I know that that seems like a selfish phrase and, hell, it probably is, but these days, in this country, it’s every man (woman or child) for themselves. At least that’s the way it appears. (Just hear me out)
Yesterday, before I settled down to watch “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” with my sister and son, an advertisement ran, talking about how much money we, as a nation, have raised for Haiti. The campaign employed the likes of Meryl Streep and other celebrities to ask for yet MORE money for Haiti, claiming that the worst is yet to come, because the residents of Haiti still need much in the way of basic necessities, such as clean water and clothing. Hmmm.
It’s become a habit of mine to peruse the local headlines each day via Yahoo. After all, no knowledge, even it’s from FOX, is ever truly wasted. Today, I read several highly interesting articles that spurred more research and a blog. Today, there was an article that described the more than 9,000 runners who showed up at Central Park this morning to “run for Haiti”. They raised over $400,000 this morning alone for aid for the “shell-shocked” nation. There was also an article on the decline of the number of New Yorkers who have health insurance, and an article on the decay of many public housing complexes across the nation. I also remembered an ad I saw on the bus on Friday, and poked around the web until I found the statistics I was looking for.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation has found a 14% increase in those New Yorkers without insurance since 2006. That means a jump from 396,000 people to 453,000 people in just three short years. This is happening as state funding continues to drop, and several “voluntary” hospitals have been forced to close their doors, leaving the public to heavily rely on city hospitals. According to WABC, “As a result of these and other factors, HHC’s projected expenses for the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2010, will exceed its total projected revenue by more than $1 billion.” ONE BILLION DOLLARS OVERBUDGET! ONE BILLION! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The ad I mentioned earlier was for the New York Coalition for the Homeless. It discussed the number of homeless children in New York (16,000 and rising). According the NYCH, there are 10,494 homeless families (not people, FAMILIES) in NYC. The total number of PEOPLE amounts to approximately 40,000, in New York City alone. Homeless shelters are short on beds, short on food and short on funds. There is simply not enough money to properly care for our homeless population, let alone try to help them to assimilate back into society. Sixteen thousand homeless kids and rising. Think about that… But wait! There’s more!
1010 WINS reports on the disaster and decaying mass that New York’s public housing has become. In many other cities, government housing equals low income housing for lower class people, those on welfare, the elderly on Social Security, etc. In New York, government housing has always been a long standing staple of the middle class, allowing them to live in the city without being priced out of their neighborhoods. However, in New York City alone, according to Harold Shultz, senior fellow at the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, “There are 100,000 apartments teetering on the edge and depending upon the way various winds blow, they could fall over.” Much of this is due to recessions. Landlords can’t pay for the bills, or repairs, or anything of the sort. 1010 WINS reports “The owners of the largest of the city’s affordable-housing complexes, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, recently gave up the 11,000-unit property when they couldn’t make their mortgage payments.” The FDNY frequents these types of buildings, often to rescue those residents trapped in creaky elevators, and denizens of the complexes have been known to stuff steel wools in the cracks of their floors, to prevent both drafts and rats. However, many of these folks have nowhere else to go. They can’t afford to move, let alone live somewhere else. And very little is being done.
So what’s my point? I want to know why we, as a nation, can raise endless funds for the suffering citizens in OTHER countries (i.e Haiti), and yet our children go hungry, our friends and relatives go without basic health insurance, and our senior citizens live in virtual death-traps of apartment buildings. Hell, New Orleans STILL isn’t back to normal, even nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina, and New York First Responders are STILL suffering the effects of 9/11, almost nine years later. THEY are losing funding, and yet our celebrity elite is sending check after check to Haiti, and pleading for us lower echelon folk to do the same, when we can barely make ends meet for ourselves. If every member of the bourgeois in this country (and by that I mean our actors, singers, bands, sports figures, who make more than seven figures a year) donated ONE year’s salary to clear the national debt, we wouldn’t be IN this mess. So tell me how any of this makes sense?