Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


But ofcourse, according to our President, it's our own fault if we are poor and needy.

America is the land of opportunity and if anyone fails to avail himself of those opportunities it is due to a character flaw. There is no excuse for being poor, and the government should not have to provide aid. The poor "need to take responsibility" for themselves.

So Granny, your handicapped great-grand daughter and the thousands of others who suffer physical impairment need to take responsibility for themselves. We don't have little match girls on street corners anymore, a la Dickens, but she and her peers could roll their wheelchairs to corners and peddle flowers or newspapers. It builds character for young people to have after school jobs.

Now my handicapped grand daughter, blind, almost deaf, unable to even sit alone and must be strapped into her special wheelchair, and is rated at the mentality of a 9 month old infant, might have a problem with sales and keeping track of the monies. But perhaps we could work out something. Perhaps the President's advisors or even the President himself could give us the benefit of their superior wisdom of how to avoid poverty and accept responsibility.

Their neediness is their own fault. They should have had the forethought to refuse being born with a handicap. But, since they are children, we can shift the responsibility to the shoulders of their parents. Their mothers should have taken responsibility and refused to bear a handicapped child, even though they didn't know they would be handicapped until they were born. Just because the sonograms indicated they were normal is no excuse. Excuses do not absolve one of responsibility.

I do not know the situation surrounding your little one's parents, but I know the situation all too well about mine. Betty's father suffers from severe bipolar disorder. He seemed merely mildly eccentric for many years but gradually grew worse until he had episodes of curling into a fetal ball and being completely non-functional. Even when functioning "normally", he is very unstable, subject to wild mood swings, disappears for days or weeks on end and completely ignores court orders regarding child support. Threats of prison do not faze him, and he refuses to apply for state aid. Which, according to the President, he does not deserve because he needs to accept responsibility for himself. His present wife pays for his medical bills and mental health prescriptions, but like many patients with mental health issues, he often refuses medicine and medical help.It's his own fault. He should not have permitted himself to have a mental disorder.

Betty's mother was a hard worker and steadily employed until she bore a severely handicapped child. Child care facilities were not an option. None would accept a child with the severe disabilities that Betty has. Her ex-husband paid support rarely and sporadically. Desperate finances drove her to apply for Welfare. Under the Work-fare programs, she was allowed 3 months of assistance, during which time she had to accept job training and get a job. Her protests that she didn't need job training, she already had trained skills, her problem was child care for her daughter fell on deaf ears. Eventually she was offered Respite, who would send out a volunteer sitter for a few hours once a month so she could get out of the house. That didn't help her with holding down a job.

So, Mr. President, here's a woman ready and willing to take responsibility for herself, to work, to care for herself and her own, but is constrained by the needs of a handicapped child. So how is her poverty, her neediness her own fault; how is it a character flaw?

What would be your suggestion for this problem, Mr. President? Establish euthanasia protocols for the handicapped and mentally ill like Hitler did? That would certainly get rid of these "parasites on society". If euthanizing the handicapped became a solution, we might kill off a Stephen Hawking or two, but oh, well, crap happens.

But don't you worry, she and her child are not a burden on society; she moved in with her alcoholic father, living in desperate misery in order that her child will have her needs met. Be proud, Mr. President; she is accepting responsibility. She suffers mental, emotional and psychological abuse from her drunken father, slaves for him around the house and grounds harder than any man would or could, but she's caring for her own, herself, without any outside help.

These irresponsible elderly who failed to provide for their future and old age.

Plus, we didn't have the decency to die before we got old. Another character flaw, I suppose. But our fearless President is teaching us a lesson in responsibility by slashing Medicare benefits, raising our insurance premiums and copays, and foisting off on us this grand Prescription Plan that is supposed to help us by cutting our medicine costs in half. A nightmare maze that no one understands and what I have gleaned from hours on the internet and phone calls will about double my current costs on a monthly basis, and take nearly half my income annually. Thank you, Mr. President, for your help.

My irresponsibility and improvidence character flaws that make my poverty my own fault? Let's examine this situation. Like many women of my generation, the woman's place was in the home and the husband was primary breadwinner and Lord of the Manor (a custom you and your Reconstructionist cohorts would like to re-establish). But I did violate that custom by pursuing my career as a licensed nurse until I was struck with a debilitating disorder that kept me bedfast for 6 months and recurrently for 10 years.

