Having once been a strong Objectivist, the opinions of the first columnist are along the same ideas I once expressed - not in these circumstances. Nor
did I ever use the intolerance and disgust that often pervades these statements. After 10 years as a Critical Care RN, I returned to my first choice
- home care. Along with experiencing major depression during that time, I met people from all areas, penthouses to crackhouses, and everything in
between. I came to recognize the ones I call the SACs -solid American citizens. They had the opportunites, education, family and enough intelligence
to make the most of their lives and you could tell from the way they interacted, their families were very functional. Too many of the wealthy were
pretty sad. Either rude or degrading to every one. I got to the point that there were several highrises I dreaded going to. And they had all the same
problems - just more money to be able to pay for anything not covered by insurance.
The poor were a mix. I never met someone who qualified as what began to be termed "the undeserving poor". (I still have this very uneasy feeling
about how Jesus would react to that phrase. I am not a trinitarian - I have come to believe he was right about some things). There were a lot of
disabled, people in wheelchairs from drunk driving accidents (the other guy), people with MS, strokes, cardiac cripples, amputees, etc. I met their
neighbors too. Because they would help each other out. People who had two jobs and their own kids that would come over and be sure their neighbor had
groceries or medicine, a hot meal, etc. I took care of guys with gunshot wounds from gang/drug wars; sometimes part of it, sometimes in the wrong
place. And there were plenty of elderly, living in houses they had long since paid for, choosing between food and medicine, heat and medicine, decent
shoes and medicine. There were a few prostitutes (not on welfare or food stamps) and druggies - most with families, children, pets...
Lots of Vietnam Vets, most with uncontrolled pain issues and many with PTSD. And Holocaust survivors.
And sometimes I would run accross that rare individual, an hispanic man, a black woman, an Asian; people who slowly but surely over the time I cared
for them, revealed an intelligence that would break my heart.
Trapped by their race, gender, birth time, etc. the opportunity to use that phenomenal gift was denied. They all had succeeded well in what they
managed to get into. But the most was skilled labor, not the doctors, teachers, scientists, artists they had the intelligence to be.
I think there is a lot to learn about poverty and how we could better help people to be able to care for themselves. I know the majority don't live
comfortably or with anything but the bare needs. And the one thing that truly made a difference in this time was the Disabilities act. People who had
been shut in their apartments could get out, maneuver their wheelchairs across streets, go do their own shopping, etc. The change from utter boredom
to being a part of their community was just an incredible boost to their mental health.
My bottom line is: there are some freeloaders out there and I have no problem getting them to assume responsibility for their own lives.. It's not
that big a percentage. I don't have a problem helping the rest. I would much rather help them than the "undeserving rich". I would rather pay
more taxes and have no patients who have no health care (health care is not something that qualifies for deferred gratification). I don't have much
of a retirement account. Hospitals think nurses will work themselves to death. We do.
And I think the whole country would benefit from a little more of that laid back southern lifestyle that Rice described. Time to enjoy our families,
hobbies, friends, whatever. To get enough sleep, daydream without three mortgage companies calling to check on your finances (NONE OF YOUR FRICKIN
BUSINESS) read more books. GROW the roses. Have a spirited conversation with someone who has a different opinion