• Be Happy About Paying Taxes

    Do you want cute firefighters to show up when you call 9-1-1?

    Pay your taxes.

    Do you want to zip along the interstate at 70mph instead of bumbling between towns on dirt roads?

    Pay your Taxes.

    Do you like getting cards in the mail?

    Pay Your Taxes.

    Photo by xomiele (Creative Commons)

    Did you get a COVID vaccine?

    Pay Your TaxeS.

    Do you have a loved one who is on Social Security?

    PaY Your TaxeS.

    Do you want kids to know how to read?

    PaY YouR TaxeS.

    Photo by Cea. (Creative Commons)

    Do you think we owe it to our service members to take care of the medical problems they have from protecting us?

    PaY YouR TaXeS.

    Do you have a passport?

    PaY YOuR TaXeS.

    Do you want people who make kiddie porn to rot in jail for the rest of their lives?

    PaY YOuR TAXeS.

    Photo by Damian613 (Creative Commons)

    Do you like the National Parks?


    Do you think NASA is cool?


    Do you like having free speech?


    Photo by YellowstoneNPS (Public Domain)

    (Yes, I know some of these services are paid for by sales and other taxes, but it’s still a tax. If you wish that taxes were included when you see the price of something instead of tacked on at the end or at the cash register, I’m in your boat too.)

    Be proud to pay your taxes. If you don’t want to pay taxes, I hope you’re willing to give up everything that your taxes pay for.

    Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video (Creative Commons)

    Was scratching a check to the government the highlight of my year? No, but I was happy to do it for two reasons:

    1. I want the state and federal government to provide most of the services that my taxes pay for, and
    2. As an entrepreneur, it means I made money.

    I have no problem paying my fair share.

    Any company or billionaire that flaunts that they don’t pay taxes should be ashamed. All that tells me is that you’re probably a selfish ass.

    If you like reading my rants, I hope you’ll subscribe to Ruth & Consequences, my fortnightly newsletter where I share exclusive content about lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneurial lawyer, my experiences as a non-binary person, and photos of my basset hound.

  • American football is modern-day bullfighting. Athletes are killing themselves for fans’ entertainment and their teams’ profits. It’s not a secret that the majority of former NFL players have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – brain degeneration from repeated head trauma, such as concussions and subconcussive hits.

    I’d love to see the NFL shift from tackle football to flag football, and create a cascading effect through every level of play. Unfortunately, teams are making too much money off their players to make such a drastic change that could risk alienating their audience. From a business perspective, I understand their logic, but from a human perspective, I can’t wrap my brain around a sport where the risk of developing CTE doubles every 2.6 years that some plays contact football.

    Photo by Roy Harryman (Public Domain)

    Fewer Athletes are Playing Football

    While a top-down approach would have yielded fast results at all levels of play, what it appears we’re seeing is a bottom-up change in American football.

    Even before the COVID pandemic, there was a 48% decline in the number of people playing tackle football in the U.S. between 2006 and 2018. These numbers include players ages 6 and over, so it’s not reflective of high school athletes; however, it supports the data that parents are more concerned about preventing concussions, so they’re less likely to allow their kids to play.

    The latest survey from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) shows that the 2021-22 school year was the first time less than 1 million high school students in the U.S. participated in 11-player high school football. It’s encouraging to see that the number of people playing this dangerous game are decreasing.

    Photo by John Martinez Pavliga (Creative Commons)

    High Schools Don’t Have Enough Players for a Football Team

    At some high schools, the number of students who want to play football had decreased so much that the school doesn’t have enough players to have a team. The total number of high schools with an 11-player football team dropped from 14,247 to 13,733. It appears some of these school shifted to offering 6-, 8-, or 9-player football instead, but others dropped teams completely.

    This past fall, there were multiple high schools that started their football season and had to cut the season short because they didn’t have enough players. Holland High School in Michigan ended its varsity football season after only 4 games. The roster was filled with sophomores when few upperclassmen went out for the team. When the coaches noticed the substantial different between their players’ size and skill development compared to their opponents, they shortened the football season due to the risk of injury.

    Likewise, Bellevue High School in Ohio cancelled the remainder of its varsity football season due to a “limited number of healthy players.” There were only 20 players on the varsity team, 2 of which had suffered concussions, and the senior captain was playing while wearing a cast.

    Alleman High School in Illinois has already cancelled its varsity football 2023 season due to low student participation. The varsity team had 30 players in fall 2022, including 10 graduating seniors. The school won’t have a varsity team in the fall due to their concern for the health and safety of the remaining players.

    Photo by Phil Roeder (Creative Commons)

    There may be additional factors that are contributing to decreased participation in high school football, such as the decrease in population of high-school-aged children, the decline in enrollment at rural high schools, budget constraints at schools, and players deciding that football isn’t worth their time if they don’t get much playing time.

    Is Football Taking Advantage of the Disadvantaged?

