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gringojj
(@gringojj)
Advanced Member

Lets discuss the pros and cons.

Let me bring up a few points.

It seems to me that food stamps give people in the grocery business a government subsidy. Money is taken from our paychecks to give to people to spend on food. That money is then given to people who sell groceries to make a profit. The grocers also give some of that money to their distibutors who also make a profit on it. Would the grocers and related business sell as much product if there were no food stamps?

Also if grocers wanted too it would not be hard to analyze what products people buy with food stamps. They could then charge more for those products because they know the people will buy them and not care as much because its not their money.

And what about restaurants? Do you think they lose out because people will buy food to prepare at home because its free to them rather than dine out? Why should only grocers benefit from this subsidy?

And lastly what about the effect of food stamps on our local farming industry? People dont buy locally grown fruit on the side of the road because they would have to pay cash where as they can buy bananas from Guatemala at the grocery store with food stamps. What a killer to industry we have right here on the island!

Open for discussion

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Topic starter Posted : November 14, 2012 11:50 pm
Isle Tell Ya
(@Isle_Tell_Ya)
Advanced Member

A few comments:

1) The people who sell fruit on the side of the road don't pay taxes on their income, nor do they purchase business licenses. Your tax dollars subsidize them and they skirt the rules we are supposed to be bound by.
2) A large percentage of the people benefiting from food stamps are children. I personally don't mind some of my paycheck going to feed needy children.
3) Restaurants aren't competing with grocers who accept TANF.

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Posted : November 14, 2012 11:58 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

I've been on food stamps, For just myself, I was given $50 a month. That is not enough for spending sprees you claim people on food stamps take.

As far as grocery stores, they sell their products the same whether you have food stamps or not, so they are not getting a subsidy.

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Posted : November 15, 2012 12:14 am
gringojj
(@gringojj)
Advanced Member

Good stuff everyone.

The USVI gets 50 million per year in food stamps for its people. I think its a shame that none of that money is spent on locally grown fruits and vegetables or other local food products.

That is 50 million dollars that is gauranteed to be spent on food at stores on the island. Are you trying to say that if all that money was stopped tomorrow that the grocery stores would not see a drop in sales?

Have you ever noticed that if you go grocery shopping on the 2nd of the month the shelves are cleaned out? Have you ever noticed that the grocery stores do not have good sales the first week of the month?

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Topic starter Posted : November 15, 2012 12:23 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Whether or not people have food stamps they still need to buy food. For me food stamps covered the basic stuff like milk, eggs, bread, etc.

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Posted : November 15, 2012 12:47 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

As NoOne pointed out, grocery stores which accept SNAP aren't in any way subsidized. As far as any effect on our "local farming industry", if a small business such as a roadside stand purveyor was properly equipped to take food stamps then of course they could apply. Apart from being properly licensed they would also have to have the ability to accept the food stamp "credit cards" now used electronically ...

As has been pointed out too, the amount of the SNAP benefits is minimal. It covers only the very bare food necessities and somebody collecting SNAP benefits can't even think about going out for restaurant meals so, no, restaurants don't suffer at all because of them.

Just curious but where did you find the figure of a USVI allotment of $50 million? Math isn't my strong point but f our total population of about 105,000 each received $100/month in SNAP benefits, that would amount to $12.6 million per annum.

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Posted : November 15, 2012 12:48 pm
gringojj
(@gringojj)
Advanced Member

Here is the latest table for food stamp distribution

http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/31SNAPcurrBEN$.htm

As you can see the USVI gets over 4 million per month for people in the territory.

That is divided every month by about 10000 households. Obviously a household of one gets alot less than a household of five.

You can also cross reference those numbers to the numbers that roughly 25000 people get snap and that breaks down to 10500 households.

I understand that SNAP is not a direct subsidy to grocery stores, more of an indirect one. My point is that the grocery businesses are guaranteed 4 million plus per month in sales by our taxpayer money. How many other private businesses are afforded that guarantee with taxpayer dollars?

I also understand why people on the side of the road dont accept food stamps. My point is that they would sell more local product if there were no food stamps.

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Topic starter Posted : November 15, 2012 1:29 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

...As you can see the USVI gets over 4 million per month for people in the territory.

That is divided every month by about 10000 households. Obviously a household of one gets alot less than a household of five.

You can also cross reference those numbers to the numbers that roughly 25000 people get snap and that breaks down to 10500 households.

Well 25 thousand people into 4 million dollars is $160 per person per month. Of course this is does not include the overhead for running SNAP, so I would bet it comes to more like $80 - $100 per person per month.

If SNAP disappeared tomorrow what do you suggest the people who received SNAP do?

