The Authenticity Experiment, the what is wrong with the world edition. I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to hit the first bespoke-suited 50-something white man I see. And I’ve been crying and ranting consistently, ever since I read that the Trump administration wants to cut funding to Meals on Wheels. The paltry $3 million that the organization receives each year to feed 2.4 million senior citizens.
I know that $3 million sounds like a lot of money relative to our salaries and mortgages. But do you know how little money that is in the grand scheme of Washington and the 1-percent? Do you know that a single weekend of security for Trump at Mar-a-Lago costs $3 million? Do you know that Trump has gone to Mar-a-Lago five times since his inauguration—this from the man that said he’d work 24×7 and never leave Washington. In fact, he visited Mar-a-Lago three weekends in a row immediately post-inauguration.
Let me explain something to you. Let me paint you a picture. A picture of a confused, demented woman living at the dead end of a half-paved, single country lane. A woman who forgot to eat until she was starving and then (unadvisedly) drove herself the seven miles down a mountain road into town to buy Burger King or McDonalds because she couldn’t really remember how to cook, and the county she lived in didn’t have hot meals on wheels. They delivered frozen meals once a week.
But this woman, she already had a freezer full of Trader Joe’s frozen meals. Densely caloric meals so that if she did remember she had them, she’d heat one up and eat it. Let me tell you the number of times her daughter would arrive to find a moldy meal in the microwave and see the woman’s confusion, see her shame as the woman would say, “I must have forgotten I heated it up.”
Let me tell you that when this woman could no longer reach the microwave above the stove without falling backwards, her daughter went to Target and bought her a countertop model. And even then, there’d be a meal in there—she would tell her daughter, who called each morning to check in on her mother, “I went to heat up my coffee and I found last night’s dinner. I guess I forgot to eat it. It’s probably not safe to eat now, is it?”
LET ME TELL YOU THE DIFFERENCE SOMEONE DELIVERING A HOT MEAL WOULD HAVE MADE TO HER. Let me tell you the difference it would have made to this daughter’s stress and worry, too. Let me tell you that many years this daughter is in a high tax bracket and she never blinks at the rate she pays—especially because her money goes to things like Meals on Wheels.
Look, cut the NEA. We’ll struggle by, making art without grants. It won’t be easy, but it never has been. Cut the NEH, we’ll still think our deep thoughts and write our books. Museums, and libraries, and colleges, they’ll eke out money here and there, hit up their donor base even more, so they can continue to advance our cultural conversation. I’m not saying the loss of funds for these organizations won’t be devastating—especially in these dark times—but it won’t be as awful as a lonely, confused person alone in her house, not sure if she’s eaten, isolated, most often not having seen a soul all week because she feels insecure socially about her memory, so she just stays at home with her cat and the television.
But, as the Alaskan Poet says, it’s a terrible, awful, no-good thing when the GOP puts us in the position of saying “we’re fine with cutting funding for the arts so our elderly parents don’t starve.” She says, and I agree, that they are creating a false sense of scarcity and that they are “waiting for us to be so frightened that we’re willing to sacrifice our hearts to keep the vulnerable safe.” Because JesusGodSofia, the arts are our hearts. As are our elderly and vulnerable. Because we, all of us, we’re connected—whether we want to be or not—and it is our art, found right in the middle of the word and our hearts that connect us.
Who are we? Who are we becoming? Who did we elect? Who thinks that cutting services to the elderly helps balance our budget? Who thinks that a man who claims to be for “the little guy” and then appoints five advisors from Goldman Sachs really gives a good god damn about anybody but the other 1-percent?
Who will help me stop this travesty? Call their members of Congress about this? Attend a town hall when their representatives are in district? Who can help me stop crying about that hungry woman all alone in her house? Who will give me a handkerchief?