The nameless, the lifeless, the anonymous.
Every so often on my way home, I pass by a free health clinic in our community and see a crowd gathered outside. This place is for the folks who aren’t on Medicaid or another form of assistance. These are the folks at the absolute bottom of the barrel. They rely solely on the kindness of strangers just to live – doctors and nurses who donate their time and organizations that donate whatever medicine they can spare. The place is open for a few hours a couple of times each week.
I became interested in this place while doing a story for the local newspaper about resources available within the city for low-income families having trouble paying their utility bills during the cold months. Fortunately, I’ve never needed help from a facility like this – I was amazed to hear what I heard from the executive director.
You know that old line about poor people just “bumming” off the government if they need food, medicine and housing? Yeah. It’s not exactly how it works. We all know there are starving children in the world and families living in the world without electricity and diabetics in the world who can’t get insulin.
That’s right. The land of the free and the home of the brave. The greatest country in the world.
Now out of the newspaper business, it’s been a while since I’ve researched the guidelines for public assistance. But the last time I looked – and I don’t see how or why it could have or would have changed all that much – men and women had to be living below the poverty line to receive any significant amounts of help. Basically, a family of four with a household income greater than $23,000 per year ($900 per month) will get a little bit of help for the children …
… but the adults …
… well, screw them. They’re bums, right?
That’s essentially what’s been said to a great number of working adults without children who don’t live in “the world,” but America.
Want medicine? Too bad.
Hungry? Tough crap.
Can’t pay your light bill? Sorry.
Public housing? Not a chance, without children.
We have homeless people who don’t do drugs. Able-bodied men and women die because they have a serious health condition that could be controlled with stuff behind the counter at Walgreens. Some who work keep very little of their meager paychecks because their wages have been garnished for back taxes, unpaid medical bills and child support.
And so they die. Day in and day out. For no other reason than they are poor.
YEAH, YEAH, WE have church organizations and nonprofit groups that lend a hand, but none that offer a real solution. Probably 1/3 of all Americans are so wrapped up in this “go forth and prosper” and “people on welfare should get drug tested” and “that’s my money” charade that they’ve excused themselves on a moral level for not caring. They still go to church in their nice clothes and in their nice cars. With their children. With their pride, gritting their teeth in anger Monday through Saturday as they discuss Obamacare and taxes and minorities abusing the system.
Because Jesus would definitely embrace their ideology if he were walking around today, right?
I write this post with no solutions to this situation. I don’t write it to criticize, chastise or demoralize. I simply write this post to inform those who’ve never witnessed America’s “other half” from their home with granite countertops and remind those who know that half exists but prefer to pretend it doesn’t. Complain about copays and new regulations and mandates in your health insurance if you must, but remember …
… we have starving Ethiopians in America. They’re just not Ethiopians.
What would Jesus do?