Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tale of Two Cities

Once again, I am faced with the prospect of the “Tale of Two Cities.” One is for the filthy rich and the other for the rest of us. They seem to be fortressing themselves in their gated communities as the masses gather their pitch forks and torches at the walls.

As the rest of us (as tax payers) have doled out nearly a trillion dollars in emergency bailout funds, Wall Street big wigs have awarded themselves with a reported $18.4 billion in year-end bonuses.

Are they just thumbing their noses at us?

Did you know that the average CEO makes 344 times as much as the average worker?

The now former CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, spent $1.2 million on redecorating his office when his company was going down the toilet. Then he had the gall to ask for $10 million for his year-end bonus.

At the same time, here in my state of Ohio, the governor has announced his new budget. In it, the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities is taking a crippling hit. They will have to cut operating spending at about 87 percent of the last budget.

Why do the people who need our help the most always become the first to suffer in times like these? The ones who depend on us the most (those in need of home services, children at risk of developmental disabilities, and early intervention services) are left out to dry, while the rich keep getting richer.

Sharpen those pitch forks. I’m just getting started.

When I married my lovely wife, I inherited a step son who is disabled and has to live in a nursing home. He is incapable of even living in a group home. We are not rich and have to depend on many of these services. The rich, with children in these circumstances, always have the option of private institutions. We don’t. Our son who has been helped by the wonderful people working at the MRDD facilities in the county where he resides are facing cuts in staffing. They are also faced with reducing the number of clients that they can help.

Let us not forget the possibility of closings of many services to this dependent population. It would remove the critical safety net for families who have run out of options in their homes and communities.

The money involved here, which pales in comparison to that we have handed over to the centa-millionares, is microscopic. The damage that will be done to children is infinitely disproportionate to the amount of money involved.

Get forward to seeing our juvenile-detention facilities becoming overloaded with mentally ill offenders who will not have access to doctors and medications.
This has been a very short rant, but my blood pressure is about give me a brain hemorrhage. I better stop now, before I need one of the many services that poor people like us depend on.

1 comment:

Janice Phelps Williams said...

When, through personal experience or education, people realize "there but for the grace of God go I," perhaps each in his or her own sphere of influence can do something compassionate, and that compassion, all joined together, can result in social changes that provide humane treatment for children, the disabled, the elderly, and animals. Each of us is one stroke, one car accident, one knock on the head, one birth of a disabled child away from the reality "the less fortunate" deal with in the present. This reality touches rich and poor, but it is a lot harder to deal with when you haven't access to medical and legal expertise, not to mention respite care, flexible job options, and information. Hats off to those who work tirelessly on behalf of those who cannot advocate for themselves. And to those politicians, i.e. folks we hired, who realize what is at stake. Shame on those whose priorities are all out of whack; those for whom protecting their own interests and hardening their hearts is the M.O. No matter what religious belief, or no religious belief, most folks believe in karma. What goes around comes around and we are seeing this now as we are all being challenged to look at our decisions, large and small, and see how they affect those we love and those we, as a society, are responsible to care for.