I worked sporadically as my health allowed, but when I nearly dropped a patient, I retired. I refused to endanger the welfare of my patients by continuing. As a consequence of mere part time employment, I did not build up a great deal of Social Security benefits. I was not concerned. My husband enjoyed an income just short of 6 figures, we had property and investments. Our future looked rosy.

You advocate an "ownership society", Mr. President. You want to abolish Social Security and have citizens provide for their own retirement through company retirement programs and investments. ( As one case in point, apparently you haven't heard about Enron and what happened to their employees and investors).

We had investments, planning on the dividends to supplement our retirement income. Realizing our limitations of knowledge of the stock market, we relied on the expert advice of financial counselors in my husband's parent company. Our portfolio included companies like M.W. Kellogg (Pullman Kellogg, Kellogg Rust), and Halliburton as well as a few others.

I think you know of these companies, especially now that Kellogg and Brown and Root are in bed together, along with Halliburton. Good, solid investments, right? We were very small stockholders, possessing few shares compared to the majority, but our money was good enough for the companies to gladly sell to us. Our portfolio was modest but we were taking responsibility, providing for our future.

Then came the Crunch of the Eighties. The bottom fell out of the stock market and the value of our shares plummeted, some as low as $5 per share. We lost our shirts. With our shares worth so little, we opted to just hang on to them, figuring the market would eventually recover and we might recoup part of our losses and perhaps even prosper again.

Wrong!! I do not understand the stock market nor can I fathom the dealings of Big Business, but somehow there were mergers and new stocks issued. We were offered a buy-back of our old stock shares at $5 per share, a ruinous offer. Ofcourse we were not being forced to sell and had the option of keeping the shares, but no dividends would be paid on the old shares. They were, in effect, totally worthless. We lost our investment in the future. I kept one of the certificates as a souvenir of our folly.

Because of the Crunch, contracts were down and Husband took local employment. Our income was cut by 2/3rds. Our living standards were based on the previous income and in adjusting to the lower income we depleted our savings and sold much of our property. At a loss, I might add.

The economy improved, Husband took another overseas contract and our fortunes began to improve also. He was involved in a terrible accident in that foreign land and it cost us $10,000. He arranged for his salary to be paid to a local bank there and opened an additional account in Singapore. I maintained a household account in my home city, to which he deposited spousal support checks for me to run the home.

Gradually the spousal support checks diminished in size and frequency. I was forced to sell off assets, including my jewelry, to stay afloat. Our home began to need repairs, maintenance and upkeep were beyond my financial capabilities, and it deteriorated. We owed scarcely $20,000 on the mortgage and I struggled to hold on, figuring when he completed his tour of duty and came home, we'd make the necessary repairs.

At last he confessed he was not coming home. He had gotten involved with one of his "comfort women" and had had a child by her and was too attached to the child to leave. We were divorced so he could marry the woman and take responsibility for the children (she had another child by another expatriate). Since he had all the money in foreign banks, I could not get a penny of it in the divorce settlement. He did most generously give me the house, which was by then in such a state of disrepair it was sold for a pittance.

I ended up in my old age, handicapped, in ill health, with no assets, no money, and no income except my pitifully small Social Security check and dependent on Medicare for my health needs. I was forced to apply for state aid, Medicaid, to pay for my prescriptions and part of my medical care.

So far from the rosy retirement future I had envisioned, I ended up on poverty row. But tell me, Mr. President, how is that my fault? How is that caused by my character flaws? Can it be that I was unwise enough in my youth to choose a man for husband that would betray me in my old age? That I hadn't the foresight to see into the future and anticipate that he would be an old fool?

You who have never had to ask the cost of a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, who have never had to shop for cheap generics or el cheapo brands, have the nerve, the collosssal gall to lecture on the poor needing to pay more to simply exist in order to learn responsibility! To choose between medicine and food. Between rent and medical bills, but if you don't pay the rent you get evicted and become homeless.

Well, I never did either until my old age, and I tell you, Mr. President, it is NOT caused by my character flaws or irresponsibility.


  • At Tuesday, January 03, 2006 9:48:00 AM , Blogger JBlue said...

    Worried, your post reminded me of a quote I like from Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five:

    “America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on the wall asking this cruel question: ‘If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand—glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

    Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue…. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleon.”


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