Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Our Children's Right to the Pursuit of Happiness

My mind been stuck on our children’s equal rights since my response to the recent SF Chron Article and the prior post on government red tape.

Thomas Jefferson said “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Mr. Jefferson said nothing in there about equality and rights being based on the level of functioning. Shouldn’t our special needs children have the right to the pursuit of happiness as much as any other person.

It is wonderful when government tries to help. If only their help didn’t come with so much red tape. The pursuit of happiness seems blocked so often by policies and conditions to receive needed services.

One example is the difficulty in marrying for persons with disabilities. Not everyone would wish to. However, if a couple with disabilities wished to marry they would have to look long and hard at what absolutely vital benefits they would lose. Most can’t do that even though they may be able to help each other somewhat and not require as many taxpayer funds for their daily living. Billy Ray loves to look at wedding pictures of his stepbrothers and wants to know when he is going to have a wedding. How can I tell him he can’t?

It is time for government to look at the red tape not just adding dollars. Maybe there is a way to change policies and make exceptions that would assist persons with disabilities in their pursuit of happiness without actually costing the taxpayers more money. Flexibility based on our children’s uniqueness needs to be built into government policies. Governments are not naturally flexible but they are not a bottomless wallet either.

I shared recently that because our state is going to require my son to pay about half the Social Security benefits he receives based on his deceased father’s claim they may force my hand to place him out of my home. If they do that taxpayer dollars (state and federal) will pay out probably an additional $15,000 per month to save $500. Where’s the logic there?

The reality is that we can’t count on government to meet every need. With Autism and other special needs increasing rapidly we have to look at how to give our children their equality and pursuit of happiness without total dependence on the government. If conditions were changed to allow creativity without losing important benefits such as medical care maybe it would take less dollars.

I must say that I have a new found appreciation for Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA). Being from Oregon I know very little about Congressman Pitts. Today I was doing an internet search for the Thomas Jefferson quote and found a couple of Congressman’s Pitts comments that I really like.

In a Commentary about Martin Luther King, dated January 15, 2000, Congressman Pitts ends with the following paragraph quoting Dr. King.

“He said to the crowd, “In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

"Martin Luther King wanted America to make good on its promise.”

Where is the promise to Billy Ray and your kids. It takes more than money.

The other comment I found from Congressman Pitts was from the hearings Congress held on the Terri Schiavo matter. Whether or not you agree that Congress should have been involved in that matter the Congressman’s statement below is profound:

“Have we, as a Nation, become so callous that we have bought into the “quality of life” argument that some people simply are not worth the effort to protect and rehabilitate? I hope not.”

In Ramblings of a Sleep-Deprived Mom I said: "While watching several of the clips from the funeral of Coretta King yesterday it occurred to me we need leaders such as the Kings who will fight to bring to light the needs of our children to the those who can change conditions. "

I still think that is exactly what we need.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
Parenting Your Complex Child Yahoo Group
Amazon Blog

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The sad fact is that the tremendous cost involved in creating, revising, then monitoring and checking the "red tape" and most definatly the various committees put a strain on needed funding. They also divert attention away from the use of simple common sense and flexability. Your perspective is based on common sense, something that is foreign to those who create "red tape".