Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy April 15

For U.S. citizens, today is Tax Day, the day we all grumble about all of the unnecessary and wasteful services that government provides, like defense, roads, police, schools, etc. Of course, if we canceled all that wasteful astronomy spending, you'd get to keep an extra $3.50 a month. (I'm being sarcastic...)

Today is also my grandmother's birthday. She's 84 years old today. Alas, she doesn't know it. She has been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for the last 15 years or so, and the disease has advanced to the point that she can't talk and likely doesn't recognize many people, if anyone. But she'll enjoy the colorful flowers and balloons and the extra attention.

Before she retired, my Grandma was a case worker for the county welfare department. That was a thankless job; many recipients of welfare dislike the intrusion and paperwork (understandably; I would hate it too), and many in society unfairly disparage the welfare system. (It's not perfect, but what system can be?) But she knew she was doing an important job, providing the only support keeping many families and disabled people from the abject poverty that all too many people experienced during the Great Depression, which was raging throughout her childhood and adolescence. That same social safety net now protects her in the fading twilight of her life; I shudder to think of where she would be without Social Security and Medicare, as health care costs depleted her life's savings many years ago.

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