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Perspectives on Disability and Adequate Leadership

  • Published: 2012-04-24 : Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss
  • Synopsis: The potential for leaders in America to feel more inclined to do something about disability issues might increase during election years.

Main Document

America has very serious, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities-violating issues. I could tell you that election years are the only time when I stop and ponder the potential for America's elected leadership to consider spending even a tithe of the massive military budget on the rather serious social concerns of people with disabilities. Unfortunately doing so would amount to a lie; I think about these issues on a regular basis.

The potential for leaders in America to feel more inclined to do something about the issues below might increase during election years. These years are; after all, the very times when politicians are hoping people in this nation re-elect them. Progress related to these issues has been far slower than many would hope, and questions about the effectiveness of government and leadership are the result.

Major issues like the ones below involving non-disabled persons might find some in America suggesting individuals need to take more responsibility for their own lives. For many people with disabilities, the issues below are ones they can do nothing about; they simply are not within their abilities to control in any way. Hiding these issues will not somehow, 'make them disappear,' and leadership that does not resolve them is inadequate.

Disability and Homelessness

The United States of America spends as nearly much money on war, weapons, and the military in general as half of the rest of the entire world. America has everything from small arms to nuclear submarines; an ongoing war in Afghanistan to soldiers on the DMZ. Iraq cost America vast sums of money, and found soldiers dying and coming home with disabilities as well.

"The U.S. has 5% of the world's population - but almost 50% of the world's total military expenditure" - Business Insider

While America is spending massive amounts of money on the military, children and adults with disabilities are living on the streets - homeless. Instead of bolstering the Department of Housing and Urban Development and building housing in order to meet our needs, we find ourselves on waiting lists for housing. People with disabilities who are fortunate enough to receive housing also find ourselves having to deal with various programs such as the, 'LEAP,' program in order to get subsidized energy to keep the lights on in that housing; at least if we are lucky enough to be eligible.

Adding to this woe is the fact that not all of the meager housing through HUD is accessible. What this means is that people with disabilities not only have to wait on extensive or often times even closed housing lists - we more often than not have to pursue housing in the general apartment market at the usual prices. For these reasons, many people with disabilities find ourselves homeless, living with family members, or with friends instead of living independently.

Nursing Home Abuse

Denial is an American pastime, to the point where denial of disability and the issues associated with us has become ingrained into even the leadership of this nation. Where nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are concerned, there is certainly no lack of denial on the parts of leaders - local, state, or federal. Abuse in these institutions is an ongoing issue to the point where people with disabilities are even dying in them due to abuse.

The only time leadership seems to notice is when abuse in long-term care institutions makes the evening news. Leaders wouldn't want the family members of people with disabilities to ever think their loved ones in institutions were going without representation. If an, 'incident,' of abuse does not make the evening news well...the state inspector might come through an institution once or every-other year.

Yet the simple fact is that almost everyone, to include politicians, will experience a form of disability during their lifetime. While some efforts have been made to make these institutions more acceptable they remain inadequate; much like leadership that permits ongoing long-term care facility abuse through denial and a lack of community health care services.

Disability, Employment, the Social Security Administration, and Poverty

A very reasonable argument has been made concerning wages paid to women in relation to those paid to men, one that states women are paid less. The argument states that women deserve to be paid just as much as men because they do the same or often times more work of equal or better quality. One of the questions to cross my mind is, 'How many of those women are women with disabilities'

In fact - the, 'glass ceiling,' argument leads me in thought to one I think of as the, 'cement basement.' The cement basement is where far, far too many people with disabilities find ourselves where jobs and earnings are concerned, leading to poverty. For some reason, many employers are of the belief that people with disabilities are somehow unable to produce at the same levels as non-disabled persons; most likely the same employers who think women cannot. Unfortunately, many employers actively seek ways to evade the Americans with Disabilities Act itself and discriminate against people with disabilities in hiring and other employment practices.

Where is America's leadership related to disability poverty? Well - there is the Social Security Administration (SSA), a Federal Administration that covers people with disabilities who many times want to do some level of work, even if it is part-time. The Social Security Administration places earning level limits on people with disabilities who want to do some level of work, in essence discouraging us to do any work at all. The income levels on the SSI or SSDI programs are meager indeed, yet attempting to:

All while knowing that you could experience further disabilities or become ill, kind of makes finding work in the first place less-than-worthwhile. The Social Security Administration is more concerned about people ripping off taxpayers than it is about supporting people with disabilities who are attempting to live independently. The SSA, 'herds,' people with disabilities into vast groups with little respect for individuality.

