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English: An Indian call center

English: An Indian call center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some corporations have questionable strategies of funneling their tax dollars by influencing each employee’s need for assistance. Wal-Mart is known for such practices; but, keep in mind that there are some other major corporations which are more talented at covering their tracks by contracting other companies to pick up the workload and save face. On the other hand, some of these contracted companies which are hired by reputable corporations have operations overseas. Do you want to know why it is that when you call into a customer service agent, you aren’t likely going to be transferred? You’re being placed on hold for long periods of time and you’ll continue to speak to the same agent because that he or she is discussing your account and issues with an “internal department” while acting as an interpreter. In many cases, the agent you’re speaking with isn’t paid a living wage. Additionally, the internal department which is located on foreign soil likely has access to all of the personal information you provided upon opening your account. Why is this bad?

“There is no statutory obligation or cybercrime law which hinders or prohibits law enforcement assistance or prosecution for callers or the offshoring company (See more at here at this link).”

I guess that’s one way of getting out of being responsible for your employees without the government frowning on it too much, after all, in order for one to qualify for any government assistance, one would have to be a U.S. citizen!  Such “reputable” corporations are free from providing a living wage and can still maintain an offshore operation through a patsy call center. Who pays for it in the long-run? The customer who mysteriously has his identity stolen due to such practices is only the tip of the ice burg.

Español: Un Wal-Mart remodelado en la Ciudad d...

Español: Un Wal-Mart remodelado en la Ciudad de México,México. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wal-Mart is taking a lot of heat for not providing responsibly for its workers. Why? Because of the corporation’s direct method of contact with its consumers and onshore employment practices; therefore, it’s among the easiest type of corporation to catch (see more here). Additionally, more call centers have confidentiality requirements, so good luck finding out who contracts call centers that offshore (see an example here). Wal-Mart isn’t the only “poverty job” in the U.S. today. Here is a list of poverty guidelines in 2013:

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES
AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,020 for each additional person.
1 $11,490
2 15,510
3 19,530
4 23,550
5 27,570
6 31,590
7 35,610
8 39,630
2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR ALASKA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,030 for each additional person.
1 $14,350
2 19,380
3 24,410
4 29,440
5 34,470
6 39,500
7 44,530
8 49,560
2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR HAWAII
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,620 for each additional person.
1 $13,230
2 17,850
3 22,470
4 27,090
5 31,710
6 36,330
7 40,950
8 45,570

SOURCE:  Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 16, January 24, 2013, pp. 5182-5183

Any employer who doesn’t pay its employees a wage higher than these standards can be considered a “welfare corporation.” All employees who fall within the above guidelines will qualify for some sort of government assistance; but, is it their fault if their employers refuse to pay a living wage, refuse to schedule the employee enough hours  and pay enough for employees to qualify for health insurance? Is it an employee’s fault if the employer refuses to compromise an employee’s schedule if he or she is attending college or working a second job? If the employee opts to work two part-time jobs to equal full-time hours, how likely is it that he or she will have access to any health insurance? Not likely.
English: A little girl leaning against a sofa.

English: A little girl leaning against a sofa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s invent the realistic scenario of “Jane”. Jane is the single mother of Aiden who is two years old. Jane needs to pay $350 a month in order to afford suitable childcare for her daughter. After a two year relationship, Aiden‘s father is difficult to find and has no interest in his child. Aiden’s father plans to sign away parental rights in order to avoid responsibility to his daughter as soon as Jane remarries.

