Friday, June 15, 2007

Appearently, poor people don't count in this country

Here's a telling descrepancy of how Los Angeles County treats its inmates:

"Pamela Richardson, a 51-year-old black veteran whose legs were both amputated, claims she was treated far worse than [Paris] Hilton because of her race and disability. [...]

"In jail, deputies removed Richardson's prosthetic leg and provided her with a wheelchair. The wheelchair did not fit inside the jail shower, and Richardson was unable to bathe herself for eight days.

"'I've had to crawl at night to the toilet, had to be told to crawl to the shower, which was very humiliating for me. I felt I had my dignity taken away from me,' Richardson said."

I've lived in homeless shelters and an "SRO" (city-funded hotel room) where I've had to share a bathroom for months. Trust me, having to crawl to use the shower in one of these places is like expecting someone to bathe in a urinal. I can just imagine how nasty prison bathrooms are.

Now consider this story:

Woman Ignored By 911 Dies In Hospital

"A woman who lay bleeding on the emergency room floor of a troubled inner-city hospital died after 911 dispatchers refused to contact paramedics or an ambulance to take her to another facility, newly released tapes of the emergency calls reveal."

And this one:

Police probe alleged L.A. homeless dumping

" A hospital van dropped off a paraplegic man on Skid Row, allegedly leaving him crawling in the street with nothing more than a soiled gown and a broken colostomy bag, police said."

How can the people in charge call themselves Christians when they preside over this kind of state and corporate-sanctioned disregard for human beings? Haven't they ever read Matthew 25 [ ] and the parable about the good Samaritan?

And come on, Mr. Bush. The reason you're so opposed to publicly funded stem-cell research is because "When research is funded entirely by the private sector, the government has no license, and it is strictly a private matter whether, and under what terms, new intellectual property is made available to others for commercial or research purposes." [ ] This is about private research companies making a mint off the patents they'll get for privatized stem-cell research, not about saving the lives of blastocysts. But I digress.

As Joel S. Hirschhorn says in his article Are Americans Unready to Boil?:

"America is no longer close to what it should be – or once was. It no longer fairly serves and protects all Americans. Too many Americans are working poor, hungry, homeless, poorly educated, imprisoned, debt-ridden, crime victims, facing economic insecurity, nonvoters, and lacking health care."

This is not the America I know and love. We saw the best of America and its citizens on 9-11-01. We saw firefighters risk their lives to help a crippled lady get down the stairs. Later on, we saw hundreds more put their health at serious risk trying to find survivors. We saw millions of concerned citizens send in money to help the victims.

Just a few years ago I was in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and the river threatened to flood several homes in town. I heard an announcement on the radio calling for volunteers to help fill sandbags. I was unemployed so I had plenty of time to help. When I arrived at the huge municipal station I was astonished to see the place was filled! Many people took off work, workplaces sent teams of employees ... high school sports teams were represented too. It was such an inspiring scene. People were smiling and working hard, the radio people were down there playing tunes, local businesses donated some great food. The mayor came down to help fill sandbags and personally thank us all for helping. There were literally hundreds of people, all working together to help save the low-lying areas of town. I spoke to many of them, and most did not have a house in the flood's path. They were there to help out their neighbors.

This is the America I know we can be. But it seems we have to step out of our carefully designed corporate cages to get there.

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