Friday, June 05, 2009

Bidet-Sized Government

California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to punish the state's voters for their refusal to pass the elements he deemed necessary to balance the state budget. That punishment, interestingly, seems mostly directed at those least able to bear it: the poor, the vulnerable, the elderly, as this article in the Los Angeles Times makes clear.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to shut down the state's adult day healthcare centers, which provide services to help the elderly continue living at home. Also eliminated would be a program that funds Alzheimer's care at these and other centers. The governor would end home care for all but the neediest, and eliminate programs that help families of the elderly navigate the complicated system of care and get some respite. ...

"We are talking about a devastation of the safety net for these families that wasn't really robust to begin with," said Debra Cherry, vice president of the Alzheimer's Assn.'s Southland chapter. "Without any community support, these families are going to crumble."

What the loss of these adult day healthcare centers means is that families would have to place their loved ones in nursing homes, a far larger expense to the state than the day care centers are, but that apparently doesn't bother the governor because that's still down the road and won't be his problem. It will, however, be a huge problem for the state then, just as it will be a huge problem for those families now.

Cherry argues that the presumed $385.8 million in savings would be wiped out within a few years if families have to put their loved ones in nursing homes for care subsidized by the state. And the state's 100,000 nursing home beds would not be sufficient to accommodate a surge in demand from Alzheimer's patients and an aging population, said Lydia Missaelides, executive director of the California Assn. for Adult Day Services.

There are more than 588,000 Californians living with the disease, a number that is expected to nearly double by 2030, according to the Alzheimer's Assn. The figures are even more dramatic for the Latino and Asian communities, in which the number of people living with Alzheimer's is expected to triple.

What Gov. Schwarzenegger and his anti-tax co-religionists in the state legislature have decided that it is far better to lean on those have-nots than to ruffle the feathers of those have-more-than-enoughs. I didn't see any cuts to the travel budgets of commissions promoting the state's agricorporations during expensive junkets all over the world. Nor did I see any cuts to the pay given to those who get appointed to those sweet positions.

And GOP legislators, who are in the minority but who can still block tax measures, have made it clear that there will be no tax increases for businesses and the wealthy. After all, closing loopholes and dropping tax credits for the purchase of luxury boats might drive those winners of the birth lottery (a phrase coined by Chicago Dyke) from the state.

No, it's just the poor, the vulnerable, the elderly who are bearing the brunt as their raggedy old safety net is being ripped away.

We've lost, maybe just this round, but that loss will be devastating for those around today.

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