Survival of the Fittest

I’ve always talked about how politics are personal. Always.

The passion. The fervor. It comes from deep within. Decisions there affect my daily life. Policy, legislation, Acts, Bills…they roll directly to my front door. To me. To my children, my family, our lives.

I have always taken issue with many conservative ideals. When I was younger it was strictly social issues. As I matured I found myself having trouble with conservative economic policy as well. I always found it to be the economics of the wealthy, or those who wish to be wealthy. How does the joke go? Something about being young and a Democrat and when you become older, and richer, a Republican.

However lately I find myself angry when a seemingly new line of rhetoric, spurred by Tea Party types, hits the airwaves, and print, and finds its way to the lips of friends and family members. It goes something like…

I work hard for my money, and I’m not giving any of it to those just living off the system. I’m not giving anything to those lazy bums. They didn’t plan. They don’t want to work. They just take their government checks and get fat or get high or get drunk.

It’s then summed up with some Ayn Rand type quote about the survival of the fittest and how those who work the hardest deserve the riches.

Yeah, now it’s even more personal.

For those who are unaware, I’m on disability. A system I paid into when I was able and working. This means that every two weeks the state of California sends me  check and this check pays some of our bills. My husband continues to work, and the rest of the bills are eaten by his check.

Procedure bill #1 of #6 #suckitlupus

Without my disability check we would not be able to pay all of our bills. This includes medical bills that have eaten up almost everything we have.

I just realized I’m one of ‘those‘ people these conservatives are talking about. I’m the lazy. I’m the unable. I’m the one who is living off of the government.

We planned as best we could for something like this. We had savings. We alway tried to live within our means. And then, as so many others, what couldn’t possibly happen to us, did.

Thousands upon thousand of dollars in tests and treatments will do that. No matter how much you try to plan. Leaving us thankful the government program was there to help in our time of need.

Let there be no misunderstanding. I WANT to work. I am anything but lazy (unless we’re talking about putting away laundry) and the last I checked my government checks weren’t being spent on booze or illegal drugs. It sure as hell pays for a lot of meds I have to take, though. The chemo shots, the iv infusions, the daily pills that are so numerous sometimes I forget if I’ve taken them.

I’m the ‘those people’ collecting that ‘hard earned money’ these conservatives were forced to turn over. They think I’m lazy. They think I don’t deserve that check, and they sure as hell think I should have been better prepared and should get my money elsewhere.

When it comes to ‘survival of the fittest’ they are fine keeping their cash and letting me die. I should be getting what I need at a church, or some private entity. Why should they have to pay for me? Why should they be forced to turn over their pennies because I got sick?

Yes. Today’s very real political debate has come knocking on my front door. I’m the ‘those people’ you keep hearing about at rallies with signs showing a lot of bald eagles and little old ladies in Old Glory sweaters. I’m the reason they seem so angry. Well, me and millions of others down on our luck.

You see…nothing bad happens to the folks at these rallies. They have, presumably, thousands of gold bars stashed away for their rainy day. They, obviously given their stance, don’t accept Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. Their savings and self-bought health insurance will handle all their needs, even in the event of a medical emergency. Right? And of course if I ask them they ‘aren’t talking about me’ but about those ‘other people.’ ‘You know, the ones not like you.’

Yet they are like me. Just like me.

Yes, my disabled ass is clearly unconstitutional, or so I am told. Because no where, does it say, do they have to pay for us lazy sloths who are ‘abusing’ the system.

Nevermind it being a system we paid into. Facts don’t seem to matter.

Try as I may I’m having a hard time with this one. As anyone who’s been in a tough spot knows, it’s not where you want to be. And you are more than thankful for the government program there to aid you when needed.

I’m not ashamed to be collecting my check. This is exactly what a civilized society does. It provides when times are tough. It gave me a safeguard so my family wouldn’t lose everything because I got sick.

Whereas these people, these Tea Partiers and these conservatives seem to believe if I lose everything, if my family loses everything because I got sick, well…that’s just life. And survival of the fittest baby. I should rely on a church, or shelter (privately owned and operated, of course) but not the government. No…that’s not the role of their government. The one that can make sure their small business gets breaks, just not real people.