In other words, the Federal Government has established a social Administration for many people with disabilities that enforces poverty. Finding a way to live independently and in some level of comfort in America is a real balancing act of programs, employment, paperwork, risks, and more. People with disabilities, who already live with the challenges presented by the disabilities we experience, are supposed to deal with the hurdles presented by the Federal Government, as well as taxes, employers, and daily independent living. Is it unreasonable for me to suggest the Federal Government through the leadership of this nation could certainly make things a whole lot easier for us

Disability and Isolation in Our Own Homes

Across the street from where I live is a three-story apartment building with no elevator. On the corner opposite to me is another one very similar to it and yes - no elevator. In the very building I live in there is an elevator, but guess what? The elevator does not go to the top floor! There are eight steps up into the hallway, a real issue for my husband who has osteoarthritis.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers buildings that are new or were built after a certain year. Not one of the buildings I have mentioned is covered by the ADA. In this specific unit, as well as every other unit in the building, the doorways are less than 32" wide. Does this mean we chose poorly where living arrangements are concerned? No - we simply had no other options; Colorado Springs doesn't offer a whole heck of a lot of accessible housing.

New buildings sell, lease, or rent at very high prices - a simple fact. People with disabilities do not have a lot of disposable income; another fact. Yet the ADA does not cover the buildings we can afford to live in - quite a pickle, wouldn't you say? Colorado Springs is far from the only city in America where these housing conditions exist, yet the leadership of this nation has not modified the ADA in relation to housing; why

The result is isolation of people with disabilities purely based upon a lack of accessibility related to the places we have to live in. Getting in and out of our own homes is a trial; a hard one in many instances. Yet there are soldiers from every conflict and war you can imagine who are unemployed; soldiers who could be put to work modifying these very homes we live in. What was that about the military budget

The Judgment - Inadequate Leadership

The issues mentioned are ones that should have been approached and dealt with by America's leadership decades ago, if not earlier. The focus by this nation's leadership on military spending over spending taxpayer dollars on the citizens of this nation who pay those dollars has reached the point of complete unacceptability. While there are dangers presented by other nations in this world, spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on the military reflects irresponsible leadership in my opinion.

Leadership that leaves people with disabilities, to include children with disabilities, homeless, in poverty, and isolated in many of the homes we are able to find - all while spending incredible sums of money on weaponry, war, and the military is leadership that is completely inadequate. Both of the major party's in America are guilty of this inadequate leadership on an ongoing basis. The argument of, 'who is doing better than whom,' has reached the point of complete irrelevancy after more than 230+ years of American history involving both major party's and their leadership. Until these issues related to people with disabilities in America are resolved, this writer can only view the leadership in America as inadequate.

15 Facts About Military Spending That Will Blow Your Mind
www.businessinsider.com/military-spending-budget-defense-cuts-2011-10#

"For the past 13 years U.S. military spending has increased 114 percent. America's defense spending doubled in the same period that its economy shrunk from 32 to 23 percent of global output. Each day in Afghanistan costs the government more than it did to build the entire Pentagon. In 2008, the Pentagon spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earned in a year. The pentagon budget consumes 80% of individual income tax revenue. The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety."

Homelessness & Disability
news.change.org/stories/homelessness-disability

"More than 40 percent of the homeless population in the US are persons with disabilities, the July 16th Disability Scoop reports. The 150-page 2008 Annual Homeless Assessment Report was issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development."

Housing Authority of the City of Colorado Springs
www.csha.us/

"The Housing Authority of the City of Colorado Springs is currently not accepting applications for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Conventional Public Housing, Elderly, or Disabled waiting lists."

Nursing Home Abuse Increasing
www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-304038.html

"It's a shocking reality for thousands of older Americans, a trend CBS News first reported last year with the story of Helen Love. She was attacked by a certified nurse's assistant at a Sacramento facility, who was angered she'd soiled herself. "He choked me and went and broke my neck and broke my wrist," said Love. Helen Love died two days after her interview."


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