In the midst of all of the discussion involving debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs, and potential, minor long-term budgetary problems based on unrealistic assumptions, it’s worth remembering what this debate is really about. Mike Lux (boldface mine):
When I was a young organizer for Iowa Citizen Action Network, we were doing a lot of work on utility rate hikes. I met an elderly woman, maybe late 70s, who was living on her Social Security check. As utility prices went through the roof, her cost of living increase in that check wasn’t coming anywhere close to covering the costs she had. She was extremely worried, because as frugal as she was she couldn’t figure out how to keep her heat on, pay her rent, and buy a few meager groceries. She thought the utilities might end up shutting her heat off. I suggested a social services agency she could go to, and that she might check with neighborhood churches to see if they had funds that could help. And I promised that I would do everything I could to fight for her. I pushed hard on the local utility companies to try and shame them away from turning the heat off the dead of an Iowa winter, which didn’t work very well because the utility companies had no shame. And my organization pushed in the legislature to get a bill passed that would prohibit utility shutoffs in the wintertime, which didn’t pass the first year but did the second year we worked on it. But it didn’t pass in time to save the woman I met. Reading the Cedar Rapids Gazette one day that winter, I saw that the woman I met had been found dead in her apartment of hypothermia after the utility company had turned off her heat.
What we’re talking about is a lot of elderly people who will be forced to choose among food, heat (and in the South, cooling), and medical care. With the current level of benefits, too many already have to choose among these things. Only a moral degenerate would choose to make it worse in the service of solving completely artificial crises.
This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things. And some people can’t have food or heat too.