So after a night of heated debate with some of these people I ask: where has compassionate conservatism gone? What happened to this grand old party that still talks morals and family values yet preaches no help for people like me and no equality for my gay and lesbian friends? At what point did the all mighty dollar replace the All Mighty?

And when did I become lazy, not worth saving, and most certainly unfit, and therefore left behind in the grand human fight for survival?

So you’ll understand why I argue when you post your status message supporting a Republican. You will surely see why I ask why you support this or that Tea Party candidate. And you will forgive me as I question as you discuss your stance against giving any of your hard-earned money to ‘those people.’

Because those people are not faceless, nameless stereotypes pounded into your head by Fox ‘News’ or talk radio. No. It’s me. And millions of others like me. Simply paying bills, and buying medication, and undergoing treatment to survive…

…Despite you leaving us to die.


  1. My son is probably going to be one of “those people” for his entire life. I try to gently remind my more conservative friends and family that when they are talking about “those people, ” they are talking about my son/ their grandson in the wheelchair over there.

  2. I live in Australia where we have an AMAZING public health system. Yes, it is flawed but any citizen can walk into any hospital and receive treatment without handing over a single cent. Insurance is optional, not required. For many of us, insurance would cost little, but the excess’ charges would be astronomical, which is why my family chooses not to have coverage. Through my last two pregnancies I had over a hundred scans, saw countless doctors and received a treatment regimen that would have cost $100,000 if it weren’t for public health. We paid for parking at the hospital each week. $150,000 to deliver my son healthy and alive is worth every cent, but we never could have afforded it. If we lived in America, he, like his sister, would have died.

    I am always horrified by the USA’s health care debate. I struggle to understand how a single person, regardless of their lifestyle can be ‘not worth’ healthcare. Free healthcare is something that every single person on this planet deserves. I can’t imagine living somewhere that doesn’t support that!

  3. There are those who are indeed lazy and “living off the government” who could work and do more than they’re doing. But there are also people who are genuinely disabled and can’t work and need the support of the system they’ve been paying into through their taxes for the careers they were able to have before their disability.

    My fiancée has been disabled since 2007, applied for her Social Security disability benefits in 2009 and was initially rejected; she just won her appeal this past month. It took less than ten minutes for the hearing judge to say he’d heard enough and we got the “fully favorable” decision last week.

  4. Andrea Jurcak (nee Bryski) says:

    Thank you for writing posting this Erin… You summed up exactly what I have tried to expalin about me , my family, my dad etc for years.

    If anything you are the least lazy person I know… I am honored to have a friend like you…. check illness and all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I never knew Republicans were against those who were disabled.

  6. Reading the debate on you fb wall this morning I was merely annoyed…until I read THAT comment. Was she really saying that those who are not fit should not survive? I see this trend in the far right and it horrfies me. Were they not the ones stating that Obamas health care would end in death panels and were up in arms? Now they want to skip all that and have the weak die quietly. The same party who rants and rages about how christian they are and uses those beliefs to support biogotry, would like us to believe that god cares more about money than human life. Oh wait god does care about human life, but only long enough for the life to be born, once that baby gets here it is on its own.

  7. @kiphampton says:

    Charges of racism and class disdain sometimes flow too freely but this really is the issue that exposes the bigotry and privilege that underlies much of conservative doctrine. I’ve pushed back against this for years and the conversation generally goes something like this:

    THEM: Why should my tax money go for those lazy looters who don’t want to work?

    ME: “lazy looters”? (or “welfare queens”, whatever that era’s trope is) Who are they?

    THEM: People who won’t work and just suck off the government teat!

    ME: Do you know anyone who actually does that? I mean real humans; people you know; people who could work and find a job but choose not too.

    THEM: No… but then, I wouldn’t because I don’t associate with Those People.

    And so it goes. If you continue to press you find that, despite their claims that those “lazy looters” are legion and sucking the government dry, the person making those claim has never actually met anyone who does that– it’s just a made notion projected on to a faceless “them” (that just happens to coincide with their personal racial or class prejudice).

    It goes deeper than that, though. At the heart of all of this is the Calvinist notion that everyone only gets what they deserve– if you prosper, you earned it; if you struggle, it’s because you’re doing it wrong. There are no institutional factors to consider, no twists of random chance, no advantage or disadvantage based on who your parents are, nothing– If you’re healthy and doing well it means that god (or that other fantastical deity, “the market”) is rewarding you for being good and, conversely, if you’re sick or can’t make ends meets it means you’re being righteously punished. This is the cruelty and weapons-grade privilege that knits all conservative factions together.

