Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Home for the holidays with TennCare court ruling

Thoughts of family, home and holidays come easily to many of us.

But if you've had something go terribly wrong with your body as I have had, if you've lost your job at the worst possible time as I have had, and if you've wondered how you are going survive financially and medically as I have, then those kind of warm and fuzzy thoughts are quite elusive.

And our government -- which is supposed to represent our values that include such thoughtful values -- should be expected to ensure that people who need nursing care to stay at home and live with family and within their means should be able to do so.

That's conservative, protecting basic humanity of the strong looking out for the weak, like God giving us his only son so WE could be reconciled to Him for wrongs WE committed.

A court ruling this week temporarily allows 20 human beings in Tennessee to still continue to receive nursing health care and stay home with family and life there instead of being carted off to a nursing home to surely die.

The state, during this holiday season, however, continues to argue that government cannot afford to support the values of home, family and the holidays. Like Scrooge raging and asking about the availability of poor houses for the indigent including children, the state continues to try and deny a place for disabled Tennesseans to be home for holidays and every day after that.

The bottom line moral question to this situation is unavoidable: If government that represents our values cannot afford to support home, family and the holidays for the least among us, then what do our tax dollars support that is so much more important?

Roads? Per diem pay for legislators taking out-of-session trips to vacation/conference spots? Corporate welfare giveaways for companies that make no guarantee how long they'll stay here or how many Tennesseans they'll actually employ? State-run golf courses for retired governors to play free? A political mega mall under the governor's mansion?

The list goes on and so does the heartache of those whose bodies have already been broken through no to little fault of their own. Meanwhile, the governor, who has an opinion about everything about whether Obama should stand inside a Walmart to meet real people to whether he was on short lists to be the next vice president, stays damningly silent.

For what reason and for who will he go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

The General Assembly returns early next month. The 20 who have been temporarily saved should be joined by another thousand Tennesseans still remaining at risk and their families under terrible stress. A government that does not represent the people values -- including the most dear ones of family, home and holidays -- is an affront to simple right and wrong.

Use the break provided by the holidays to speak up for these values and the people who cannot begin to take them for granted.

Sure, money is tight for everyone. But when we start deserting one group of people, we set ourselves up for the same doom. Budget cuts -- to protect the list of sorry priorities cited above -- will ultimately reach our community, our schools and our family's welfare.

Who will be left to speak up for us then? That's why we must speak up now, for people we may not know, but whose values are equally important to us. As Ben Franklin said at another moment of crisis: "We can either hang together or hang separately."

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