Why SHOULDN'T I rob a bank/go on SSI (national healthcare/standard of living)?

The thread about the death penalty led to a comment by Lissa on the healthcare offered to prisoners, which is supposed to be equal to that received “on the streets.” Instead of hijacking further, I thought I’d continue my thoughts here.

Some background: I make around $800/month at a full time job, not a living wage by most people’s standards, and I have to scrimp a lot to live on it. I have no health insurance. Because of a variety of mental and physical problems (I would probably qualify to be on state disability if I found the right doctors and lawyers and could afford the process, and wanted to do that), I will probably never make much above minimum wage, or have a job I will find fulfilling. I am certainly happier when I am not working at an office, which some people might think is lazy but I do have my own projects to work on (I’m a fiction writer) so it’s not like I am fulfilled by sitting around and watching TV all day. My job (data entry) is incredibly boring and nerve wracking and tough on my physical health (RSI issues conflated with arthritis in my wrists), and I would certainly be better off without it. So tell me, considering that I have no healthcare and a lower standard of living (both income-wise and time-wise… I could use the time I am working at the office to work on my writing and other projects) than people on SSI or even some people in jail, why should I continue working?

I don’t think we should deny prisoners healthcare or a decent standard of living, and I don’t think we should deny SSI/Medicare to truly disabled people. I just want to know what my incentive is for working a crap job when I will probably never rise above crap wages or be treated to anything but crap benefits. Opponents of national healthcare say that giving it to everyone creates less incentive to work, but I would think just the opposite–right now, I have no incentive to work aside from a perverse sense of “honor” and the fact that my family would kill me if I went to jail or went on SSI. My standard of living would be higher on SSI, surely, and it might even be better at a cushy minimum security prison, where I could at least see a doctor, something I haven’t been able to do in three years. My mental and physical health would certainly improve. Right now, I feel like a sucker for working when people who are way better off than me health-wise don’t have to and live a better life than I do. I feel I am being taken advantage of by the system, that they are forcing me to strain myself to my absolute limit just to make a worse wage than I would be if I didn’t strain myself at all.

We give healthcare and a decent standard of living to our poorest and most downtrodden, because they couldn’t get it otherwise. But what about the next poorest and next downtrodden? Why should I be denied healthcare and high wages (higher than those received by non-workers) because I work and obey the law? Where is my incentive to work?

I can’t answer about SSI, but I can state for a fact that prison is not a nice place to be. It’s hot, smelly, dangerous, boring and dreary. You live with hundreds of nasty people. The food is not the greatest. The cable is terrible. The library is bad. It’s a very lonely existance.

In my state, you may get medical treatment, but it’s not the best. For example, an inmate with AIDS or cancer would get treated for it, but not with the latest drugs. As it stands now, someone needing a transplant would be made as comfortable as possible, but they wouldn’t be scrambling to get him a new heart. (Though this may change in the future.) Secondly, the doctors in the prison are swamped with “customers.”

Just to clear up a couple of misunderstandings:

If you are *able * to make $800 a month, even if you don’t like the work you’re doing, it is quite unlikely that you could qualify for disability. However, it does not cost anything to apply. You can even apply on-line. If you choose to have a lawyer assist you, there is a standard fee set by SS that limits what the lawyer can charge, and is based on the amount of retroactive payments received.

If you become *unable * to do your current work, and are also unable to do any other work that will provide you with about $800/month or more, then you might have a chance.

I’m basing this on the experience of a family member who is in the midst of this process right now.

Do you live in the US? Last month I ended up hospitalized do to acute renal failure. I was treated all kinds of well. Even though it was obvious I couldn’t pay, the doctors told me the tests said I had also had a heart attack. They wanted to keep me around, and consent to an angiogram and a possible angioplasty?! I just checked out as soon as I could do so. Sincerely, I was shocked. I’d have expected the hospital to push me out on the street to die. I had to argue with a dcotor and a bunch of residents insisting not to leave. The cost of all this must have been astronomical. Deny me? I had to demand my legal rights to walk out the door.

If you can’t think of a better illegal way to make money than robbing banks, best stick with your day jobs. Lissa was probably being nice when describing prisons. A lot of psychopaths wind up in prison. Believe me, no matter how bad your neighbors are, they’re better than what you’re likely to find in prison.

Seriously, if you are smart enough to write fiction well, you are smart enough to figure a way out of the trap you are in. Start by getting away from binary thinking – are your choices really limited to working a crap job/writing fiction/robbing a bank? Maybe there are others.

