Archive for a world of progress

Memorial Day

Casey Sheehan dies in the Iraq War. His mother, Cindy  is an activist for peace. In my eyes, she is an American hero.

Casey Sheehan died in the Iraq War. His mother, Cindy is an activist for peace. In my eyes, she is an American hero.

I wasn’t going to post anything about Memorial Day, but after I saw Cindy Sheehan’s post on Facebook, I just had to say something.

I’ve been somewhat agitated all day because — well, I couldn’t quite articulate it until Cindy said it: “Fuck war.”

I lost friends and neighbors in the Vietnam War, and I never understood why we were there. But even as a teenager, I knew it was wrong. We didn’t belong there, and there’s no bringing back the precious ones we lost.

For a lot of soldiers, their lives ended in Vietnam even though they came home. They suffered from PTSD and from rejection. They didn’t return as heroes and they still had to live with all the horrors they had seen, most of them with no help.

Not that those who waged the war cared. A few people made a lot of money on that war. And a lot of families and friends still suffer the loss of more than 58,000 Americans.

We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 when the architects of it were Saudis, and even though Bin Laden was there, we really didn’t want to find him. Let me rephrase. Most of us — including the brave men and women who went there — wanted him; it was the people who make their fortunes off of war that hoped he would slip out of our grasp.

And as many of us have suspected, we were lied into the Iraq War. Cindy Sheehan has been brave enough to stand up and say how evil both those wars were — and the war-making that continues under the Obama Administration in the form of drones, dark sites and assassinations.

As I get older and see more young lives wasted on the battlefield, the grief overwhelms me. At least I got to say goodbye to my son. God bless the soldiers who believe we are doing the right thing, but I see Memorial Day as a little piece of candy to pacify us.

But I am not pacified by flags on graves or parades or 21-gun salutes. I want the wars to stop. I want those who went to war to be honored — with real help instead of empty gestures.

If we really held our soldiers in a position of honor, we wouldn’t be leaving them to rot on the streets, their war-caused mental illnesses untreated, unable to work, homeless and hungry.

We wouldn’t vote for the people who cut the budget to help returning soldiers.

We wouldn’t sit still and allow more wars to be fought in our name.

Fuck war and fuck the warmongers who waste our most precious resources — our people — on their evil adventures.

It’s time to prosecute the war criminals who caused the deaths of more than 4,000 Americans and God only knows how many innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. They created ISIS and emboldened every fundamentalist in the Middle East. They destabilized an entire region. They should not be free to roam the streets and sit on Sunday talk show panels rattling their sabers for more “boots on the ground.”

Cindy Sheehan’s son died because of a pack of lies, and she will never recover. God bless her and all those who stand with her for peace. She is a true hero.

 

 

 

 

 

The new N-word

bikers

Suspects are texting while police stand nearby. What would it look like if these criminals were thugs, I mean African-American?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but I hear the word “thug” a lot when it comes to African-Americans protesting generations of injustice, but not when it comes to white people rioting over a sports event or whose bike has prettier chrome.

Actually, I don’t know why the bikers in Waco, Texas, were rioting, but I haven’t heard the word “thug” used to describe them. On the other hand, a kid who MIGHT have taken a box of cheap cigars was a thug and a criminal. A kid who was arrested for no cause and died in police custody of a severed spine and other injuries was a thug.

But these men, who actually killed people, weren’t shot in the back, nor did they die by shooting themselves in the head while cuffed behind their backs in a police car, as happened in Durham, NC, a couple years ago.

I notice people who riot because their favorite sports team won (or lost) the championship aren’t called thugs, even when they’re overturning cars or burning down buildings. They’re just overzealous fans.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the Associated Press sent a couple of photos a day or so apart. The first one was of a white man “gathering supplies for his family,” which consisted of water and diapers. The second was of an African-American man carrying water and diapers, but the caption said he was looting.

But we’re post-racist, right?