Besides if the USVI stops SNAP the USVI will not get that $4m from the feds any more...

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Posted : November 15, 2012 2:58 pm
gringojj
(@gringojj)
Advanced Member

I believe that the figures represent moneys allocated for SNAP and not administrative costs.

I am not proposing that SNAP be taken away. I agree that it is helpful for people in need. I dont want to get into whether I think the program is good or bad for the people, my post was to have a discussion about the unintended consequences of well meaning govt programs.

I a waiting for ROTOR to chime in with some more insight............

Also No0ne....where did I claim that people go on spending sprees?

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Topic starter Posted : November 15, 2012 3:21 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Also No0ne....where did I claim that people go on spending sprees?

I misunderstood the original intent you may have had. My apology for reading too much into your posts.

BTW, the electronically run cards (much like a debit or credit card) takes away the ability to sell your food stamps to some 3rd party. Doing it this way helps prevent fraud - and as was said before, the vendors selling local produce could partake if they had the proper equipment and authorization. I doubt this will happen because I am sure the road-side vendors, who take cash only, enjoy not paying taxes

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Posted : November 15, 2012 4:08 pm
gringojj
(@gringojj)
Advanced Member

And when I say dining out, I dont mean people going to fancy restaurants. For example someone can go to the grocery store and buy 10 pieces of frozen fried chicken, some mash potato mix and ingredients, some gravy mix, some cole slaw mix, and a 2 liter of pepsi for about the same price they could go to KFC or even Johnny Mangoes for that matter.

So they can either go get all the stuff with food stamps and make it themselves or pay cash out of pocket and buy it a restaurant. If it was the same price and there were no food stamps I bet more people would go buy it from a restaurant. My point is that even if one person chooses their food stamps over a restaurant the restaurant is now indirectly being affected by food stamps.

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Topic starter Posted : November 15, 2012 4:31 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

I have something I feel needs to be admitted to, here. I realize that a lot of people will automatically assume I am a leach and not want to have anything to do with me.

I am on SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) with the full benefits of Medicare part A,B and D with Medicaid. I was placed in this program with no dispute from Social Security, because of the severity of my disability. This is why you see me online at odd hours; I don't keep a schedule.

I get $700 a month to live on. Right now I have less than $70 in my checking account and no savings. I doubt that $700 a month could get you a non-subsidy apartment in the USVI, and here rents would easily eat at least 2/3rds of my income without subsidies.

I am very grateful for what I get. My health requirements are met, even exceeded by normal insurance, by Medicare/Medicaid and is pretty much free to cover all of my medical needs.

One of the things I do with food stamps is participate in a Christian supplied staples program, pretty much run by volunteers. The beef is crap, but there are many basics that are much cheaper to buy through this Christian group than going to the supermarket.

Food banks help too, they give you charity supplied basic groceries, like flour, rice, beans, etc. for free.

The acronym SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a good indication of what this program is - supplemental and not your primary means of purchasing food.

You (gringojj)are right about the SNAP program in the USVI, as far as costs. I found a web site that backs your claims up:

http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/government/FY12_Allot_Deduct_AKHIGUVI.htm

I suppose more stamps are given down in the USVI than the continent, because of the outrageous cost of food in the islands.

Going out to eat for me is very rare, maybe once every two months, and I include going to McDonalds for a $1 hamburger. Eating out really is not an option.

Trust me, people on food stamps are not buying Hot Pockets, much less going to KFC.

I must repeat this: I am very grateful for what I am given. Thank you.

EDIT: The territory received $20 million in assistance in fiscal year 2007 compared with an estimated $52 million in fiscal year 2012. A vast majority are following the rules," Finch said. "It's the small portion we are stamping out."

Banned stores 15 V.I. stores accused of defrauding millions from SNAP food program I guess you can't stomp out fraud...

Sorry for all the edits, I am a perfectionist.

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Posted : November 15, 2012 5:58 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

I am waiting for ROTOR to chime in with some more insight............

I am sure most of the social liberals on here will not agree with me. I am very conservative when it comes to government spending and social welfare programs. I am very liberal when it comes to individual rights and personal freedoms.

I believe that someone who is taking government assistance should work for their assistance. Even someone who is on disability has the ability to contribute. If you can type on a computer on a forum then you are capable of doing data entry for income. I am not opposed to the government "helping" people find employment. I am opposed to the government taking money from someone to give to someone else. Historically in the past this assistance has been provided by churches, charities, community organizations or families. I believe that is the way it should be handled.