A few things.

Doctors are people too and do not want to dump a sick person on the street. Doctors also have ethical obligations that reinforce that.

If you do not want to buy their altruism I suspect the doctors at the hospital get paid regardless of whether you pay so they do not care about your financial situation. The hospital itself has to worry about getting sued. If they created a policy telling doctors to dump a patient at their earliest opportunity and not provide necessary care for something as dangerous as a heart attack the hospital is begging for a lawsuit. The doctors also have to worry about getting sued. If they spotted a possible heart attack in you and did not follow-up to try and learn more they would be negligent and may expect to get sued.

Of course, after it was all done they may well hound you for astronomical payments for their services.

More likely, if you indicate you can’t afford the care, you are what is called “medically indigent.” Don’t know about elsewhere, but in these parts in such cases you are referred to someone who helps you get charity care, or to apply for an appropriate program that will pay, or help pay, your medical bills.

Well, you might get seriously injured robbing a bank.
Even if you don’t really try to hurt anyone, at some places a vigilante will blow your f*ing head off during the robbery.
I know of a bank manager who saw an armed man in a ski mask walk past his office on the way to the teller lines.
The banker followed the bandit into the bank lobby and shot the man in the back of the head.
It is an unlikely outcome, and has become less likely over time, but threatening anyone with any physical harm has the chance of resulting in personal injury.

It seems it had nothing to do with doing a “wallet biopsy”. They just treated me as a “patient”. Suing wasn’t an issue. I never even mentioned legal issues. (I was just damned sick.) I was the one who brought up financial issues. The attidute of this hospital is they didn’t care. They just were asking for my permission to treat me as a cardiac patient. If I needed an angioplasty, they’d just do it. Forget about the cost. This was a teaching hospital, and this might have made a difference. I just can’t believe how well they treated me. I wanted to leave earlier. Basically, a doctor whacked me with a cluestick and said stick around, or you might end up dead. Had I stuck around longer, they’d have treated me as a cardiac care patient. At likely an obscene cost to them. I’ve gotta figure an angiogram and a possible angioplasty on the spot has to cost big bucks.

Have you checked out the possibility of a county or state job? They generally have high turnover for clerical and office support positions and are usually hiring. The pay isn’t great ($7 to $8 an hour to start, and raises aren’t usually more than 2% or 3% annually), and the jobs are often (perhaps usually) dead end, but that still beats $800 a month with no benefits. Such positions usually have generous vacation and sick leave benefits, as well as affordable health insurance. If you can do data entry you can surely do one of these jobs. They aren’t great or even very good jobs, but they’re better than what yours sounds like. It might take some patience to finally land a position, but it doesn’t cost anything to put in an application. Give it a shot and see what happens.

Yes, I have applied for state jobs but so far nothing has happened. Well, that’s not true, I did get offered a job at a state park (for $10/hr) but because of my anxiety and poor eyesight I cannot drive and there was no bus that ran all the way to the state park. But this isn’t really a thread about my work sitch, this is more like why should ANYONE work when they may not have to if there is no possibility of improvement?

And what if your job causes you to be unable to use your hands for several hours out of the day? (Relevant aside: I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age 18 and I’m supposed to be taking medicine for it and everything but, ha ha, with no medical coverage I can’t afford it. I’m doing the possible worst job that someone with bad joints and bones could be doing. It’s like an epileptic working in a strobe light factory.) Not to mention the mental effects of working in a room with a hundred other people and dealing with bosses and loud noises and such, all of which is magnified when you’re constantly in the grip of anxiety. And of course the low morale that comes for working such long hours for such a low wage.

Yes, but that is more for people who are immediately sick like rfgdxm, not for chronic conditions like arthritis or anxiety. Right? And anyway, why should I have to deal with a hit-or-miss charity system (along with all the stigma of taking charity) while other people who don’t work have Medicare, which while not perfect at least ensures that they get their doctor’s visits and medicine covered? It really does feel as if I am being punished for working.

continuity error, I really, really sympathize with your plight, so please don’t take this as a criticism.

One thing you mentioned is

Then you also ask, “Why should I work?” Presumably, then, to avoid that stigma?

