ago, we only got presents for each other. I 
bought one present for her and she bought one present for me. What a Merry Christmas 
we had back in "the day."

A few days later as we were wrapping those presents I began thinking of another color. 
I looked at my wife and said, "This must be what they mean when they talked about the 
golden days." She laughed, and I thought some more.

My thoughts centered on the fact of what a wonderful family we have. After all those 
years, we have accumulated a marvelous family. Thinking about all the ones in my family, 
I began to retract those thoughts of veto.

"You know," I said to my wife quite thoughtfully, "red becomes my checkbook." All that 
red means all that family.

The Christmas holiday season means family. There is no family more glorious than the 
family of God. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 
3:16 KJV). The whole spirit of Christmas has to do with giving, and God started it all.

I do not mind a "red" Christmas because everyone in my family is worth it. As Tiny Tim 
said, "God bless us all, everyone."

Mountain Views News

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