In 2003, my older brother Jeff got married to one of the most kind and generous people I’ve ever had the good fortune to have met, my sister-in-law Karen. I was pleased to give them a humorous and lighthearted toast them at their wedding as his best man.
At the end of 2006 I got a call from Karen announcing that she was pregnant, and on August 27, 2007, their beautiful son Jacob was born. Jacob, is now almost 5, in preschool, and loves him some trains. He’s a great kid, so when I hear of Rick Santorum calling him a criminal and slurring his mother, it makes my blood boil.
On May 20, 2010 at 2 am, Jeff passed away from brain cancer leaving behind his wife and young son. Jeff was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and both Karen & Jacob now receive Social Security survivor benefits.
Way back in 2000, we found out that Jeff had a brain tumor. He collapsed after getting out of the shower one day. Fortunately his girlfriend (a previous relationship to Karen) was over and heard the thud as his body hit the floor, knocking his head on the corner of the sink on his way down. She called an ambulance right away and they took him into the hospital where, upon conducting an MRI, they discovered a tumor that grew like a ginger root with little fingers reaching ever deeper into his brain. He tried radiation therapy which caused him to lose hair in a circle on the side of his head. Later on, when he started having some heavier symptoms which at first resembled pneumonia, but then became more clearly due to the tumor, they performed surgery to remove as much of it as possible. When I spoke with him before the surgery, I told him not to worry, saying “It’s just brain surgery, it’s not rocket science.” At least it was good for a laugh. Throughout the last few years of his life he underwent grueling and repeated batteries of chemotherapy, slowly but surely deteriorating his ability to work, think and function. It even took a toll on his personality, making him zoned out and almost zombie-like on the bad days. Eventually the tumor made its way to his brain stem. The doctors said they could operate, but his quality of life would be greatly effected because of the amount of brain tissue they’d have to remove. He chose death.
The doctors gave him 2 months. My wife and I boarded a plane as soon as possible and went to visit. She’d had experience with this kind of thing before and suggested that it was important to go to see him as soon as possible since you never really know how long someone has and we would want to be able to visit with him before he was unable to communicate. I’m sure glad I married such a smart woman. We were able to talk and share memories, laugh, have fun with Jacob, and in the end cry as we said goodbye for what we knew would be the last time.
Jacob was then a bit younger than 3. The saddest part of this is that he’ll never remember his dad, but thanks to his father, he’ll continue to get survivors benefits until he turns 18. This will help him to go to college and become a successful young man. It will help make up for the money my brother, Jacob’s father, can not provide, and I can’t believe that anyone who’s even somewhat seriously being considered to become the President of the United States is demonizing kids like him for the fact that they’re using the social safety net that we have in our country. But, much to my chagrin, Rick Santorum believes that the social safety net is destroying our country.
“Most people agree a continuation of the current [welfare] system will be the ruination of this country. We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms.
Now, granted, my brother’s family is not what you would normally think of as recipients of “welfare”, but they are. Yes both parents are college graduates, both had/have good jobs, Jeff had good insurance and was well cared for, and Jacob has 4 loving grandparents (and even a wonderfully mirthful great-grandmother) within a few hours drive. However, they still rely on the Social Security system, a system that Jeff paid into and that Karen still pays into, to help provide a decent life for their child.
Back in October, Santorum explained his reasoning for attacking single moms, saying that they’re:
“the political base of the Democratic party.” He continued, “Why? Because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two-parent families; you eliminate that desire for government.”
So even Santorum admits that it’s economically tough to be a single parent. Unfortunately he is advocating making it even tougher on them in the name of “reducing the Democratic advantage” by having less single parent families. Say what? How does this even work? I’m not sure how you prevent people getting a divorce, having children out of wedlock, or from dying, but maybe it’s that magic theocratic pixie dust he’s been snorting. Why does this man think that staying in a bad relationship or getting married to your baby-daddy will cause a decrease in Democratic performance? He thinks that getting into or staying in a bad marriage will cause a lowered “desire for government”? What, does he think that we’re all going around lusting after government or something? Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot…he’s a Republican, so of course that’s what he thinks.
While they constantly hold up the constitution screaming about how this or that or the other is not in there, they always overlook or forget or just don’t plain know about what it says in the preamble explaining the purpose of the constitution.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Yeah, ya see that part there about “promote the general Welfare”. The founders thought that was important. Just as important as the other 5 things on the proverbial “to do” list while writing the constitution: form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. Notice which of these words are capitalized and which are not. The only one that is NOT capitalized is the one most often referred to by the Republican party, the one about the common defence, and yes, that is the spelling that TJ and the Founders (great band name) used.
Anyhow, this really steams my clams. Cutting people off of critical aid will not help anyone. It will only deepen the economic strife that people already find themselves in. This type of draconian reactionary policy would serve to further tilt the playing field against single mothers and their children. It would further redistribute wealth to the 1%. It would cause increased desperation amongst the lower rungs of our economic ladder, likely causing increases in crime, the very crime that he’s so afraid will be caused by providing nutritional assistance, food stamps, social security benefits, health care, and protection against lapses in employment. The very crime that he’s accusing my 4 year old nephew of committing.
Genesis 29:14 “You are truly my flesh and bone.” ~ Laban, to his nephew Jacob
Cross Posted on Daily Kos