Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

Posts Tagged ‘Mental health

The hardest political choice…

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Yeah, I gotta hard choice for ya...


That’s right, compassion… I keep hearing politicians talk about hard choices, about tough decisions and being realistic…you know, their usual line and all of it typically means only one thing…but I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Let me start over…

So, few days ago I was blocking traffic on a bridge as part of a national day of action. Good time, didn’t necessarily agree with the tactic but felt it important enough to be a part of the overall message, the anger at the destruction wrought by income inequality in this country, the idea that people, wealthy people and corporations need to pay their fair share for a society they reap untold benefit from yet seem to feel they have little to no responsibility towards, this despite all the assistance they get, be it the use of roads, protection from the police, fire, maybe even generous financial subsidies from the government. Would seem pretty simple. If society goes to shit, wealthy people and corporations are going to be affected same as anybody else…perhaps not as severe but affected nonetheless. In any case, on the bridge, good feelings of doing something active, being a part of things and making a positive choice, myself and everybody else made a choice to be on that bridge…don’t know what everybody else gave up but I gave up needed sleep, some time to myself and it turned the better part of my day into a rush job so I could get back to work: third shift all night talking to and assisting people who have reached their end of it, either with thoughts of suicide, or actual attempts…and that night, like last night, like tonight…finances are a tremendous stressor and in these hard financial times, this is precisely when many people need help the most…but then, in between my time on the bridge and going to work I read in the news about how the mayor has passed a new budget, and surprise, surprise…the talk is about “hard choices,” about an “honest budget,” and while he and the city council talk solemnly about their honesty…they lie their asses off, either that or they are absolute bastards and either way, it doesn’t speak much to any of their character.



Their “hard choices” meant they chose to close budgetary holes by attacking the needs of the poor and middle class.

These politicians chose to privatize city health clinics, thus ensuring fewer people get medical care and those that do,wait longer…all so someone else gets a profit and the city saves money. They chose to close half of the city’s mental health clinics, thus ensuring people with mental health issues either cannot get treatment or also must wait much longer. They also chose to lay off people working the 911 lines, this ensuring people who call for help, they too will wait longer…and they chose much more…higher city fees and penalties which will affect those of meager means far more than their wealthier neighbors…and by neighbors, I mean the people who live on the other side of town, far away.

These austerity measures are the politicians’ “hard choices,” for their “honest budget,” but in truth, there wasn’t anything hard about it at all. That’s just a vernacular they use at get togethers, or with the press to make themselves feel better for the damage they cause to real people.

You see, these politicians have been making these choices for forty fucking years and these politicians, and the corporations and the wealthy? They are the ones who benefit the most from these “hard choices.” Everybody else? Yeah, screwed just a little more, year after year after year…budget cut after cut after cut… The only way these choices would really be hard for the politicians who make them is if they truly cared about those who suffered as a result, but I would argue they don’t care, not really for if they did they simply wouldn’t do it. They would raise taxes, they would cut spending on subsidies for wealthy corporations, they would do a number of things that might even be the kind of hard choices to jeopardize their future electability…all in the name of compassion, and doing the right, moral thing.

Yes, compassion is the hard choice, the choice they are unwilling to make…and because of that people will suffer.

Some who are mentally ill will lose jobs, alienate family, abuse drugs and alcohol, or only receive treatment in prison where some will wind up as a result of their symptoms and what they do to alleviate them, which is especially sad as the city will pay more to lock them up then they would to provide treatment in the first place. Some people will die from physical illness or perhaps not go to the doctor until their ailments grow far worse and even more expensive, again to the city. Longer response time for 9-11 calls…again, suffering and some will die.

How many degrees of separation need to occur before these politician can sleep at night, distancing themselves emotionally from the blood on their hands as a result of their ballyhooed “honest budget?”

Hard to say, you’d have to ask the politicians themselves, but not just the politicians in my city, go across the country because these same decisions are happening nation wide and the same people are suffering as a result throughout the entire country.

Oh…but some will say we just can’t afford compassion anymore.

Yeah? Why is that?

