Those Rich White Guys Again


Last June I posted a blog about rich white guys. In my usual direct manner, it was called “Rich White Guys,” although it had a lot to do with the difference between the cultures of Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans. (https://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/rich-white-guys/)

In response to that blog, three rich white guys came to my hospital room and, in whispery tones, told me how hurt they’d been by my blog about them.

The first rich white guy was a family physician who owned an expensive house in a wealthy suburb of Syracuse and earned over $100,000 a year.

Brief digression: Syracuse suburbs include two communities that are virtually identical: Skaneateles and Cazenovia. Both are situated on lakes; both have slightly more than 7,000 residents. Of the residents, 98% are white. Men earn about $50,000 and women earn $20,000 less. Of the population, 3% is below the poverty line.

By contrast, the City of Syracuse has 145,000 residents, 56% of whom are white and 30% are black. Men earn about $36,000 and women—like their suburban counterparts—earn about $30,000. Thirty-one percent are below the poverty line.

The heavy hitters—rich white guys who earn over a hundred thousand dollars—live in Cazenovia or Skaneateles. I live in Syracuse, am white like the rich white guys, but am below the poverty line with an income of less than $10,000 a year.

So the first rich white guy comes to me, says he doesn’t appreciate what I wrote about rich white guys and then, later, offers to pay for me to get a healing therapy that is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

The second rich white guy is a psychologist and business owner who also lives in Skaneateles or Cazenovia. He tells me that after he read “Rich White Guys,” he un-subscribed to my blog. A therapist who refuses to listen to his patient’s view of the world. Yeah, okay, that didn’t work for me.

The third rich white guy is the vice president of a large corporation. After reading “Rich White Guys” he came and insisted that he wasn’t rich. I figure his income at about $80,000, but he’s comparing himself to the over-$100,000 guys, not to me, the under-$10,000 woman. Shortly thereafter he simply stopped speaking to me.

Around 1974, my friend, who had briefly been a Catholic nun, married a man who was a Quaker and a physician. During his residency, he was told that he could expect to earn a million dollars during his career. My friend and her husband bought a tidy little house in a middle-class neighborhood and two middle-class, energy-conserving cars.

Their only “extravagant,” i.e., non-middle-class expenditures, were educational experiences for their two children—one daughter spent a month in Africa living with a rural family—and occasional international vacations, e.g., a hiking trip in Norway.

They gave away the rest of the million dollars that he earned.

Being a rich white guy is a choice; you can un-choose it. Being poor is not a choice. Most of the poor people I know are poor because they are too sick to work, and in many cases their sicknesses were caused or exacerbated by the failure of physicians to pay attention and do the job right.

If you want to know what’s wrong with the medical profession, go to any HUD-subsidized apartment building for the elderly and listen to the stories the residents tell. Last night I met a woman who’s had both her legs amputated, one at Upstate Medical Center and the other at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Upstate botched the job. I am damaged by doctors prescribing antidepressants for 26 years.

Doctors earn a million dollars damaging some of their patients so badly that the patients never can work again. Being rich is a choice; being poor is often the result of being mistreated by doctors.

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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