Jane scores a job that pays $7.25 an hour because she wants more for her daughter and needs to buy clothing and other things. Due to the Obamacare mandate, the corporation that Jane works for will only schedule her for 29 hours per week. The problem is, Jane can only leave her daughter in childcare for up to 40 hours per week and it’s closed on Sundays; therefore, Jane’s unable to find another job that will hire her for only 11 hours.
Jane qualifies for housing, which will help her with 1/3 of her rent portion of $700 per month. Jane lives in apartments specifically built by a corporation to house low income families. For $700 a month, Jane and Aiden will live in a basic two bedroom apartment that doesn’t have washer/dryer hook-ups or a dishwasher. They live in an area where air conditioners aren’t required, so they don’t have one of those, either.
Food Stamps

Food Stamps (Photo credit: NCReedplayer)

Jane will receive $367 in food stamp benefits, she will receive a grant for her childcare, and an additional supplement of $399 per month. Jane won’t need to pay for her daycare unless Aiden gets sick. The childcare grant will not cover for days Aiden is not there; however,  the daycare requires the slot in the daycare to be paid for no matter what. If Aiden gets sick (which in daycare it happens a lot), Jane does qualify for medicaid for her daughter which will pay for all of her doctor’s visits and medications.

Presuming Jane doesn’t miss any work hours and has a support system to care for Aiden when she’s sick, Jane will gross $10,092 in earned income. Jane will receive a tax refund of  $5318.

All of the benefits Jane will receive for the year from the taxpayers will make her earned and unearned income add up to $24.938 + medical for Aiden. This figure doesn’t include the rent grant.
In other words, the corporation that receives Jane as an asset contributed $10,092 and the government contributed an excess of $14,846 that year.
Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporati...

Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Let’s presume that Jane scored a better job that paid her $12 per hour and worked her 34 hours per week. Jane won’t receive supplemental cash or food because she makes too much. Jane pays the full $700 in rent, too. Fortunately, Jane is within the corporate guidelines to qualify for their insurance policy; however, she’s required to pay $120 a month for her health insurance and has a $2000 deductible before it kicks in to pay a portion of her services. There is one catch though, the insurance policy only allows for up to 5 office visits and will not cover maternity costs. Jane paid $1500 out of pocket for medical care for the year and she only saw the doctor once.

Jane’s gross earned income is $19,584 for the year. She received $4200 in childcare grants and will receive a tax refund of $4942. The total combined benefits add up to $28,796. Keep in mind that in this scenario, Jane is able to pay her own bills with the exception of childcare and Aiden’s medical expenses, which are covered through Medicaid.
Is that enough math for you? If corporations paid citizens enough money to pay their bills, that would help with the availability of Social Security to the people who are disabled and elderly who have ALSO paid into it. We know how Mitt Romney feels about them:

Obviously, when corporations will opt to offshore jobs in pursuit of profits, it results in less employment opportunities on American soil; however, these corporations won’t dip into assistance programs through their employees directly, they will do it through whomever they contract as an American facade and through many complicated loopholes in which their clients do not see.

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The Tom's of Maine Logo

The Tom’s of Maine Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was early in the spring of 1999 when I realized my Tom’s of Maine deodorant wasn’t only expensive; but, it also wasn’t working very well. That was a time in my life when I began to understand the importance of making environmentally friendly decisions as well as have a better consciousnesses of whatever I chose to slather on my body.
In my exploration of better deodorant  products that would last longer as well as have antibacterial properties, I ran across a generic salt crystal in which I paid about $8.
Excited to try my newly acquired product, I rushed home and had a shower. I shaved my underarms as I normally would do, unscrewed the lid to the salt crystal, and proceeded to rub my pit in the same manner as I had done with other products in the past. Of course, I screamed at the dry salt crystal on my tender, raw skin and thought to myself “Is the salt crystal supposed to hurt THIS bad?”

