While Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rails against public workers’ benefits as “unsustainable”—a debatable position as the term has been fostered by the “never tax the rich” crowd —those of us in the disability rights community must face the fact that programs and services for the most vulnerable are now on life support. I was put in mind of this yesterday while watching a rerun of “Gray’s Anatomy”. A man walks into the hospital complaining of mild chest pain. Within an hour he’s a goner. The intrepid doctors worked like hell to save him. And all it took was 60 minutes. A functional man was gone in a flash…poof…
I can assure you that I have lived on food stamps and disability benefits. As an adult I’ve survived because of government assistance. Today I am a tax payer. Hell, I even have tenure—for whatever that’s worth. Accordingly when I read sub-Cartesian prose like today’s column by David Brooks (who argues that in these times of austerity “everybody must hurt”) I want to throw up. Mister Brooks, people with disabilities are on the gurney. How would you suggest they hurt? Let’s review.
I wouldn’t dream of speaking for Mister Brooks. But here are the realities facing people with disabilities:
Illinois is facing the prospect that state services for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities will be severely curtailed or even closed. Shame on their governor, Pat Quinn, who is a Democrat. Shame on all politicians who don’t stand up for the poor. Everybody most hurt? Really? How does paying an extra thousand for your Lexus equal having your dialysis unplugged? I would love to have Mr. Brooks explain this to me. And yes, I went to an excellent college. I even read Jeremy Bentham.
Plans are underway in Texas to shut down many programs for people with disabilities. As Lou Reed once said: “Get ‘em out! On the dirty boulevard…”
In California programs for developmentally disabled children are threatened.
South Carolina is doing everything it can to wipe out disability services—so much so that a federal judge has ruled that the state’s heartless budget cutting violates the civil rights of some citizens with disabilities.
I could go on state by state but I have an appointment. Let’s just say that the civil rights of people with disabilities and the right to make as much money as you can if you live in the top five per cent of income earners has come a cropper. And let’s just say that everybody will not hurt equally. Mister Brooks…