Most poor people do. It's not like there's another option. Well, I mean, there's death, but...that's stupid.
Yeah, I just spent a little over 1/6th of my paycheck on tires so I don't die if it gets a little slick on the roads, which was 1/3 of my remaining money for the next two weeks after bills. Then my battery died. Well, my battery died and then the auto parts place said the word I've come to fear: Alternator.
There was good news and bad news. Good: Lifetime warranty on the one I put in last year. So, the part is free for as long as I own the car. Bad: It's bitterly cold, I don't have access to a garage bay or lift.
Yes. I know how to replace an alternator. I had to learn. Why? Because I'm poor. Duh.
So, I had a minor freak out yesterday, got home and burst into tears after I figured out exactly how much money I really had left. This may not even cover the labor and I haven't even filled up my gas tank or bought my mom an xmas present and we're gonna need food and kitty litter and ohshitwhatthefuckamIgonnado?
I get paid twice a month. I don't get paid again until New Year's Eve.
Fact: If you live in a cold-weather climate, someone in your city is going to freeze to death on the streets tonight.
I'm way better off than that. I appreciate what I have.
Enough about me, I just wanted to give some context.
One of my friends posted this on facebook:
...is wondering whose brilliant idea it was to intstate the government program, TracPhone? (sarcasm should be very apparent)
someone else replied: yeah, dont you think that calling a hospital is like... the first step in receiving heathcare?!?!?
I'm not sure what they mean, but... the thread owner's reply followed:
I don't believe war should be funded to the level that it has been. But this is not the issue. You have to draw the line somewhere on where the government provides aid and people have to take some level of responsibility for their lives. The person who makes 500 per month is probably getting it from social security or disability and most likelyreceiving reduced energy costs from the utility companies (which are subsidized by the gov't) as well as Medicaid/Medicare and Food Stamps and now TracPhone. There must be some personal responsibility even for those with disabilities. It would probably be a safe bet to say there are more people who abuse these services than those that truly need them. Now Life Alert makes sense as a gov't provided service, not a cellphone or landline.
And, another reply from someone I don't know:
Now, we welcome the conspiracy-theorists to the party:
I've heard (no proof) that Cricket is actually a government run company. The idea being they automatically have legal access to all the phone records of people who have no credit for a higher-end service provider (ie: poor people who buy and sell drugs). No credit check for a Cricket.
Major assist in drug investigations. The big boys might be able to afford Verizon, but their clients can't.
Contrary to urban myth, most drug dealers earn the equivalent of minimum wage. All pyramids are built the same way, hence the all-seeing eye that crowns the pyramid on our money. (Is that straight out of "Lord of the Rings" or what??)
Information is the single most powerful weapon you can possess. Controlling information means permanent power.
The Chinese refer to this process as "patient gradualism".
Because we are an eye-candy society, the subtleties of what's happening escape most people. It's important for artists, musicians, writers, etc., to be aware of this stuff as it we who are usually the first to be rounded up. History has proven that even though the "John Brown's" of the world have been crazy, they were also very often right.
Sorry for the rant, topic close to my heart.
A voice of reason enters the fray:
Actually, Some of the client's I've worked with cannot afford to have telephone service and this program has really benefited them and has helped mental health services keep in touch with them. I think it is a good idea for some individuals.
I do not know when to walk away from this kind of thing. I really don't. Probably because I don't understand it.
Here's where things got interesting.
My friend replies: Health care is screwed, it obviously needs reform. In the unfortunate circumstance of becoming disabled or sick there are things that can and must be done to simplify one's finances and lifestyle. Cutting out unecessary costs and living frugally to survive along with finding non-traditional ways to make cash are a few strategies. Granted, there are sure to be some extreme cases but I would suspect a large majority of people don't think things through before jumping onto the government support train. I have friends on disability who don't "truly" need it. I have family on disability because they refuse to make the life changes needed to lead a healthier life. I just think there are far better programs out there our tax dollars should support. And there are other options for affordable phone calls: pay phones and Cricket. My grandparents have a cellphone they pay for while living on social security and a small pension. My uncle in law is on disability for mental illness and lives frugally in a small apartment but still manages to pay for his phone. If it's worse than that, there are agencies out there to assist. While the government should have the people's best interests in mind, it's not their job to take care of everything.
The voice of reason returns:
My friend then posted:
There's no doubt the system has flaws but monies to fix that system are needed and cutting TracPhone to ensure people get proper medical care and "life training" in hard times of disability and sickness, sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
I left my only parting shot, short of saying, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Radical suggestion: Cut the cashflow to corporate welfare (aka Subsidies to agribusiness, oil, etc.,) and stop letting wall street rip us all off, before we tell people who are already stepped on and invisible, falling through cracks every day, to do better with resources they don't have. If you've got relatives milking the system, step up and report them. If you think people you know should make better choices re: health, help them to do it. The bottom line is this, people are more important than money. The programs that help people who really need the help, (granted, some people will always game the system, if they can,) these programs are not only a minute fraction of the budget, but they get cut almost every year.
Telling people that are an inch away from homelessness, to be more frugal, isn't just blithely ignoring reality, it's cruel.
Strip people of their humanity and dignity, and then tell them they're still not debased enough.
Because it is humiliating, people who are on medicaid, even for disabilities that are well-diagnosed, are humiliated. They are treated differently. People who are poor, sacrifice their dignity.
Being poor shouldn't be a crime, but we treat it like it is.
Not everyone is poor because they're spendthrifts, not everyone's disability is a fraud. Projecting that onto people who don't deserve it, is wrong.