Eric Rudolph is sitting in prison under a life sentence because he bombed the Atlanta Olympics and killed two people; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s bomb in Boston killed three people, but he was sentenced to death. I guess that’s because only Muslims can be considered terrorists.

When I mention that white people aren’t called thugs in the press when they riot or go on shooting rampages or set fires, people usually cite the burning of buildings and businesses, making it obvious that they care more about property than the lives of young black men who are dying at the hands of police.

If people don’t rise up, the abuse just continues. What are people supposed to do when they’re 27 times more likely to be killed by a police bullet than someone with a lighter skin color? Are we all supposed to just shrug and sigh and say we wish things would get better?

My 2-year-old great-granddaughter is mixed race. If you ask her what color she is, she’ll cheerfully tell you she’s black. Nobody taught her that, by the way; she just came up with it one day when her mom was asking her about her colors. What that means to me is that her life is in danger. She is at higher risk of so many awful things.

I don’t hear the N-word very often anymore, but I do hear the word “thug.” I hear it a lot, but I only seem to hear it in reference to young black men — especially those young black men who are injured or killed by police.

 

 

The anti-life brigade

anti-lifers

I went to a rally last night in support of women’s health, reproductive and otherwise.

Let’s just remember first of all, that abortion is legal, and it needs to remain so.

When I was advised to have an abortion, I chose not to, with the operative word here being chose. But then his heart was stopped by a system that refused to give him the medical care he needed. When we fix that, we can start to talk about abortion.

After promising he wouldn’t sign any new restrictions on women’s right to choose, Gov. McCrory signed new restrictions into law, and now more restrictions are about to hit his desk. We’ll see if he breaks his promise again.

Of course, as soon as the anti-abortion folks heard about the demonstration, they showed up with their signs and intimidation tactics (they stood nearby, taking photos of us, I guess for their web sites). We responded by taking photos of them.

I decided to engage. I asked whether they supported the right of every human being to have access to health care. At first they didn’t want to talk because a television reporter was interviewing one of them.

I repeated my question.

“Well, that’s a matter of opinion,” one of them said.

“So’s your cause,” I said. “What’s your opinion?”

“But it’s about babies’ lives,” another man said.

“My son was a baby once,” I said. “He died at 33 because he couldn’t get care. He did nothing wrong. What about his life? What about the lives of the five to seven people who die in North Carolina every day because we won’t expand Medicaid?”

“It’s about the babies,” the man said.

Mothers’ lives don’t matter. The already-born can drop dead for all they care.

“Then stop calling yourself pro-life,” I said. “Life continues after birth, and if you don’t support it, you’re not pro-life.”

This isn’t just about babies. It’s about the lives of mothers and about the lives of grinding poverty many of these babies face after they’re born because their parents can’t find decent jobs.

These anti-lifers want nothing more than to force women to pump out babies. Many of them are also against contraception and support allowing a boss to fire an employee for using it. Some of them want to force women to carry non-viable fetuses to term; some also want to criminalize miscarriage.They say rape is wrong, but many support a rapist’s parental rights after they have forced a woman to have his child, keeping him — and the trauma of the crime he committed — in her life forever.

These are not reasonable people, but their out-of-the-mainstream views are becoming law in states across the country.

Many media people are trying to make them sound reasonable. In fact, last night the media paid more attention to them than to the demonstration.

When women’s clinics close, they’re labeled “abortion clinics,” even when abortion is only about 10 percent of what they do. I write a letter to the editor every time I see that, but the letters are’t always published, and I’m sure they’re not read in numbers as great as the original story.

Planned Parenthood was my health care provider for several years when I didn’t have health insurance. I don’t know what I would have done without that clinic. I had to walk through some screaming meanies to get to my checkups and cancer screenings because the media perpetuate the myth that everyone walking into a women’s health clinic is there for an abortion. Planned Parenthood helped me avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

I know some who oppose abortion also support helping poor families cope, feeding children, paying their parents a living wage, are anti-war and against the death penalty. Those people are in the minority of a movement that wants to subjugate women more than it wants to protect babies.

