First Thursday: Time to Show Our Rage and Demand Leadership

In an April 9, 2014 op-ed in The New York Times, Charles Blow wrote about the rage that we should have concerning the current status of many people in the United States. He writes about how, for most families, the cost of living in almost every areas has sky rocketed over the last 20 years and that many people are not earning enough to pay the bills and keep food on the table.

For people with disabilities, these concerns are the same. We should be in rage that too many people with disabilities earn sub-minimum wages and Medicaid Waivers do not cover the cost of all that is needed. We should be in rage that some individuals and families get much more than they need, while others get nothing or barely enough for a family caregiver to be able to work.

We should be in rage that people with disabilities have a 70% unemployment rate and that providers of segregated prevocational and non-work get $17,000, while providers who support people to go to work get barely $10,000. Isn't it time that we put the incentive on what people want and that is to go to work?
We should be in rage that leaders and politicians talk about economic development and growth but fail to include people with disabilities as part of that discussion. All should mean all and people with disabilities should be part of the benefits of a pro-business state and its policies.

However, to achieve these things, Mr. Blow writes, "when will we demand the country we deserve? Reflective of its people, protective of its people, simply of its people? When will the young and the poor and the aggrieved and the forsaken walk abreast to the polls and then to the public squares?"

Again, the same arguments can be made in relation to people with disabilities. Why is it that people with disabilities get the services offered by the provider? The American way is for people to take their dollars and shop for the goods and services they want. We have created a self-direction effort, but too many people are still only able to access what the provider is willing to offer.

As Mr. Blow suggests, if we want to change what is happening and address this rage, it is time for people to go to the polls and vote. To elect those people who are willing to fight the rage and put in place the kinds of policies that are needed to make sure that people with disabilities can go to work and earn a living wage that allows them to purchase goods and services. It is the American way and the last time I checked people with disabilities that live in the United States are Americans and deserve the same opportunities as all other Americans.

It is time to show our rage and demand the kind of leadership, resources and policies necessary for people with disabilities to live independent, productive, included and integrated in communities and self-determine lives.

Eric Jacobson
Executive Director, GCDD

Tags: GCDD, First Thursday