Crystal Stick

Crystal Stick (Photo credit: greggoconnell)

Unfortunately, the packaging for the salt crystal didn’t have any instructions, it just touted how wonderful and responsible it was to use it!
A few days had passed and I was disappointed; however, I’m not one to give up easily. I thought I’d just have to get used to it while I winced at every application. I consulted my best friend and through her snickers and chuckles, she informed me that I was supposed to WET the salt crystal then apply it instead! I felt like such an idiot! Wetting the salt crystal helped a lot. I don’t use the salt crystal anymore; however, I was very relieved when Tom’s of Maine began to market their products with baking soda, it works so much better! Needless to say, I won’t likely buy a salt crystal for my underarms in the future. My point in posting this story is to hopefully encourage others to try using the salt crystal as a deodorant. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

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Lilith

Lilith (Photo credit: rami.sedhom)

Having earned my degree, I’m trying very hard not to dwell on depressing situations. Achieving my academic goals is something I’m very proud of in addition to being a miraculous feat considering the challenges I’ve had to overcome in order to attain them.  After surviving in this world for nearly 35 years, I suffered a bout of hypo-mania and was hospitalized for three days. Even though in hindsight the diagnosis makes complete sense, I had great difficulty in accepting that I have something which is incurable and I still struggle with it. College was awesome, it was great “therapy” for me; however, it’s over– so now what?

Twins

Twins (Photo credit: Amanda D. Olson)

My whole life I have tried to lead a “normal” existence; however, nothing about my life has been very normal. In fact, there have been several tragedies and traumatic events occur before I even reached the age of ten. Such events I’ve been told, are considered beyond the handling capabilities of a “normal” person. In other words, one would’ve had to be slightly cracked to have survived. My family and loved ones did their very best to safeguard me and my sister from hurtful things; but, they could only do so much to protect us. My sister is very outgoing and successful, she makes friends far more easily than myself as I’m quite withdrawn. Even with small variations here and there, we come from the same family so we have pretty much the same background.  If it weren’t for my sister, I wouldn’t know what having a friend might be like as she has always been so kind in sharing hers in addition to being my best friend. My sister has a wonderful spirit in which I admire and envy (in a good way, of course)! So, I wonder how it is that we’re so different? I have Bipolar Disorder and she is my giggly, wonderful, sweet, AWESOME sister! I’m grateful more and more each day that I have her because who knows where I would be without her? I truly wish I were more like her; but realistically, I don’t think there’s a medication out there which can help me achieve that.

Abraham Lincoln's apotheosis

Abraham Lincoln’s apotheosis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike her, I’m not a very well spoken person at all. Sometimes multiple ideas will ruminate so quickly in my mind that I  can’t hang on to a single train of thought, so I choke on my words and even stutter. I’ve tried several medications to help me to become normal; however, the side effects of the medications seem to amplify the fact that I’m different. What can possibly be normal about excessive weight gain (Depakote), walking around as though you’re a comatose zombie or sleeping all of the time (Seroquel), having freakish facial twitches (Geodon), or having everything you eat taste metallic (Lithium)? Who could conceivably entertain a single, useful idea while drowning in these side effects? Can one imagine a world without  the Law of Gravity by Sir Issac Newton, who was posthumously diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder? Can one imagine a world without Abraham Lincoln’s ability to rise into the collective consciousness and grab the idea to end slavery? Can one imagine a world without Jack and Sally, or any of the other Tim Burton characters? Would the medications offered today have had a positive impact on any of the people I’ve mentioned or not? 


Not everyone who has Bipolar Disorder is cut of the same cloth as those famed for their contributions to mankind and are able to put food on their tables. Everyone has different aspirations and talents. I could only aspire to be influential within my own micro-world and hope for more. Some things I do have in common with the above mentioned individuals are that I’m very sensitive, I have a creative edge, and I truly do have a different way of viewing the world. I hope to embrace it rather than have it drag me down. 

Road

Road (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

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Imagine, you’re ready to shop for something unique,  perhaps it’s a hard to find gift for your grandmother’s 69th birthday, or maybe you simply need a pair of shoes– either way, you won’t find this item locally, so you drive yourself to the virtual mall in hopes you’ll find what you’re looking for.

