Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog Action Day--one day late

Some events in my life yesterday put it out of my head (and I'll write more about this soon), but interestingly it ties into an online discussion I ended up on so I'm just going to post that here. It also ties into something I want to post on, and hopefully will this weekend.

The subject was poverty. I'm afraid I don't offer solutions here, just my place in it, and the words of a high school friend I recently reconnected with.

The country has been "socialist" since the 1930's. Social Security, Medicare and other such programs are all socialist and FDR was hailed as a hero for implementing them when the country was in crisis. George W. Bush has just pushed through the Nationalization of the banks to prevent such crisis.

That said, I do understand the fear that your hard-earned cash is going to be given to the undeserving poor, but in this country right now there is such a divide between the rich and middle-class that every middle class family is inches away from falling through the cracks.

I have a scenario for you. When I was a child, my father opened a book-store. In the late 70's the county was in a recession and it failed even though my father did everything right. Because of his anti-socialist beliefs, he refused help from anyone, ended up living alone in a one room apt., barely able to afford his medicines and died, well, younger than I think he should have.

I spent my teenage years in a variety of socialist programs which allowed me medicines and healthcare and glasses, but not my mother who ended up briefly homeless when I went off to college--college made possible both because I worked very hard, but also because of more government programs and private charity. If, God forbid, someone should lose a business, or otherwise slip off of the path of what conservatives like to think of as the "right" way, whether that means, being laid off by a company that goes out of business, or taking too much credit to get your business started, will these anti-socialists refuse a helping hand?

Other examples of slipping off the path, "making other choices"--debilitating illness including depression, sudden death of a caregiver, sudden divorce, change in the industry for which you were trained, natural disaster such as Katrina, injury in the military.. I could go on. Obama has never pushed for this kind of pure Marxian Socialism that people seem to be implying, any more than conservatives are actually for the pure Adam Smith capitalism which would not give tax breaks to big business or provide tax loopholes for the wealthy.

(From my friend) ...on the "socialism" issue... I was raised by two pretty strong Republican parents, and I agree that there are problems with the Social Security and Medicare and Welfare programs, but those problems have to do with the government's ability to run the programs effectively... not with the fact that these programs exist at all.

In fact, I would be homeless if not for Social Security. See, I did everything "right". I went to school, went to college, even got a master's degree and was headed out into the world of big business to make my mark. Then something happened that no one planned for... I was diagnosed with MS. They don't know what causes MS, so it wasn't like I could even blame something about my lifestyle or genetics on this. BOOM. It just happened. Life totally changed.Less than a year after I was diagnosed I lost my eyesight. Completely. For 3 months. I lost my job. I was completely on my own, but for the help of my parents and the grace of God. I am virtually unemployable because of MS, and most certainly not full-time employable. My body shuts down if I try to work 40 hours a week (and I know this because for 3 months I tried, and I ended up in the hospital).

A lot of the time I can't walk on my own... I either need a walker or a wheelchair. Sometimes I am not strong enough to use either and I'm more or less immobilized. The bad part is, these attacks of MS are totally random, unannounced, and can happen at any time. I might wake up tomorrow and be blind again. There is no way to know.So, without Social Security what would be my fate? Without parents who could take care of me (which I thankfully have, but a lot of people in my position do not), what would be my fate?Further, a lot of people don't realize this, but once you get into the "system", you are income controlled. Now while this has good intentions (to keep people who can make enough money to support themselves from taking advantage of the system), it is not managed well. I get $700 a month from Social Security. Can you live on $700 a month? But if I try to earn extra income (above what they allow), they will stop sending me even that much. It is kind of the same with welfare and other programs... it is easy to get "stuck" in the system when you have the potential of getting out. I don't, but there are those who do... and while they are good programs they just aren't run or managed very well when the "stuck in the system" garbage is the case.

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