Update: Out of Order

A month ago, I posted about the plight of my friends Claire, Brian, Alexis, and Ethan Robertson*, and how the way the System as it currently operates in America undermines the ability of hardworking citizens to provide for themselves in the event that the least little thing goes wrong. And the Robertsons have had more than their fair share of things to go wrong.

Well, things have just got a hell of a lot worse.  In the past two weeks, Ethan has lost all of his disability income. This is an innocent nine-year-old boy who suffers severe autism and requires twenty-four-hour supervision. And to top it all off, Alexis has lost her medical insurance, as well. The argument is apparently that, now that she has turned 18, her $3,000-per-*year* income is sufficient for her own treatment of autism, depression, and various other disorders. Even if she had the enormous amount of money to pay for private insurance, she would be turned down, because the president’s health-care reforms are not in effect yet, and she would be denied because she has “pre-existing conditions“.

I can’t even begin to quantify just how much this pissed me off–and I’m not even directly affected. Can you imagine what it’s like to be in the Robertsons’ shoes? If you can’t, then you’d better have good insurance, because you are in dire need of a heart transplant.

I may not be able to quantify it, but I can sure as hell depict it. Photo by Troy C. Boucher Photography

Someone commented to my prior post, “I wish there was something I could do.’ And I passed on to her the same encouragement I pass on to all of you:

Quit being satisfied. Get angry. Do something with that anger. Fight tooth and nail with anyone who dares presume that the answer to poverty is “get a job”. Such an argument suffers from Tinman-Scarecrow Syndrome: no brain and no heart. Demolish any argument not founded on compassion. Listen. Listen to other people’s stories. Not “my cousin Jimmy knows this one guy who knows this one guy who…” stories. Take them straight from the horse’s mouth. Don’t presume to know people you don’t actually know. Remember what your parents taught you–don’t judge a man till you’ve walked a mile his shoes. And if your parents didn’t teach you that, then it’s up to you to make up for their deficit and get that lesson in your head and heart. Impart good values to your children and your grandchildren. If you don’t have children or grandchildren, then it’s your responsibility to impart good values to those who can pass them on to their children and grandchildren. Work to build a society where a man is not punished for circumstances beyond his control.

*Names changed to protect privacy.


About Whittier Strong

Whittier Strong is an MFA student in creative writing at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, with a focus in nonfiction. He graduated from Metropolitan State University with a BA in creative writing. He has special interests in sociology and philosophy.

Posted on 20 September, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. It makes me wonder what will happen to all the folks who have lost health insurance, food stamps, the free school lunch program, head start, and unemployment insurance. That’s a lot of people suffering, and they still have needs that must be met. I’m anticipating rich people vilifying starving folks who turn to petty crime to feed themselves and their kids, and an increase in reported child neglect cases because of parents with no childcare benefits having to leave far-too-young children at home alone so the parents can work to keep a roof over their heads. So many desperate people have run out of options now that the safety net is being ripped apart, and I would imagine they must choose between starvation and homelessness or resorting to extreme actions they never would have considered before. It makes me sad. There’s no good outcome here.

  2. Thank you for keeping this on the front burner. I once made a good living, got laid off, and am now out of unemployment insurance as I struggle with odd jobs and help from family. And wandering the halls of Human Services, I see so many people living on the edge, desperate, at a loss.
    Maybe if all of us Whos down here in Whoville shout loudly enough, our collective voices would reach the ears of those who serve their own interests instead of the nation’s. But until we all realize that what hurts one, hurts all, I’m afraid we’ll remain unheard.

    • I agree with you, but I see very few people in politics who act even semi-consistently to help the Little Guy in our country. The sad truth seems to be that the majority of the folks in Washington are not interested in representing the people. They are interested in lining their own pockets and furthering their personal agendas.

      There need to be actual consequences when our political representatives violate their oath to serve us, or there will be no incentive to focus once again on the needs of the people who elected them. Most of those already in Washington seem like they’re already a lost cause. I’m frustrated; I am so ready to act upon my desire to change the system, but I can think of no action to personally take that will make a difference to the people who are suffering today from the callousness of the system that is destroying our safety net. :-/

      • That’s why my focus is four to six generations out, after this culture no longer exists, likely after the United States no longer exists. No way can this all be upended in our own lifetimes. It’s a matter of starting a meme of compassion.

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