The Corridor, Bath

You step into the corridor and notice it bends and turns,  it’s infinite. The shops that are lined along the sides will change every couple of minutes. Thankfully, you have a tracker in your pocket that will record the name of every shop that you enter during your quest. You shout, “Unique gift for grandma!”  The shops along the corridor change rapidly, and the most popular stores that are relevant to your request are situated closest to you.

You step into the nearest virtual store and see photographs displayed all over the walls. You notice there’s a mannequin with a sign that reads, “If you have any questions, ask me!” standing in the shop. After looking through a couple of images, your interest is piqued upon the discovery of  Tailless Sock-Monkeys for sale; therefore, you ask  the mannequin if they’re vintage. You wait for an answer; but, the mannequin does nothing.

A pair of homemade sock monkeys.

You walk back out to the corridor and shout, ” Vintage Tailless Sock- Monkey!”  and again, the shops change to accommodate your request. You walk into the closest shop and notice the walls have photographs of Tailless- Sock Monkeys, toy trains, metal doll houses, every classic toy you could possibly imagine; however, it’s a bit expensive and you want to compare prices. You hit the button on the tracker in your pocket to record the place so you won’t have any problems locating it in the future.

You notice that every store you go into has the same mannequin, with the same sign; however, the clothing is different on each. You ask questions with the exact same results.

Where am I going with this? The answer is simple. Part of getting good online sales involves reciprocation. I’ve noticed how businesses utilize their websites and they seem to fall short of that element. Businesses will hire the IT guy to throw up a website and load the content, then they keep the IT guy to fix all of the technical problems in the office. The business web presence is an afterthought; therefore, it’s lacking. Businesses want to hire an SEO to be sure their shops are the first ones you’re going to see; but, is that enough? For a business to hire an SEO to bump up its rank in a search engine is only the tip of what one needs to do in order to generate sales.
A good SEO will pay attention to potential clients and people who think enough to care for your

English: A business ideally is continually see...

English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

business. A good SEO must read blogs in place of asking probing questions and providing good information when relevant. It’s up to the consumer to decide what to get and when to get it. Sales people in stores usually get a base wage in addition to commissions; however, when a person is online it’s all commission only. An SEO must research, know how to communicate effectively and have the drive to write regularly, have an eye for design, understand how to network to other sites and reciprocate. A good SEO is constantly networking, which means he or she will leave relevant comments on the blogs of consumers and build relationships.

It isn’t enough to bring your store and products to consumers. Advertising may be infinite on the world wide web; however, it isn’t free. Is it fair to expect the IT guy to go above an beyond repairing every bit of technology in the office and wear a second hat as a writer and editor, graphic artist, photographer and photo editor,  market analyst, advertiser, and sales agent? IT guys are some of the busiest people I know, and most of them don’t want to do any of the above. IT guys are the ones every person in the office approaches without asking, “How are you?” and instead are asked, “How do you download this app onto my iPhone?”

In-store sales agents are there, the products and agents come and go. In-store agents aren’t putting up signs, creating logos, writing essays about the products, analyzing the market, taking photos or editing them. All of that work is done for them. However, if a business posts something on the internet, it’s there for as long as a company wishes it.

You really can’t be in two places at once. Do your business a favor, hire a Social Media expert who knows SEO and remember, nobody should have to work for free.

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English: Union Station in Ogden, Utah.

English: Union Station in Ogden, Utah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, I volunteered at the Ogden Union Station. It was decided that the task which I could best serve the community was to wash the glass. I was grateful I was told to take my time, as it was understood that the contents of the building and cases were of interesting historical value. If you know Ogden’s Union Station,  you know about the museums contained within the building. Of these displays, the one that stood out to me the most was The John M. Browning Firearms Museum.

If you’ve ever walked into this museum, you’d feel as though you were among large, glass dominoes, all alit to reveal the precious, encased firearms within.

As I was obviously putting my most excellent glass washing skills to use, I couldn’t help but realize that such a collection was worth more than a life. I stared down the barrel of an old pistol, wondering who may have owned the weapon, who may have been injured by such an instrument, and who wasn’t so lucky to survive seeing the very same sight.

