As we watch the funding for many social service programs decrease, or in some cases, totally disappear, the needful ones, those that have come to rely upon those programs, neither decrease nor disappear. We still see them, though we may choose not to. In these dark economic days of trickle down tax cuts that go nowhere and budgets that are balanced at the expense of our most fragile citizenry, we try to ignore that which cannot be ignored - the needs of the less fortunate vs. the wants of the state. These are the real issues that must be faced.
A dear friend once wrote, "I saw a man upon the stairs/Upon the stairs he was not there/He was not there again today/I wish that man would go away."
The truth is that man, like the issues, won't go away. These needs exist even if they can't be seen from the back of a limousine. They affect us all, for one day, some of us could be that man upon the stairs.
The Alaska Senior Assistance Program has dollars enough to fund 7,500 elders. Many needful elders will be denied because they were simply too late, and those who do qualify, fear it will end earlier than the 10 months allotted. The question that begs an answer is, "Now what?" When the Legislature meets, do we: a. grapple with where the government sits, or, b. take on the real issues confronting the state?
Here I interject a request - grant me that each year, a portion of the federal dollars spent in the name of defense or foreign aid are instead dedicated to saving the programs that help those in need. Think of it as a contribution to a different type of "homeland security." Failing in that request grant me that we, as a people living in a great state, consent to accepting the need for a state income tax. Let the needs of the state, not its politics, decide that issue.
Grant me one or the other, but do so quickly, so that when I see that man upon the stairs, "he will know how much I care, because I see him everyday and try to see him safely on his way."
As with no child is to be left behind, let us agree not to leave any American in need behind - "both the security of the nation, and the future of this state depend on it."