Mea Culpa


 by Dr. George H. Elder

         I’ve been a pain in the ass on the social networks about the coming election. The truth is, I’m afraid. I’m one of those disabled people, the kind who are barely hanging in there. Yeah, I suppose I’m one of the 47%, and I’ve read the planned policy changes that Romney and company want to put in place. They are terrifying to me because I cannot afford to make ends meet if these cuts are made, and am thus in an untenable position.

         A good friend who is also disabled told me not to worry, that folks like me will not be put on the ice flow. He is an ardent Republican, and I get the sense that he still has some money. I do not. And I know he couldn’t have fully read the Romney/Ryan plan for privatizing Medicare and Medicaid. Basically, I would be forced to procure private-market insurance with a government voucher that stays at a fixed value–despite likely healthcare cost increases. Moreover, the “premium support” clauses in the plan means that insurance companies, not doctors and nurses, would make decisions about my care. Lastly, Ryan plans on cutting Medicaid by 30%, so there go my medications, the only things keeping me alive.

         Yeah, I’m scared. I’m scared because I actually read the plan, which is something 95+% of the public has not done. And it hurts me to see my friends disregarding the implications of a Romney election as they apply to the old and disabled–folks like me. But I don’t blame them. Most people were hurt by the Great Recession of 2008, and they yearn for better times. That recession was not Obama’s doing, as any fair-minded person knows. His mistake was promising the world when any fool should have known that it will take 10-20 years for the banks to clear all their bad debts. That is the simple truth of things, something no politician likes to talk about.

         The economy is slowly mending, as the numbers clearly show. And to be honest, the policies of both Obama and Romney are unlikely to have much of an influence on the bad loans that the banks are still carrying. Those bad loans stood at 5-7% during the worst of the Great Recession, and are now at 3-4%. Traditionally, a rate of much over 1% was deemed as an indicator of poor bank health. As for the national debt, the only thing that can reduce that is for the economy as a whole to improve, for even the most draconian budget cuts won’t make much of a dent on government burrowing if revenues do not increase–the stuff of taxes.

         So I understand the problem, and the limitations of government to fix it given the current rate of bad loans. The ugly truth is, we have to endure while the banks work their way through a mess that they in large part created. In the meantime, we have to decide what kind of society we want. Hey, if you opt to cut the old and disabled out of the picture, then understand that we will suffer accordingly. There is no sugar coating it. You are my friends, and will stay that way, no matter how this election turns out. As for me, there is fear and uncertainty, with the full expectation that I will soon lose my home, furnishings–everything. However, I hope to retain the wonderful memories of the good times we have shared. In the end, they may be all that is left to any of us.


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