I began to question how a single man was able to generate so much revenue just by patenting and crafting better killing machines. The name of the game is to outdo the competition; but, where could this possibly lead?

English: John M. Browning's son Lt. Val Browni...

As I took a small breather, the man in the museum told me a love story  about Val Browning and his wife, Ann Chaffin Browning. Apparently, Ann liked to shoot clay pigeons and wanted to have a more ladylike shotgun, so her husband lovingly crafted one for her. Although the sentiment was very sweet, I often wonder why humanity values something such as a gun.

I admire the creative ingenuity to make human life more simple; however, guns are an art form that gives one power to end a life in an instant without even requiring the need to think about it first– just pull the trigger.

In conclusion, I wonder how society can place so much more value on an object such as a gun, yet undervalue artists who work  diligently to get those who participate in their works to face humanity, to value life, to think, and to actually care.

Even though I washed every inch of glass in that room, I’m not sure how clear patrons of The John M. Browning Firearms Museum will be able to view the contents inside.

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Most little girls wanted to be a princess or a ballerina when they grew up. Of course, I was different from most little girls. I liked to wear a dress at all times, even if it meant I had to wear pants underneath it so that I could climb into bushes and play in the dirt. I also didn’t want to be a princess or a ballerina, I wanted to be a cat! I came to this realization when I was a toddler. I imagine it’s partly because my family had a tabby who was the friendliest, sweetest cat you could ever know. To this day, I don’t know what happened to Tabby; but, I’m sure it was the positive impression she left which has ultimately resulted in my  lifelong fondness of cats.

"Fishing": "Print shows a cat w...

As a little girl, I’d regularly spend my Saturday mornings wearing a dress over my pajamas and watching cartoons while my young parents would sleep in after a long week’s worth of working. Among my favorites were Felix the Cat, Tom and Jerry, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Rocky and Bullwinkle. I had admired cats so greatly and thought nothing of them terrorizing fish in cartoons, except I concluded fish had to be delicious or cats wouldn’t work so hard to eat them! One day, as I was watching  cartoons, I was reminded of how much cats were depicted as always trying to eat a fish and it just so happened that my mother had purchased a pair of goldfish for my sister and me.

I walked into the kitchen and I grabbed a fork, then I walked over to the fish tank. I reached into the water with my fingers gripping the fork’s handle, missing the confused fish as they wildly swam about. Realizing the fish weren’t going to comply with my efforts to spear them, I climbed on the arm chair placed next to the tank so I could reach in with both of my arms.

Black cat watching fish at the bowl-aquarium

Black cat watching fish at the bowl-aquarium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I caught one fish, but he slipped under the tank console and I couldn’t retrieve him. There was one more goldfish fish left, and I was very determined to catch it!  It took a while; but, I was finally able to grasp the remaining goldfish with one hand, and jab the tines of the fork firmly into its slippery little body with the other. I pulled the fish out of the water and with its tail flapping frantically, I slowly shoved the fish in my mouth. After I had secured it behind my teeth, I pulled out  the tines of the fork. The fish began to thrash around and to my surprise, it tasted horrible! I spit the goldfish out onto the floor and it continued to thrash and jump. I caught the fish and noticed the four little holes in its side. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me that I had hurt the fish until then; however, I felt bad and after a few remorseful pets, I gently returned the poor thing back into the fish tank with the other fish, which were my mother’s Neons and Mollies. The goldfish swam pathetically sideways and when my mother awoke, she was surprised to discover one goldfish was completely missing, and the other goldfish murdered and floating among its iridescent, loose scales on the top of the water. Meanwhile, I worked very hard at scraping the nasty tasting scales off of my tongue, and picking the rest out of  my teeth that had stuck like popcorn hulls. I didn’t know better, but I probably deserved it.

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