IMHO, if your job exacerbates your medical problems, then you SHOULD seek either another job that does not hurt you or, if there is no such job, seek disability qualification. Either step would necessitate some not insignificant effort on your part. First, you would need to have a doctor confirm that your current employment is damaging your health. I don’t know the process in your locale, but here in NJ that would be a major step toward getting state disability payments.

Your basic question of why you are working (or why anyone should do so) is best answered by yourself. Perhaps it gives you some satisfaction that you are doing the best you can. Perhaps you fear the stigma (and there is some) of being on disability when your health problems are not obvious for all to see. You do seem to indicate that you fear family disapproval. Perhaps you are unable to exert the necessary effort to find another job that doesn’t hurt you, or to start the process of qualifying for public assistance of some sort.

On a personal note, I’ve got arthritis, too, in my spine. Fortunately it has not hit my hands, so I can still do my job. My employer has provided a prescribed back support for my chair, and for any other necessary ergonomic improvements that are required in order to not worsen my condition and to enable me to work without being in pain or damaging my spine. I don’t know if this is required by federal law or not, but I am of the impression that employers are required to make reasonable accomodations for a disability. It IS possible to design a data entry workstation and a work situation that do not cause RSI.

Personally, if I could not find work that I could do without being physically or mentally damaged, I’d look for disability and to blazes with anybody who didn’t like it, family or not. YMMV.

Yep. The difference in my case was the condition was accute. I guessed maybe I had a bad case of the flu or something, and walked in the ER myself. After running a bunch of tests, the doctor came and told me (paraphrasing): “Sir, you are currently are undergoing accute renal failure. Also, are tests show you have had a heart attack.” My response, in shock, was something like “Can you just prescribe me something, and I can go home?” Doctors response: “That would be a bad idea without functioning kidneys.” Me: “What are the odds if I just go home now I would be OK?” Doc: “Odds are very high you’d be dead before you made it home.” I quickly consider the situation, realizing having non-functioning kidneys is a Bad Thing, and say meekly “OK, I’ll stay.” :frowning:

The big difference is my condition wasn’t chronic. When the diagnosis was “accute renal failure” and “heart attack”, nobody in the ER questioned I was seriously ill. Heck, they quickly hooked me up to some radio EKG device which apparently if my heart quit, at the nurse’s station presumably the computer would flash a message “Patient apparently has died. Please look into this matter at your earliest convenience. Thank you.” My guess is they didn’t even have time to think about me being a charity case. In an ER, when the doc in charge says “heart attack”, they take notice. And the doc told me this he was accompanied by a slew of residents. Who would argue there I wasn’t sick? And the doc had already ordered an angiogram and angioplasty if the tests indicated such. I had to veto this. If I hadn’t, I’d have quickly ended up in the operating room. No doubt sensibly. My objections had nothing to do with the professionalism of the Doc.

Yeah, that’s true. I am all about avoiding the stigma. But what I want to know is, why should I be forced to face stigma at all? Why should working people have to deal with a hit or miss system where they’ll only get free care from the hands of a willing doctor when people who don’t work get guaranteed free care because they are on Medicare? I’ve compared the standards of living of the people I know on SSI vs. the people I know who, like me, are low-income (less than $1000/mo, no insurance), and the SSI people have a way better s.o.l. both economically and emotionally because not only do they not have to worry about health care, they also have their days free to pursue their real interests which leads to a more stress free life. They can also work under the table and supplement their SSI income (I know at least two people who do this and make about an extra 2k a year or so), whereas I am too worn out by the end of the day to pick up a job doing yard work or childcare. Again, I am not saying we shouldn’t have a safety net for people who need it. It just seems strange (and totally unfair) that in many cases the safety net is strung higher than the lowest rung on the working ladder. I really shouldn’t have to expend myself for ten hours a day (eight hours of work + two hours with my hands in two buckets of ice water) so I can scrape by on less than what people are making on subsistence-level public assistance. I’m not saying “let’s all go on SSI,” I’m saying “let’s make working a more attractive option.”

And of course, chronic conditions will turn into critical ones in time. Funny that the state will pay for someone’s open heart surgery but not for the $2/day medication regimen that would prevent the surgery in the first place. But of course, people who need free medical care are leeches and parasites, no matter if they are working or not.

Well, I’m sorry to hear the state applications didn’t work out. If I were you, I’d go for a disability pension and to hell with anyone who says anything about it.

