Friday, May 4, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Real Life Julia

President Obama's campaign film "Julia" is getting a lot of attention - and ridicule right now. Here's a true life parallel. Name/identification is of course omitted but this all really happened with one single woman - not a
"composite" or a "fictionalized representation".

Once upon a time I worked in the subsidized housing field, and we helped a lot of people have better living conditions - a private/public partnership that worked very well. But while we served many people who had been fully self supporting most of their lives, there were also other situations.

This event really happened:

A public housing tenant went out on a frosty morning very early, before the posted time when sidewalks would be de-iced, fell and hurt herself. It was what once would have been called "an accident".

Because she hit her head when she fell, she went to the doctor to be sure she didn't have a concussion.  Fortunately, she wasn't injured other than a couple of bruises.

But she called her lawyer anyway.

Now, this pleasant lady had serious health problems that prevented her from working, and her total income was from SSI. The health problems arose at a young age, and she had not paid in enough to draw Social Security Disability, which would have been an "earned" benefit in the same way we pay for our own Social Security or IRAs.  SSI, on the other hand, is a welfare program - necessary and important to help people - including this lady who really did need it - but not earned in any way.

She also lived in subsidized housing where her rent was based on her (government paid) income, and her utilities were included in her rent. The government paid the bulk of the actual cost of her apartment and utilities. And of course, she paid the rest with money the government gave her via SSI.

Being on SSI, this nice lady's medical needs were covered by Medicade, which at that time prohibited doctors from billing anything to their Medicade patients, so she had no copayment. Her doctor visits, tests, and medications were all free to her. The government picked up the cost for all of it.

To recap, the government gave her money, a place to live, food to eat, and  medical treatment. And now, she thought she'd see if the government would pay her even more money for being injured.

When I got the letter from her lawyer, I just picked up the phone and called him. I told him we were very glad this nice lady had not been hurt in her fall, that had occurred before daylight, before our posted ice-removal time, and that if he needed anything further to please contact me.

Never heard another word from him, and she and I continued to have a pleasant professional relationship.

She really was a very nice person, pleasant to talk with, kept her apartment clean, and got along with her neighbors. She didn't seem or act selfish or demanding. She was someone you'd never think of as milking the system.

But she didn't really comprehend that the government was paying for everything in her life. I really think she just thought she should take advantage of what was available since it would help her. She never thought
of herself as someone who would milk the system.

And I don't think she ever recognized that, despite the benefits coming from different agencies, the money all came from the same source: taxes paid by the rest of us.

 Many of the things President Obama wants to do are giveaway programs that will only benefit people who are already taking part in so many freebie programs that they can't keep up with them (like free internet & cable for kids getting free lunch, and free cell phones for medicade recipients), and other things are just gimmicks (like the free college tax credits) that will put tax dollars into greedy pockets without actually improving the lives of those who THINK they will be helped (like expanded food stamp programs). Still others are failed programs that exist only because they have been around so long (like Head Start)

It has to start stopping sometime, and that sometime is this November. When Barack Obama asks "Are you in?", just say no to "the In Crowd", and help America recover its self respect.


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