Because I am disabled I was eligible for a Supplemental Needs Trust from my mother’s estate. Her bequest to me had to go through five lawyers and a judge and, in the process, took ten percent of the inheritance (my sisters got their full inheritance). It took a year to set up the trust and ended with a thirty-page Agreement signed by the court. On page six it said that the trustee could make gifts not to exceed $1000 annually so, at my request, the trustee made donations to a classical radio station, a religious teacher, an athletic fund for people with disabilities, and my mother’s favorite charity, Heifer International.
Then the trust underwent its first annual audit by Dept. of Social Services assistant welfare attorney Kevin Grossman. After a lot of woddle and tittle about various things, Grossman wrote to the trustee and told him not to make any more gifts. The trustee said, yeah, right, and stuck the letter in a drawer. Christmas came. I asked for another donation to Heifer and the trustee said ‘I can’t. The county lawyer said no.’ The essence of my reply was ‘the county lawyer is full of shit,’ then I pulled out the Agreement, found the relevant passage, and called DSS lawyer Grossman.
He said, “It is our office policy not to allow gifts.”
I replied, “I don’t give a crap about your office policy; the law says it’s right.”
And this brings us to the push-back problem: When the government oversteps its bounds, nobody pushes back. The trustee, like 99.4% of Americans, said, “Oh well, if the government says it then it must be so.”
The “government” lies. The government is just a bunch of people with their own agendas, immoralities and self-interests and they break the law on a daily basis, but because they are “the government” people don’t challenge them the way they’d challenge their next-door neighbor or the shopkeeper down the street.
DSS chief welfare attorney Zachary Karmen illegally denied me Medicaid transportation. I had filed a state complaint against the local Medicaid transportation manager and Karman’s denial was retaliatory. It took two fair hearings for me to win that one. (Read the story at https://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/the-fairly-fair-fair-hearing-part-i/ )
On a later occasion, the Dept. of Social Services illegally put the entire population of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistant Program under surveillance by the Medicaid Fraud Unit. Why? Because they could. There had been no significant wrong-doing in the program. In fact, it was such a good program that a lot of people joined it, and DSS put it under surveillance because it got big. Some of us pushed back. (Read that story at https://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/and-the-people-say-hoo-rah-part-i/ )
My point is that government employees violate the law and, because they are “the government” we don’t push back. Our forefathers set up a government in which there is a balance of power—the legislative, judicial and executive branches of the government can push back against each other. What our forefathers (absent foremothers) didn’t have the wit or wisdom to see was that there was no balance of power between the government and the people.
The government was supposed to be of, by and for the people but it has become a government of, by and for the government, and the people are not pushing back. They must. We the People are getting screwed by our government because we are not pushing back.
Any power that is not constrained by an equal and opposite power will take over your life. When the government convinces the people that it can do whatever it wants to then all our freedoms are at risk. Government officials spread their power to include things that they have no right to mess with. Power is an inky black pool that spreads like toxic waste. It has no boundaries unless we establish them and enforce them.
The 1970s bumper sticker said “Question Authority” but we’re way beyond that now. It is too late to question; now we must push back. The excesses of government must be met with the strength of the people. We must make clear to those who govern us that there are boundaries beyond which they may not go—boundaries that we will enforce.
When any government agent tells you cannot do something, ask why not. If given a reason, say you want to see it in writing. Tell the government employee that you want to see a copy of the policy, regulation or law that establishes their right to tell you what to do.
Medical Answering Services (MAS is a private contractor) was asking every Medicaid patient what treatment s/he would be receiving from the doctor. Son of a bitch! They have no right to invade our privacy in this manner! MAS’s representative told me that the New York State Dept. of Health (DOH) had given her the authority to ask the question. She said there was a written regulation authorizing it but she could not produce it.
If fact, I learned that DOH had no such regulation, and DOH went on to stop MAS from asking the question. The employee of MAS, a quasi-government agency, lied. She made up a story to justify MAS’s abuse of power. I said, “Show me, in writing,” and she couldn’t.
We have lost authority over our own lives because “the government” is spreading its power without constraint. We must push back. We must constrain government employees. Every time a government employee makes a decision that offends you, demand to see the written authorization that enables them to do so.
PUSH BACK. It is your freedoms that are at risk from your government.