Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Diane Roberts/Florida Phoenix

From April 2020 as more assistance is planned in 2021.

Florida’s junior US senator is quite a guy–as he’d be the first to tell you. He’s worth over $250 million, and you’re not.

Rick Scott has no sympathy for these grasping whiners who lost their little jobs in the coronavirus pandemic and now have the gall to expect a government hand-out.

Who do they think they are: Boeing?

Scott sent a fundraising email on April 23rd to his well-connected and  richly-upholstered campaign donors complaining that, “Businesses looking to reopen are telling us their employees don’t want to come back to work because they collect more on unemployment.

Under Congress’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, these laid-off layabouts could theoretically get $600 a week to do absolutely nothing.

(Scott, of course, voted for CARES, but it pained him. Truly it did).

After all, $600 a week is lavish: enough to cover the rent, maybe the car payment, some ramen noodles, and a four-pack of tuna. You might have to let the health insurance slide, but there’s always the emergency room, right?

Most of the aid money is federal, but you have to apply though the state.

Problem is, the state system, to put it mildly, ain’t working.

You can’t get anyone on the phone; it can take a week to breach the online portal; and half the time, it crashes. Around 40 percent of those who somehow manage to fill in the forms discover they are supposedly ineligible”–even though they meet all the criteria.

To date, more than 1.8 million people have applied, but only about eight percent have received a check.

Now, who do you suppose we have to thank for what one Republican insider calls this “sh-t sandwich”?

Rick Scott.

Scott, you see, shelled out $77 million in taxpayer money for the glitch-prone, security-challenged, crash-happy, slow-as-Christmas CONNECT system. It never worked right. It wasn’t supposed to. As an adviser to Gov. Ron DeSantis (who’s been highly critical of CONNECT) recently told Politico, it was “designed” to fail.

The former governor, elected to the Senate by the skin of his capped teeth two years ago, signed legislation in 2014 requiring people trying to get that princely $275 a week in unemployment compensation to answer a 45-question “skills questionnaire” and prove they tried to get hired by at least five possible employers every week.

Many were rejected anyway, owing to some ill-defined charge of “misconduct.”

Scott, a person of limited imagination, thinks that if you’re poor it’s your fault—and your sorry bone-idle ways should not be rewarded with a handout.

Like many pols, including Donald Trump, he’s so thoroughly bought into his mythologized background he thinks he struck it rich entirely thanks to his own hard work and genius–instead of what we might describe as a certain ethical flexibility.

Trump talks about his “success” as if the money he got from his dubious daddy and the loans from the Bank of China and Deutsche Bank were incidental, as if he pulled himself up by his own bone-spur-friendly boot straps.

Scott talks about himself as if he were born destitute in a log cabin he helped build and split rails until he joined the Navy, founded the hospital chain Columbia/HCA, made money, and became governor of the Sunshine State.

In truth, his Navy career was remarkable only for the way he bought Cokes onshore and re-sold at hugely-inflated prices to his fellow sailors. At Columbia/HCA he presided over one of the largest healthcare frauds in history. He invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination 75 times; and he finally walked away with $300 million in stock and options–some of which helped him buy his way into the Florida Governor’s Mansion.

Like Trump, Scott equates money with intelligence and skill–and quite possibly divine favor.

Business ├╝ber alles.

Those who pursue low-paid but intellectually-enriching fields are losers.

Public employees are losers. Teachers are losers.

When he was governor, Scott tried to force universities to push students into what he saw as lucrative careers in STEM subjects, instead of useless nonsense like anthropology, which should not be supported by state funds.

His own daughter majored in anthropology, but that’s different. She comes from money.

Scott invented all kinds of ways to torment what he saw as the Undeserving Poor. He undercut public health facilities. He tried to mandate drug testing for all state workers, who are among the lowest-paid in the nation.

He also thought it would be a grand wheeze to drug test welfare recipients–at their own expense. If they didn’t come out clean, they wouldn’t get their benefits.

Scott’s family happened to own a string of clinics which perform drug testing. What a coincidence.

Though he had allegedly gone to law school (SMU), Scott seemed to have never heard of the Fourth Amendment. The courts slapped him down.

Taxpayers still ended up paying $1.5 million in his legal fees.

In the midst of this deadly pandemic, Scott wants to underline the fecklessness of those who need public assistance and the way profligate Democrats enable them.

In a hysterical (not in the funny way) column for Fox News, Scott splutters that while decent American families stick to a budget, reusing tinfoil and “cutting their own grass,” Big Gubmint throws money to the unworthy.

He quotes Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois saying of the CARES Act: “if we err on the side of giving a hard-working family an extra thousand dollars or two thousand dollars because of our approach, so be it.”

Clutch those pearls! You taxpayers, who have shelled out a mere $133 million  to pay for Donald Trump’s golf outings, should rise up and say this waste, fraud and abuse will not stand!

Rick Scott’s counting on you to be as wet-hen mad as he is. He’s running for president in 2024 and rage is all he’s got—rage and contempt.

Diane Roberts/Florida Phoenix


Old Town Homes

Some changes are coming to Monroe County after the election. Long time County Commissioner Heather Carruthers has been ousted by a couple of hundred votes in the unofficial count, by Republican Eddie Martinez. The cruise ship ballots in Key West all won resoundingly. What that means in the short term is unclear but in the long run Key West is starting to turn away from mass tourism as wished by the mayor who already won her seat with 60% of the vote a few weeks ago. No runoff needed.
I walk around downtown and I see empty storefronts everywhere, so I wonder what will replace the businesses that have closed. Locals don't like to go to Duval Street not least because there is nothing there for people not on vacation.
Rents on Duval Street are astronomical, $30-$40 thousand dollars a month for modest storefronts which makes the prospects for small business without corporate backing pretty dim you would think. Beyond our local problems unemployment nationally is not great, stimulus checks are running out and rents in the Keys are very very high. So taking away more retail jobs is going to have a knock on effect on the make up of the city's population.

Key West has been through many boom and bust cycles since it was founded in 1828                                                                  Florida Keys

Florida Keys
In the 1960s the Navy reduced its presence in Key West and left gaping holes in the storefronts of Duval Street which created an opportunity for today's community leaders to buy up city  blocks cheap and slowly start a turn around. It's a question for the modern city of those same leaders are up to the challenge again now that the referendum is pushing Key West away from cruise ships and easy money downtown.
Florida keys
I got an email from Webb Up North remarking he has seen a lot of advertising pushing the Florida Keys and Key West as vacation destinations using the slogan "Close to Paradise, Far from Normal," which is cute but the more time passes the less accurate that catchy slogan looks. Far from Paradise and Close to Normal seems to have been the path forward for some time as gentrification displaces eccentricity as the norm.
Florida Keys
Key West will find a way forward even if there is a financial glitch as the city reassess it's goals. Key West's fundamentals don't change, frost free weather, turquoise waters now promising to be more so with fewer large ships and a cleaner sparklier less shabby town for more high class visitors. 
Florida Keys

Florida Keys

For those looking to live  here on three part time jobs with no benefits to enjoy a few years of bohemian living in the tropics things will be stickier if not impossible. The Upper Keys import labor from the mainland which is an hour bus ride away. Key West is learning to create housing for a revolving corps of visitors who work. The cruise ship vote was won by people who do not depend on retail jobs fed by cruise ship passengers but by people who will need to look further afield and with greater creativity to find their chores taken care of by the working class. Minimum wage and an attic bed for a working stay in paradise? Far from normal indeed.