When the government takes money from someone it is through extortion. You can call it taxation but there is no difference except that they pass a law calling it something different. Unfair taxation has been the cause of many revolutions, including our own.
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
"Extortion. Unlawful exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority. It may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, or public exposure. Some forms of threat, especially those made in writing, are occasionally singled out for separate statutory treatment as blackmail."

I have a different view of government than most liberal democrats. I do not think that the purpose of government is wealth transfer. I believe that the government's job is to provide a set of "services" to its citizens. We all use these services and we should all pay. Individual people should be able to decide how the bulk of their income is spent, not the government.

As to the topic of this thread. I believe the government distorts all markets through subsidies. I think that while many politicians have good intentions when they pass laws providing subsidies, they are often unaware of the unintended consequences of their actions. The cost of producing food and petroleum products are just a couple of these areas. We complain about gasoline at $4.00 per gallon when the real price should be more like $9.00 without subsidies. Maybe if the cost of gasoline were not subsidized we would have more of an incentive to come up with new energy sources. Because of the subsidy there is very little profit in other forms of energy so private investors have less incentive to devote R&D dollars to this pursuit.

Food is much the same. The government pays farmers to grow things and pays other farmers not to grow things. Instead of responding to the market needs the farmers respond to government subsidies.
http://www.economist.com/node/11412562

It would be one thing if the government usually got things right but were occasionally wrong, but regrettably it is just the opposite. Check out a book by John Stossel on government waste. The 50% of us who pay income taxes should be very upset.
http://www.amazon.com/Give-Me-Break-Hucksters-Media/dp/0060529156
Stossel says
My colleagues liked it when I offended people. They called my reporting "hard-hitting," "a public service." I won 18 Emmys, and lots of other journalism awards. One year I got so many Emmys, another winner thanked me in his acceptance speech "for not having an entry in this category."
Then I did a terrible thing. Instead of just applying my skepticism to business, I applied it to government and "public interest" groups. This apparently violated a religious tenet of journalism. Suddenly I was no longer "objective."

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Posted : November 15, 2012 9:32 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

I believe that someone who is taking government assistance should work for their assistance. Even someone who is on disability has the ability to contribute. If you can type on a computer on a forum then you are capable of doing data entry for income. I am not opposed to the government "helping" people find employment. I am opposed to the government taking money from someone to give to someone else. Historically in the past this assistance has been provided by churches, charities, community organizations or families. I believe that is the way it should be handled.

Unfortunately there are no government programs that provide for menial jobs. Trust me, if I could sit at home and do data entry I would.

Seriously, have you any proof that data entry programs are not more than a scam? Where would these indigent people go to get a computer with an internet connection?

I closely budget my money, and have a few years old computer with a menial connection.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 4:18 am
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

I believe that someone who is taking government assistance should work for their assistance. Even someone who is on disability has the ability to contribute. If you can type on a computer on a forum then you are capable of doing data entry for income. I am not opposed to the government "helping" people find employment. I am opposed to the government taking money from someone to give to someone else. Historically in the past this assistance has been provided by churches, charities, community organizations or families. I believe that is the way it should be handled.

Unfortunately there are no government programs that provide for menial jobs. Trust me, if I could sit at home and do data entry I would.

Seriously, have you any proof that data entry programs are not more than a scam? Where would these indigent people go to get a computer with an internet connection?

I closely budget my money, and have a few years old computer with a menial connection.

You know what they say, "Fate helps those who help themselves."

Medical Transcriptionist is just one possibility.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm

Training and Placement Assistance.
http://www.careerstep.com/medical-transcription

Potential employers.

http://idictate.com/

http://www.med-scribe.com/

https://www.doneitnow.com/

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Posted : November 16, 2012 6:03 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

Rotorhead, as generous as you are with your suggestions and links, legitimate home-based data entry jobs are few and far between once the scams are set aside. Apart from that, a high speed and reliable internet connection is required and, trust me, someone who's living on a bare minimum fixed income at pretty much poverty level can't afford to lay out the monthly fees required here in the VI and where not even the best and costliest available is immune from WAPA strikes. Just to anticipate the argument that, "you have to spend money to make money", it's all well and good to espouse such from an outside perspective but these home-based jobs aren't consistent by any stretch unless you believe in all the promotional ads. And if that be the case then the tooth fairy is waiting in the wings.

As far as inspirational gems such as, "fate helps those who help themselves", there are several others related to walking in a man's shoes ...

