The Morally Mature, Civic-Minded, Grown-Up Thing to Do: Yet, Another Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

Dear Mr. Phicks,

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Oh, come now, Mr. Phicks, don’t be that way. Really, there’s nothing to be afraid of!

I know you asked me not to contact you again, but I also know that your request arose from a state of ignorance and cowardly panic. You didn’t have all the facts and mistook your fear as evidence of actual danger. You saw that I got arrested for something, jumped erroneously to the conclusion that I was therefore guilty of something, subsequently forgot that you were an adult, and chose to flee and hide like a frightened child.

Hey, I get it. It happens. Behaving like a morally mature, civic-minded grown-up is often a challenge. But that was a few weeks ago, and you and your client have had a chance to breathe, cool down, come to your senses, get your bearings, pull yourselves together, think things through.

Perhaps by now you’ve recognized that innocent people do get arrested sometimes. Perhaps you’ve taken a closer look at why I got arrested, and why I committed the alleged “crime” (they’re calling it “misdemeanor breaking or entering”). Perhaps you’ve come to see, as I do, that what I actually did was really just what any morally mature, civic-minded grown-up would do in the situation I was in at that time, which is to say:

Perform some alarming (and of course non-violent) gesture in order to draw attention to, and warn the public about The MetLife Meat Grinder

…which is to say, MetLife’s systematic, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities.

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MetLife wants to crush me like an egg for exposing their cruel, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities.

Mr. Phicks, make no mistake: MetLife will stop at nothing to guard the secret of this corrupt and diabolical revenue stream. No doubt the company wishes to crush me like an egg for trying to expose it. If I am successful in doing so, MetLife could face tremendous losses due to litigation, not to mention the effort it will take to revisit millions of previously denied disability claims, and of course all of the benefit payments MetLife will eventually have to disburse as many of those previously denied disability claims are finally approved. Who knows how long MetLife has been cheating and shenanigizing the psychiatrically vulnerable in this way?

The upshot here is that my success will entail an epic financial disaster for MetLife, and I expect the company will spare no expense in order to avert that disaster. Heck, really no one should be shocked or surprised if I die mysteriously or disappear suddenly in the coming weeks or months. At the very least MetLife will try to discredit me, make me look like a criminal, and send me to prison for as long as possible.

I need help here, Mr. Phicks, and by “help” I mean corporate sponsorship. If I am to see this project through to success then I need a corporate ally to have my back on this: one who can match MetLife’s financial muscle. I need at least one major corporation (the more the merrier, really) who can fund my legal defense: a company like your client, I believe, is exactly what I need right now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no middle ground here, Mr. Phicks. Last year when MetLife did what they did to me and my family, it was like the company drew a line in the sand and shoved me on one side and themselves on the other, and now absolutely everybody else on Earth must choose a side, including your client. Unfortunately, your client’s expressed wish to “not participate”

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There’s no middle ground here because MetLife captured it from all of us. They invaded it, took it over, built office buildings and parking lots on it, leaving the rest of us with precisely two places to stand: MetLife’s side or mine. Ugh! What a sucky situation!

is simply not an available option. Especially since they have also exploited my psychiatric disability for profit, then to my view they definitely do not have the option of not participating. Of course, your client is definitely not obligated to choose my side, but with just two sides to available in this situation, if they refuse to sponsor me in some way in this fight, then by default they ally themselves with MetLife.

Please, Mr. Phicks, perhaps millions of psychiatrically vulnerable people are counting on you and your client to step up and do the right thing here. Please do not turn your back on us like the effete, privilege-bloated cowards who run MetLife. This is your opportunity to do some good for a great many people. I implore you: embrace this opportunity to act like the morally mature, civic-minded, grown-up we both know you can become!

I believe in you Mr. Phicks! You can do it!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


Image Credit: (mysterious businessman skulking away in the night) Pixabay

The MetLife Meat Grinder: A Significant Public Health Concern

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This is what I think of when I think of MetLife’s Short-term Disability Insurance Product. Image Credit: Shutterstock

In preparation for my upcoming defense against criminal and civil charges filed recently on behalf of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife), here I wish to document and explain the machinations of an internal, reusable process that MetLife has in its Human Resources toolkit and which not only did the company use to unlawfully terminate my own employment on May 19, 2017, but which the company is also free to use whenever it wishes to shirk its responsibilities as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Armed with this cold, algorithmic process — I have come to think of it as the MetLife Meat Grinder due to the trauma it can inflict on a person with a psychiatric disability — the company can dismiss with impunity any otherwise qualified employee with a psychiatric disability and simply for having that disability[1].