My work ethic died a slow and horrible death after it suffered years of abuse in the workplace. I gave up on the Horation Alger thing when I lost the only truly good job I ever had to the machinations of a sociopathic co-worker. Before that, I spent about a quarter of a century busting my butt trying to improve my lot in life, and I have damned little to show for it. I do what is necessary to get by and little else. I don’t have much, but I don’t have to work very hard for it, my job (a state job with lousy pay but good benefits) seems pretty secure, and I pretty much figure on coasting eight or nine more years to retirement. It amuses and disgusts me when some butthead conservative who doesn’t have the vaguest idea of what I’ve been through in my life tells me, “Oh, it’s all your own fault because you just didn’t try hard enough,” or “It’s just your bad attitude.” Screw 'em. I’m old and I’m tired and I’m cynical (sometimes shockingly so), and I’ve acquired several moderate to severe physical disabilities over the years, and I just can’t do 60 and 70 hour weeks any more.

It doesn’t make sense to work hard when you have little prospect of improving your lot in life, Horatio Alger be damned.

On many of your points, you’re exactly on target; I’ve known folks in the exact situation you describe of not being able to get treatment for a minor problem but being able to do so when it became major through neglect. I don’t know the answer, and I don’t know anyone else who does.

Be aware, also, that the medical care available on, for example, Medicaid, is not necessarily the same as what you’d get if you paid for it yourself or through insurance. Many health care providers don’t take Medicaid. A close friend of mine is now suffering the torments of the damned getting her teeth capped, replaced, etc., through Medicaid. She has poor teeth to begin with, but got little or no preventive care; I don’t recall whether the neglect was before or after she was on MA. However, it has been very, very difficult for her to even find a dentist who accepts Medicaid. The same situation occurs with other health care providers. You have to take what you can get and it’s not always what you’d choose if it were up to you.

It reminds me of the days when my kids’ immunizations and preventive health care visits were not covered by insurance, but if they’d had to be hospitalized because they contracted one of the diseases instead of being immunized, it would have been covered. Ditto of the stories I’ve heard, of how birth control is sometimes not covered, but Viagra is.

Again, people differ in their attitudes toward those receiving public assistance; personally, from what I’ve observed other folks going through, it is very difficult to get public assistance of any kind, be it SSI, disability, welfare, whatever, and I personally don’t attach any stigma at all to it. It’s not a person’s “fault” if they are unable to work, or need help with medical bills, because they were unfortunate enough to contract or inherit some physical problem or brain chemistry malfunction. I’ve even read allegations here on this board that those with, say, depression or bipolar disorder, should just “snap out of it” and go get a job, dammit.

But again, going on disability is only a possible solution for a “lucky” few of us. It’s not going to change the fact that the distribution of public health assistance in this country is grossly uneven, and seems to shortchange poor uninsured workers most of all. What are we to do of the irony that the people who work the hardest have the worst healthcare while people on SSI or people with surf-the-Internet-all-day jobs have the best (or at least, have some)? Well, we could start with basic healthcare for everyone, but then you get the Horatio Algers of the world telling you that you’re a parasite and anti-American and a big fat Commie. And, of course, they’ve bewitched the poor folks with Jesus politics to force them to vote against their best interests. I am just really pissed off at American politics right now.

I’m not saying that I don’t want to work, either. If I could find a job that didn’t want to make me cut off my own hands and paid more than PA to be “worth it” (FTR, I think about 3k more a year plus health insurance would be enough to make it worth it for me), then working would be no problem. It’s a privilege to have a job like that, though. I really think most conservatives would rather I crawled in a ditch and died.

Once again, do be aware that those on SSI, Medicaid, or other forms of public assistance rarely get the “best” medical care, however you define it. Many doctors, dentists, etc., won’t accept that form of payment.

Also, it’s not exactly fair to allege that “the people who work the hardest have the worst healthcare.” I don’t know how you’d measure who works the hardest, but surely some people who work very hard get good health care. I seem to recall many people who worked hard in factories and got the best insurance there was. My father, for one.

I’m giving you the benefit of my trust that you really have looked for other jobs, to no avail, and that your current employer for some reason is exempt from the disability laws and other worker protection laws that require an ergonomically sound workplace.

But remember, I am not actually going to go on SSI (or rob a bank). Why do people think I am asking for specific information when I started this thread in Great Debates and not IMHO? I’m not talking about me, I am talking about people AT LARGE. Society. Also, the anti-nationalized healthcare people haven’t stopped in this thread. None of this is working out the way I want it to.

And for those taking the “it’s an absurd question” tack: