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Curmudgeon's Corner: Taxpayers shouldn't be a shield for poor decisions (OPINION)

June 20, 2012

Sometimes I read the “Relationship Advice” column in the state’s largest daily newspaper. I am often amazed at what a mess some people make of their lives.
For example, recently someone who described herself as “Confused” sought advice about attending a baby shower to which she was “morally opposed.” Seems that her niece went off to college and came home in a family-way courtesy of a jobless married man 20 years her senior “with young kids” and “a shady past [as] a ‘former’ drug dealer.”
This father-to-be has no plans to divorce his wife (as though that might be a good idea) and “our niece will be a single mother getting by with government support, just like the baby’s father.”
And what pearl of wisdom did the advice giver offer? “Being born to a college dropout, single mother who has a shaky hold on adulthood will saddle this child with challenges at the very start of life.” No kidding!
The writer went on, “Pitch in where you can to help steer this young mom toward a more stable path. She will need to find work, child care and adult mentoring to be the best parent she can be.” Really? As if her parents didn’t warn her about getting involved with a loser and now she is going to listen to her aunt.
No, her kid is now going to be a problem for the taxpayers of the state wherever this self-centered, defiant, irresponsible “single mom” chooses to live.
Yes, yes, I know, people accuse me of being judgmental and insensitive all the time. Unfortunately, those of us who try to raise our kids with a sense of responsibility and good morals wonder if it would be better to let them do what they want and let society at large take care of them.

n Speaking of being taken care of by the government, there’s this: our liberal congressional delegation, Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Representative Langevin, plus Cranston Mayor Alan Fung announced a $1.2 million plan to buy nine homes in a Cranston neighborhood that are literally and figuratively “under water.”
Never mind that the federal government that approved this deal is insolvent. That’s correct; forty cents of every dollar Washington, D.C. spends is borrowed and half of that is loaned to us by China.
The Perkins Avenue area is frequently flooded by the Pawtuxet River and was particularly hard hit by the recent “hundred-year storm.” Resident Brian Dupont grew up in the neighborhood and remembers when Ed DiPrete, then Cranston’s mayor, declared it a flood area in 1983. Yet Dupont chose to buy a house there anyway.
Another resident, Amy Sinyei, is quoted as saying, “When its dry, it’s amazing” but also asserts “[The buyout proposal] is exactly what the community wanted.” She reminds me of the young woman I once counseled who was being beaten by her alcoholic boyfriend but stayed with him because “when he’s sober he’s nice to me.”
An appraiser is going to try to determine the pre-flood fair market values of the homes. Incredibly, if the homeowners don’t like the resultant offer from HUD, they can decide to stay. And why shouldn’t they? They can still get taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance.
Ms. Sinyei said she received $125,000 to repair her house the last time.
How would you like to have your home renovated every few years at taxpayer expense?

n Pretty soon the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, most provisions of which won’t come into effect until (conveniently) after the November election.
Progressives, including the president, have made no secret that Obamacare is but the first step toward a single-payer, government-run health care system. If he wins reelection, expect Obama to press for a single-payer system. Progressives often point to Medicare as the successful prototype to providing health care.
On June 5, the state’s largest daily newspaper ran an above-the-fold front page story of an 83-year old Westerly woman, Jean Arnau, who was treated for a urinary tract infection and fractured spine for five days at South County Hospital.
Under current regulations a Medicare recipient is eligible for 100 days of rehabilitation (including prescription medications) at a nursing home after three nights in a hospital. Unfortunately, Mrs. Arnau was being “held for observation” and therefore was not “admitted” to the hospital. Therefore, Medicare will not pay for her nursing home rehab or medications.
Naturally this enraged her daughter, Mimi Auer, who believes Medicare should be paying her mother’s hospital co-pay, drugs and the $1,800-per week nursing home cost. Apparently, neither woman ever heard of long-term care insurance.
In fact, I wonder how many readers over age 50 have this insurance or are they assuming the government is going to take care of them?
According to the article, Medicare “suggests but doesn’t require” that observation periods not exceed 48 hours. However, Medicare has tightened regulations for admission to hospitals meaning they might be denied any reimbursement upon audit. (Remember the Democrats telling us that part of the cost of Obamacare was Medicare savings of $500 billion?) At least they are assured of some reimbursement for observing a patient.
Dr. William Sabena of South County Hospital illustrates the dilemma thus, “a patient with gastrointestinal bleeding would be admitted automatically five years ago. Currently, that patient would have to have blood hemoglobin below a certain level to qualify for admission, even if he or she is still bleeding.”
That’s an example of how wonderful medical treatment will be under Obamacare, folks. Just you wait and see.

n No one wants to deny assistance to those who, through no fault of their own, face hardship due to physical or mental illness or natural disaster.
However, we have increasingly become a society in which those of us who pay our taxes, exercise good judgment, abide by societal norms and raise our kids to be productive, responsible citizens are being asked to shield our fellow citizens from the results of their poor decisions, irresponsible behavior and sheer stupidity.

Richard August is a North Kingstown resident and a regular contributor to the Standard Times. He served for six years on North Kingstown’s Audit Committee and was its chairman for the last two. His opinions are his own.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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