Such a discriminatory dismissal is supposed to be unlawful under the ADA.

Furthermore, the MetLife Meat Grinder is potentially damaging not just to thousands of the company’s own psychiatrically vulnerable employees, but is also potentially damaging to the psychiatrically disadvantaged of any company that offers MetLife’s Short-Term Disability Insurance product to its employees as an employee benefit. It’s important to recognize that this may represent not thousands but millions of potential victims of the MetLife Meat Grinder, making this process a significant public health concern.

The MetLife Meat Grinder

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If you have a psychiatric disability and believe it to be covered by MetLife’s Short-term Disability Insurance product, be very, very careful about filing any claims. Image Credit: Shutterstock

What I’m calling The MetLife Meat Grinder is a re-usable process that MetLife has developed and which can be used by the company whenever it wants to shirk its ADA-mandated responsibilities. Beginning in late October, 2016 and continuing till today, my family and I have been suffering from the inside the debilitating effects of this process, which not only traumatized us, not only jettisoned us all into an unpredictably long period of financial free-fall due to the loss of my job, not only caused me to fail at the job I finally found five months later, but is in fact now threatening to result in a criminal conviction, all because I have dared to complain and to keep complaining about the MetLife Meat Grinder.

I urge you not to underestimate the public health risks posed by The MetLife Meat Grinder. Not only does it jeopardize the health and safety of every MetLife employee with a psychiatric disability, but this inhumane device can actually be exploited by any other company that offers the MetLife Short-Term Disability product to its employees as a so-called “benefit”. This is a potentially huge number of people whose psychiatric disabilities are being exploited to protect and pad the bottom line profits of MetLife and the companies that purchase MetLife STD insurance for its employees.

Here is a summary of how it works:

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    If you have a psychiatric disability and need to take time off work to recover from a flair up of symptoms, please use extreme caution with MetLife’s Short-term Disability Insurance Product. Image Credit: Shutterstock

    When an employee with a psychiatric disability attempts to use the MetLife Short-term Disability Insurance product while on a doctor recommended medical leave, the MetLife Claims Department takes a very long time to process the claim, during which time the employee has no income, which puts intense financial pressure on the employee to return to work before his or her symptoms are being properly managed, thus increasing the likelihood that the employee will manifest potentially disruptive psychiatric symptoms in the work place.

  2. When an employee with a psychiatric disability requests reasonable accommodation for that disability, the Human Resources Department takes a very long time to process the request, during which time the employee is required to work without the necessary accommodations while continuing to fulfill all of his or her professional expectations, putting unreasonable stress on the employee and again increasing the likelihood that the employee will manifest potentially disruptive psychiatric symptoms in the work place.
  3. When an employee with a psychiatric disability is working full-time and waiting for requested reasonable accommodations, the employee’s manager assigns tasks that are unreasonably difficult, thus increasing the employee’s stress and the likelihood that the employee will manifest potentially disruptive psychiatric symptoms in the work place.
  4. When the employee with a psychiatric disability becomes symptomatic on the job under the above described conditions, the employee’s symptoms are deliberately misconstrued as violations of company policy and the employee is fired for these alleged violations.
  5. Following termination, any formal complaints (e.g. EEOC) or lawsuits are settled in mediation for a price that is far below the true actuarial present value (APV)[2] of the employment opportunity that has been lost by the employee.

Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions regarding the above.


[1]e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, etc.

[2]An APV is a rational estimate in today-dollars of a stream of future payments (e.g. salary, bonuses, benefits, etc.), discounted according to interest, mortality and other relevant contingencies. For more information on APV, see the Wikipedia Article.

Oh, Great, Now I Need a Permanent Alibi

So apparently my physically harmless, civilly disobedient, one-man protest at the MetLife campus on June 14 has left a number of my former colleagues traumatized and fearing for their personal safety. In several sworn affidavits submitted by MetLife last week on their behalf, four of them affirmed things like like:

“…I feel targeted by Mr. Scholten and fear for my personal safety.”

“…I fear for my personal safety and the safety of my family.”

“…this post [a reference to this post], coupled with the fact that Mr. Scholten broke into MetLife and came specifically to the executive offices, cause me to fear for my safety…more importantly, I fear for the safety of the MetLife employees….”

