This is the first part of a multi-part series of posts on disability and politics. My aim is to air out some thoughts and ideas that I think are important for disabled people to consider as we here in the U.S. gear up for another General Election in 2016. We all have our own political beliefs and natural leanings, which probably don’t change much just because we have disabilities. Still, having disabilities does give us insight into some important political and policy questions … insight that others might not have.
At the same time, I think that we are also sometimes vulnerable to some popular political opinions that tend to make us feel less important, less worthy of consideration and even political power than we should be as disabled citizens.
Take these thoughts for what they are, ideas to chew over.
Part 1: Money
- Fighting for money may be our least favorite activity. We would rather be fighting for accessibility, equal opportunity, and respect. Yet, we have to keep doing it. For most of us, money is our most useful adaptive device, and for many of us, it’s very, very hard to get enough of it purely through individual effort.
- “Benefits” and "Entitlements” aren't dirty words. You may be entitled to certain benefits because of your disabilities, and also because you are a citizen. You are not a second-class citizen because you need support from your fellow citizens, even if you need a lot of support.
- There are always better ways to spend money supporting disabled people, but don’t let anyone weigh whether supporting your needs is “worth it” to the taxpayers. For one thing, you are a taxpayer, too, whether or not you have a job.
- Money paid to you in benefits is not “lost” or “wasted” in any sense. It is exactly as valuable as money you earn. It buys things you need, and the people who sell those things to you make profits and feed their families with the money you pay them.
- Even if you don’t have a job now, chances are that you had a job at some point in the past, and may well have a job sometime in the future … maybe a good job, with good wages. If and when you become more financially independent, you will pay in more taxes to support your fellow citizens when they need it.
- You will hear people suggest that there “isn’t enough money” for the things disabled people need to live in health and dignity, to make the most of ourselves. Keep in mind that it is all about priorities. No matter what happens with the economy, programs and people that we really care about most get the funding they need. There is no reason why disabled people shouldn’t as well.