There is nothing wrong with my left ear, mechanically. There is no scarring in the canal and the tympanic membrane (hey look, jargon!) is fine and dandy. This means that my problem is sensorineural* (not business wankspeak but an actual word btw). This apparently makes up about 90% of hearing loss. Thing is, since it's only one ear it's unlikely to be noise related, which leaves three options:
1. Genetic. Given that I just had my DNA mapped, I was able to look this up and I don't have the genes that predispose people to this type of deafness. This doesn't mean I'm immune, just that this is a less likely option.
2. Medical. Things like tumours, Ménière's disease, side effects of strong antibiotics, a variety of other things. I suddenly know a lot more about ears and how they work, and what could go wrong with them. Curse you, google! I am concerned with the feeling of heaviness in my ear which (in my mind) suggests something in there. Again, hoping for the baked bean.
3. Idiopathic - ie No Fucking Clue Why.
This is why I need to see a specialist, who will be able to tell if I have an evil absorbed twin clinging to my cochlea or something. Chances are I don't, and once that's discovered I will probably be exploring hearing aid options. It's not something I'll need to wear all the time and I'm thankful that microtechnology has made such great advances - they are now small and relatively cheap. Sadly the government only thinks people under 21 are worth helping with their hearing, Luckily I'm sufficiently liquid these days that I can still access care despite the lack of government help. My heart goes out to those without this option.
As you know, the budget was yesterday. The government, as expected, had a go at Working For Families (for those not familiar, a tax credit paid weekly to parents who work). They reduced the abatement threshold by $2000 and increased the abatement itself from 20c to 25c, which means people will start to lose more at a lower income level than before. They've also changed the age at which payments increase from 16 to 13-15, and this will be gradually phased in. More info here for those who care.
So what does this mean for me? Well, on that graph in the article I'm in the green group. I have one child. This year, based on last year's income, I am eligible for $10 a week, and since The Kid is about to turn 16 that was going to increase to $20 a week. As of next year with the adjustments, I'll be back to $10 a week, essentially. If I get a payrise (even one just to cope with inflation) I will no longer be eligible.
But here's the thing. I don't need this money. I am doing quite nicely thank you very much, and while sometimes I go "Argh! Moar money plz cos I want this shiny thing and also to see my love more than twice a year!" I'm actually pretty comfortable. I don't get any child support and I'm still comfortable - if I got that I would feel loaded. I know this is because a few years ago I was Really Really Poor, and have perhaps a different perspective on what counts as well off from someone who started in their first job on $30,000. So yeah, I feel well off, and objectively I am. I can afford to lose this money. In fact I've been considering stopping the payment, which I'll talk about later on.
But the thing is, I'm a single parent with one kid. If two parents live together their combined income is taken into account, and suddenly two people each working at a $40,000 job wouldn't be eligible for help. As a single parent, I can live frugally by sharing the rent with my flatmate, so I'm not paying the full rent or the full food bill - only my share and The Kid's - but only my income is taken into account. And my income is comfortable, but 2x$40,000 incomes, while a little over mine, would have all the household expenses coming out of them instead of 2/3 - it costs more that way and is still ineligible - and I don't think that's fair. Never mind that the increases for lower income people don't even keep up with inflation.
So the bottom line for me is that the changes they've made are token, don't really help lower income people enough to make a difference, and aren't effectively taxing those who are well off in order to make the distribution fairer. Yes, as a single parent I'm supposed to be one of the ones who need help but really? I don't. Yet I'm still eligible and the folks earning less than half what I am are not getting increases equivalent to what I'm losing. WTF government?
So yeah, about that stopping the payment. I'm faced with a dilemma. On principle, I don't believe in charity because I believe the state should be responsible for taking care of its own - that's what we pay tax for, right? Yet I'm accosted at the train station almost daily by charities looking for donations. I feel like a heel for ignoring them yet if I were to give money to the ever-increasing number of people wanting it, I'd end up actually needing the government help I'm eligible for. Which is an arse-backwards way for things to happen IMO.
Meanwhile, I get this $10 a week that I don't really need because the state has trouble differentiating between 'rich on paper' and 'actually rich'. Again on principle, I want to literally put my money where my mouth is and not accept this payment - welfare is to help people who need help and I don't need it, I would prefer it were redistributed to people who really do. But in the current situation I don't trust our government to effectively redistribute this money to folks who need it. The sensible alternative is to take the money and give it to a charity, right? But while I would happily give it to any number of charities (Mary Potter Hospice, Plunket and Rape Crisis spring to mind), none of these are doing the work I think the money should be doing, which is making life that bit easier for people who are really struggling in a direct way. Like, education for young single Mums - funding that the government cut recently. My $520 a year could help pay for someone to get trained in something, you know? But if I let the government keep it it's just as likely to get spent on fucking tussock plants to 'New Zealandise' the fancy loos for the rugby tourists. And I don't want that.
Any suggestions as to what I ought to do gratefully accepted.
I realise this is an enviable dilemma - it's a luxury to even be able to care about this, you know? Such is life - 12 years ago I was getting food grants and I haven't forgotten how hopeless that felt.
As for the rest of the budget, it was bad but not as bad as I expected. This is probably because I don't understand the full ramifications, and because I expect the worst from this lot so anything less seems a relief. Feel free to explain the bits you care about and how they work - I'd like to know.
* this is the term for damage to the hair cells in the cochlea that turn sound vibrations into electrical impulses for the brain. Apparently normal ones look like a row of new high rise buildings. The audiologist described mine as 'like Christchurch'.
Wow. Today's post was going to be about porn. I guess you'll get that on Monday now.