Now, because I know for a fact that I pose absolutely no threat whatsoever to the personal safety of any human being, MetLife employee or not, at first I had serious doubts about the sincerity of these highly defamatory allegations. But in a hearing yesterday at the Wake County Courthouse in Raleigh I had the chance to face three of my accusers, and after watching them testify I must say that I now have no doubt whatsoever that these folks are frightened.

My sister had come with me to the hearing and the two of us did what we could to reassure them that I am harmless and that they are safe, but in the end it was all for nothing because the District Judge granted MetLife’s request for a 1-year No Contact Order Pursuant to the Workplace Violence Prevention Act which imposes on me a long and fundamentally useless list of restrictions that…

1. Cannot possibly make me any more harmless than I already am.

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Hmmm. How could we make this cute little duckling even more harmless? Image Credit: Pixabay

I am already harmless, and these restrictions won’t make me any more so. I have no history of violence; no interest in violence; I own no guns nor weaponry of any kind; nor do I know or practice any martial arts (karate, boxing, etc.). I don’t even play violent video games. Once a gun has been unloaded, disassembled, and melted down into scrap metal, really the only thing left is to cast a magic spell over it. That’s really all this No Contact Order is: just a worthless magic spell that the Judge has cast over an already harmless person in order to make him harmless.

2. Cannot possibly even make me seem anymore harmless than I already do.

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Would this gargoyle seem less frightening with a nice coat of paint? Next to some flowers? With a duckling on its head? Image Credit: Pixabay

These folks are truly frightened and confused. Of course, they’re not really frightened of me, but rather their misunderstanding of me. I am not their misunderstanding of me. Their misunderstanding of me is an imaginary bogeyman who is so deranged that he intends to harm them, and I am absolutely not that guy. But if he’s truly that deranged, then surely he won’t let some court order stop him in his blood-thirsty quest to hurt them.

These folks aren’t thinking straight. They all believe that on the afternoon of June 14 their bogeyman stood right next to them while they were working. It was actually just me, of course, but were I really as dangerous as they imagine their bogeyman to be, they’d all be injured or dead right now. The fact that they aren’t proves that I’m not their scary bogeyman. But their fear blocks them from seeing it that way. Maybe they think that the visit on June 14 was just a warm-up. Maybe they think their bogeyman was just there on some sort of reconnaissance mission and that now that he understand the lay of the land, he’ll be coming back for the real kill.

What’s more, this court order only protects them at the MetLife campus. What if their imaginary bogeyman visits them at home? Or what if he ambushes them while they’re sitting at a traffic light on the way to work? Of course I — the utterly harmless real me who is definitely not their bogeyman — would never do anything like that, but they have no idea that the real me actually exists. For all they know their bogeyman is an extremely clever sociopath who truly exists, but who is pretending to be a harmless autistic person who has merely been misunderstood as a dangerous sociopath, etc., etc.

This is not reasoning. This is just rampant, ignorance-fueled imagination run amok, and the No Contact Order can do nothing to get it under control.

3. Makes it impossible for them to get to know the real me.

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These giraffes look pretty friendly. I wish they would get to know me better and see that I’m friendly too. Image Credit: Pixabay

One of the best ways to get over any irrational fear is to choose to encounter the very thing that frightens you. Obviously that won’t work if you’re afraid of jelly fish or hungry sharks, but as long as what frightens you is harmless (like me), then the more you interact with it and see that no harm comes to you, the safer you will feel in its presence.

Really, the only way to help these people with their fears is to give them the opportunity to face them, which is now prohibited by law. These folks desperately need to get to know the real me, at least well enough to see that I’m not their bogeyman, that I’m harmless to them. But because of this No Contact Order, such an encounter is now impossible.

4. Means I now require a permanent alibi.

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I’m fresh out of excuses! Image Credit: ShutterStock

With this No Contact Order in place, I need a permanent alibi. For the next year at least, if anything happens to any of these people and which is even remotely mysterious, I am going to be suspect number 1. If one of them gets a mysterious flat tire I can be promptly arrested, booked, charged, and tried — even if I’m totally innocent. Even if I do have an alibi, that won’t help until after I’ve already been arrested, booked, and charged. Then the real investigation will begin and the alibi will exonerate me. But if I don’t have an alibi, then what?

