Letters to the Editor

Caring state

July 9, 2011


To the editor:

In 1877, Howard Ruede, a 22-year-old man from Pennsylvania, homesteaded in Osborne County. He described his first year in detailed letters home, later collected and published. It was a hard life, but he rarely complained. I tend to think of pioneers as very independent people, but it was the interdependence of the people of the area that impressed me. Nearly every day someone was doing something for someone: helping build a sod house, plow a field, tend to the sick, gather crops. They seemed to be remarkably kind and generous.

I think Kansans still are concerned for each other, generous, helpful and determined. Gov. Brownback, however, has orchestrated a broad attack on social services. In various ways — the closure of the SRS offices is only one — medical and social services are being strangled. This isn’t just belt-tightening; people are suffering as a result. It is done in the name of economy. Brownback rejects the notion of asking us to dig a little deeper to help; he insists on not raising taxes regardless of the harm to many who have no political clout. Coming from a group of politicians who are financially comfortable, this seems meanspirited, callous and stingy. Kansans are better than this.

What can we do? Let the governor and his associates know we expect better from them. Remember the poor, the ill, the disabled come election time. Attend the forum at Plymouth Congregational Church at 7 p.m. Monday. Let them know we care.


Gandalf 6 years, 11 months ago

Kansans are better than this.

Maybe that's why Sammie hires so many top admins from out of state. Seilicki doesn't care for his own children let alone someone else's.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

In another thread (the one on the meetings being scheduled) HarmonKillabrew said the following: " I see now why Brownie had to bring in a Floridian to gut the organization. No Kansan could do this with a clear conscious." Another poster said, "Leadership at SRS are openly saying "people will be lost" and "we can't let compassion get in the way."" If I believe this (and I have no reason not to) what it says to me is that these changes will actually cause people; born people, to die. Some of them will be children. It truly points up the adage that, "If you want a Republican (or Brownback) to care about you, stay in the womb."

goodcountrypeople 6 years, 11 months ago

I beg to differ about how much Kansans care for other people or their innate "helpfulness." To me, this is only the way Kansans may want to see themselves and present themselves. They are totally flattering themselves. Such possible good intentions fall way short of reality, and like many good intentions that are not backed up by knowledge, brains, and a decent understanding of human psychology they often pave the road straight to h*ll. Competent, intelligent people(such as doctors whose oath reminds us to first, do no harm) realize that in the name of being helpful a good deal of harm often results. So for huge numbers of Kansans to go around aggressively approaching , mobbing, and molesting strangers and putting on airs acting like they have the ability and brains to useful to those they have no understanding of and are too uneducated to hold an intelligent conversation with is completely insincere. It ends up alienating people who respect their own abilities to help themselves and fear being messed with by incompetents who obviously don't have their brains in gear enough to realize they are frightening and offending people. As John Stuart Mill reminds us, your freedom ends where my nose begins. To me, this maxim shows that busybodies are a threat to the free world.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm not sure if it's the late hour or what the cause is but there are parts of your post that seem garbled. Nor am I sure what the point of your post is all about. I think I get the gist of it; something along the lines that people interfere in the lives of others thinking they are being "helpful" when they are all but. However, I also believe that most people do so with the best of intentions and if it causes discomfort to the person receiving that attention they have every right and should be able to tell the offending do-gooder to "buzz off". "Busybodies" are only a threat as long as you allow them to be.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

If you live in an imaginary world, might as well imagine a perfect one-- even if it's imagining a good ole days that never were.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

If imperfection is so acceptable, why do we need the perfect market system (rather than the imperfect one we currently have?)

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Voluntary, peaceful and personal mutual aid, you say. I wonder if the Indians saw it this way? Or as involuntary, violent, and coerced wealth redistribution -- from them to the settlers.

I agree - government ain't charity. It's a mutual pact among citizens for the support of the entire community and to the benefit of the entire community. The problem is what to do with the spoil-sports who won't go live in Somalia where they can be free of government control and stop their bitching.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Socialism: The economic system followed by every developed nation on earth ... except in some portions of the United States such as Mississippi and Utah (and several counties in Arkansas).

