A short time ago, Marie Parker, regional director for the "Meals on Wheels" program called me, just to learn if everything was okay with me. At first, I was a bit too proud to be placed on the Meals on Wheels program; we paid $5 each for three deliveries a week and we got things like fresh fruit and vegetables because it was tough for us to shop at supermarkets on a regular basis.
For the first two years we got our stuff from the kitchens at St. Francis Hospital and they just charged us at cost. Now we're being supplied by a local hotel kitchen. Ms. Parker said the actual price per delivery is now $7. Who picks up the difference of two bucks? The answer is from donations, Nassau County and, finally, the federal government. The program does not want to sock it to the seniors.
And recently, from the HEAP Program run by Nassau County to help seniors pay their inflated oil heating bills, one official told me that the subsidies come from both the county and, again, the federal government. He who criticizes our federal government has the proverbial rocks in his head. I've worked for the Feds in many capacities over the past 60 years: e.g., as a holiday mail carrier, as a census taker on two separate decennial occasions, as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and as a writer for the U.S. Information Agency. I've never had a better and more concerned employer. The Feds always pay on time, and their checks never bounce!
Then I get my Social Security check every month, and I'm covered by Medicare. The Social Security Agency employs about 40,000 people, and distributes over $400 billion annually. Medicare pays out more than $450 billion every year.
Lou Dobbs of CNN fame, keeps asking, "Why can't we get a government that works?" Lou, old boy, the federal government does work! And stop being the quintessential whiner. Phil Gramm, a key adviser to John McCain, presidential candidate, said recently: "We're turning out to be a nation of whiners." In that respect, former senator Gramm may be right.
Let's count our blessings. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said back in the 1930s: "When you pay your taxes, you have the privilege of living in an organized society," and "when you receive Social Security checks, you have a vested interest in both the federal government and in your country."