In one of my favorite movies ever, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Jimmy Stewart (George Bailey) says to Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter)
“Just a minute… just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You’re right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. But neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was… why, in the 25 years since he and his brother, Uncle Billy, started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn’t that right, Uncle Billy? He didn’t save enough money to send Harry away to college, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what’s wrong with that? Why… here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You… you said… what’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken down that they… Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!”
Today, it seems Mr. Potter is alive and well and living everywhere in society. Today, I met a woman who — though she’s disabled, she can’t get disability. Though she can’t work, she can’t get social security, though she was left a house, she now pays an exorbitant amount to rent it, and the list goes on.
Why? Because the state she lives in has a law that said she had to prove she was disabled for longer than she has. Because that same state has a law that distinguishes between physical and emotional disability, though there are supposed to be parity laws. Because the people who bought her house are, in my mind, greedy. Because she has no, or can’t afford, health insurance. Society has failed this woman, though her faith community is trying to help, they can’t do it forever. Is it too much to ask that she get what she needs? Apparently, yes.
It has been illegal to be poor since the Reagan years, when he stated “some people want to be homeless”. While that may actually be true for some individuals who are homeless, no one but the mentally ill want to stay in the freezing cold. Mental health coverage, despite some progress, is laughable. Lots of people can’t be seen if they have Medicaid, or if they have a high deductible, or high co-pays, and (by definition) their judgement is impaired. AND THIS IS BEFORE TRUMP.
Elsewhere, people can’t afford housing, people can’t afford a lawyer if their rights are removed, and if a person actually does make a bad choice, they’re in the system for life, where the government and society blames them for needing help, and justifies it with the sentence, “there’s only so much money to go around”. While that is possibly true, I tend to doubt it, and — of course. — we’ll never find out.
“And he’s telling us all about the deal he’d give us if he could , but he just can’t” — Bruce Springsteen, in the song “Used Cars”….
If you listen to the Russia Scandal, you hear numbers being bandied about in the billions regarding money laundering. The new Republican tax plan, which was supposed to help the middle class, will increase the debt by a trillion dollars. For years and years, we have been told that, if we want money for education, or fire departments, or police stations, we must fix the debt. Now, suddenly, we don’t? Can someone explain how this works?! For years, it was a running joke that we have wanted “the military to have bake sales while teachers and schools have what they need”. Over the last 40 years, the gap between them has only gotten worse. It’s not about resources, ( and I dare say, it’s never been about resources) it’s about priorities . While your average person will spend years paying for their cars, the rich want a tax break on their private jets. The list of indignities here is too large to list here (or, frankly, anywhere).
The final straw for me was Sen. Chuck Grassley saying, last week, that the new tax plan makes sense because it differentiates between “those who invest their money, vs, those who spend it on “women, booze, or movies”. Is it really too much to ask that people have housing, food, and clothes, medicines, health care and some fun every once in awhile? Is it too much to ask that most people work one job and make enough money to have a life? Really, is it?
Resisting with Peace,