Source: Chock Full-o-Nutz: How abolishing taxation of wealth and a ban on regulation will make you rich, cure your illness, grow hair, improve your love life with your concubines, and send the Dow to 30,000 (or maybe 0).

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Best? They don't practice it at all. What are you talking about? Markets are forbidden in Cuba (although they've started a little thawing on this) and certainly North Korea.

I suspect this is another economic topic where your "knowledge" has little to do with economics and mostly is focused on ideology. Socialism is just one of multiple variants of market economics. No markets, no socialism. By definition. Socialism is merely the contention that, in a market economy, a man is neither a slave nor a master but an equally important citizen with economic claims upon other citizens for the mutual benefit of all, with particular emphasis on those goods and services most efficiently produced and delivered publicly rather than privately. (Mostly stuff like the military, schools, health care, transportation systems, utilities.)

Maybe if you put down the libertarian tracts, the Ayn Rand comic books, the bullionist bulletin, or the physiocrat mumbo-jumbo and actually studied some economics you would at least understand the concepts before criticizing them. (And please don't reply "I do too understand" because it's obvious that you don't.)

tbaker 6 years, 11 months ago

Mr Douglas: You employ an intellectual fallacy in your argument to appeal to the emotion of the reader. Just so you know: you failed.

People, aka: Private Citizens helping each other IS NOT the same as government performing some social service function. The two are most definitely not analogous. Wise up.

devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

My guess is that Joe Douglas doesn't have anything to offer anybody but his feelings of generosity. He doesn't have a lot of money, so he asks Gov. B to get it for the poor. He can't build a house, fix a car, teach a trade or contribute sweat equity to the poor in any way......himself. So, he asks the Gov. to do it for him, because in the old days:

"Nearly every day someone was doing something for someone: helping build a sod house, plow a field, tend to the sick, gather crops. They seemed to be remarkably kind and generous."

And Ole J.D. is kind and generous, but doesn't have anything to give, except that which belongs to others who won life's lottery.

Come on over to my house, Joe. I'll show you which end of a screwdriver to hold. Righty tighty, lefty loosy. Is that a lesson in standard threads on a screw, or a political statement?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Since you know nothing about Mr. Douglas, your comment merely reveals your own biases and prejudices.

devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't know nothing about Joe Douglas. He wrote a letter above that revealed his feelings and thoughts regarding:

"the closure of the SRS offices is only one — medical and social services are being strangled"

No jafs, I don't know if the letter writer is Dr. Joe Douglas of Lawrence, Ks. It is a guess. If my guess is right, then I do know about him. Everything? Of course not.
But I know enough to support my argument that his services are useless unless supported by the government. Psychiatrists make very little money in this town. Most of their work is for people who are incapable of holding a job or making wise decisions for themselves. Psychotics don't pay bills very well. So the government pays them, and the government doesn't pay very well either. It's a tough job and I wouldn't want to do it. Very few patients have satisfactory outcomes. They do OK when they are on their meds.....so they stop taking their meds. And government red tape, procedures, EMR, and all kinds of bureaucracy can really make for a lousy job.

And now this from Gov B. Yep, probably a few more medicated psychos will fall off their medications because they weren't being watched by SRS employees when they come in for their subsistence check. What a sorry state modern psychiatry finds itself in.

Take a look at 2011 residency statistics for Kansas: http://www.nrmp.org/data/resultsbystate2011.pdf

Go down to Kansas a see that 6 internships exist in the state. All were filled by graduates of foreign medical colleges. 4 are U.S. citizens and 2 are not citizens. It is one of the least desirable residencies in the country.

The problems faced by Dr. Douglas and the rest of psychiatry goes far beyond money. Crazies are not valued in our world. Not just Gov. B, but everywhere you go, psychos are left to grovel in the dirt.
So go down the street, jafs. Befriend that strange fellow there and offer to use your trimmer around his trees. Ask to use the bathroom and check it for little pills lined up on the counter top. If they are there, confront him about his stopping his meds.