    Where high schoolers are more likely to continue to participate in football is in rural areas and where it’s culturally ingrained for youngsters to participate in tackle football. A study also found that black Americans and people will no more than a high school education were not as negative about tackle football compared to white people and people with a college education.

    “For less-advantaged people, football is seen as one of the only ways they can get ahead in society, which may explain why they support it for kids.”

    Reading this made me wonder if American football will turn into a sport where the educated and the wealthy won’t play, but rather take advantage of the fact that some people are willing to risk their brains and their lives in the hopes of creating a better future for themselves and their families. This prospect makes me sad, and a little sick.

    Photo by Johnny Silvercloud (Creative Commons)

    Football Participation is Down But Viewership Isn’t

    While people are not playing football as much, there doesn’t appear to be a decrease in people watching it. In the U.S. alone, 112 million people watched the Super Bowl in 2022.

    As we’re seeing a decrease in the number of people playing tackle football in high school, I wonder if these people will be less likely to want to watch it as adults. I wonder if parents limiting their kids to only playing flag football as children will lead to a demand from fans to shift the NFL to flag football as well. While I would love this change to happen instantly, I suspect this type of shift will take generations to occur.   

    Photo by Ryan Johnson (Creative Commons)

    Like This? Get More in Your Inbox

    If you like reading my rants, please subscribe to Ruth & Consequences. This fortnightly newsletter gives you exclusive insights and information gleaned from my experiences as an outspoken entrepreneur and other shenanigans.

  • Misgendered for Medical Care

    I use an LGBTQ-friendly doctor’s office. They even provide trans-specific medical care, including prescribing hormones for trans men and women. Their website says, “We strive to provide judgement-free, affirming care that allows our patients to live healthy, authentic lives.” If anyone understands how important it is to address patients appropriately, it’s my doctor’s office.

    But even the most gender-affirming medical practice can fall short of providing quality care to all its patients because they can’t overcome the fact that health insurance forces non-binary people to lie about their gender to maintain coverage.

    Photo by Terry Ross (Creative Commons)

    Here’s What Happened

    I recently made an appointment for some routine bloodwork. Shortly after I hung up the phone with the receptionist, I received an email that directed me to download an app to use to receive messages and results.

    “Sure, whatever,” I thought. I downloaded the app to my phone. When I logged in for the first time, I saw the disheartening information across the top:

    Ruth Carter, 43, Female

    I was instantly hit with a gut-punch of disappointment.

    I spent the rest of the day feeling frustrated and dejected, once again reminded that I live in a binary-centric society, that often doesn’t acknowledge that I exist.

    The System is Broken

    I assume the app is connected to my doctor’s office, which is connected to my health insurance, which says I’m female. (Grrr…) I would not be surprised if the developers who created the app have no idea that non-binary people are being discriminated against.

    Hang on. Let me go send them an email.

    We’ll see if I get a response.

    I get it. Most people are cisgender. Their genitals match their gender from birth. Even trans men and women are having an easier time updating all their records to accurately state their gender.

    Non-binary people make up only 2% of the U.S. population. Two percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it equates to over 1.2 million people.

    Until the Social Security Administration adds the non-binary gender option, health insurance plans will continue to exclude us along with software, systems, and policies for designed to support the practice of medicine.  

    Even if there’s nothing that can be done to change my gender in the app from what’s on my health insurance, it would have been nice, when my doctor’s office sent me the email inviting me to download the app, if they included a note like:

    Hey, we know you’re non-binary. However, this app can only use the gender specified on your health insurance. We want to give you a heads up that that’s what you’re going to see every time you log on to the app, and we’re sorry.  

    My Lucy Jane – I love this pup.

    Going to the Appointment

    The night before my appointment, I was ready to walk in, be polite but short with everyone, stick my arm out, and try to get through it as fast as possible. Thankfully (for all of us), I mellowed a bit overnight and was in a better mood by morning.

    With my dog in tow (yes, Lucy Jane is an emotional support dog who goes where I go), I went to the appointment, and the staff was lovely as always – friendly and thorough, and they didn’t give me a hard time when I said I don’t get on scales.

    I mentioned how the app misgenders people like me, and the nurse agreed it was so frustrating, especially given the type of practice they have. That was the right answer. She did not make a single excuse or try to downplay the issue.  

    Maybe it’s Not So Bad

    After my appointment, I began to wonder if I over-reacted about the app misgendering me. I was especially happy because my blood pressure is 98/62 and my defective heart (born with a PFO) is still pumping perfectly.

    The next day, I received a message asking me to provide feedback on my appointment. I clicked on the link, and it took me to the app where I saw it again:

    Ruth Carter, 43, Female

    Ugh. I immediately felt like shit.

    When I filled out the survey, I told them that I’m less likely to refer people to my doctor’s office because I feel like shit every time I open the app and it misgenders me. As a non-binary person, it matters that I’m perceived and addressed as the person I am. (I’m sure that’s true for everyone.) Maybe it’s even more important for non-binary people since we’re regularly excluded and/or misgendered by so many people, systems, and institutions.