How Bad Will Things Have to Get Before We Make Them Better?

Hope like hell: Two experiences over the weekend have given Buzz hope. One was watching a documentary on the catastrophic 1911 Triangle Waist Factory Fire in New York and the other was a seminar on the state budget crisis.

Maybe it's perverse of Buzz to find optimism in disasters, but the weekend made us think that debacles can be good for us.

The documentary made an argument that the sheer horror of the Triangle Fire, in which 146 human beings perished in 18 minutes, may have been the spark that eventually gave us labor reform and the New Deal.

The lecture was given by F. Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. Buzz was there but wasn't taking notes, so we don't want to attribute anything too specific to McCown. In broad terms, he painted a picture of potential catastrophe if the Rick Perry Republicans get their way on the state budget.

One aspect of it—Medicaid—has the potential to create scenes of suffering and despair this country hasn't seen since the Great Depression. McCown pointed out that the cuts in Medicaid under discussion in Austin will shut down a substantial portion of the nursing home industry, meaning nursing homes will put people out on the street and close their doors.

Many of those people are helpless—chair-bound, deep in dementia, incontinent and unable to feed themselves. As McCown pointed out, many have outlived their families and have no homes to return to.

And Medicaid is only a part of the picture. Many other forms of support and sustenance for the least among us are on the chopping block.

McCown hopes Texans will rally somehow before it's too late and stop this cataclysm from engulfing us. Buzz does too. Of course.

But we can also see that there are moments in history when only a cataclysm can turn the tide. This may be one. And maybe the obverse is true too: Perhaps social programs like Medicaid become victims of their own successes. Once a successful program removes suffering that caused them to be created, we forget why they're necessary. Or maybe we've all become heartless, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalists.

Hopefully, that's not the case. Maybe when public education is ruined and we see wheelchairs behind the Dumpsters, maybe then the tide will turn. And turn hard.

Short of that, we don't know what it would take to get the message across. Perhaps social conscience will only rise again when it gets some help from horror and wrath.

 
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7 comments
Neutrino69
Neutrino69

All the way bad. Welcome to the Dark Ages.

Catbird
Catbird

My Mother was one of these. She passed away last November at 85 and had to pay $3,600.00 per month out of her very meger savings to live in a nursing home in east Texas for about a year before her death. If she had lived, she would have been on Medicade assistance, we filed the forms, but a catastrophic fall sent her into a decline that she could not recover from.

The financial delima we faced was directly caused by Federal government environmental regulations, punitvely enforced in Texas by the TNRCC and Dan Moralas, that made her small independent grocery store and gas station operation illegal in the late 1980's so that after a lifetime of work, she had nothing to retire on...this was her plan for 30 years.

We supplimented Mother's income the last 10 years of her life but Jimmy Carter's policies caused double digit inflation and interest rates that sucked thousands of dollars out of our income and then of course, Federal affirative action laws designed to create artificial "opportunity" for minorities also limited opportunities for white males so capable white guys starting with limited means were never going to be able to make the sort of money that we would have if America was a true equal opportunity construct.

It's been my experience that a social version of the "Triangle W aist Factory Fire" has been going on in America for decades but because the people being consumed are lower class whites, no one cares.

We're on the same track now with Jimmy Obama and his gang and I shudder to think what will happen to me and my wife in 20 years if we don't head it off in Washington and Austin...but then I guess you'd say that I'm just an angry white male.

Had enough
Had enough

And maybe if we could eliminate those who have acquired a now multi-generational entitlement state of mind and existence from the welfare rolls there would be plenty to care for those who are truly in need! But good luck with that one.

Beda
Beda

They are out there, Joe Blow. Katrina showed the rest of us a part of society that we who post on this site never see, ordinarily. After Katrina, there were people who were put up in Dallas motels who, a year later, had done nothing in the way of getting out of the motels that were paid by the government and finding jobs and restarting their lives. They were waiting for the government to take care of them - they knew nothing else. The motel stipend was extended another six months. I've read enough books and well-researched articles (and a great piece on NPR several years ago) to know that there are in fact multiple generations who have never held jobs or been self-supporting. Most of us can't imagine living on a $200 a month apartment stipend, but there are those who in fact do live on that, along with a variet of other government programs.

 
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