  8. What I don’t get is people who have reached a certain status in life, regardless of party, who are not interested in helping their fellow man. It is easier to simply lump everyone “beneath” them into the lazy, good for nothing, let ’em die category. They staunchly believe that everyone is afforded the same opportunities. This very well may be true (if one is shown how to actually act on the opportunities, but that isn’t always the case) but what happens when some random asshole like Lupus comes by and renders that opportunity null? It doesn’t automatically make the sufferer lazy. This country is OURS. It doesn’t belong to the rich, although they want to believe it does. There should be no one hungry, no one homeless, no one unable to receive healthcare. Receiving assistance is your right! It incenses me when a genuinely ill person is compared to a bum (b/c yes, some exist) just b/c both receive government assistance. That is the only similarity, though. To lump everyone into one category is absolutely ignorant.

    Compassion, in many circles, is nonexistent.

  9. Hi. I am a christian, one of the “I love Jesus an awful lot” types. This is one of my favorite quotes at this point:

    “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” —Stephen Colbert

    yep. I think that sums it up nicely. I guess we just don’t feel like it. But you have to know, I’m the person to change that. because I definitely feel like it.

  10. I find it ironic that they believe in survival of the fittest when it comes to their money, but not when it comes to evolution.

  11. Amen, Erin. Amen. My husband collects SSD because twenty-five years of being a Type-1 diabetic destroyed his kidneys, and he finally had a kidney-pancreas transplant. Unfortunately he also had a post-transplant stroke, which wreaked havoc on his balance and took away any peripheral vision dozens of laser surgeries hadn’t. Plus he has seizures once in a while. Would he rather be healthy enough to work? Hell yes. He worked like a dog right up until his transplants, paying into that system. Does he spend his checks on drink and drugs? Hell no. The truth is, they don’t EVEN cover all of his monthly meds plus half the rent. But they make the difference between it being impossible for me to take care of the rest and making it juuuuust doable. Shame on those who would leave him (and you!) to die!

  12. I don’t even care if someone is “lazy” and “just doesn’t want to work”. We have an obligation as human beings to take care of each other. “They deserve it…” is an excuse that people use to justify letting their neighbors and fellow human beings live in pain, go hungry, and suffer. It is not for me personally to determine who is deserving of assistance. If someone needs food, medicine, or shelter, regardless of the why, I sleep better knowing they are able to somehow get it.

  13. I never knew Republicans were against those who were disabled.

    Because they’re not. The author is just lashing out at other people as a way of dealing with her feelings about her situation (maybe even a little guilt about stealing the wages other people would like to keep to pay their OWN bills instead of waiting for a handout? No, too much to expect in this day and age.)

    I’m sorry she has no friends, family, or church to help her with her difficulties. I’m also sorry those of you who agree she has a RIGHT!!! to other people’s wages won’t send her a dime of her own.

  14. Dear Christina:

    “We have an obligation as human beings to take care of each other.”

    But you would rather demand the government do the taking care with other people’s wages instead of doing it yourself? Not very compassionate. Kinda lazy.

  15. grace–Jesus asked his followers to help the poor; he did not ask them to demand that Caesar help the poor with other people’s money. I’m sorry you do not understand the teachings of the Savior you claim to love.

  16. Amen to that! If only politicians would think, just for once, about the good of this country and its people, instead of their own agendas we might turn things around.

  17. Those would be my wages too, George. Nothing about me is lazy. Furthermore, I’m not sure how you figure the writer is “stealing other people’s wages” when she has obviosly contributed to those wages as well.

    All I can say to people like you, George, is that I hope you never find yourself in a situation where you need someone.

  18. And you will forgive me as I question as you discuss your stance against giving any of your hard-earned money to ‘those people.’

    That’s why Republicans never give to charities too:

  19. The author’s name is ERIN… yeah hi, that’s me. And I have zero guilt about collecting from a system I PAID INTO. Yes, my money went there, and now I’m taking it out. Thank you, George, for so honestly proving my point. Compassionate conservatives are dead.

