By Beverly Gadson-Birch
As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays, I am reminded of just how blessed I am. While I am counting my blessings, there will be those among us that are not as fortunate. The poor, homeless and jobless will always be among us. There will be those who feel like throwing in the towel. Then there will be good Samaritans passing out turkeys, handing out groceries and preparing hot meals. And, that’s good; but what happens after turkey day? How will we deal with the disenfranchised among us? The system is not designed for the poor. It’s the rich that continues to come out on top through deceitful rip-off tactics. Poor folks have had to struggle most of their lives. Just when the door edges open a little, it closes. How many times can you take disappointment before you throw in the towel? There is very little if any penalties for “Executive Crimes”. And if they get time, it’s generally a slap on the wrist somewhere in a federal facility with lobster and caviar.
It’s been said time and time again that homeless or jobless folks don’t want to work. There are plenty of jobs out there if they just get off their “do nothing” and go to work. Well, that might be true in some instances, but how many licks can you take before you stop ticking?
Take a look at the pharmaceutical companies and the cost of medicine. I recently spoke to a lady who has been taking an anti-cancer drug for over seven years at a whopping cost of $5,000 a month. I don’t know of anything that costs $5,000 a month in the black community. After checking every available option, the lady was able to receive assistance with the medicine and her out of pocket costs were a few hundred dollars a month. Well now, a few hundred dollars could still have been the difference between life and death if she did not cut out some other essentials in order to prolong her life.
You do the math! Based upon the pharmaceutical cost of $5,000 a month for seven years, we are talking $420,000. And, the lady’s out of pocket cost is $16,800. That’s the breakdown for one medication and the lady is on at least nine other medications. That’s the story of poor folks. When you are poor, folks tend to give you the run around. They know the answer but won’t try to help those in need and many die simply because they are denied information and/or the access to sustainable health care.
Then, there is the cost of “affordable” housing. What is “affordable” housing? It depends on who you ask and how much you are talking about. Most often, affordable is not affordable to fast food, service workers and many other minimum wage workers. Due to the lack of affordable housing, Blacks are being pushed further and further north out of the City of Charleston and North Charleston in record numbers. Residents are having to relocate further and further away from their jobs, churches and familiar base creating additional travel expenses.
While we are on the subject of “rip-offs”, let’s take a look at the utilities company, SCANA and Santee Cooper. Folks are already paying through their noses for utilities only to find out that their utility bills are being jacked up over the failed nuclear project.
The basis for the nuclear plant failure is poor project management. How can a project so important with so many possible risks have so many “unlicensed professionals” designing with no seal of approval from the “professionals”? These same “rip-off” millionaire executives who do not have to worry about housing, don’t have to worry about health care and don’t have to worry about their next meal have the audacity to bill poor folks for their mistakes. Poor folks that are already catching hell paying their bill.
It’s becoming even more difficult for poor folks to obtain bank loans. The banks have created a myriad of customer rip-offs and their rip-off executives have walked away with millions of dollars, stock options and health care when they should have gone to jail. The rich get richer because they prey on the poor. And the poor, well you know the ending of their story, gets poorer. There are too many obstacles placed in their path with the name failure on it. It’s all by design.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving Day, think of those around you who may not be as fortunate. You may reach out and feed them for a day but what happens the day after and the day after that? Instead of turning your nose up at the poor, let’s open doors for them. Let’s give them a reason to hope again. Let’s use our positions to educate folks and stop giving them the run around. All too often we are in a position to help but we are so self-important that we don’t take the time to help others in need.
I am not a funeral chaser but I have attended more funerals this year than last year and the year is not over yet. I am reminded that tomorrow is not promised. I need to do what I can today because tomorrow may never come and for those that I could have helped, that’s a life sentence.
Enjoy Thanksgiving!! Think on these things while you are sitting around the dinner table with family and friends. The only reason you are in a big house, around a big festive table is someone gave you a chance.
Think about the roof over your head that you were fortunate enough to get financed through a bank loan. The food on your table and the utilities to prepare it because you have a job. And, the medications you took this morning because you have affordable health care.