Unless you are willing to support life after it emerges from the birth canal, you are not pro-life and I will call you out.

It’s part of my mission to educate people.

 

 

 

Have you ever lived without hope?

time cover

Watching the demonstrations in Baltimore is a lot like watching the riots of the 1960s or the Rodney King protests.

I’ve never been caught in the middle of a violent demonstration, but I can understand the fear that anyone might feel. I also understand the frustration that drives people to such drastic measures.

I don’t condone violence, but I do understand what drives it. It is a lack of hope that things will ever get better. It comes from living in fear that you or someone you live will be next.

These victims of police violence are not thugs — the cops are the ones acting as thugs when they shoot unarmed people or beat someone who already has been subdued.

There have been far too many deaths of young black men in this country. There has been far too much oppression.

The school-to-prison pipeline is real, especially in poor, largely minority communities. Teens can be sent to jail for missing school, and once they’re in the “justice” system, they’re in it for good.

Or let’s say you’re driving while black and you have a tail light out (a friend of mine had his tail light knocked out by a police officer who had just pulled him over for no reason). You don’t have the money to pay the fine and court costs because you work two part-time, low-wage jobs, so you wind up getting your fines increased and losing your license. Now you have no transportation to and from work because the buses don’t run late at night when you need them. So, you lose your job.

Since you haven’t paid your fines, which are increasing by the week, a warrant is issued for your arrest. The cops show up, and you’re headed for jail.

Now your spouse and kids are in a real financial mess. Your teenage son gets angry and starts acting out, and he’s arrested. The cops see him as a threat so they tackle him and cuff and shackle him. He shouts an obscenity and the cops start kicking him, injuring or even killing him.

With only one income, your spouse and your other child become homeless.

This happens all the time in poor neighborhoods. People are jailed for the crime of being poor, and when they finally rise up against the violence perpetrated on them, the privileged classes are more upset about the burning buildings than about the lives lost.

I worked hard for everything I have, but I’m white. I was raised in a white middle-class town by middle-class white parents. No one sees me as a threat because I’m not one of the people who has been oppressed for generations.

It’s not easy putting yourself in the shoes of someone whose entire experience is so different from your own, but it’s time we tried.

Unlike many white, middle-class people, I know what it’s like to live without hope. I’ve been there. I know the desperation.

As I said, I don’t condone the violence, but I certainly do understand it.

Before you call these black youths thugs and criminals, try to imagine what your attitude would be in their situation, and then understand that being a petty criminal wouldn’t bring the death penalty down on you.

I will defend these people against the abusive and violent system that keeps them down because Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. These police killings are no different from the lynchings of the Jim Crow era, and I understand the need of people to rise up against them. They are fighting for their very survival.

Violence begets violence. We need to remember that.

Why do we protest?

My friend and pastor, Rev. Joe Hoffman, speaks to more than 10,000 people gathered at  Mountain Moral Monday in 2013.

My friend and pastor, Rev. Joe Hoffman, speaks to more than 10,000 people gathered at Mountain Moral Monday in 2013.

Next Wednesday, we’ll gather to observe the second anniversary of the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh. I figure this is a good time to reflect on why we protest.

A week after the last election, a television reporter asked me how I felt now that I realized all our protests had been for nothing, since the Democrats didn’t win back control of the state legislature.

I reminded her that the US Revolution didn’t happen in a single election cycle, that the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century didn’t happen in a single election cycle, that women’s suffrage didn’t happen in a single election cycle, and that I am in this battle for the long haul.

We did manage to educate voters, and here in Buncombe County, we sent two Republicans home and replaced them with legislators who will do the work we want and not bow to Art Pope (NC’s own Koch) or Duke Energy.