  20. Stark- I was waiting for someone to trot out my favorite study. Tell me, when giving to charity do you boast about it? All this study has proven is that conservatives boast about their charitable givings more than progressives. Bravo on that accomplishment.

  21. “I’m not ashamed to be collecting my check. This is exactly what a civilized society does. It provides when times are tough. It gave me a safeguard so my family wouldn’t lose everything because I got sick.” —> Yes, Yes, a thousand times YES.

    So brilliant. I have been one of “those people” too – a freeloader who used public assistance. I selfishly used pell grants and WIC and food stamps to get me through college and better my family’s lot in life. Then I got OFF public assistance, got a good job, and became a tax-paying contributor to society. Even saved enough to be able to pay for college for that baby who started life being fed by the government. I selfishly used YOUR tax dollars to break a cycle of poverty. Shame on me.

  22. I’m a social worker. I’ve worked with the very wealthy and the very poor. What I haven’t worked with all that often are the very manipulative. Those folks in the third group are in far fewer numbers than how it ever appears in the media. Are there people who work the system? Sure. But you’ve also met those people who work it in high paying corporations too. Working the system is an individual response to a culture that permits a system that isn’t properly supported. Enforcing policies we already have in place would disabuse people from getting what they aren’t qualified to have in the first place. Instead of looking to the people who are on the receiving end of that disability check, we should turn and take a good hard look at the people cutting that check and what criteria were supposed to have been met in the first place before the ink was even put on the paper.

  23. I love the way you write about politics, you’re so concise and clear and state what I think and feel so well. When I TRY to explain my Black Sheep Of The Family ideas to my dad, however, I’m a TOTAL BLANK. Hate that.

    But I agree that politics are personal. They are, so deeply personal. My parents are very, very Republican. Very. They love Rush Limbaugh, wanted Palin in office, the whole nine. They rail against Those People Stealing Their Money. But here’s the thing: one of my brothers is on medicaid and disability, and will be for life. He would work if he could, but he can’t. My parents will fight tooth and nail to get him the treatment he needs, and fight to have it covered in any way they can. And yet….they still want to do away with Obamacare/medicaire/disability… it makes so little sense to me. These systems are keeping your son alive, and you want to abolish them.

  24. I only have two words. RIGHT and ON.

  25. Erin, that’s like when people get pissed when I use my daughter as an example to why Obama’s health plan needs to exist. They don’t want to see an actual person they know that needs to use it. (I have an uninsurable 7 year old. She can get insurance on a group plan but not a single plan). I also let them know they can pay for her $30,000 hospital stays and her $800 an hour geneticist.

  26. George, you are why Democrats hate Republicans. Hell, you’re why the rest of the world hates American Republicans.

    If you think it’s so easy to be lazy and live off of disability and welfare, why don’t you try it for a while. See how far it gets you, you might be shocked because these checks aren’t big. They aren’t meant to sustain the kind of lifestyle I’m guessing you think people who receive these checks have. I’m not on disability, but I have medical bills that are similar (and sadly in some cases, a lot worse) than the ones Erin showed. I have thousands of dollars on credit cards because my husband’s salary and my student loans do not cover the cost of those medical tests. And if I end up on disability some day, then I guess I’ll just have to be grateful that the rest of America is glad to help their fellow man instead of alarmingly greedy.

    Just real quick, please explain to me what to do with children who are born with profound disabilities and require lifelong care? Do we just hope their family and church has enough money and then leave them to figure it out? I mean, we wouldn’t want that “lazy” kid stealing your wages. Doesn’t he know how hard you worked for them? (Apparently you work so hard that you had time to comment on a blog on a Friday morning.)

  27. Yes. Just, yes. I’m one of those lazy assholes who dared to get sick at age 23 with not one but three chronic illnesses. I guess I should have planned better or made sure I only made rich friendsso I wouldn’t be trying -yes-still trying- to get on disability. My insurance deductible just went up to 4k a year, plus the 800 a month premium, plus the hundreds of thousands a year my medication and surgeries cost. I won’t apologize for needing help. If we don’t get it soon, we will quite literally lose everything, and my children will starve even though their father has a GOOD job and works his ass off.
    But you know, that’s the way it should be. Who cares if we can’t pay our bills, or if my kids lose their mother because we can’t afford the treatments that keep me alive, and able to walk? After all, it’s MY fault for not expecting to get sick at 23. Hell, I should have KNOWN that was going to happen, and found a wealthy church ahead of time.
    I’m so ashamed for not “planning” better.
    There’s a lot of people in this boat with you Erin. And we aren’t demons or lazy monsters. We’re mostly just people trying to live and take care of our families just like everyone else. It’s funny how people change their tune when it’s them or someone THEY love who needs help. Love the hypocrisy.

