Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Channeling Paul

In the comments to the post below, Paul wrote: 

Have you noticed that over the last several years we have “hammered out..” a budget that actually shrinks our opportunitu to hammer out one in the future? What I mean is this…

As we shift more and more to federal funding as an answer to our budget we become more and more enslaved to the whims of federal budget makers. Is this the Sacramento’s fault? Ultimately I would say yes, after all they are the ones that say yeah or nay.

But lets be fair – we do not need to search far to find fantasies and fallacies about unmatched state dollars, waiver, backfill, and outrageous numbers like 1.4 Billion in untapped federal monies. In fact, we do not need to search at all. The advodivas, the advocrates – the politicians are within our own ranks.

How can we not love a person that implies through poignant protestation that we are being short changed 1.4 Billion dollars? We love him or her just as we love the politician that tells us that he or she will cut our taxes and double our entitlements at the same time.

Until we can address our realities Andy words are axiomatic, “It does not, will not, cannot exist in our government.” Until we acknowledge that some of our efforts at home are, “little more than the brightly-colored bunting and balloons of a democracy”
I have noticed, just as I noticed that you said articulately something I've been trying to squawk out for the lifetime of this blog. Missing from his list is the amount of time, energy and audience we waste debating the prevalence of "classic" autism.  There are a few problems that I would identify in our approach:

1.  We argue with the idea of waste in the system before looking for it.  If there is waste in the system, and we all know there is, it is interfering with effective support for people with disabilities and counteracting the well-spent funds.  If there is waste in the system, identifying and eliminating it would be that much funding we would not have to defend.  That we find so many ways to fight against the unexamined implication also allows those who would cut our finding to decry wasteful spending without expectation of quantifying it.

2.  That we even care what resources might be available takes the conversation away from the mission and into the money.  We will never win an argument about money.  We have people who need and deserve our support.  They are compelling people, sympathetic people and above all, people.  It is easy to not care about acronymmed arcana like FFP.  It is hard to dismiss a human striving to overcome a profound challenge.

3.  Nothing depresses me more than the number of my dear friends in the DDS advocacy community who have been saying for 8 years that we can't start the important fight until funding is secure.  Funding will never be secure.  As long as you think funding comes first, you have surrendered the battle for everything you say matters.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How to have self esteem when you're a DD service provider

I may be, as a social services chief executive, a member of a despised class rightly suspected of promoting unaccountable, dishonorable and inefficient expenditures.

I may be, as an advocate, a typical charlatan using blubbery words to ask my neighbors to place my interests above their own.

I may be, as a blogger, the tea-totaling equivalent of that obnoxious souse at the bar holding forth on matters beyond his ken as if an alcoholic haze were a worthy substitute for any actual knowledge.

I may be scandalous, stupid and self-important, lazy, long-winded and loveless but I am not a California legislator, Alhamdulillah!

The opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to demonstrate their commitment to principles has passed and it passed with no creditable gestures toward principle.

The opportunity to hammer out a smarter, leaner or more compassionate and just budget passed with no apparent fervor for smartness, leanness, compassion or social justice.  

It is time for the legislators to stop pointing at one another. It is time to vote for a flawed, inefficient, stupid budget because this year's budget has gestated too long not to resemble its parents.


P.S.  The above was provoked by an email sent by State Senator Dutton to supporters sharing Pete Wilson's criticism of Schwarzenegger's budget plan.  In all likelihood, all of his colleagues in both houses are sending similarly sanctimonious and second-hand commentary to supporters (more and more loosely defined.)  As a supporter, I wanted to explain the following:

Drug dealers may be predators, but they perform.
Government contractors may be parasites, but they are humble.
Undocumented workers may be illegal, but they do what they are paid to do.
People with severe enough disabilities may not be as economically productive as their non-disabled peers, but many accept wages in consideration of output.

In short, there is nobody in this state that any member of our legislature might wish to punish, prosecute or patronize who is not a better public servant until a budget is presented the governor.  Until then, criticize no one.