It took a lot of work to get Brian Turner and John Ager elected and send home Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey. If we had sat around and believed that protests don’t matter, that each of us can’t make a difference, we would still have those two men in office.

Change never happens overnight. It takes lots of work from lots of people, and those of us who protest see ourselves as educators as well as rabble-rousers.

Someone posted on Facebook this morning that she protested because she’s in love with the earth and all its beauty. I responded that I protest because I will always love my son, who died from deliberate medical neglect, and I want everyone to have access to decent health care.

But, as I told a reporter who asked why I joined a group that might “water down” my health care message, I see health care as part of a tapestry of justice issues. You can pull out my thread and fix it, but we still have poverty, low-wage jobs, poor worker rights, voting rights issues, environmental issues and attacks on education.

The right has attacked all of these things for 40 years and whittled away at our well being as a society, bit by bit.

We have to stand up to our attackers or we will be a third-world country ruled by a tiny but incredibly wealthy and powerful elite. We’re headed there faster than you might think.

Already, a college education is out of reach of most Americans unless students are willing to be indebted for the rest of their lives.

All the decent wage jobs that pulled most of us up in the middle of the 20th century, thanks to unions, have been shipped overseas and replaced with low-wage jobs that keep people indebted and unable to protest their working conditions.

Meanwhile, we are embroiled in endless wars and conflicts around the world to keep feeding the gigantic maw of our military industrial complex.

Women are finding it more and more difficult to gain access to affordable birth control and when we get pregnant and know we can’t afford to bring another life into the world, we are denied access to safe and legal abortions.

We are still paid less than men for the same work and criticized for being “aggressive” when we act like leaders. We are bossy or bitchy when we stand up for ourselves.

When my society is unjust and its laws immoral, I will protest. I will face arrest, if necessary.

I am one person. I may or may not be able to make change by myself, but I certainly can if I am joined by enough people who are willing to face down our unjust ruling class.

‘The least of these’ are not less than the rest of us

In Kansas, if you're on public assistance, this could become illegal for you to buy.

In Kansas, if you’re on public assistance, this could become illegal for you to buy.

I’m watching state after right-wing state in a competition to see who can be the most mean-spirited to people on government assistance.

A bill in Missouri would prevent people using food stamps from buying steak or seafood. A bill in Kansas would restrict people on public assistance from buying any kind of entertainment, going to psychics or having tattoos.

Under the bill, which passed last week by large majorities in both the House and Senate, public assistance recipients can’t spend their government aid on body piercings, massages, spas, tobacco, nail salons, lingerie, arcades, cruise ships or visits to psychics, according to CNN.

The bill also forbids spending the money at theme parks, dog or horse racing tracks, a “sexually oriented business or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment, or in any business or retail establishment where minors under age 18 are not permitted.”

And it limits cash withdrawals of the funds to $25 a day, an attempt to prevent recipients from using their funds on inappropriate expenditures.

These are the same people complaining about how Democrats are setting up a “nanny state,” yet they have the temerity to tell poor people how they can and can’t spend the money they receive.

God forbid we should allow poor people to have any dignity.

As we cut taxes on the wealthy and refuse to increase minimum wage to make it even half of a true living wage, we become increasingly punitive toward the poor, while still hailing ourselves as a “Christian” nation.

I have news for the so-called Christians who seem to get a kick out of kicking the poor: Jesus would be ashamed of you.

If you go back and read about the man you supposedly follow, you’ll read about how he helped the poor, people with disabilities, mental illnesses and even leprosy, which was about as unclean as a person could get.

There was the woman who’s been bleeding (as in menstruating) for years. No one would go near her because she was unclean, but Jesus healed her.

Jesus reached out to “the least of these,” as are described in Matthew as people who are sick, hungry, thirsty, naked and in prison. And, he added, “whatever yo do unto the least of these, you do also unto me.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said it in another way in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.”

