Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Yet Another Katrina Myth Refuted

Myth: Those impoverished people stayed in New Orleans because they were used to the "welfare state" doing everything for them. The reality is illustrated by this letter in the New York Times.

Re "Tragedy in Black and White," by Paul Krugman (column, Sept. 19): I've been struck since the Katrina evacuees landed in Austin, Tex., about one aspect of their poverty in particular. I've been volunteering with the evacuees at the Austin Convention Center most days. The first few days, I'd go up to someone, say hi and ask, "How're you doin'?" They'd mostly respond by saying they were fine. I'd ask, "Do you need anything?" and I'd get the response, "No, but thank you for asking." Then I'd keep talking with them, and it often turned out that there was something seriously wrong that needed medical attention. Like the grandma whose knee was hurting to the point of not being able to walk from a fall earlier in the day. I offered to take her to medical triage and grabbed a wheelchair for her. On the way, I found out that her ankles had been swollen for days and that she was diabetic. They taped up her knee, gave her painkillers and found out that her blood sugar was off the charts. They gave her a blood-sugar testing kit. Almost to a person those first few days, they had no idea that here in Austin in the convention center, they could have any medical need that they had cared for. This wasn't something they were used to as a right in their lives. I often had to convince them that it would be all right to ask, and often I had to go with them to give them the confidence to ask. It has deeply saddened me and also opened my eyes to something I've had them closed to for many, many years. Marion Mlotok, Austin, Tex., Sept. 19, 2005
Poor people expect to get nothing because nothing is what they're used to having and therefore nothing is what they've learned they have a right to. That has to change. Basic human rights should not have a price tag.
What a perfect analogy. I have seen this a hundred times, just lately.

A sore knee from a fall: support it, apply ICE (ice, compression, and elevation.) and maybe take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like low-dose ibuprofen. Cheap. Easy.

A rich dude would go get a $1000-dollar MRI only to be told to rest and take about $2 worth of Motrin.

Swollen ankles. Congestive heart failure. Thousands of dollars worth of intravenous diuretics, labwork, and a cardiac work-up. Not cheap. Not easy.

Off-the-chart-blood sugars. Diabetic keto-acidosis. Intensive care or telemetry monitoring, frequent and expensive labwork, another cardiac workup, and transfer to a Skilled Nursind Facility after discharge from the hopsital. Beaucoup bucks.

Of course this all could have been avoided with a little preventative care, but we just don't do that for the poor of our country.

We always make them wait until the problem is life-threatening.

Somebody is making major coin on this.
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