Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pick an issue

Pick an issue, any issue, and I can trace it back to some cultural or social attitude that pervades policy.

My biggest issue at the moment is my dad. He had a stroke a little over a year ago in Nov. 2005. He went to the nursing home for rehab and could be there for 100 days on Medicare, but after that he would have to go to private pay--hardly affordable by anyone with only $20k in annual income.

But that's not why he hated being at the nursing home. For him, and many others, the nursing home is the last stop before going to the cemetary. He certainly needed the speech therapy and was fine with that, but the only place he wanted to be was at home. He also hated the food and refused to eat most of it. I had hoped he would stay for the full time Medicare alloted to get the speech therapy he needed, but his desire to go home was so strong and his health was not getting the medical attention it needed so I brought him home a month early. This was February 2006. After a year of taking care of my dad pretty much 24/7, I'm really starting to get burnt out.

I love my dad, but he is a very typical American male. He was born in 1919, served in WWII and retired from the Army in the 1960s. He married a Japanese woman so I grew up being bi-cultural even though my mom's insistence on my being American kept me from being bi-lingual today. What a shame. And though I am bi-cultural I am as American as it gets when it comes to thinking that women have as much say in the household as men and have as much right to their own outside the house interests. But more significantly, is the absolute refusal of my dad to understand the limitations his stroke put on him. He wants to act like everything is the same as before his stroke. Though he didn't suffer from any permanent paralysis, he is weaker, less coordinated, and less able to deal with physical demands. At 87 with asthma, emphysema, anemia, pulmonary hypertension, and a weakening heart, he just can't do all the things he did before. But he is fully capable of bitching about it and does so on an almost continual basis. Unfortunately, the cussing is all that is left of his ability to speak and so communicating is a combination of doing 20 questions and reading his mind. Nor can he write or spell anymore and this is enormously fustrating for both of us. Not to mention he's pretty hard of hearing even with hearing aids for which he gets VA Disability because it happened as a result of his service in the Army.

But the worst of it is his complete failure to understand that the world does not bend to his will just because he wills it. He hates his bowels when they don't work they way he wants them to because it violates his early childhood potty training. It's especially bad when he has diarrhea because then he has to get to the bathroom and get his pants down before anything escapes and will bitch like the dickens because he couldn't hold it. He also bitches when he has constipation. Or when he has to go to the bathroom at all if the urge comes suddenly. He also bitches when he drops something, or can't find something, or can't get the tv remote to work, or especially when Bush's face is on the tube. In other words, my dad bitches about most everything and acts like it is personal insult if the physical world doesn't do exactly what he wants it to. After a year of living with this 24/7 I'm pretty sick and tired of it. I just want some peace and quiet so I can concentrate on thinking and writing.

At the same time I am also an at-home mom of a 10 year old daughter. Due to various pressures and other problems, my own dad is a huge factor, her dad no longer lives with us. Fortunately, he is just down the road in our tiny little town. This much is good.

Another thing with my dad since he is at home, his home, the home his mother bought, his income is what is supporting this household. It isn't enough. And like mothers who have no way to stay at home and raise their child(ren) but can get a subsidy to pay someone else to take care of their kid(s), there are also others taking care of parents or relatives who are in essentially the same situation. They stay at home because they value their family and feel a deep responsibility to care for its members. But they are not able to earn a living doing it. Instead, we can only be paid for our work if it is done for someone else's children as a day care provider or for someone else's parent(s) at a long-term care facility. Caring for our own children and our own elderly parents must be done by someone else to in order to get any financial support to do it.

The idea that EVERYONE who provides care for ANYONE can only do so as an employee of some company has done more to destroy families than any other single policy in America. And while there ARE unrealistic expectations of partners in marriages today that result in divorce, there are also a great many marriages that break up because of the financial hardships these families are facing. These are the greatest threats to marriages and families today.

And even if I wanted to earn some income, the sheer lack of jobs in rural MN, let alone rural anywhere in the U.S., is a major barrier, especially for someone with a master's degree in a career field that depends on city, county, and state governments being able to afford planning and community development departments.

After all this rambling and having to get up umpteen times to answer my dad's bitching I've forgotten exactly how I wanted to tie it all together. Nevertheless, the place where it all boils down to is that people don't matter. All that matters is someone else's profit margin and I am very angry about the suffering this stupidity and indifference is causing. I truly wish that all the unrepentant Scrooges in this country could suffer the fate of Marley who failed while alive to learn that Mankind is our business and the affairs of one's trade are but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of our business.