Instead of thinking poor people are somehow immoral, we should look at the circumstances that led them to be poor. Perhaps they’re working (most poor people do work) for minimum wage, which is less than half what it takes to live in just about every city in the nation. Perhaps they had huge medical bills after an accident or illness that was no fault of their own. Perhaps the family is headed by a single mom who has escaped a violent partner.

So many roads lead to poverty in this country, including the superhighway of low-wage work. The jobs that were lost in the 2008 economic meltdown have been replaced by low-wage jobs and states like North Carolina have cut unemployment compensation so far that people are forced to take these low-wage jobs or have no income at all.

So, we’re forcing people into poverty and then shaming them for being poor.

When I talk to conservatives about this, their answer is inevitably, “I know a guy who …”

Well, I know dozens of poor people. I work with them all the time, and almost every one of them works hard, or wants to.

I know people with illness or disability who would love to work but can’t. They’re lumped in with the “lazy” people who are working two or more minimum-wage jobs while trying to make ends meet.

The people we need to shame are the wealthy and the mean-spirited. We also need to tax the hell out of them. When we start doing that, we might see an improvement in the plight of the poor.

At least I’m not alone

Michael, age 3, playing with his food.

Michael, age 3, playing with his food.

This is a hard time of year for me. Tomorrow is Mike Day, the anniversary of my son’s death.

I think he chose April 1 to go; he was a proud jackass. He loved turning things upside-down and inside-out for a good laugh. His best friend, James, eulogized him as a jackass and everyone laughed and applauded.

I don’t know why this doesn’t get any easier. I honestly thought that after seven ears I would miss him a little less, that the edges would have worn off the pain, but that’s not so. I think of him every day, sometimes every hour, and on days near the anniversary of his death, it’s more like every moment.

At least I’m not alone.

I’m not talking about the friends and family who have stood by me and held me up, although I treasure them; I’m talking about the hundreds of thousands of others whose family members and friends have died the way Mike did.

Before the Affordable Care Act, the death toll was 45,000 a year, and each one was loved by somebody. Each person was adored by friends and family.

The death toll is lower now — about 17,000 a year in states that have refused to expand Medicaid.

Marketing people tell us we need to use the phrase, “close the coverage gap,” but that doesn’t say it any better than “expand Medicaid.”

How about this? It’s time to stop this immoral and inhuman killing of people just because they can’t help enrich insurance companies and Big Pharma.

Or, this for all the “Christians” who think we don;t need to ensure access to care for everyone: Who would Jesus turn away?

And for those of you who are “pro-life,” but think that doesn’t include access to health care: You are most decidedly NOT pro-life, even though you have tried to make the definition only about abortion.

chose not to have an abortion when I was advised to do so, and you “pro-lifers” did nothing to help him get the care he needed after he was born.

You are not pro-life.

Maybe if I was alone, if my son’s case was an aberration, it would be easier.

But my friend, Lila suffers every day because she can’t get insurance. The pain she endures makes it impossible for her to work full-time, and without that income she is eligible for neither premium subsidies nor Medicaid.

My friend, Crystal, is just 30 years old and the mother of two. She has cervical cancer and can’t get treatment because even though she works, she can’t get insurance or Medicaid. She’ll likely die the way my son did, and she will leave behind two orphaned children.

If their lives don’t matter to you, you are not pro-life.

If their lives do matter, you need to do something about it. Our state legislators say the people don’t want to care for the poor because they’re lazy bums.

What they don’t tell you is that 88 percent of people living in poverty have low-wage jobs. And in this so-called economic recovery, most of the jobs being created are low-wage. Fully one-third of people in poverty have two full-time workers in the home and still live below the poverty level.

We need to call and visit our legislators and tell them they’re going home in 2016 if we don;t have expanded Medicaid by then. And then you need to work hard for the candidate who will expand access to health care.

