Search This Blog

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Barry Baker Update

In the last two weeks virtually no news has emerged about the death of Barry Baker. Readers will recall Baker died when two ambulance workers called to his house decided his life was not worth saving. According to news reports, the ambulance workers were appalled by the condition of Mr. Baker's house. BBC news is reporting that the two men who were arrested on suspicion of neglecting to perform a duty in public office have had their bail extended to next February. I am not sure if this extension is significant or simply common place.

Day One Obama Agenda a Home Run

Wow, it took all of one day for Obama to address disability rights. At the website Obama has clearly spelled out four far reaching goals. I may quibble with the order but not the goals. This is exactly the sort of agenda tha can truly change the life of disabled people. Will these goals change the current situation people with disabilities find themselves in? No, but it has the potential to profoundly change the life of many disabled people in the years to come. Here are the four goals Obama will seek to address,

1. Educational Opportunities: Obama wants to fund IDEA, Individuals with Disability Act, provide early intervention for people with disabilities and empower disabled people to go to college. He also wants to make college more affordable for people with disabilities and study why so many disabled college graduates do not find employment.

2. End Discrimination: This is not possible but admirable. Obama wants to enforce and restore the ADA, make health care more affordable for people with disabilities, and end genetic discrimination.

3. Increase Employment: Obama wants to require the federal government and its contractors to employ people with disabilities. Private employers will be encouraged to hire people with disabilities by giving them tax benfits.

4. Community Based Living: To me, support for community based living should be the top short term priority of the administration. Far too many elderly and people with disabilities find themselves in nursing homes from which they never emerge. The Community Choice Act would empower many to live in their own homes as they desire.

These four goals are lofty, appropriate, and desperately needed. They can change the lives of people today, next month, and for years to come. I would have added the opposition to assisted suicide, a movement that had great success in 2008, and universal health care. However, the four goals set forth are a finite number, easily remembered, and worthy. I am energized yet again that Obama appears to the proverbial big picture in mind. Disabilities is not the only issue he seeks to address under the White House Agenda: civil rights, poverty, technology and many other issues are included.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Speech

My high expectation for Obama's inaugural speech were met today. Perhaps it was the occasional CNN camera on former President Bush that made me think it has been a very long time since we had a man in office that could inspire others with mere words. Today, Obama did that for me--I was inspired by his words. Regardless of one's personal and political views, all must acknowledge he is a great speaker. Today's speech was a great one and I hope it will be followed by swift, decisive actions that are equally inspiring. On this score, I worry how much one man can do. But Obama has the power of the people behind him. He is in every sense of the term a rock star, his power immense.

A good friend emailed me today and when I replied I asked about her reaction to Obama's speech. She did not bother to listen. I was incredulous. History, I said, was made. A black man is the President. To me, this is proof positive this nation has changed. I told my friend Obama is more than our first black president. He is more than a gifted speaker. He is more than inspiring. I hope he is the man to bring about the changes he promised the last two years. I think he could be the man. The man that will push the government and cynics such as my friend to be energized. We are emerging from an eight year span in which the worlds wealth has been diverted into the hands of a tiny minority of people and corporate entities. Our government operated under a business model that not only failed but was corrupt, ethically bankrupt. In its place we have a man that may be truly special. Obama promised that:

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

These are wonderful sentiments, things we should indeed aspire to. More than words Obama also noted that:

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility--a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and promise of citizenship.

Obama's views express why I am hopeful and committed. I will continue to write, piss off people that violate my civil rights as a crippled man, and push for those with disabilities I have never met. I do this in the hope that in 60 years the life of other crippled men will not be like mine. These cripple men, women, and children will shake their head and wonder why was the unemployment rate among disabled people 70% They will read about buildings that were not accessible. They will be appalled that health care was unaffordable, people forced into nursing homes because no community support existed. They will read about institutions that no longer exist, razed and replaced by new schools and accessible homes. They will gasp in disbelief that people with cognitive and physical disabilities were stigmatized. So today, I dream of a country that for me does not exist yet. But one that Obama has at least helped me dream about.