Because of this fundamentally useless No Contact Order, I now need a permanent alibi. And something tells me that “Sorry, your honor, I’m autistic” won’t cut it.

I really don’t understand the purpose of this No Contact Order. Is the goal to ensure the objective safety of these individuals? Or is the goal merely to help them to feel subjectively safe. Although these are not mutually exclusive outcomes, in the end, being safe and feeling safe are really two different things. For example, many people are afraid to fly in an airplane, but feel perfectly safe in a car, which is objectively much more dangerous. Many people dread kittens, while others have no fear of texting while driving. Further, the pharmaceutical industry makes a ton of money selling anti-anxiety medications to people seeking relief from anxiety that they themselves know has no function whatsoever.

The fact is that fear is an unreliable indicator of objective danger, just as feeling safe is an unreliable indicator of objective safety. The one simply does not imply nor guarantee the other, and in any case, this No Contact Order will achieve neither goal, for the reasons described above.

 

America’s First Mentally-Ill President

I doubt I’m the first to observe this, but it just occurred to me that in the same way that Obama was our first black President, Donald Trump is our first mentally-ill President.

Now, I do realize this coin has two sides. Heads: he’s completely unhinged and armed with nuclear bombs. Tails: now even we crazies can aspire to political careers!

Yeah, yeah, I know. The guy makes my skin crawl, but the silver lining to that cloud is that the moment Trump entered the Oval Office, he completely abolished this bizarre and pathologically confused pseudo-distinction between so-called “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behavior of which neuro-typicals are so proud, and which keeps so many of us with psychiatric disabilities unemployed, lonely and off in the shadows where we won’t offend anybody.

Thank you, Mr. Trump. You disgust me, but you’ve made the world a lot safer for your crazy-brethren, provided you don’t kill everybody with your nuclear bombs.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to a Certain FBI Special Agent in Charge

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Image Credit: iStock by Getty

Dear Sir,

This is just the latest in several attempts I have made to request the FBI’s assistance in the investigation of the Conspiracy against Rights crimes that I earnestly believe were committed against my family and me during the past 14 months, most likely because the perpetrators were too ignorant and confused with respect to autism to be able to distinguish between clinical symptoms of autism and workplace behavior that is genuinely “inappropriate” or “unprofessional”. I earnestly believe that these individuals — most but not all of whom were fellow employees at the XYZ Insurance Company until they conspired to fire me last May 19, 2017 — ignorantly and confusedly stigmatized certain autism symptoms of mine as “professional misconduct”, and subsequently took it upon themselves to punish me harshly for these pseudo-crimes.

Most recently I spoke to technician #9263 of the FBI’s Tipline, and as kindly and compassionately as he listened to my tale of woe, since speaking with him I cannot shake the impression that I have not yet provided enough evidence of the crimes in question in order to engage the FBI’s attention.

Here I wish to provide you with a few additional facts, which I hope may remedy that problem.

To begin with, I hope you can see that regardless of whether the crimes in question actually occurred, the fact is that I earnestly believe that they did. As it appears to me at least, my family and I are victims of these crimes. As such, I earnestly believe that we have suffered both financial and health consequences at the hands of the perpetrators. As a direct result of their ignorantly confused and unlawful behavior, we sustained a financial loss of roughly $40,000 dollars in missed salary and benefits, accrued during the initially unpredictable period of unemployment and financial free-fall they subjected us to when they fired me illegally last May 19, 2017, and which finally came to an end when I found another job 5 months later. And among other untoward health & wellness consequences, the protracted emotional distress we all had to endure caused a relapse in a chronic health condition my wife must manage, and for which she had to take steroids for two months in order to quell the flareup.

In addition, I also earnestly believe that we are not the only victims of this sort of crime. I earnestly believe that not just autistic people, but most generally anyone with a psychiatric disability is vulnerable to this kind of crime. Furthermore, I earnestly believe that such crimes have been, are being, and will continue to be perpetrated against this most vulnerable sub-population of human beings, if action is not taken to stop them.

Finally, I earnestly believe that I am currently in a good position to help stop this sort of systemic abuse against people with psychiatric disabilities. Please note that whether I really am in such a position is actually not what’s relevant here, for now. What is only relevant for now is that I earnestly believe myself to be in such a position.