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Posted : November 16, 2012 10:41 am
divinggirl
(@divinggirl)
Trusted Member

I agree with Rotor's idea that those getting government assistance should work as well. However, I think the government should set up a system where they do government work. For example, if you are receiving, for lack of a better word, a welfare check then you provide us with a 40 hour work week (I had to work 40 hours to provide the funding). Some weeks you may be the data entry person, some the custodian, and others you may be the daycare provider for those who are performing different tasks. It could be a rotating system that also provided classes on various tasks (data entry, accounting, sales, management, etc.) as well so people would become marketable in the public sector.

People who are disabled could be provided with the tools (pc, internet connection, etc.) in order to do the tasks they are capable of. I understand that this type of program would not work for everyone, however, I believe that many people would prefer to contribute. I know that my Mother, who was disabled for the last 12 years of her life, really wanted to work but physically could not. If there was a system in place she may have been able to provide data entry or accounting services from home for a few hours a day and would have been thrilled to do it.

Our country set up a welfare system to assist people and provide them with a "hand up" to a better life. The system has unfortunately become a "hand out" and a lifestyle for many. (this remark is not directed at anyone who is disabled)

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Posted : November 16, 2012 11:36 am
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Thanks for the references, Rotor. My problem is that I am not always available for any type of work. I suppose you guys will understand my reluctance to voice my condition:

I am diagnosed as bi-polar with schizoaffective disorder.

From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizoaffective_disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder characterized by recurring abnormal mood and psychotic components. The mood component may be elevated or depressed (bipolar or depressive subtype), or simultaneously elevated and depressed (mixed episode), and these abnormal mood components alternate with, or occur together with, distortions in perception. For a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder to be valid, according to current DSM criteria (but not ICD-10 criteria), there must be a period of at least two weeks of psychosis without mood disorder, and these symptoms cannot be due to medication(s), substance use or another medical condition.[1][2]

Schizoaffective disorder most commonly affects cognition and emotion. False perceptions and disordered thought processes, such as auditory hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and/or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social and occupational dysfunction are typical. The division into depressive and bipolar types is based on whether the individual has ever had a manic, hypomanic or mixed episode. Symptoms usually begin in early adulthood; diagnosis prior to age 13 is rare.

When I go into my episodes I have the full hallucinatory experience, including auditory, visual, physical (I feel things that are not there, like a person poking me), smell, taste, etc. The first time I had this experience I stayed awake for 10 days strait, and I am not lying about that. It is scary in retrospect because I think I am un-killable and sent by God when in that mode.

My medication comes to well over $1000 per month. It was originally court ordered, but now I take my medication without hassle. It is a once a month injection of Risperidone. I have pills to supplement my injection on a daily basis, or more when I feel I need it (I work with my doctor, it is a good relationship).

Like I said, Social Security gave me disability with no argument. I have a long history of mental illness that is documented. Fortunately I am not the paranoid kind.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 2:43 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

Oh yeah, BTW, when I have an episode they usually lock me up for months. Last time I was lucky, they sent a police force specializing in taking down the mentally ill. I resisted, but they easily stomped me without even using a taser. It is hard to take on ten people by yourself.

EDIT: Haldol is a bitch. It turns you into a zombie, and makes thorazine look like a walk in the park. It is like being in a mental strait-jacket.

Heh, should I talk about five point restraints?

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Posted : November 16, 2012 3:58 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

Circumstances vary. All I was advocating is that those who can work should work. If the government can take money from someone and give it to someone else then they can come up with useful things for people to do who take other peoples money. Otherwise we end up with two classes of citizens. Taxpayers and government dependents.

During the great depression in the 30's, Roosevelt came up with the Civilian Conservation Corps. They did many public works projects which we still benefit from today, including Hoover Dam. They built or improved facilities in many of our National Parks.

Today we would rather just give people monetary assistance rather than put them to work. Most people feel better about themselves when they are doing something useful.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 5:25 pm
Isle Tell Ya
(@Isle_Tell_Ya)
Advanced Member

All other issues aside, let's remember one of the "real" reasons why Congress of yore began implementing welfare programs (hint - it's wasn't out of pity.) Human evolution and existence is such that when folks are desperate, they will take desperate action to survive. This is political speak for "if poor and hungry people are desperate, they will steal or injure those more fortunate, but if we can provide even minimal subsistence, there will be less crime and the rich won;t have to "deal" with it.

Government assistance is bred on the assumption of getting poor people to leave the rich alone to live their lives without fear and danger.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 7:07 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

All other issues aside, let's remember one of the "real" reasons why Congress of yore began implementing welfare programs (hint - it's wasn't out of pity.) Human evolution and existence is such that when folks are desperate, they will take desperate action to survive. This is political speak for "if poor and hungry people are desperate, they will steal or injure those more fortunate, but if we can provide even minimal subsistence, there will be less crime and the rich won;t have to "deal" with it.