I know…because for the past thirty plus years, politicians have been deregulating the markets, signing free trade agreements that are anything but, deregulating the banks and lowering tax rates on the wealthiest all so they can get elected, and as a result all the money that used to be used to pay for people, for compassion has been concentrated, hoarded, moved out of the country by the constituents these politicians actually do care about…the people who are not you or me and certainly not anyone who needs anymore help…They only really care about the job creators, those same job creators who aren’t creating any jobs…

And how long until this bullshit charade ends in the United States?

I don’t know…look in the mirror and ask yourself that question, because it really is up to you, up to all of us…and we’re all going to have to be patient in this fight because great change takes a long time…so if you’re game, settle in and let’s rebuild a nation that again gives a damn about the people living in it, and when this fight is over, it will be worth it…and if you have kids they’ll thank you for your trouble…everybody will except the 1% that loves it the way it is now…

Just a thought.

Oh, and on a more personal note…


You are truly pathetic and it’s easy to see how you were Obama’s chief of staff…the both of you only pay lip service to helping those who need it…especially around election time you lying sons of bitches…

And Boeing?

I lived in Seattle back when you played your corporate lottery to see which city would give you the sweetest deal for the headquarters of your corporate offices. Yeah just the latest company at the time to play community blackmail, thus forcing “hard choices” and “honest budgets” so you can line your coffers with blood money. You were a part of Seattle’s history and once a vital part of its community and identity, and you just betrayed them for profit.

Oh, and Twitter?

The progressive company…right. You threatened San Francisco with moving your company out of the city until they gave you a huge break on payroll taxes amongst other goodies that cost the city millions, all the while the city is forced to cut back on services, cut bus routes, cut, cut, cut…but hey, as long as you greedy assholes and frauds are getting wealthier…who cares, right?

Okay then, everybody else…

Have a nice day.

From the heart: Yeah, I got one, so what?! Pardon my rant…

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Yes, and without apology

I’m a social worker.

I’m actually working right now, even as I type this.

You see, right now I’m an on-call Adult Crisis Counselor and what that means is when the police, the hospitals or the jails have someone who is contemplating suicide, or has tried it, they call me in to talk to them, to do an assessment and determine what is the least restrictive and safest setting for them. This could mean anything from sending them home to their family, to an unlocked crisis house with supportive staff, or yes, an emergency detention to a locked behavioral unit at one of the hospitals. That’s the part-time gig, my day job is more of the standard case management variety where I work with mentally ill adults to set goals and help them plan and provide support in order for them to achieve these goals.

I’ve been doing this kind of work in some capacity for a long time now, ever since I first started a gig part-time in college when I was twenty. I’ve done this work in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco, but this isn’t my resume, this post is just a reaction to the ongoing news cycle and a questioning of where this country is headed.

I’m not going to try to dazzle anyone here with lots of statistics and numbers, social and economic theory.

I just wanna ask, when did it become acceptable in this country to throw people away for the profit of others, especially on such an almost accepted, mass scale? When did we collectively get together and decide that people and their futures, despite their faults, were expendable?

And I don’t ask this in the “Kumbayah” kind of way. More like:

“Hey, that guy over there’s messed up, we should help him.”

“Nahh, he’s just a (insert excuse here).”

“So what?”

“You don’t know him, why do you care?”

“Because it’s the right thing to do, ya careless jackass.”

I remember a job interview I had about six years ago in California where I was asked, point blank by the director of one of the largest homeless shelters in San Francisco, “When do you decide to give up on a client?”

“You don’t,” I responded, and I meant it.

When I was first training as an Adult Crisis Counselor in the Midwest, I got a call from a rather notorious kind of client, a legend if you will, for being a pain in the ass, a chronic alcoholic and to a lot of people doing what I do, a waste of time. When I heard the name of this person, and that he was in the emergency room requesting detox from alcohol, again…I rolled my eyes and expressed my frustration with a few choice profanities. The person who was training me at the time, someone I had known for a few years stopped me mid-curse and smiled good-naturedly, patiently, “How do you know this isn’t the time he really wants to quit?”