We did it here in Buncombe County. We sent home Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey and replaced them with people who will vote to close the coverage gap, expand Medicaid, stop the senseless and immoral carnage — however you want to phrase it.

My precious son has been gone seven years. I had hoped we would have made more progress by now.

 

The Equal Rights Amendment is back

ERA button

I rejoined the National Organization for Women when the US Supreme Court decided employers could deny women access to contraception, as well as abortion.

Obviously, they want women at home, bearing baby after baby after baby because a few religious extremists think that’s the way life should be for everyone, and if they’re denied their “religious freedom,” they will scream that they’re being persecuted.

It seems we’re all supposed to be the family from 19 Kids and Counting, even though most of us could never support that size family and God knows these same people who pushed for this Supreme Court decision don’t care a bit about our children after they’re born.

I was appalled at the walking back of our right to control our own bodies and reproduction.

The thing is, we never actually had that right. In fact, the only right women are granted in the Constitution is the right to vote. All our other “rights” are granted at the pleasure of the men for whom the Constitution was written.

I believed it back in the 1970s and I believe it now; we need the Equal Rights Amendment to have the same rights in all other things as men now enjoy.

They are free to pass laws governing our bodies and our ability to plan our families and careers unless we are granted equal rights under the Constitution, and you know they’re not going to be fair to women when they won’t even let us in on the discussion.

Monday night in Raleigh, state Rep. Carla Cunningham announced at a gathering of NC Women United she would introduce the Equal Rights Amendment into the NC House, most likely next week. Sen Terry Van Duyn said she would be one of the primary sponsors in the state Senate.

The Equal Rights Amendment was written by suffragist Alice Paul and introduced into the US Congress in 1923. It passed in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. Only three more states need to ratify the amendment, although there is one more hurdle: Congress must vote to remove the five-year time limit that was set in 1972.

I know the atmosphere in this country is decidedly anti-woman right now, but we women can change that. There are more of us than there are men, and we tend to vote in larger numbers.

So, what we need is a coordinated effort to oust those who would send us back to the 19th century. We need to educate all girls and women about the importance of voting, and we need to get them registered and to the polls.

If you are anti-abortion, that’s fine. But if you think it’s OK to tell a woman she has no right to prevent pregnancy and then say rape can be a beautiful thing or that a woman won’t get pregnant from rape unless she enjoys it, I think we should part ways right here and now.

It’s time to give women the same guarantees as men to the rights granted by the Constitution. It won’t mean we have to share bathrooms (one of the more common arguments against the ERA in the 1970s) or showers at the gym. It won’t mean men have fewer rights; it only means women will have equal rights.

So, it’s back. Let’s work together to get it passed.

In the name of “God,” I abuse thee

Here she is, apple in hand, listening to the snake. That's Eve, the cause of all women's problems.

Here she is, apple in hand, listening to the snake. That’s Eve, the cause of all women’s problems.

I grew up as a “daughter of Eve,” in a fundamentalist church.

Daughters of Eve (all women in the church’s view) are unclean because they share Eve’s “sin.” Because of their propensity to sin, girls and women must be closely guided, lest they fall prey to the lure of sin.

None of that made sense to me, especially since my parents weren’t fundamentalist Christians. On the one hand, my father was telling me I could be anything I wanted.

My mother was telling me I should learn to type “In case anything happens to your husband, you’ll have a skill to fall back on.”

The church was telling me I existed to be a “helpmate” to a man and a mother to his children.

Women held no power in the church. We couldn’t be ministers; we couldn’t be deacons; we couldn’t serve communion; we couldn’t even teach Sunday school to children older than 12 because the Apostle Paul said so.

I rejected all of that as I grew up, although I married an “old-fashioned” man the first time out. Once I realized I didn’t want or need a boss, or an owner, I moved on to healthier relationships.

I kept my sons away from church because I didn’t want them to become the kind of men who would treat women without respect.