Government assistance is bred on the assumption of getting poor people to leave the rich alone to live their lives without fear and danger.

I don't disagree with this.

What I don't understand is why new approaches are not considered. In the past once the poor and needy became desperate enough to resort to crime they would be arrested and shipped off to Botany Bay or some such place and placed into forced labor to serve their sentence. That is considered inhumane today.

Why are taxpayers expected to provide assistance in some of the most expensive places to live in the US? I moved many times for my job. If my employer needed me in a different city, I moved for the job. When I worked for Burroughs Corp in the 1970's and 80's, I lived in Memphis, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia and Orange Co., CA. They transferred me where they needed me. I could have quit my job but instead I took the transfer.

If someone wants assistance why not move them to Kansas to work on a government farm? The cost of living is less in Kansas and the farm could at least provide for the workers. Just a suggestion. Let people do enough to provide for themselves. People might not want to move away from their families but then it is only temporary right? If I can move for my job then why can't people who need assistance?

Granted there are people who are unable to do anything. If you are unable to do anything then you can live anywhere. If you can't go outside then what difference does it make where you live? You should live where you are the least burden on society.

I know this sounds horrible and unkind but we make bad decisions in the name of compassion. I suggested reading one of Stossel's books, Give Me a Break. He details several government "feel good" programs that have bad consequences. One for example is the law which provides mandates for teaching "special needs children". The government estimates that it cost 4 times as much to provide for the requirements of a special needs child as it does for a "regular" child. There are no requirements to provide special classes for "gifted children". In a school district which has budgetary problems, as most do, which program do you think is cut? These are unintended consequences of government requirements. Which is the best investment for society, spending 4x as much on a special needs child or 2x as much on twice as many gifted children? Or just spending the money for the education of all children equally?

These are hard questions. I am not sure we have come up with the best answers. Many of the programs which address these issues are nothing more than "experiments". In the past when states had more control over education and welfare we would have 50 "experiments" running simultaneously. Now with federal control we have only one. Judge by the results, is education better? Are there fewer poor? The two largest and fastest growing areas of the federal budget are defense and social welfare, with interest on the federal debt coming up quickly.
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

While most would say that it is a no-brainer to cut military spending, that is in fact what drives much of the high-tech R&D in this country. Military spending has created such things as the Internet, Satellite communications and medical breakthroughs. One of the questions to be answered is how much largess can we afford for non-contributing members of society? Is it unlimited? Are we forced to spend whatever it takes? Who pays? The top 5% of earners already pay over half of the taxes which support these programs, should they pay it all? What is fair?

Sorry to the OP, I know this is off topic.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 8:33 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

If it is any consolation, Rotor, I was in a gifted reading program at Antilles.I enjoyed the discussions we would have over a particular reading, but it did not do much for me concerning ongoing disputes.

I am not going to approach military expenses.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 9:20 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
Trusted Member

If it is any consolation, Rotor, I was in a gifted reading program at Antilles.I enjoyed the discussions we would have over a particular reading, but it did not do much for me concerning ongoing disputes.

I am not going to approach military expenses.

Another suggestion for income at home is writing. You appear to be very articulate, trying writing about your experiences, about the islands. Submit them to a few publishers both online and print. There are many ways to make additional income, start slowly. My wife takes things from trash bins and turns them into works of art to sell to tourists. She also paints, something that she never had done until we moved to the islands. She sells her stuff through the various restaurants and galleries who take them on consignment and take a cut of the sales price. There are many things that you can do to earn money at home on your own schedule.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 9:29 pm
noOne
(@noOne)
Trusted Member

If it is any consolation, Rotor, I was in a gifted reading program at Antilles.I enjoyed the discussions we would have over a particular reading, but it did not do much for me concerning ongoing disputes.

I am not going to approach military expenses.

Another suggestion for income at home is writing. You appear to be very articulate, trying writing about your experiences, about the islands. Submit them to a few publishers both online and print. There are many ways to make additional income, start slowly. My wife takes things from trash bins and turns them into works of art to sell to tourists. She also paints, something that she never had done until we moved to the islands. There are many things that you can do to earn money at home on your own schedule.

I've been working on a book. I doubt anyone here would like it, as it covers the non-violent parts of my criminal career on STT during the 80s. Editing is a bitch, making things logical out of random experiences is not easy. If anyone is interested in reading what I have wrote, PM me and I will send you a Windows 7 wordpad document. The title is The Real Paradise, Diary Of A Modern Day Pirate.

I don't think violence should be glorified, so I avoided most instances of violence.

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Posted : November 16, 2012 9:40 pm
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