LIVEBLOG: Sharing stories, discussing stimulus at Golden cafe

Continuing the liveblog with a group discussing the stimulus plan at Higher Grounds Cafe in Golden.

7:15 p.m. – Reilly recounts some stories from Saturday night’s meeting, when a similar number gathered at the same place to talk about how the economic crisis is affecting them. Engineers have discovered their skills “are not welcome” in the economy these days but are hopeful a green economy will have a place for them, for instance.

A state employee describes increased workload stemming from the hiring freeze. Less time to spend with her family, though she acknowledges it isn’t as bad as in California where mandatory monthly furloughs are affecting everyone. In Colorado, so far, it’s five days spread out over the year.

Some concern about the $40 billion cut from the House version that would go to states.

A nurse who works at Denver Health says the agency is expecting many more people wanting public health care because they aren’t getting it through their former places of employment and even other hospitals are restricting services. He anticipates it will strain Denver Health to provide indigent care for people who used to go to other hospitals — the agency doesn’t have the budget to absorb all the additional health care needs on the horizon.

A man who has been self-employed for decades says health care is a primary concern — as he understands it, half the bankruptcies in the country result from problems paying for health care, and he fears the number will only increase as the economy sours. Kaine’s suggestions for tax credits or incentives are a “real minimal way of dealing with this,” the man says, making a pitch for a single-payer health care system.

Another man points to the role last summer’s $4-a-gallon gasoline and concurrent high oil prices played in tipping the economy over the edge. He urges everyone to weatherize their own homes and do what they can to cut energy consumption for transportation.

7:30 p.m. – A woman who has a son at a school for children with special needs is concerned about staffing levels at the school. She says there’s money to pay for computers for all the children, apparently from grants, but not enough money for qualified teachers. The school has only one certified special-ed teacher, who only teaches at the school one day a week, because apparently that meets requirements.

A psychologist talks about her work with “marginalized students,” older teens who are uninsured and who struggle to find mental health coverage because Colorado funds mental health care less generously than any other state.

Another woman reminds people to keep in touch with loved ones because they are stressed out during these tough times. She raises the specter of suicide, and says she has friends who have suffered the loss of family members. “Hold them in your hearts and let them know,” she says.

A massage therapist says the work in his field is slowing down. Even giving free massages to build clientele doesn’t work, the man says. Several people suggest that everyone could use a massage, presumably to help deal with the tension wrought by economic crisis.

A woman says friends in Chaffee County are struggling with their recycling business because the world market for recycled cardboard, for instance, is shrinking. When the market in China falters, it affects friends and neighbors in rural Colorado.

As people fear losing their health insurance, they are “taking responsibility” for their own health by exercising more and taking other home-spun preventive measures, a few people agree. This probably helps long-term with some chronic illnesses, but doubtful whether a broken leg or severe infection will benefit from more exercise. Still, it’s a good incentive to take more responsibility for your own health, people agree.

What do people want from the stimulus plan, and what do they plan to do about it? Read the third and final liveblog installment on the Golden group’s stimulus discussion here.

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Ernest Luning

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