Two Suggestions

 But who was I—and who was Wayne Freeman—and in what context was I going to get “special” treatment in regard to Medicaid transportation?

Medicaid transportation in Onondaga County bills New York State about eight million dollars a year and carries about 22,000 people.  Medicaid dispatch takes about three hundred ride orders a day.  It is a very big business that exists just below the consciousness of the average citizen.  You see Adams Apple’s cherry red vans, TLC’s red-white-and-blue vans, and Able’s rusty vans stopped next to you at a traffic light but what you do not see is the steady procession of taxis, wheelchair vans and short buses that pull into Loretto geriatric center or Upstate Medical Center all day.  Around 3:00 p.m. every day, at St. Camillus nursing home, six buses line up in the front circle to pick up patients from the day treatment program and take them home.  All this happens without public consciousness; the sick and elderly exist unseen in a world apart.

Historically, if mom was sick then her son and daughter-in-law drove her to the doctor.  Then came the Great Depression in 1930 in which one of every four adults could not find work.  Judaic and Islamic traditions have included charity as a major obligation, Christianity less so.  Churches traditionally cared for the needy but now everybody was needy and a nation of churches that were predominantly Christian could not begin to keep up, which brought us President Roosevelt’s New Deal.  Included in the New Deal was the Social Security Act that, for the first time, put the government in the position of being the source of income for the poorest citizens.  Social welfare and insurance had now become a federal project.  Seventy years later, “According to economist Martin Feldstein, the combined spending for all social insurance programs in 2003 constituted 37% of government expenditure . . .” [Wikipedia]

My paternal grandmother was not covered by Social Security.  My paternal grandfather died around 1939.  The morning after the funeral my father, then 22 years old, woke up to the realization that he was now the sole support of his mother.  (You want to know fear?  Imagine being dependent on your 22-year-old kid in today’s culture.)  About thirty years later—when I was around 22—my parents decided I needed to be “independent” so I should move out of their home and go on Welfare; my father’s income at the time was around $1000 a week. 

The question is not why so many people are sucking at the public teat; the question is why so few people are taking care of their own.  My neighbor, too sick to work, was sleeping on the floor of a HUD-subsidized apartment where she paid $11 a month in rent from her Welfare income of little more than $400 a month.  Her mother was a highly placed—and well paid—legislative staff worker in Washington who helped write the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Social welfare programs were designed to rescue the most desperately poor citizens from living in hovels and eating dog food.  They are now being used as just another option in designing a lifestyle.  In fact, social welfare programs are being used to keep middle class citizens from feeling guilty.  I had three healthy sisters who worked full-time, lived with partners who also worked full-time, and owned houses and cars.  My income was from Social Security Disability; I lived in HUD-subsidized housing, rode the bus and got Food Stamps.  My sisters complained that I didn’t understand that their lives were hard and they couldn’t help me.

Where there is a heart that wants to help, there will be a wallet that finds a way.  So it’s not about the money; it’s about the willingness to care for your own relatives, and how did we become a country of institutionalized, impersonal charity?  My sisters, rather than feeling guilty about not helping me, get to feel angry that I use up so much of the public monies.  (Two of my sisters, by the way, are ordained ministers.  You can kiss goodbye the idea that the church will lead in caring for the poor.)

Let’s face it:  you are going to pay for the care of your needy relatives whether you like it or not.  You can do it either by directly caring for them or indirectly paying your taxes.  I would propose two things.  First, that a system of credits be developed whereby you can reduce your taxes by providing direct service.  Drive your neighbor to the day care center every day; spend three hours a week pushing wheelchairs at the hospital; build wheelchair ramps, have your mother come live with you—have somebody else’s mother live with you!—or buy groceries for your sister.  Reconnect with the human responsibility to care for others.

Second, pass legislation that requires first-degree relatives to pay for their kin.  Make it illegal for family members to move forward while leaving their aged and sick relatives behind.  Here it is in a nutshell:  force people to share at a personal level before it becomes an impersonal national level.

This will, of course, result in an enormous number of bureaucrats and government paper-pushers losing their jobs when they no longer have social welfare and insurance programs to run but it will also drop your taxes when you no longer have to pay the bureaucrats and paper-pushers.  All you’ll have to do is pay for direct care to the needy person, which costs a whole lot less than running it through the government.

But who was I—and who was Wayne Freeman—and in what context was I going to get “special” treatment in regard to Medicaid transportation?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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2 Responses to Two Suggestions

  1. With the development of the welfare system, the courts have been called on to resolve disputes involving welfare recipients and government agencies. The most important case concerning the scope of welfare rights is Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 90 S. Ct. 1153, 25 L. Ed. 2d 491 (1970). In Dandridge, a California law set an upper limit on the amount of welfare benefits that a family could receive, preventing larger families from receiving the same amount per person as smaller families. Large-family recipients charged that the law violated the Social Security Act of 1935 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment .

  2. Idebenone says:

    European welfare capitalism is typically endorsed by and supported by Christian democrats and Social democrats . In contrast to social welfare provisions in other countries, European welfare states tend to provide universal services and programs to benefit everyone (social democratic welfare state) as opposed to a minimalist model that only caters to the needs of the poor (as in the United States).

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