Looking in on the poor

Oct 26, 2004

On the Indiana Turnpike Sunday evening, I listened in rapt attention as Jennifer Ludden profiled a photoblogger in Picturing the Homeless: On Their Terms. “Yes!” I mouthed when it was done – Erin and the girls were sleeping in the back seats. Here, finally, was an awesome story in which a weblog or photoblog is simply but very effectively serving as a window into some truth. I couldn’t have been more proud to be a blogger and journalist and more moved by Gary Clark’s work.

Another moving article is the New Yorker piece on poverty and the elderly by Susan Sheehan. Made me want to find an elder in my community, someone we could support in any way we can. (I’m sure I’ve written before about how my parents took me and the brothers to a nursing home one Christmas Day, and how the lonely woman we met that day, Joanna, loved our subsequent visits.) Here’s one thought-provoking paragraph from “Not Poor Enough”:

“People like Cassie believe that their problem lies in having too much income,” Steven L. Myers, the executive director of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, says. “In my opinion, the problem is, rather, that Virginia’s Medicaid eligibility-eighty per cent of poverty-is too low. We struggled to get the General Assembly to raise it from seventy-four per cent to eighty per cent. That six-per-cent increase was helpful to thousands of people. I know of one woman who spent down and qualified for Medicaid a few years ago. She was on that spend-down long enough to get a free pair of prescription eyeglasses. Now Virginia Medicaid no longer covers eyeglasses. Spend-downs work for some people with catastrophic illnesses. They don’t work for people with chronic health problems. I’m convinced that most upper-income people in the country don’t know that our safety-net programs aren’t as generous as they believe them to be. They assume that the aged, the blind, and the disabled receive Medicaid at a hundred per cent of poverty. Virginia is a very bad place in which to be elderly and poor.”

One person who is decidely not poor is George Soros, a billionaire financier who has jumped into the middle of this current election season with his pledge of millions of dollars to organizations working to dismiss George W. Bush. I caught a speech by Soros at the City Club of Cleveland yesterday. No new information, but the refrain of an incompetent presidency run by a myopic bunch beared repeating.

Anton Zuiker

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