I’ve been thinking about being poor, and how that makes my life different from yours.
How much do you weigh?
How often do you have to answer that question for a complete stranger?
I have to answer it about three times a week, which is how often I have doctor’s appointments and, no, it’s not the doctor’s staff asking me. Because I am poor, I have no recourse but to travel by Medicaid transportation and that’s who’s asking. Wayne Freeman’s Medical Answering Service has the contract for Medicaid transportation in New York State.
When Freeman and Onondaga County illegally conspired to deny me Medicaid transportation, I went to see a lawyer. After a bunch of talk he basically said I was screwed, then, as I was leaving, he said, “If you can’t get Medicaid then why don’t you take a taxi?” My Social Security income is $821 a month, that’s why, you idiot. On one occasion, my doctor and his secretary really wanted me to get treated so they split the cost of one-way taxi fare: it was $25.
Today’s math question, children, is if one-way taxi fare is $25 and the total income is $821 then how many taxi trips can the patient make in a month? Tomorrow we will talk about food, heat, lights, laundry and a birthday card for your mother because you can’t afford to buy her a gift.
Last week a woman was talking about people who choose to get Medicaid instead of buying insurance. I have no idea how much you are paying for insurance but please take that number and subtract it from $821. Now live on the balance for a month. Medicaid is not a CHOICE, ladies and gentlemen. Medicaid is all we’ve got. You don’t BUY Medicaid; you fall into it. And once you become poor then everything changes.
I remember a long period when I was not able to travel outside my home, then I got enough better to go shopping and I want to tell you, I was AMAZED at how nice store clerks were! I don’t know if they were nice because they were healthy, had a reasonable earned income and were, therefore, pretty happy, or if they were nice because they knew they’d get fired if they weren’t, but it was all the same: they were nice to me.
Now let me tell you about baseline poverty. When everything you get comes from the government—food, housing, heat, transportation, a hot shower—then the people you have to deal with are all mean. They are working for Civil Service, which means they are among the best-paid workers in our society, and they get the best benefits. They are as healthy as their counterparts in—as the politicians like to say—“the private sector” so shouldn’t they be just as happy and treating people just as nicely? Well, they aren’t and they don’t, so maybe it’s the fear of getting fired. Civil Service employees are virtually fire-proof. So maybe that’s it: they can vent their spleen on us poor folks, and what can we do about it?
You really can’t imagine the degree to which being poor subjects us to continual humiliation and degradation. It’s not about damage to the physical body or to property. It’s about damage to the soul. Everybody wants power; it’s human nature, and every least petty officer grows into power over poor people simply because they can. What are us poor folk going to do about it? Go to an alternate government for help?
Every day we are subjected to rudeness, bullying, invasion of our privacy and the aforementioned humiliation and degradation. Rich white folk sit by my bed and talk to me about my anger. Fuck that! You do not have the slightest idea what “the government” puts us through!
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Ms Rich Bitch asking me if I’m a lesbian. (https://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/ms-rich-bitch-asks-if-im-a-lesbian-part-i/) I was too sick to finish that blog, but here’s the way it played out: the state government had produced a 16-page questionnaire that asked invasive questions about every aspect of my life. Everything. No holds barred. And Ms Rich Bitch got to inflict this on me BECAUSE I NEEDED TO EAT. No other reason. Nobody comes into YOUR home and subjects you to this invasion of privacy.
It only happens to us because we’re poor. The government gets their foot in the door with the offer of food, then wedges the door open and subjects us to interrogation about our whole life. I told the bitch in the expensive leather boots that I would answer questions about my income, diet and health problems and nothing more. The rich bitch, you will remember, came from Meals on Wheels. She had no right to ask me anything about anything that wasn’t directly relevant to getting food, but she did. Because the Office of Aging authorized it, and the New York State coordinator of reports produced the questionnaire.
This is the government. Do you remember when we fought the king of England and said he couldn’t govern us without our permission? The revolutionaries to come will not be Americans against a foreign power. It will be the hundreds of thousands of millions of poor people against “the government” that does not represent them. Congress is made up of rich white guys—millionaires with law degrees who do not represent the people.
The rich bitch got to the question about whether I have home health aides who do my housekeeping. I have been waiting two months to get assistance with housekeeping. I bitterly replied to the rich bitch that I don’t have help with the housekeeping. So, she said, you do it yourself? I angrily replied, No! I’m too sick! It doesn’t get done!
Rich Bitch got angry at me for my attitude. THE LAW SAYS that I’m supposed to be getting help from The Government, but it’s not happening! So Rich Bitch snapped at me that she wasn’t going to put up with my attitude.
She got her fat self up out of my chair, marched out of my apartment, and said over her shoulder, “I’m terminating your meals!”
Because The Government was asking inappropriate questions, and because I got angry about that, and because Rich Bitch is fully backed by her little division of The Government, and because it is human nature to seek power over others, I just got told I could no longer eat.
The Bitch left my apartment. In the privacy of my own home, I swore.
And the Bitch walked back in!
That’s the world I live in, folks, because I’m poor I can’t even keep The Government—or a rich bitch—out of my home. They view the door to my home as their own, to come and go through as they please, and to hell with my rights.
This sort of thing happens to me and all the other poor folk virtually every week.