“C’mon,” I protested, “He does this almost every weekend.”

“But what if this time he means it? Sure, he probably doesn’t, but what if?”

And of course, he was right. I’d let my frustrations get in the way. It was a busy night, calls were stacking up in Emergency Rooms all over town. So we went, we offered services. The client accepted, and then he bailed the next day. So far as I know, he’s still out there drinking if he’s not dead, but that isn’t the point. The point is simply, when did we as a country get too frustrated with the amount of vulnerable people that we just started cursing every time we got the call? And why, when the politicians, business and banks help create the fucking conditions that have led to so many people becoming vulnerable, do we then let the politicians, businesses and banks tell us they deserved it, or we can’t afford it, or they need to pick themselves up by some mythical bumper sticker boot-straps?

Oh I know, because it’s about me, me, me, and it’s about personal accountability and responsibility. If the degenerates can’t figure it out, fuck ‘em…

Yeah, that’s perfect.

You ever notice how it always seems the same bastards who tout survival of the fittest as a social policy tend to be the same ones who discount Darwin in the wealthier Sunday establishments or at your local school board meetings? Every time a budget has to be fixed, they cut money to social programs and then talk about their “hard, but necessary decisions,” like they care so much. Hardly, not when their campaign speeches and moral platitudes indicate otherwise. Every time they want reasons to kick some homeless guy in the balls, they justify their assaults by marching out some formerly homeless individual and pat him on the back for the cameras, showing him as another shiny example of: see? People can do it for themselves, if they just have the will, the strength, if they just had enough of that good ‘ol American courage.

Look you “self-reliance” types, I been doing this a long time and complex people don’t fit so nicely into your bumper sticker solutions. Life ain’t like that, and if you actually think it is, you’re a bigger moron than I thought. For every success story you can march out I can give you the names of ten people where it didn’t, where your “hard, necessary decision” led to a relapse, which led to a new charge, which maybe led to a prison sexual assault, which led to an exacerbation of leftover trauma from childhood molestation. For every budget cut you got, we got a guy who lost health coverage, lost his meds and wound up actually hurting somebody.

If the problems were that easy to fix, they wouldn’t be fucking problems now would they? You want to talk personal responsibility? I’ll answer with a social responsibility to your country and its people, and I mean, everybody. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my time with the ones many people seem to be in a big hurry to forget about, and its bad out there man, it’s pretty fucking bad, and it ain’t getting better.

Now this would be the time where one might say, “Well Drake, if you’re so smart, what’s the solution?”

Okay, I got one. The answer’s a lot simpler than you think.

Do something, really…do anything.

So long as you are helping somebody, do anything. It’s going to make the situation a lot better than if you’d done nothing. Call a school. Call a church. Call the cops. Call a social work agency, a nursing home, a rec center, a shelter…call any of them and ask what it is you might do. I’m betting they’re going to have a suggestion.

Did I mention I’m working right now?

Yep, I got a call…I gotta head over to the hospital to see someone who just took an overdose of pills. Tried to kill himself and yeah, I know him, I’ve talked to him before. And yeah, Mr. Rose, his parents sucked. They couldn’t find decent work so they wound up working a bunch of shitty part-time jobs, you know the drill, no time at home, no health insurance, bad pay, bad hours and money problems, crazy tension inside their place, some domestic violence and later, alcohol, drugs…all them dominoes started falling which led to another abandoned, fucked up kid who made stupid decisions…

Course, I suppose that’s all a bit long for a bumper sticker.  And his problems won’t fit into the budget but I’m going anyway, and the next time they call about this kid, I’ll go then too and unfortunately, there will probably be a next time, just like unfortunately, no matter what you do, or how much help you offer, there will always be an asshole with a gun who kills somebody and makes the news. Wish that weren’t true, but it is. Nothing and nobody can save everyone, we all just have to keep trying.

