Thursday, November 5, 2015

If You Don't Want to Be Trumped, Read Trump

The needs of unemployed men and women with disabilities, including veterans, are being trumped by issues as diverse as global warming and the price of prescription drugs.  If people living with disabilities want to make a comeback, they are going to have to fight back.  Trump:  The Art of the Comeback by Donald Trump opens up to two pages of "Trump's Top Ten Comeback Tips."  Whether you agree with him politically or not, the comeback tips of a man who went from being minus $900 million to running for the Presidency of the United States of America and funding his campaign by himself is worth reading.  With an unemployment rate of 70-75%, the blind and visually challenged, for example, have nothing to lose.

On page 11 of his book, Trump tells a story about the day he looked at a blind beggar and said, "...he's worth about $900 million more than me."  It was the early 1990s, and Trump had been hit hard by what he called a depression rather than a recession. .  During the early 1990s and the past twenty five years, the blind and visually challenged might not have lost $900 million, but many did lose their jobs, had to live in subsidized housing, lived below the poverty line on Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement Benefits, were forced to remain single by the marriage penalty in the SSD and SSA Act, and sometimes went without medical or dental care when their SSD and SSA payments were above the poverty line (different for every state).  When they had to live in subsidized housing projects, they were often segregated into senior citizen buildings as people with other disabilities were required to do.  At the same time, many of them remained unemployed for more than three years and felt disgraced as their student loans were erased because the government now believed that no one would ever hire them.  Some had their relatives turn their backs on them and received lectures about how they should have taken better care of themselves.  Others listened to conservative radio talk show hosts who said that anyone on welfare should lose the right to vote.

Although the visually challenged have had many successes in higher education and the workforce, the blind beggar stereotype is still around, and the economy  has become so bad that now some homeless men are asking blind and visually challenged men and women if they can "borrow" their white cane, or stick as some call it.  Homeless men and women who are too young to know about the blind beggar stereotype are now begging from the visually challenged.  Blind men and women, many with college degrees, are volunteering at homeless shelters while they, themselves, are job hunting.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990.  Its mission was for people with disabilities to be treated as equals.  Equality might not have been fully achieved in the classroom or the board room yet, but it has been achieved on the street.

In all of the presidential debates, only one candidate has mentioned "the sick."  If some people with disabilities have gotten too comfortable in their discomfort zones and cannot even dream of making a comeback, this is the year to get involved and make some noise.  If they live in a state where libraries for the blind and physically handicapped were closed or services were cut during the past 10 years, they need to elect people who will once again make their needs a priority.  They must make their elected officials aware of the SSD and SSA marriage penalties and restore their right to marry and keep their benefits.

People who are living with disabilities can not only learn from Trump that there is an art to making a comeback, but can also learn from Hillary Clinton that It Takes a Village and from Carly Fiorina that it will require Tough Choices.  These books and many others that have been written by politicians are available in print, large print, Braille, and audio formats from the NLS Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped as well as commercial sources such as book stores and online. 

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