I finally discovered that there are churches where women are equal; churches where even the men were feminist. In my childhood church, these were called “Dens of Satan.”

The people in fundamentalist churches feel persecuted because they can’t make everyone believe God is a punishing father figure, and they can’t force all of society to live according to their Medieval tenets.

They are the driving force behind laws that withhold health care from poor women by closing women’s health clinics. They are the people who filed the Hobby Lobby suit that exempts “Christians” from covering women’s contraception.

They’re also the ones behind that proposed laws that would allow businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples or fire someone on the basis of sexual preference or gender identity.

They are pulling us all backward with their so-called values, as though women’s lives are less consequential than men’s.

Now comes a bill in Georgia that would exempt these good “Christians” from domestic abuse laws because they believe the man is the head of the household and should be allowed to administer whatever discipline he chooses for whatever displeases him.

“Yeah, I smacked her. She burned the toast. I have a deeply held religious belief that I have to correct her.”

That’s what it’s often called, by the way, “correction,” as though women’s desires are meaningless and wrongheaded and therefore must be corrected.

So, what comes next, public stonings of women who have been unfaithful? How far do we allow ourselves to be pulled down this road?

The day the so-called Hobby Lobby decision was rendered by the Supreme Court, I found my local chapter of the National Organization of Women and re-joined.

The Asheville/Buncombe County chapter holds meetings the second Sunday of each month in the Community Room of the YWCA in Asheville.

Wherever you live, if you’re a woman, you need to become active. You need to register and vote. You need to raise your voice.

When I was a young feminist, I thought we were winning these rights for all time; not I know we have to keep fighting.

 

 

 

 

Too many of us just don’t get it

share

This meme from a high school friend set me off this morning.

Do people really think those who have to rely on government assistance enjoy it?

Do they really believe the person getting $50 a month in food stamps has no worries?

Here was my reply:

You mean giving it to a 1-percenter in the form of a tax break, right? I work with people who are receiving government assistance, and not one of them (except the 82-year-old veteran) wants the help. My son would have loved to get help before it was too late to save his life. These selfish memes make me furious. It’s the wealthy who are picking our pockets, not the poor or the sick or disabled.

So far, no one else has commented.

My son had stage 3 cancer and was forced to leave his wife to be eligible for Medicaid. He still hadn’t been approved for disability. That would take 37 months and the first check would arrive nine days after his death.

He applied for food stamps, and even though he had no income, he was approved for just $10 a month. He walked away from it.

He wanted to work, but he was too sick, so he tried to rely on systems he had paid into for 15 years. He got next to nothing.

Among the people I encounter in my work is a young mother who works full time in a restaurant but whose income is still below the federal poverty level, so she can’t buy insurance through the Marketplace. She can’t get Medicaid, either, and she has cervical cancer. Without treatment, she’ll die.

She pays taxes, by the way. Every time she buys anything, she pays sales taxes. Her rent money pays her landlord’s property taxes.

Another person we serve is on disability because of bipolar disorder. Believe me, she would trade a healthy mind and body for her government assistance any day. She became addicted to drugs when she self-medicated to get rid of the emotional pain. Until the Affordable Care Act became law and mental health services were mandated to be covered at the same level as other health services, she wasn’t getting the treatment she needed. She had to go to jail to get that.

Not a lot of people on disability are lazy. They’re living on below poverty level incomes and they’re watched carefully. If they need more, that’s just too bad. Any increases in the money they receive — often after working and paying into the pot for decades — is going to the wealthy in the form of a tax break.

Let’s flip this meme on its head. Let’s demand that the people who live off the sweat of others give up some of their perks. No one needs the kind of money being hoarded by the Koch Brothers and the Walton family.

And certainly, the poor don’t deserve to be vilified.

Please, when you see something like this, don’t just roll your eyes and keep scrolling.

Speak up, or as they used to say in the evangelical church I grew up in, testify!

 

a world of progress site | woven by WEBterranean