  28. Amen, Erin. Thanks for providing such a clear illustration of how and why the Tea Party’s rhetoric and ideology are morally bankrupt.

    We’re going through this right now in my family–my grandmother is in her final months, and even though she has a sterling insurance plan and Medicare, the cost of keeping her in her skilled nursing facility once she’s too weak to leave the facility for her cancer treatments at the hospital (a point we reached this week) isn’t covered by her insurance. The cost of that facility is $800 per day, and 24-hour hospice and palliative care in her home–with the kind of assistance she’d need because she’s now completely disabled–is not much less expensive. It’s heartbreaking, not only because of her trauma, but because the family is incredibly tight-knit–two of her daughters live a 30-second walk from her house–yet no one in the family has the skills necessarily to provide that level of care, and as schoolteachers and retired schoolteachers, they don’t have the financial means to pay $24,000/month for such care. It’s not only people with a hope of recovery who are getting the shaft at the logical conclusion of this ideology–people at the end of their lives who also are left to suffer tremendously, even though they, too, have paid into the system that the Tea Partiers are so eager to dismantle.

  29. Probably going to get my ass kicked here but here goes, I am a conservative.

    First, I do know people who bilk the system and fake disabilities to get free help. I do know people who have lived off the Welfare system and done quite well on it while working under the table. I personally know they received housing, medical and food stamps and such to indeed support their family. I knew someone that had a kid every three years because the state I lived in stated that once the youngest child reached three they had to work. They really do exist. They make me sad and those are people I speak about when I say not every one should get disability or welfare. Notice I said not everyone should but there are people who truly have need and should get it. Erin you are one of those people that truly have a need for it.

    I know a few conservatives who won’t call me a true conservative. I know a democrats who dislike my stand on things and I’m good with that.

    Not every conservative is evil, not everyone on disability is a loser.

  30. I have a genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome that causes early osteoarthritis, among lots of other issues. I’m 36 and will be “medically retiring” in Dec. Why? I have stage 3 of 4 osteoarthritis in both thumbs. Thumbs are kinda important. Only reason cats don’t rule the world, yet.
    I still manage to work 20 hours a week, painfully. My Doctor chews me out when I see her every two weeks. “Why are you still working? You know it’s making your hands worse, right? You know it’s quickening the decline of your hands, right?”. Because *I* don’t want to be ‘one of those lazy people’. I already feel enough guilt for not being able to do the stuff around the house like I used to. Can’t brush or braid my girls’ hair anymore. Getting myself dressed is painful. Once I’m on the “system” I am no longer useful to society, despite several degree’s, I’m considered a burden not a contributor.

    I didn’t ask for my condition, I was born with it. Then I was adopted by Conservative Republican’s. I was raised on it. Now I’ve passed a genetic condition to my children because I didn’t know I had it until well after they were born. I refuse to have the official genetic testing to confirm the EDS. Why? Because it will go on my medical record and I am then forever uninsurable for a ‘pre-existing’ condition. A condition I did not ask for but merely have the misfortune of being born with!

    Before you blame my parents for giving birth to a lazy bum I’d like you to know I was adopted at 8 years of age after being in the system for 8 years. Up till now I’ve been a fairly decent contributor to society. I’m also not a Conservative Republican. I am a Liberal Democrat. And proud of it.

  31. Emxiety- You are right. People have a tendency to generalize and make blanket statements. I know for a fact that not every conservative is evil or heartless. I’m married to one. It’s just that, the way the political climate is now- it seems like we only hear from the extremists-on both sides. I like to think that MOST Americans are actually pretty middle-of-the road. But as such, they aren’t the ones onstage shouting. And they aren’t the ones pushing divisive hot-button topics into the spotlight. And, unfortunately, they aren’t the ones running for office.

