In the Midwest, we have had more than three weeks of sub-freezing weather.
One of the recurring stories that we here in the Midwest see a lot during this type of weather are elderly people freezing to death because their gas was cut off. There are laws on the books in Illinois that prevent Peoples Gas from cutting off gas during the winter (they get to cut it off in the Springtime) for unpaid bills. But that doesn't mean before Winter sets in, that they have to turn it back on.
The City of Chicago also does a lot in this area. They send out city workers to check on the elderly to make sure that they are OK. There is a program called CETA which elderly folks can register for which will help them pay their bills.
But yet, we continue to see stories like this.
I am a Conservative by nature and the thought of subsidizing any type of program has always made me do doubletakes. However, in the 21st Century, in America, the thought of Americans dying, literally freezing to death, is really troublesome to me.
In this case, I'm not sure that Peoples Gas is the "Boogie Man" here (Although Carl may argue that anything an Illinois utility does is evil!). Its bad PR to have customers dying because they are ready to cut off gas at a moment's notice. Usually, utility bills for elderly customers is high because they need to keep their houses warmer. What that means are monthly bills that run into $200-$400. Which, for most elderly folks, is a heavy burden to have to pay.
I for one, would not mind helping subsidize these utility bills. In fact, I would argue, as Americans, we almost have a responsibility to do so. I don't think its Liberal or Conservative to allow fellow Americans to freeze or starve to death while so many of us have so much.
Well, a skeptic may ask, "Why don't you subsidize my bill?" I think that there has to be a reasonableness to this. Let's say you own your own home, are 65 years are older, and your income is less than 10K, I'd like to find the hard-hearted person who wouldn't help out.
Well, another skeptic would say, "If we're going to subsidize in the Winter, the same folks are going to want the same subsidies in the Summer aren't they?" Well, in 1995, during the Chicago heat wave, over 500 Chicagoans died. Should we, as Americans just dismiss these lives as "deadbeats" who couldn't pay their bills and deserved their fate?
Americans are the most generous people on this planet. However, because of our daily struggles to make it in this "rat race," we're pretty skeptical of subsidizing people who make no effort to help themselves. Its why American doesn't have a National Heath Care Plan. Its the thought of people doing nothing getting something for free.
However, for poor, elderly people, having to suffer in the cold is something that all of us should be uncomfortable with.
Stay Warm . . . . .