I receive a government grant in the amount of $1056 per month. It breaks down as $733 cash, a $73 food card and state-paid health insurance valued at $250. Government grants like these come from taxes paid by working American people and honest businesses.
As a grateful recipient of this award, I believe the American people should get a contribution of energy that I can give back as a return on this investment.
By age 40, I had not yet found a way to participate in the market economy consistently enough (if at all) to support myself, even at a very simple level.
Understanding of neuro-biology has taken great leaps forward in my lifetime, In 2003 we first encountered the words "Asperger's autism" and found a name for my kind of queer. My retired (US Gov't NPS) mother patiently researched my case and navigated the Social Security and legal mazes on my behalf for EIGHT YEARS to get that formal diagnosis of what made me .... like that.
No parent wants to leave their weird kid hanging after their gone. My heritage is not of the "investment class". Dad left a long time ago, twice: Once when he left, and again when he died. I did get some tools from his estate.
At age 50, thanks to Mom's persistence, the Government granted me Social Security Disability. I understand this to be a type of funding that pays for work that can't afford to be done. It's a responsibility I accept.
So I work.
I work where I work best; at home on a computer, on stage behind a bass guitar, and on the streets of other planets, with folks like me. I report bird movements, rainfall, evapotranspiration and other weather observations to scientific organizations that use this data to model forecasts and climate change.
I read. I write. I listen. I comment constructively. I hit PLAY and RECORD. I roll tape. I move information from here to there - information that opens minds and creates bridges. Information that leads to understanding. I am a nexus, a content generator, a networker. I move ideas, I move emotions. I give weird kids a role model. I talk to parents and grandparents online and sometimes in person (at Kindtree autism camp every summer) about what it was like to be a queer autistic kid, because it gives non-clinical human insight and a time-frame to their understanding of what could be next on this road less-travelled.
Sometimes I pick up trash.
I work a 30-hour week.
Thirty hours of workable focus, give or take depending on the weather, is all my autistic neural net can do before it flutters off like a flock of soft, cooing pigeons - needing space and time to run the TWITCH-REWIND and REGEN-AWAKE and REPAIR-ASLEEP programs. I need a lot of time alone, like a fish needs water. Non-negotiable.
I was curious, so I added and multiplied and divided ( I do OK at 5th grade-level math) and it comes out that my pay rate is $8.80 an hour.
So in closing, I'd like to thank my fellow Americans for this opportunity to participate in meaningful work.