Oh, and if I had a nickel for every time someone, when finding out what I do for a living, says that I have a “hard job,” or tells me I am “admired” for the work I do…mayor of San Francisco said that to me once for god’s sake, “I might be mayor, but you’ve got the hard job,” big gleaming grin for the camera…really, on a good day, I might appreciate such comments, but on a bad one? I wonder if that is some people’s way of saying they aren’t capable of helping, or maybe they even use this supposed admiration as some sort of panacea for their conscience because they know they won’t make the time.

And for everybody who wants to say, “Hey, I tried to help once and they just didn’t even appreciate it, the ingrates.” Well, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were just helping to help yourself, perhaps try again with a different approach, maybe focus on their needs instead of your own.

When do you give up?

You don’t.

And finally, really, get involved and just do…anything. There are organizations where you live who would love a call…or maybe just be nice to that guy who’s begging change. Don’t have to give him anything, but look him in the eye, acknowledge he’s a person, a human being. That’s a start. Besides, things obviously aren’t going his way, ya think he needs more shit from you?

Better still, be a force in your community, give a damn. I know a lot of you do, but too many of you don’t, especially if that means more than just saying you do.

If you do nothing, it will only get worse.

Obviously this post isn’t directed at everyone so no need to take it personal…take it or leave it.

Me, I gotta go again, I’m tired and my phone’s ringing.

Have a nice day.

Go Saints.

About F’in Time…BP Gives 52 Million Dollars to Fund Mental Health in Gulf Coast

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And if you ask nicely, in seven weeks Mr. McKay and BP will be concerned about you too

Give credit where credit is due, and I will..just check back with me in two months and I’ll give British Petroleum all the credit in the world for doing what it is they morally should have done from the beginning.

From Channel 6 News in Houston:

BP announced on Monday a $52 million award to fund behavioral health support and outreach programs across the U.S. Gulf Coast region.

The award will be given to federal and state health organizations. The multimillion funding will help residents link up to support available through providers in their communities and it will be available through local outreach programs and a special toll-free phone line where information on available services will be provided.

“We appreciate that there is a great deal of stress and anxiety across the region and as part of our determination to make things right for the people of the region, we are providing this assistance now to help make sure individuals who need help know where to turn,” said Lamar McKay, President of BP America.

While I welcome this news, the above quote would seem to indicate that Mr. McKay and his corporation never really understood the stress and anxiety of Gulf Cost residents at all. If they had, they might understand that the interminable delays and unwillingness to commit to aiding mental health programs only served to add to the anxiety and stress of everyone involved in providing these services and especially, those in need of them.

Let us not forget what had to happen to get today’s announcement:

Multiple requests had to be made by multiple states (Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi) with no response from BP for weeks.

In July, the Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Michael Fitzpatrick, had to call out BP for its irresponsibility in a public, national letter.

Also in July, the Louisiana DHH was forced to advise the US Department of Health and Human Services in a publicly released letter how they’d requested funds from BP to provide much needed services, but were getting nowhere.

So, Mr. McKay, whereas it is appreciated your company finally did the right thing, your grand pronouncement of compassion and care? It rings about as true as the forced apology from a playground bully, right after you finally got busted by the sociology teacher…remember? When you got caught being an asshole?

Read the article

$52 million for behavioral health support across the Gulf Coast region

Have a nice day.

The Crime of the Century: What BP and the US Government Don’t Want You to Know, Part 1.

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Some symbols need no explanation

The article by Jerry Cop and Charles Hambleton begins:

“The unprecedented disaster caused by the BP oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon 252 site continues to expand even as National Incident Commander Thad Allen and BP assert that the situation is improving, the blown-out source capped and holding steady, the situation well in hand and cleanup operations are being scaled back. The New York Times declared on the front page this past week that the oil was disolving more rapidly than anticipated. Time magazine reported that environmental anti-advocate Rush Limbaugh had a point when he said the spill was a “leak”. Thad Allen pointed out in a press conference that boats are still skimming on the surface, a futile gesture when the dispersant Corexit is being used to break down oil on the surface. As the oil is broken down, it mixes with the dispersant and flows under or over any booming operations.

