Monday, January 7, 2013

Les Miserables Lives on Part II

I have another friend, a couple I'll call Mel and Kari. They are bright, funny, kind, caring people, very hard working, and their whole lives revolve around parenting their four kids under the age of seven. Mel is a scientific genius without a college degree. Kari has an advanced degree and training in a field that is both art, craft and science. Mel works in his field, but the companies around here that hire in his field only hire for a year, and then they fire people.

They used to hire people and work them until it came time for them to qualify for benefits, then fire them (much like retail stores are doing today) until the IRS told them they couldn't do that. Now, they hire people for 1 year, give them no benefits, then fire them. Legally.

Of course, that's only one of his jobs. He started another one last year, another part-time, because, of course, he knows he can't count on the first job for permanent employment. That job, too, does not offer benefits, so he is screwed.

Kari has started a business of her own based on her training field. Her business is flourishing, but she has to keep costs low to get business, there are material's costs and store space rental, plus, it's a craft, based on her own labor, so there's only so much she can work, (particularly with four little ones.) Mel and Kari earn enough between them that they do not qualify for medical assistance or Welfare, but not enough that they can afford things like medicine or even dental care for the children, though in our state, the kids are covered for medical care. Kari and Mel cross their fingers, watch the blotch grow on the front tooth of one of their kids, and keep on keeping on, with a cheerful good will.

Mel comes from a large family with a history of bi-polar disorder and suicide. Working two jobs now, he sleeps very little. They can't afford an anti-depressant that would help him cope, though anybody with four young kids and one and a half jobs would probably be exhausted enough to feel depressed. Kari is endlessly patient and wonderful with her small horde, and so is Mel--when he's rested enough to be present. He's such a gentle man, but what little time he gets to spend with his children finds him grumpy or lumpy. Really, he just wants to sit there and rest.

So, I ask you: where are our family values? Don't talk to me about prayer and church being the answer. This family is deeply religious. He is choir director of his church. She teaches Sunday school classes. Their home is filled with religious photos and I know they pray a lot, because her four-year-old kept  insisting, "Jesus is so the boss of this house, because he's the boss of everything," when I gently explained that since we were Jewish, he wasn't the boss at our house, that God was. This family prays then gets up off their needs and works damned hard. When are the rest of us going to do the same thing--for families like this one? When are we going to get smart enough to this family? Doesn't it make sense that we'd want to keep a father of four with a family history of suicide on his mental health meds? Doesn't it make sense that a mom of four young kids should have the medical care she needs to stay healthy? If we want her to work, shouldn't we make sure those terrific kids have quality childcare?

Let's shout out for real family values, ones that help families with their boots on the ground. Medical care for everyone. Quality childcare or financial aid for families where both parents work. If jobs can't or won't provide medical insurance, why don't we just switch to single payer? Heck, I've torn a calf muscle in Europe, had an orthopedic surgeon come to my hotel, diagnose, go to the pharmacy for the necessary medicines, give me an injection and a massage on the sort spot, and apologetically charge me $35.00--because with any French citizen, this would have been free. Happy doctors working there. Happy people going to them. Call it socialist or not, it works wonderfully. Why not do it here? 
Share this post via:

No comments:

Post a Comment