You want us poor folks dead, so why not be honest and advocate for it? We know you want us dead. We read it every day on Syracuse.com and in the Letters to the Editor. We see it and hear it in every forum where the public speaks. I, for one, am tired of defending my right to life. I’m sick of being reasonable and rational, and explaining the process to privileged bigots who don’t want to know reality.
You’re healthy enough to work full-time; we’re not. Because you work full-time, you are wealthy enough to own a car and probably a house. We live in HUD-subsidized high-rise apartment buildings—stacks of tiny apartments, single-occupancy—surrounded by other old, poor, sick people. Nobody lives here by choice. It’s the only place we can cling to survival.
Meanwhile, you’ve got enough money to make choices. You don’t have as much money as you want—I get that—and the way you see it, it’s my fault. I’m tired of being blamed for your unhappiness, so go ahead and kill me and get it over with. Cut all the public welfare programs. You know you want to, so go ahead and do it.
Cut my HEAP (Heating Emergency Assistance Program) and let me freeze to death. It happens. Old people die because they can’t pay the heating bill. Not a big deal. I hear freezing to death isn’t really painful. I would, however, prefer to have you put a needle in my vein and run in potassium. That’s how we do capital punishment in the Big House. The Supreme Court says it’s all right, so that’s good enough for me.
By golly, I do cost you so much money. Food Stamps so I don’t have to eat dog food. Paratransit so that I can get to the grocery store and spend my Food Stamps. Medicaid transportation to take me to the doctor, except no doctor will take Medicaid so I have to go to a clinic where medical students will practice on me. But I should be glad, right? I should be grateful to get medical treatment that you wouldn’t tolerate for a minute.
Because . . . why? I’ve never understood why you begrudge me survival. You don’t care about me, I know that. You don’t even know me. I guess that makes it a whole lot easier to hate me and blame me for draining your income but I’m tired of taking the blame. I want to be free of it, so will you please set up a euthanasia program for me?
There should be a proclamation for it: Be it known by all persons that as Anne C. Woodlen, hereinafter referred to as the Poor Person, is sucking the life out of me, therefore I, the undersigned citizen, want her dead. Let her be killed at public expense. Then I can have more money, which, as we all know, will buy me happiness.
After the Great Depression we started all these welfare programs because we were still actively a Christian nation and we didn’t want to see anyone suffer. And what happened is that we did not act wisely and we started down a dead-end street from which we cannot return. Before public assistance programs, families had to take care of their own. There was nowhere else to go, and people still lived in small communities where they knew each other. They either couldn’t endure putting someone out on the streets to die, or they couldn’t stand the humiliation of other people knowing they’d done it.
Like it or not, people took care of each other. Everybody had difficult relatives—the ornery spinster aunt, the alcoholic father-in-law, the crippled nephew—but they learned to accommodate them. Somehow, the extended family would figure out how to care for the difficult relative and life went on for everyone. There was no choice so you learned to cope. (To be continued)