  32. Emsxiety, you *should* get your ass kicked here. The facts are that the ‘bilkers’ are a much smaller percentage of the whole than the ones who are truly in need. As pointed out by Parentopia Devra, most system abuse can be stopped by those who cut the checks.

    I can tell you from my family’s experience that ‘working the system’ is a full-time job in and of itself. Maybe the Queen of Spain herself could explain just how many hours a week have to be spent on paperwork for the most routine items–and how difficult it is to stay within the arcane system guidelines to receive the assistance she needs.

    Oh, and by the way, the people trying to hold down that ‘assistance moocher’ position oftentimes really don’t feel very well…but they can’t stop doing their ‘job’ and take a sick day or two. Otherwise, you guessed it. No income.

  33. Hi, Erin. I’m one of those “Christian conservatives”. The Bible says “…If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” I read that literally. “Will not work” and “Cannot work” are two different things. I’ve known people that would have babies so they could get an increase in “their check”. We have way too many people in this country that can work, but don’t. They’d rather have “someone else” take care of them than take care of themselves. I’ve been following you on Twitter for over a year and been your “Facebook Friend” for about the same amount of time. I wish I had 1/10 of your drive and desire! I was diagnosed with cancer in 2002. Chemo and radiation wore me out, but after about 10 or so months, I felt pretty good. I mention that not for sympathy, but to let you know I don’t think I could go through what you’ve been through for such a long period of time. Anyway, back to the topic. To throw around a blanket term like “those people” indicates how ignorant some of us are. I read this somewhere: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

  34. @James, So do you take the entire Bible literally or just that phrase? Because there’s a bunch of stuff in the Bible that probably shouldn’t be taken literally. Also…who determines whether someone won’t work and can’t work and at which point do we decide they deserve to starve?

  35. Well Queen Bee, you’re certainly welcome to try kicking my ass. But the facts are, there are bilkers and those people should not receive any assistance. At no point did I say everyone on disability or welfare is a bilker. The reason I mentioned the bilkers I knew is because:

    @kiphampton says:ME: Do you know anyone who actually does that? I mean real humans; people you know; people who could work and find a job but choose not too.

    And the answer to that question is, yes I do and I provided examples of said people that I personally know in my life. Of those people, none had a disability. They were truly disability and welfare moochers. At no point did I say Erin or anyone else was, I simply gave an example.

    And just for the record, my husband is on disability so I understand the paper work required for assistance. He had a work related injury that he became permanently disabled from. It took us three years to win our Social Security Disability claim. I won’t even get started on the Workers Comp. nightmare we went through. I get the point, but do you understand mine?

  36. sigh. thank you for this. this is why i’m a lupus patient that doesn’t go to the doctor– because i can’t event afford the annual, $700+ blood tests. god forbid a treatment should they actually see if something took a turn for the worse. there’s no such thing as healthcare in this country; it’s temporary death prevention.

    and to George who stopped by, i want to know what church he belongs to. before i stopped being Roman Catholic, the church I went to on a weekly basis couldn’t even afford a roof. we had fund raisers and parochial school tuition– but the church couldn’t even afford basic MAINTENANCE. what church in the world has enough money to pay for a $100,000+ cancer treatment? what color is the sky in your world, sir? what fictional universe do you live in? and if he was a true christian, he would understand that the law of his god compels him to aid another person’s welfare– is that really any different from a government program that the rest of us god-free folks are a part of? consider these government programs the way the rest of us help our fellow man. assuming, of course, that the people like George would give one red cent to another person if he wasn’t required to by American law. (i doubt it.)

  37. I totally agree with all of this. My dad is a diabetic and is in 5th stage kidney failure and is also on dialysis. When his treatments began to make him sick and not be able to work, he got on disability so him and my mom who also works could pay the bills and for his medications. One of them is $900 with insurance. So needless to say my Dad isn’t lazy or a druggie. He is just a sick person that needs help. I’m sending you good vibes and hope that you get better soon.

  38. Here’s an interesting graph that explains health care costs and quality in 7 industrial nations. Six of those seven provide health care for everyone.

