Government Fairness

Last Friday, I launched a couple of political missiles on social media and then promptly went into a tent in the woods with no Internet access. In addition to abandoning an interesting debate here, and I also tweeted:

What did I mean by that? Was I being sarcastic? Whenever we left the woods to get dinner, my phone would light up with replies and likes and hate comments. Last time, I looked that tweet was viewed 128,000 times. I muted that thread, because I didn’t feel like dealing with random weirdos.

But I’ll talk about it with you guys here.

Life might not be fair, but government laws should be. A goal in every healthy democracy is to make laws that are fair or make the world a little more fair. Laws that benefit people wearing green shirts, as opposed to people who wear red or blue shirts, are usually considered bad laws.

It feels really unfair that the government is giving one of my kids a $10,000 check, while the other kid is clinging to his last two years of a government-structured program — two years that were begrudgingly given to us after I spent a full year on advocacy and hired a lawyer. After the two years are up, he faces the real possibility of living at home with us with nothing to do until we all die. Not an exaggeration. The kid with the $10,000 check has a world of possibilities at his feet. The autistic kid with no check is pretty much screwed.

He’s been screwed for a while, but the pandemic made everything worse. Theoretically, the government gave our school district $2 million to help students like Ian, who were completely abandoned and isolated since March 2020. Except not a penny of that money made it to my. kid for extra tutoring or after-school activities. I begged and begged. I created a powerpoint presentation for administrators explaining why he needed help. And he got nothing until a lawyer entered the picture.

Now, why didn’t kids like mine get any help from the government? The federal government provided some guidelines about how schools could spend that money. But those guidelines were vague. So, elected school boards are using that money to make repairs and do other improvements on buildings that they had to make any way, which saves the taxpayers (voters) money. Also, nobody is charge of checking where all the money went.

It’s the end of the summer. Ian had nothing to do for six weeks. He hasn’t had a full day of programming since mid-June. We’ve dropped everything to keep him busy and stimulated and away from 24/7 computer stuff, but we are extremely tired. And weary of watching other parents launch their children over the ramparts into college.

Ian and other disabled kids aren’t the only ones who have not been served by this latest reform. College relief is, no doubt, much needed for low income families in this country. Colleges charge too much, and have been disgustingly dishonest about pricing and debt repayments. People have been ripped off and should be compensated.

But why just college debt relief? Plenty of low income people also run up debt on their credit cards to pay for food and rent. In fact, the biggest issue for community college students is that they can’t get student loans to pay for living expenses, so they put those expenses on their credit cards. Every community college has a food pantry. Why are we not helping community college students and other low income families with credit card debt? Why are we giving preference to college debt rather than food/housing debt? If the issue is that student loans can’t be dissolved with bankruptcy, why not change those laws?

The chitchat among suburban parents is all about this loan forgiveness plan. Those who had chosen to have their kids take out loans are very proud of themselves. The others are vowing to never make that mistake again. Going forward, every high income family in this country will make sure that their kids take out loans, in case the government does another college loan forgiveness plan in the future. Families, who can afford the full freight costs at Harvard, are going to have their kids take out loans.

Fairness is an important goal. When you walk away from fairness, democracies unravel.