To judge from most media coverage, the beaches are open, the fishing restrictions being lifted and the Gulf resorts open for business in a healthy, safe environment. We, along with Pierre LeBlanc, spent the last few weeks along the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida, and the reality is distinctly different. The coastal communities of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have been inundated by the oil and toxic dispersant Corexit 9500, and the entire region is contaminated. The once pristine white beaches that have been subject to intense cleaning operations now contain the oil/dispersant contamination to an unknown depth. The economic impacts potentially exceed even the devastation of a major hurricane like Katrina, the adverse impacts on health and welfare of human populations are increasing every minute of every day and the long-term effects are potentially life threatening.”

Nothing for me to add here…just keep reading, it’s important…

Crime of the Century

You ain’t sleeping tonight…

Some Perspective…BP Set to Announce 5 Billion Dollar Profit in 2nd Quarter

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Brutal Profit

From the Telegraph:

This week is likely to see the start of BP’s fightback, beginning with the announcement of $5bn in profits for the second quarter of 2010 and the resignation of Hayward – a symbolic break with the steady drip of bad news that has bombarded the company since April 20.

While I do understand the necessity of British Petroleum staying afloat so they can make reparations to the Gulf Coast along with the number of pensions tied up in British Petroleum stock in America and elsewhere…this profit…something seems wrong with them making this large a profit, especially in light of all they are doing to cut corners in the Gulf, making successive decisions that further affect lives and cause even more suffering for the residents of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Drastically wrong, a $5 billion dollar profit, when so many are now forced to do without as a result of BP’s catastraphuk? 

Perhaps a little perspective is in order as to how they might be achieving this kind of wealth:

1. British Petroleum is stalling relief payments to the Gulf Coast – said Kenneth Feinberg, the arbitrator of the 20 billion dollar escrow. He states when he takes over as arbitrator, officially on August 10th, these delays will stop. He has heard the complaints from residents and states he understands the pain being experienced.

2. British Petroleum has stopped awarding contracts for oil skimmers and protective boom. The people getting these contracts are people of the Gulf, let go because BP says there isn’t enough oil out there to skim, much of it driven underwater by dispersants like Corexit. However, the idea of boom and skimmers not being needed as badly, and throwing the fisherman out of work again, after your oil spill threw them out of work previously, well, maybe someone could ask the dead pelicans on Raccoon Island how they feel about there not being enough oil to skim.

3. British Petroleum is using prison labor to clean up beaches…prison labor is far cheaper and as an added benefit, prisoners cannot complain about lack of safety equipment or conditions. Well, they can but who will really listen? They are being used despite thousands in the Gulf Coast being out of work because of British Petroleum’s spill.

4. Cleanup pay will be deducted from future payouts of oil claims so essentially, Gulf Coast residents are working to cleanup BP’s mess for free while putting their health at risk by working in this toxic stew of Corexit and crude oil.

5. BP is stalling requests made by Gulf Coast states for mental health outreach funding for affected Gulf Coast residents. Millions of dollars have been requested and BP has committed to nothing. It took weeks for the company to even acknowledge the request.

6. BP no longer assisting food banks - after donating $175,000 dollars the first month of their oil spill catatastraphuk, they have since given nothing while the need for assistance continues to rise and rise quickly. When fisherman are used to eating their own catch, and no longer can due to the oil spill, well, along with the loss of their jobs, food quickly becomes an expensive problem.

7. BP is paying exorbitant sums to Gulf Coast scientists to conduct research on the spill and become part of their defense team. A number of university scientists have accepted as research funds are in short supply. A signature on the BP contract forbids them from disclosing findings for 3 years, thus they are silenced.

And I am sure many more examples exist beyond what’s mentioned above…

So, a little perspective, despite British Petroleum’s initial commitment to making sure that the Gulf Coast and their residents are “made whole” again, they have done little more than cut costs and delay payments at every turn. The Gulf states are predicted to lose 100,000 jobs because of this spill while the Gulf Coast economy is expected to lose 22.7 billion dollars.

Hundreds of thousands of affected lives…

BP made 5 billion dollars in the second quarter alone…


Read the article:

Oil spill: BP plans for life after Deepwater

Have a good evening.


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