People who are calling for austerity have no freaking idea what austerity actually is. It is not tightening your belt. It is not missing out on certain luxury items. It’s not cutting social programs that God love them shouldn’t be cut but have to be to balance once and for all the bloated social agenda budget. People will be better off if they don’t have money to buy say food or medicine. It’s good to go to bed at night not knowing where you’re going to sleep. That uncertainty of not having some shelter is a real conversation starter with your six and three year old kids whose last meal was a nutritious meal from KFC – two days ago. Getting that job is no longer a priority. Shelter is. You are now a beloved child of God. You are the least of these.
I wonder if Paul Ryan is asking any of these questions about his own family tonight? How about the minority leader in the Senate the effervescent Mitch McConnell? I hope not. But way too many people are. Especially those in the ever dwindling middle class. I say ever dwindling because they are fast approaching those special people that Governor Romney doesn’t worry about – the poor.
The most troubling aspect of all this is that practically everyone living in America is one catastrophic personal event away that will put them in this precarious popularity of austerity. You think you can save for it and avoid the calamitous life style of the poor and nameless? You can’t. Like the old line says, “Everyone has a price.” I pray you never meet it but there is no safety net. It’s gone. And if the traditionalists have their way it will be gone with no chance of recovering it.
Yesterday my spouse and her sister put her father’s ashes right next to their mother’s ashes in a memorial garden in President Obama’s favorite little city Elkhart, IN. Their father was an extraordinary American as was their Mother. Their contributions to our country are virtually unknown but have had an enduring effect on all of us. My Mother-in-law wanted to be a nurse but gave up that dream to support her husband and raise her two exemplary daughters. There was good reason to do both. First of all their daughters are just the best. I love them both but am very partial to the one. Their Dad and my mother-in-law’s husband was an exceptional biochemist who was responsible for many patents. You know those little sticks that tell you the PH in water? You can thank him as being a major part of the research team that made that possible. He then in his retirement was rehired to guide other scientists that were working on his varied patents that an environmental company had bought up. He traveled the world giving papers on his work. Still don’t know him? That’s odd. Oh they didn’t tweet.
Regardless of your ignorance my father and mother-in-law took very seriously their responsibility as citizens of the US and the world and to leave this world a healthier and more loving place. While my father-in-law was a very loving person there was no one in my life that was a more loving and open human being than my late mother-in-law. Despite the painful fact that she did not have the time to study and become a nurse she relentlessly volunteered at the hospital in Elkhart for two decades as one the “pink” ladies or nurse’s aide. Her dedication to her avocation was inspiring to all who worked with her. Her respect for the nurses and the doctors was legendary and she did volunteering never seeking recognition or even acknowledgement from her bettors but simply because she was trying to walk in Christ’s footsteps. That “least of these things” really meant something to her. Because of her contributions and relentless pursuit of spreading good will, lives were changed and though she would never accept this as a reality, saved.
My mother-law and father-in-law, two beautiful people living out the American dream. Two registered Republicans who unabashedly and unashamedly loved their country with all their heart and soul. They were together for 69 years as husband and wife separated only by her death last May. They didn’t drink or smoke or do other things that would jeopardize their physical health. Here were two Americans who lived selfless lives to make their state, their country and their world just a little bit better than it was when they were born into it. I could chronicle how their siblings had done the same but I want everyone to concentrate on these two for just a while longer because of their rather ignominious end.
As was stated before they lived a healthy lifestyle and as a result lived a very long time. They were born in 1917 and while my mother-in-law passed last May and my father-in-law passed the day after this last Christmas. I would love to say that America or the state or the county or the church where they were such exemplary members for many decades stepped up and made their last years as comfortable as befitting two American heroes deserved but all of them let them down in obsequious ways. The USA did provide a Social Security Benefit but never kept up with the rising cost of living or even attempted to do so. Medicare administered by the state of Indiana dwindled down to abject ineffectiveness as the cost of health care rose and the payments of Medicare stayed at best stagnant and denied again and again the request for more money. Ironically near the end of his life, my father-in-law would, because of his diminished financial position, might possibly qualify for more help from Medicare. The church ignored them until of course they were both dead and then they showed compassion to the living and are now waiting with baited breath for whatever the two of them will bequeath to their beloved church. They already had paid for the “place” in the memorial garden.
And let’s look at the living. The two sisters are now combing through their parents possessions. So much it is utterly worthless to the American economy. Letters, super and eight millimeter films, dresses and other clothes, bedding, school projects and so much more that make up the majority of what every family would indeed hold not just precious but priceless. The house is in good shape and an on a large piece of land and should yield some money for the two surviving women and that’s good but is that how our nation measures the value of lives well lived? The market value of their things? Lives lived as Jesus asked us to live and that is two lives lived in full abundance? I sadly have to say it is. We have failed the greatest generation.
MY mother did the proper thing and got very sick from several cancers and died shortly after going to the hospital. Indeed she was the very model of the Paul Ryan budget. My Dad on the other hand had the temerity to have a massive stroke that although he lived through debilitated him to point he no longer could function by himself. He did not have a nest egg. Most older Americans don’t and even if they do like my in-laws it is simply not enough to give them an end to the life that they have EARNED. My Dad wound up in a nursing home and was relegated as others in countless nursing homes to live out the remainder of their lives disoriented, drugged up and restrained until they pass.
My Mom and Dad chose as my in-laws did to be cremated. While much less costly than burial it too has become a disgusting scam with an initial price tag that cannot possibly reflect the true cost and then to have the funeral home try and try to guilt you into an appropriate receptacle for the dearly departed. Anything less than at least several hundred dollars is well degrading. I chose to degrade my Dad as much as possible. It was his wish. It was the most I could do.
And now back to the living like my spouse and my sister-in-law who are heartbroken as they have had to make heart wrenching and curiously expensive decisions as the end approached and finally came. My sister-in-law has spent the last three years as her father and mother’s principal caregiver. Her parents had decided to stay at home and wanted pass there instead of an antiseptic hospital or even worse an identity sucking black hole of a nursing home. They got their wish and even though study after study and computation after computation of real numbers support that such decisions are much more cost effective they are curiously not completely covered by Medicare even with supplemental insurance plans. As a result the nest egg dwindles down to next to nothing and is often saved by Fred Thompson. I mean the good old reverse mortgage. Thank God now they have some regulation but regardless a reverse mortgage puts an unnecessary burden and encumbrance on the property. All it helps ultimately are the banks.
Again there has to be a better modality, for people who have prepared for their later years and even those that haven’t, that assure Americans to way to die with complete and unqualified dignity. Back to my sister-in-law and the hard fact that her life that was put on hold. She lost her job shortly before her parents required full time care and lucky for all of us she hasn’t been able to find employment in the President’s favorite little city. Very well qualified and more than willing to work she has barely had a nibble despite every day trying her very best to become employed. Should she be given some kind of recompense for taking care of her parents by all of us? I’m not asking the job creators to do this. This should be a shared sacrifice. Needless to say, but I will anyway, my sister-in-law has had no income of any kind for well over a year because of no unemployment extensions. She has had to make do on what little monies that she had saved and now they are all but gone.
I’m angry. Forgive me but I am. There is no way this much financial suffering should have fallen on these three people as it did. The suffering they endured from the process of dying should have been more than enough. To me that’s what we have to ask ourselves in this next election. Is it socialism to embrace our responsibility to these millions of people and give comfort to the dying and those family members who give aid to their parents or other family and their suffering? Maybe it is and maybe we should just get over the fact it is because to me to not provide aid to our elderly and their family caregivers is and always will be un-American.