The primary fact that I want to share with you here is that at this point it really shouldn’t matter to the FBI whether my earnestly held beliefs are actually true. That will eventually matter, of course, but for now the only thing that need concern the FBI is that I earnestly believe them to be true; and this because to the extent they may not be true, then these (very) earnestly held beliefs of mine indicate that I may be suffering from some sort of paranoid persecution delusion. And to the extent that that may be what’s really going on here, then I’m pretty sure that would make me quite dangerous, at least to the people I earnestly believe perpetrated these crimes against my family and me.

Now, to be perfectly honest, the only sense in which I might be dangerous to these people is that I wish to help the Department of Justice bring charges against them. But I will confess here that I am quite obsessed with bringing about this result. I earnestly believe that accomplishing this — bringing these criminals to justice — is so very important and to so many people that it may in fact warrant some fairly extreme but wholly non-violent gestures of civil disobedience on my part in order to ensure its outcome.

For example (others could be given), I am seriously wondering if I should go eat lunch every day on the property of my former employer in protest of what appears to be their callous endorsement of the vigilante tactics of these perpetrators. I am seriously wondering if illegally trespassing in this way might be an excellent way to draw the sort of attention to this matter that I earnestly believe it deserves. It really seems to me that getting myself arrested for eating lunch would be the perfect follow up for getting fired for the ridiculous pseudo-crime of showing signs of autism in the work place. Heck, I might even wear a baseball cap while doing it, in flagrant violation of the company’s dress code.

I eagerly await a response from the FBI, and I will interpret every day that passes until I get such a response as evidence that the FBI thinks that my plan to get myself arrested for eating lunch while wearing a baseball cap is a good one.

 

 

How to Skirt the ADA to Fire an Employee with a “Psychiatric” Disability

Man in Grouch Marx disguise

Disclaimer: this goofy picture of a man in a Groucho Marx disguise indicates that this post is just a joke. I am not in any way advising any employer to actually implement this sociopathic solution to the problem of psychiatric disability in the workplace. On the contrary, my goal is to mock and ridicule this all-too-commonly used approach. Image found here.

Dear Employer,

Are you tired of that malingerer in your employ? You know, the one with the so-called “psychiatric disability”? Are you tired of the excuses? The moodiness? The drama? The “sick” days? The FMLA “medical” leaves? The short-term “disability” claims? The infantile and depressing can’t-do attitude?

Well, today is your lucky day! Because I am about to tell you how to fire this slacker. Here’s what you do: fire him!

Boom. Yup, it’s that simple. Just sack him. Do it now. You don’t even have to explain why. Stop wasting money on this lazy slob.

What’s that you say? “What about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission? The brat will go running to his EEOC mommy and tell on me.”

Yup, absolutely — whiners gonna whine, am I right? And here’s how to handle that: you mediate, and you offer the guy a few thousand bucks to drop the charge. EZPZ, lemon squeeze me. Look, if you don’t fire him, you’re just going to give him that money anyway, and in exchange for what? Headaches? Frustration? Whining? At least this way you nail a solid bottom to that leaky bucket. Also, once he’s gone you can replace him with a good worker, somebody who will actually earn his living.

What’s that? “What if he’s not faking it?” Are you kidding me? Why would that be your problem? What, you don’t have enough problems already? Now you have to go around taking responsibility for someone else’s?

Look, first of all, he’s probably faking it. At the very least he’s probably milking it — exaggerating — which is a type of faking it, and to the extent that he is faking it, then he is lying, and he deserves to get fired.

Ok, ok, right. Maybe every now and then you’ll inadvertently fire someone with a real disability that really is “invisible” and that really you should not fire. Listen, you’re going to have to get over that. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. You understand? Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet that you have a conscience and all, but this is business were talking here, right? Not charity. Just donate some money to a real charity so at least you can get the tax deduction. Plus, what about all of your good workers? Think about all you’re doing for them and their families by axing this dead wood. You’re strengthening your company’s financial position, and that will help keep them all employed so they can feed their families.

You see where I’m coming from? It’s the right move, amigo. And besides everybody does it, especially your own competition. If you don’t do it too, you’ll just be making them stronger than you, and eventually you’ll have to shut down your company, or sell it to someone who has the guts to do what you won’t.

So fire the fucker. Fire him now!

[Disclaimer: The above is just a joke. Please do not actually implement this sociopathic strategy!]


“The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws [e.g. The Americans with Disabilities Act] that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.” From “Overview” at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/index.cfm, last accessed 12/30/2017 7:43 PM