Offer to buy them for him. Kinda like the old days when people still cared.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

That's an absurd generalization about psychiatrists - many do quite well in private practice.

If he chose to work in public service, then good for him. As you mention, it's a tough job, especially if you're dealing with very disturbed people.

As far as I know, he's retired, so he doesn't have a dog in this fight personally any more.

Your contention that he has nothing of value to offer anybody is simply your bias against his profession, nothing more.

devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

"That's an absurd generalization about psychiatrists - many do quite well in private practice."

Not in Lawrence Kansas. All Lawrence, Ks psychiatrists work in government service.

And government service pays diddly.

"especially if you're dealing with very disturbed people."

What the heck do you think psychologists do, Jafs? Work with Woody Friggin' Allen? Get real, Jafs. This is real world psychiatry, not Hollywood. And people don't pay their bills. They get to the psych by being arrested.

And he has only a bag of pills to offer, Jafs. Modern psych is a bag of pills. And they work......unless they are not taken.

Hence, SRS. Get it, Jafs. The old world psychos were institutionalized. Well, we don't do that anymore. So psychiatrists prescribe meds that work and hope that other government agencies keep track of them....Things like "are you taking your pills?"

Gov. B just cancelled Douglas county's group of people who ask the above question. It is simple as that. So replace all those bureaucrats with neighbors and friends and relatives who ask that question.

And we save money by putting the onus on the public. The individuals in society who live with, near or work with.....people who need the question asked of them:

"Did you take your meds today?" Psychiatry is an exercise in lugubrious blame.
The only long lasting mitigation is pharmaceutical. But no pill works if you don't take it. And that is what SRS does. They check people who are brain challenged and see if they are sufficiently cogent to get a check, or keep their kids, or are seeing their parole officer......

You do it, Jafs. You check up on those folks. I have some seriously overheated cats to tend to. They're only a year old but at least they are learning to come in out of the heat. Elsens.......well Jafs, you go down under the bridge by the dam and pass out bottles of water. There's some folks who need it. Gov Brownback won't be there.

And neither will I.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

As I said, you reveal your negative bias towards the profession.

Your version of old-fashioned caring is fine, but it's also fine for us to pay taxes in order to provide services for people.

It's interesting that you suggest I be the one to check up on the people, rather than you, since you're the one who seems to be against providing those services via taxes, not I.

I gladly pay taxes, and support providing social services, education, etc. with that tax revenue. If you want to check up on your neighbors to make sure they're taking their meds, feel free to do so.

devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

Not the profession, Jafs. The implementation via government provision. Whenever the government gets involved, the bureaucracy sucks resources out. The delivery is inefficient, and we get a more uniform delivery of service.

We get North Korea.

I am helping, Jafs. My neighbors. People whom I know. It is all there is. If I don't know them, I don't want to take care of them. It is just what Dr. Douglas referred to. People helping people. It isn't an abstraction, Jafs. It isn't a statistic, or a political goal. It is people and that is all it is.

But I don't gladly pay taxes because I know that the human spirit is lost in the process. The delivery of care is not caring. It is bureaucratic. When "care" is prescribed, it isn't care, it is delivery of service.

Both you and Dr. Douglas must know this. The Social Welfare program at KU was described to me as social engineering. I am an engineer, so I know what engineering is.

It is the process of designing, testing, building and operating a system that does a function.

And that is what SRS is. It is social engineering using units and systems and reporting of inputs and outputs and analysis. All using humans as the commodity.

And it ain't working. And it costs a lot of money. And we are out of money. Are there other things that should get cut too? Heck yes. This should only be a start.

Go back to individual humanity. In all its renditions. Stop the "experts" who engineer the solutions that don't seem to work.

Gladly paying taxes is for guilt-ridden fools, who are disconnected from the physical world and disconnected from humanity. No thanks.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

I also help my neighbors - as I said, that's fine and good.

But your reductionism is not fine and good.

devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

Sophisticate, sophisticate, sophisticate......until obfuscation is complete.

You're right, Jafs that in my world it is "just show up and do the job."

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