Compassion costs you nothing, this piddly program costs you next to nothing. If you're willing to drop a dollar in the salvation army kettle, this shouldn't bother you in the slightest.
Talking about this isn't achieving anything useful, I'm done.
Oh, but no, the original author is not done yet.
People are more important than money. In fact, my ideas are geared towards helping people where it's REALLY needed. Health care keeps coming up over and over again and is a major portion of what influences people's life choices and it MUST be reformed. In fact, there are many government programs that need to be reformed. The fraud connected to Medicare and Medicaid is a huge reason these programs don't have enough assets to truly make a difference in the lives of those who need it. Not everyone who needs assistance fits in the same box, but we have to do a better job in administering these programs. If FaceBook can code an algorithm as brilliant as this, that knows how to present content in a way that is personal and "understands" the user, there is no reason our government cannot effectively deliver benefits and monies to those with greater need. This is by no means an insult towards those who are less fortunate, but simply states that both sides of the spectrum are responsible. "There is only one class of people that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. In fact, the poor can think of nothing else." ~ Oscar Wilde
And y'know, my friend isn't actually wrong.
This is what I would have said, if I'd wanted to continue the conversation:
I don't disagree with anything you've just said. The quote is also quite apt. The system is incredibly flawed, having worked in it for a medicaid contractor, I've seen both sides. The corporate avarice and the ingrained cycle of poverty that occurs not simply from lack of money, but lack of hope, lack of dreams, a poverty of the mind and soul that makes financial circumstances not merely unbearable, but inescapable. My personal point of view is that Universal/Single payer/Socialized Medicine both levels the playing field in a meaningful way AND eliminates a large percentage of, "fraud," in the system. Medicare actually runs incredibly efficiently compared to commercial health care. There's also the ethical issue of people making life or death decisions, (at the very least, extreme quality of life decisions,) based on maximizing profits. It would be lovely if we stopped trying to put people into tiny little boxes and addressed needs in a more holistic/whole person way. (Note: part of the reason the cost/feasibility ratio looks so skewed is that as the Insurer's profit margin drives the rates negotiate with providers; providers are forced to inflate fee schedules in order to meet their own profitability goals. Take that factor out and costs go down. Single-payer then becomes easily affordable.) Using the Orshansky model, the Federal government is essentially generating a deflated number of those that live at or below the poverty level. Similarly, unemployment statistics reported weekly are skewed, because they ONLY count those that are eligible for unemployment benefits. The actual number of people who are unemployed is much higher. I'd actually recommend using Google as a paradigm of the personalization and broad-spectrum analysis for that sort of thing. My ultimate point is that the only person who can tell you whether they need a service like Safelink, is the person who really NEEDS it. Someone who is homeless, for example, may not qualify for it. Just because they are HOMELESS. There are too many catch-22s and hindrances already for those who are genuinely in need. I'm not trying to rant at you, but it's too easy to dismiss something as wasteful, when it's not something you, yourself need. It's too easy to see the negative aspects, (waste and fraud,) rather than the necessity and benefit if that's what you've seen.
Here's the problem: Not once, not even once, does my friend ever acknowledge that anything myself or the voice of reason said, might have actually been right.
The initial post and subsequent replies all have a blithe, snarky, tone to my ears. It's a sort of, "Fuck the poor for costing me money," tone that, I'll admit, I might be a little sensitive to. On the other hand, I spent years working in a hotbed of Republican-fuck-the-poor-I've-got-mine 'tudes.
Does this person bring up some valid points re: wasteful spending and fraud? Of course. Those are easy points to make, though. It's the same-shit-different-day cant most of us on the wrong side of the poverty line hear from those subscribing to the Ayn Rand school of thought.
Why does being poor make someone worth less in the eyes of society?
Why is being poor so offensive to people who aren't?
The SEP (somebody else's problem,) filter blinds people to the fact that they are one catastrophic illness, one layoff in a bad economy, one car crash away from walking in the very uncomfortable shoes of the poor and disabled.
The paucity of empathy reminds me of the big, bad 80s. Yuppie scum who just didn't want the homeless sleeping on the heating grates in front of their apartment buildings, brownstones, offices. Out of sight, out of mind. Acknowledging that the poor exist, in a conscious, meaningful way, means acknowledging that you could be poor someday.
Poverty terrifies people.
Live frugally? I do. I barely leave my fucking house. I can't spend money I don't have, because I don't have credit cards. There's no such thing as living beyond my means for me. If I don't have the money, I don't have the money.
Do I take a lack of empathy for, acknowledgement of, and dismissal of the poor, disabled, disenfranchised, invisible, etc., personally? Yes, I do.
What I do not understand, is why people do those things. You've determined that someone who is unable to do the things you think they should, for whatever reason, is less deserving of compassion or a voice. How do you do that? How do you say, "This person doesn't deserve to have the bare necessities of life, because they have failed at helping themselves?"
When you do that, aren't you essentially saying that they don't deserve to exist at all?
When we objectify human beings and deem them unworthy, subhuman or useless as a class of person, it makes it all too easy to see how Slavery reigned for hundreds of years, how the Nazis slaughtered millions of people, how genocide after genocide after genocide has happened before our eyes while we do nothing. I'm extrapolating, of course. Trying to understand one person's dismissal of the needs of other human beings does not a genocide make.
It's only a comment thread on Facebook. It's only women. It's only the Jews. It's only the lepers. It's only the filthy poor, it's only the savage natives. It's only...It's only... It's only...Somebody else's problem.