  39. They don’t understand. They really, really don’t get it.

    When we let some people go – when we let them starve, or don’t give them opportunities their children, or they can’t get medical care, or let them live on the streets – they don’t know that THEY is US. We’re in this together, and when we’re ALL well fed, cared for, educated, and have a safe place to live and clothes to wear, we ALL do better.

    My son is also a drain on the system. Well, not yet. For now, he’s just a drain on us, since I don’t work (he needs to much care for me to keep a job) and our medical bills are astronomical. But because there’s no help for us, he doesn’t get everything he needs, increasing the chances that someday he’ll be a huge drain on our society because he’ll need full-time institutional care or be in prison.

    And they don’t get it. They don’t know that almost no family could be prepared for something like having a child with severe mental illness, or a mom/wife with illnesses as serious as yours. They truly don’t understand.

    Even though I know they don’t understand, I still can’t forgive them for the terrible things they say.

  40. Holy typos, Batman! Sorry about that! I’m on this miniature keyboard and I’m not great with it. Mea culpa.

  41. @Christina: To answer your first question, yes, I do believe the Bible. I also believe that people that receive benefits when they do not deserve them are stealing from the people that need them. As a healthy American that CAN work, I believe my country owes me Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They do not owe me a roof over my head or food on my table just because I live here.

    I used to work in retail years ago, and caught a shoplifter. First thing out of his mouth was “C’mon, Bro. I’m not stealing from you, I’m stealing from The Man.” I told him “The Man” was going to own that company until he decided to sell it. If I can’t control the inventory, I lose my job, not “The Man”. People that “run the system” are stealing from the most vulnerable: Those that actually need it. As far as who should make that decision, I don’t know. I’m not that smart.

  42. Thanks for helping prove a clear definition of why disability exists. You’re helping put a face on the reality that is getting lost in the national media.

  43. I can agree with many of the points made here and have learned a lot from this post and its comments. I just wanted to point out something I just read that made me think back to this post this afternoon:

    “Almost 15 percent of the U.S. population – 48 million people – used food stamps in May. That’s the highest total ever.”

  44. Cynematic says:

    I just can’t get with a worldview that says unlucky people deserve their misfortune and lucky people — the healthy, rich, powerful — deserve theirs. Apparently it really would kill some to admit that much of what they enjoy is an accident of birth.

    Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. It’s worrying to fixate on both ends of the extremes until you realize your own life is a handful and it’s all most people can manage to avoid the curves life throws us all.

    And life will throw all of us unexpected trials. Do we meet it with humility and grace, or do we let it make us mean-spirited and small?

    I’m so glad there’s still a safety net to catch you Erin. I wish it were sturdier, and not so full of holes. I’m rooting for and working for state single-payer for you, me, and everyone we know.

  45. Peggy Sue Brister says:

    I can see both sides of the fence from where I sit. I have a husband who pays in more taxes per year than most ppl make, so by all accounts I should have very strong conservative views. I don’t. But I don’t have very strong Democratic views either. See I live in what ppl call a welfare state. Mississippi. Where about 85% of the population is on government assistance and 75% off the states school children are getting free lunches.
    I do see ppl bilking the system. I have known people who do it. They live off aid, and housing and food stamps and keep having more children to UP their aid and food stamps. Ppl who go to Walmart with their food stamp card and charge the groceries and then drive away from the store in their Cadillac with 20 inch rims.
    They will work under the table for cash paying jobs. Some sell drugs. A lot of the ladies have a man living with them that they do not claim and he has a job (that should be reported.
    I know these ppl because I volunteer at a Community outreach center and at a homeless shelter and I hear lots of stories of ppl working the system. I also know it from one of my good friends who works at the local welfare office that said she has TONS of families who have never worked and they pass the welfare inheritance down to their kids and teach their kids how to work the system and when they start popping out their own kids at 15 or 16 then they get to start living off of it too.
    Those ppl CAN WORK. They are not DISABLED in any way. They are the ppl who don’t deserve aid.
    Elderly ppl who get social security are not lazy or bilking the system, they are getting back money paid to them that they spent their life paying in. Social security is not a giveaway entitlement program like welfare.
    I know about disability because Like you, Erin, I also have Lupus. I also have a disability check in the mailbox once a month. But the money I am getting back is money I paid into the system my 42 years of life working.
    I don’t think when the conservatives refer to “those ppl” that they even mean ppl on social security and disability. I think they are meaning the real ones who DO bilk the system and live off welfare when they could be working. My state is FULL is welfare scammers.

