Let me bore you all for a bit . . .
In 1927 a boy was born onto a dirt poor, hard-scrabble farm, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, in Jackson County Florida. He grew up working the farm, second oldest of 11 children. His education was basic; how to plow a mule, plant crops, and butcher livestock for food. There was no formal high school (forget about college) education. When WW II broke out, he volunteered, joined the US Army, and served as a military policeman in the European Theater where he advanced to the rank of corporal. The war ended, he came home.
He went to work for the Rural Electrification Association (REA), a government-funded agency, for $ .50 a day, using dynamite and 8′ posthole diggers to set power poles. High-lift bucket trucks and digger trucks didn’t exist in those days. The work was all done on climbing spikes and safety belts using handlines to hoist transformers and wires to the top of the poles. He also learned to wire residential homes to supplement his income. Electricity in the rural areas of Jackson County was rare in those days, and when the line was built to the family farm in Graceville, he wired his parent’s house. He got married and began to raise his family of four children. He was relocated to Sneads, Florida and was the lone REA service man on the east end of Jackson County. He went to night school and got his GED and he advanced to supervisor and then to manager of the “Sneads District” when an office was finally built there. He worked hard and advanced, putting his job before almost everything else. He managed his finances carefully, invested some of his money, and bought the family home. His wife (my mother) died of cancer in 1984. His company insurance paid the majority of her medical cost. The rest came out his pocket. He remarried one year later. He and his wife were comfortable – middle class. He retired in the late 1980s after 43 years with the Co-op. It was his life.
He was a big, healthy man, but as he got older, his health began to deteriorate. A mild stroke, aneurism (leaker), and heart problems left him with memory issues, poor circulation, and a pacemaker. Then he developed prostate cancer. He passed away in 2008 at 82 years of age. He left some small investments (bank stock devastated by the economy), a small life insurance policy that had been paying itself out, his retirement, and the family home to his four children and his wife.
The point of this story? Without Medicaid and Social Security checks which he paid for out of his taxes, my dad’s quality of life would have been greatly reduced. He would have probably died (sooner) with his home mortgaged to pay for his medical care. We (most of us common folk anyway) are all just one catastrophic illness or accident away from being totally bankrupt. We simply can’t afford to pay the astronomical price of medical care out of our own pockets, especially after we retire, are retired, or become unable to work and have no income.
My dad served his country, raised his family, worked hard all his life, paid his taxes (honestly), and never once asked for, “clamored” for, or expected any “largess” or entitlement from the government, but when he needed the government, it was there for him. He was/is known as one of the most honest men in Jackson County. I still try to be just like him every day; a common, everyday, simple man.