Monday, January 09, 2006

Poetry, Politics, and Poverty

I don't like injustice in any form. Archie Bunker would have called me a commie pinko meathead because I think politicians should be measured by the same yardstick they use to measure everyone else. Politicians should not be a wealthy, privileged class peering down at taxpayers through binoculars. The Medicare Prescription Plan is a typical example of what happens when politicians control the lives of citizens. Low income citizens, in particular, are confused and anxious about this prescription plan. Most pharmacies share that confusion and anxiety. It's a typical government plan because it punishes the poor and has little impact on the rich.

I grew up poor. Mother did the best she could to raise four children after her divorce from Dad. Dad earned a very good income but wasn't inclined to share it with his wife and children. Court mandated child support rarely materialized so Mom worked low income jobs, including killing and cleaning chickens for a living. Believe me, she knew poverty first hand and so did her children. Poverty is a trap, a maze so difficult to escape that few crawl out of it successfully. Those who have never lived in poverty can't fully comprehend the trap, and prefer not to think about it.

When Medicare became law, many politicians were against it. According to those politicians, presiding from their airy dens of privilege, Medicare and Medicaid were social programs. At the time my Grandpa laughed at their rantings. He said, "Listen to the wind blow! Those guys have a nifty social program of their own going but you don't hear them speaking out against THEIR health care perks and benefits." Grandpa's words took on a greater meaning when my mother got breast cancer. She was working as a nurse aide at the time and was denied Medicaid, so she waited to start treatment until old enough to draw Medicare.

Poets have raged against such political inequities for ages. Poetic voices shout against war, injustice, and underhanded politicians. I appreciate the courage it takes to speak out, but hate to break the news that their energy has probably been wasted. Governments will continue to fund wars and secret projects benefiting politicians and their cronies. Health care for the masses will continue to be a failed dream. And the perks and benefits my Grandpa ridiculed 30 years ago will continue to accrue for politicians while low income citizens suffer. When a government has absolute power and does not spend tax money wisely, dissenting voices have little chance of penetrating.


Gary said...

I totally agree that quality health care should be available free or cheaply for older citizens, but maybe that's just because I'm almost old enough to qualify.

Don said...

I like what you said about govt not spending tax money wisely. It's interesting that all govt. purchses are, by their nature, third party purchases. In other words, they spend someone else's money to purchase things for someone else. Since the money was not earned by them, it has no value to them, and as they are purchasing for someone else, they don't consider quality, color, fit, or price as you would when you shop - or even as they would were they shopping for themselves. So we get $50 hammers. Go figure.

Laurel Johnson said...

Thanks for the comments Gary and Don. Good points. If so many zillions of dollars were not wasted elsewhere, this country would have the money to do anything it needs to do here. But you are right, Don. Politicians are not accountable to taxpayers anymore. And kicking them out of office means nothing now because they keep their self-granted perks for life.

supermom said...

I totally agree with you. So many people don't understand how poverty and its social programs trap one into its pit and tries to keep them there.
If you make too much money, you lose the medicaid. Unfortunately, if you don't have medical insurance at work and you can't afford to pay out of pocket then you are living on a prayer. you can't get sick because it will cause you to plummet into an abyss of debt that you can never climb out of. That's why we are called the working poor.
Most of the victims of Katrina were made up of the working poor, it was no wonder that the government had such a slow response. Our government doesn't understand us or our plight...

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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