  46. I have thought deep and hard about my response since I first read this post. I think we all need to treat each other with compassion and kindness. Making blanket statements about how the conservatives and democrats ‘are’ can be done out of strained emotions and from personal harms that one have experienced. And it is ok to express those emotions and feelings.
    I feel the same way after reading this post as I did when voting this past presidential election. Neither side had many viable solutions or answers for revamping our social service system and lack there of and rocketing costs of health care for this nation. Instead of voting for the side that better fits your ideals in life there HAS to be choice for every single American regardless of faith or social status. Let us put citizens right before our personal convictions. But, I will add that I do not want my tax dollars going towards abortions. I want my tax dollars being used so that there is less of a need for abortions. I want my tax dollars going towards contraception and finding ways for the uneducated not to be in the position of igmorance and the repeated cycle of poverty.
    I want my former neighbor and childhood playmate, Erin (who I normally completely disagree with on a political level) to see her childteen graduate and start their families.
    Yes I am a conservative Christian. BUT I firmly believe in social responsibility along with being financially conservative. We need to take religion out of the decision making process when it comes to our rights as American’s and most importantly our fellow human beings.
    I don’t have all the answers. Maybe just a start. But we all share the same planet and have the right of human decency when we are in need and hurting.
    Let’s work together instead of wasting time saying what it has been. I have faith we can do that as a neighbor, fellow human being and nation.
    I myself have Ehlers Danlos. I was out of work for over two years. I have had 4 knee surgeries in two years while in high school. Been on major doses of steroids during teen years. I already needed hip replacements at 35 and have had one hip surgery to try to stave that off. I have lost 2 1/2 inches in height due to all my discs herniating in my back. I now at 38 have the back of an 85 year old. I didn’t qualify for disabilty. And I emotionally was ok with that because even thru all these health issue my problems are not life threatening. I healed and bounced back a bit and am now back to work. It is still a struggle to get my body working in the morning. Yes I will have to probably be on some sort of disabilty before I retire. My point is you can’t make blanket statements either way about peopkes needs or lack there of. I know this process can be unfair at times. But, those making decisions of this nature aren’t perfect either.
    Let’s all treat each other has fellow human beings AND be responsible for our actions we can control in life. I would love to see the change we can all make working tigether as opposed to against each other.
    Christian, conservative and lover of our fellow humans and animals.

  47. I’m sorry, i just can’t believe how many sheep there are that actually believe this crap. Tea party people and conservatives don’t say or believe half the junk your potting on here. US of course there are far right loones out there but people please. If you sit on welfare and don’t work because your lazy and have been taught to take take take then your one of the people that is the problem. I to am disabled, had three back surgeries so far and am struggling to make ends meet and yet I don’t take anything from the government. Not that I can’t,i don’t want to trap myself into the take. Every one needs to wake up and quit taking some ideological point of view from someone else and get off your lazy butt and find the information for yourself. At least then you won’t look like just another sheep being led to slaughter. Oh by the way, I’m registered democrat.

  48. Let’s love each other and try our best everyday,everytime!!!
    God bless you all


  49. Thank you for this post – and those comments! Whew! Didn’t Jesus say “love thy neighbor as thyself?” If you think about it, that’s the most radical idea EVER. I mean, would any of us let ourselves starve, be unhealthy, not see a doctor, not help our own children? Don’t we all want ourselves to survive and thrive? Then by extension, shouldn’t we work to make sure these things are all true for others, as well? I am not a Christian, don’t go to church, but I still try to live by that simple (really hard) precept. Seems to me a civilization that is willing to let anyone not rich simply fall to the curb is a civilization that verges on corrupt at the core: the New Yorker this week had a cover in which three rich fat-cat guys sit in a lifeboat clinking champagne glasses, while in the background an entire ocean liner sinks. Is that really, really the country we want to live in? The very rich stay afloat and the rest of us go under?
    AND (sorry, last thing): most of the members of the Far Right & Tea Party are fooling themselves: the deals being made in congress right now are going to screw them too, b/c they don’t have enough money to warrant anyone’s interest. The plans of the Far Right help those who are wealthy and white, pretty much in that order.
    Great post.


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