Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The Glenbow Museum wants me to give an address on February 12 in Calgary. Great! $100 honorarium. Oh. That won’t quite cover the gas. But, hey, the Glenbow was a big part of Bob Scriver’s success, an early bit of support and recognition that got his career really underway. In fact, when the Cambrian Foundation, which is related, bought Bob’s rodeo series (often on exhibit at the Calgary airport), it enabled him to buy the Flatiron Ranch, which has since become an ecology camp protected by the Blackfeet Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy. In fact, it was so much money that the IRS almost went crazy and couldn’t understand why Bob didn’t make as much money the next year.

In my post office box this morning was a letter from PERS -- Public Employees Retirement System. Great! Now I can write up my taxes and get my refunds. But it turns out that they were notifying me of the outcome of a lawsuit requiring them to recalculate all pensions for the last ten years. I now owe them $2500. Word to come later about how I should repay it. Since my pension is $200 a month, maybe they’ll just shut it off for a year. Otherwise, I suppose they’ll keep adding interest onto it. Now I’m glad I removed half of my investment when I quit Cut Bank Public Schools. At the time it seemed foolhardy, but now it might have been a smart move or I’d have to pay back a lot MORE money.

So I opened my email and it purported to have a message from the IRS saying that I had a refund coming of $163 but I would have to fill out a form first. The trouble is that at least three words in the email are mis-spelled -- a clear indicator of Phishing. Or is it? I see high officials misspelling things all the time. But I SHOULD have some kind of refund coming from the state for being a little old lady with low income and also a nice little bit from the governor, who knows how to please people. (He just gave the Blackfeet a big fat check “in anticipation of” a water compact settlement between state and rez -- though no ACTUAL settlement is on the horizon.)

And that’s not even taking into consideration the refund Barack Obama is promising if elected or the equal-or-greater rebate from George Bush as he leaves. (Forget the money, George. Just GO!) They’re saying that these checks for everyone (we’ll just add it onto your SSI check) will be the quickest way to get money into the national economy before it crashes on its face and both property taxes (because so many houses are going into tax limbo) and income taxes (because of general recession) shrivel up into not-enough-money to sustain the federal government.

Are we scared? Well, if we aren’t, China is. At least it looks that way on the stock market. Forget the messenger. How’re we going to EAT? And it’s snowing again! Twenty below! How are we going to HEAT?

Today I set out to reprovision. $250 for enough meat, green stuff, peanuts and cat food to get through the month. Oh, plus one replacement light bulb for the lamp that keeps Squibbie warm at night so she doesn’t try to sneak into the electric bed with me and Crackers, provoking a cat quarrel (not quite a fight) that gets me up at 3AM. Leland Ground, Blackfeet grandpa, stopped in to see how I was doing. I told him I’d just gone to Conrad where I shot a buffalo and I’d been busy bringing all the meat home and stowing it. It took him a minute to catch on that I was just aggrandizing my groceries.

Before driving to Conrad on wonderfully dry roads, I slid and slipped down my still-snowy own street to the little clinic that is an outrigger on the canoe of the Marias Care Center, because I needed a new prescription for my blood pressure med. This is my third doctor in two years. They come and they go. At least this is a good one! I told her about an article that OWL (Our Wisconsin Librarian) sent me this morning about research looking for relationships between American Indian Diabetes 2 and environmental poisons like dioxins, phenols, etc -- the equivalent of Agent Orange. They DID find a correlation. She did not scoff. Nor did she sniff. She was interested and I took her a copy.

Also, she extended my prescription to a 3-month interval so I don’t have to figure out how to pay for it when my SS check doesn’t hit quite conveniently in the month and she called the pharmacy to ask them to mail it to me so I didn’t have to drive over there (sixty miles round trip). Somehow my share of the cost was only $1.33. For a one-month supply in the past, it has cost $8 or so. Why? They say, “We don’t know. Don’t ask.” There’s some mysterious Medicare database the cash register contacts automatically. They must go by that and it does not explain.

One of the founders of, my favorite blog, is Friedrich von Blowhard. He doesn’t post very often anymore, but when he does, it’s well worth reading. His most recent post was about what he calls the “New Class,” a group of well-educated people who live well, not because they inherited money or own land, not because they are CEO’s, but often because they were successful entrepreneurs -- if success is defined as having a bright idea and getting lots of money to develop it, whether or not it turns out to work. One of their bright ideas has been a complex of laws that protects them from financial harm. I’m trying to think about this carefully. I’m not IN that class. They are not malevolent. But they use government for the protection of themselves and people like themselves, with no care for the rest of the world. It sounds like fascism to me. And I say the Hell with it.


prairie mary said...

I got it wrong when I defined Friedrich von Blowhard's New Class. Here is HIS definition: "the New Class, consists of financiers, senior corporate and government bureaucrats, and professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.), all of whom collect high incomes without being required to put their own money at risk. These people make up most of the people in the top 10% of the income distribution, and a very high percentage indeed of people in the top 1% of the income distribution. (Another, much smaller chunk, of the people in the top 10% and the top 1% are entrepreneurs, who are assuredly not members of the New Class; they are economic experimenters and risk takers, as their high bankruptcy rate demonstrates.)"

I wonder where he would place all these people that I notice everywhere, inserting themselves between government and citizens as interpreters, enablers, go-betweens and often representing companies that specialize in these things, like the one that is charging Valier $30,000 to administer moldy old questionaires that don't tell anyone anything.

Prairie Mary

Alice at Wintersong said...

prairie mary, I have no idea how many readers you attract, but I intend to put you in my blogroll just so I can reach you easily and keep up with new posts. You seem to think along the same lines as I do. I can learn something here.

prairie mary said...

Alice, there is good news. The Glenbow discovered that they meant to tell me they would provide mileage -- or in the case of Alberta, kilometerage. Also, the U of Calgary Press has decided they will augment the honorarium for speaking by adding $200!

The last print-out said I got about 1200 hits per week -- whatever that means.

Prairie Mary