Dreams

I found a freshly painted mural of @Doggface208 aka Nathan Apodaca,
on the corner of Haight and Fillmore.

I want to thank Nathan Apodaca for making it ok for people to stop
fighting and have fun.

This compilation video of the TIKTOK Skateboard Dreams Vibe is
14 minutes of pure joy.

Photograph of Mural of Doggface208 (c)Rob Goldstein 2020

Mental Health: Our Useless Rights

For this post’s purpose, I define a severe mental illness as a chronic medical condition that affects behavior, insight and judgment.

Picture it:

A filthy young man, confused and raging on Market Street, collapses at an intersection and rolls into traffic.

The police arrive.

An officer drags him to the curb and asks him if he has plans to hurt himself or anyone else. The young man shakes his head no.

The officer asks if he knows his way to the local soup kitchen and homeless shelter.

The young man shakes his head, yes.

Because he affirms that he is not an immediate danger to himself or others and claims he knows where to get food and shelter, the officers have no legal basis to mandate treatment.

The police drive off, and the young man rolls back into traffic.

The police cannot stop a sick and confused young man from obstructing traffic because it would violate his rights.

In 1963, President Kennedy signed the visionary Mental Health Centers Act, which authorized funding for a community-based care system in every state and county.

“I am proposing a new approach to mental illness and to mental retardation. This approach is designed,   in large measure, to use Federal resources to stimulate state, local, and private action. When carried out,  reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability. Emphasis on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation will be substituted for a desultory interest in confining patients in an institution to wither away.” President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In 1965, Congress approved the Medicaid Act, which offered higher reimbursement rates for community-based care, later the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provided financial support for people with mental illness who were trying to live in the community.

Passed in 1967, the Lanterman Petris Short Act prohibits involuntary civil commitments for the mentally ill in California unless a person is an immediate danger to himself and others, or is gravely disabled, generally defined as unable to access or make use of food and shelter.

The Community Mental Health System was supposed to replace or serve as an adjunct to State Hospitals.

By 1967 most cities in the United States had an active community mental health system.

That changed in the 1980’s.

The Lanterman-Petris Short Act fails in seven of its nine intents.

It does not end the inappropriate involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders because inadequately staffed for-profit prisons replaced the State Hospitals.

It does not provide prompt evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders because treatment resources are underfunded or don’t exist.

It does not guarantee or protect public safety.

It does not protect persons with mental health disorders from criminal acts because homelessness increases crime risk.

It does not provide services in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the needs of each person receiving services because there are no services.

In theory, people with mental illnesses have the ‘right’ to the services and supports we need to live like people without disabilities, but we can’t access services and supports that don’t exist.

For people with serious mental illnesses, the Lanterman Petris-Short Act is an excuse to deny treatment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act is a joke.

We don’t need access ramps; we need access.

Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease have a similar set of symptoms, but no one would say an Alzheimer’s patient has a human right to wander our cities in a daze.

No one would say an Alzheimer’s patient deserves to suffer.

Mental illness is not a civil rights issue.

Mental illness is not a moral failure.

Mental illness is not a result of toxic thinking.

Mental illness is not a choice.

© Rob Goldstein 2020

Politics: Into the Light

If we analyze American history impartially, we cannot escape the fact that in our past we have not always forgotten individual and selfish and partisan interests in time of war—we have not always been united in purpose and direction. We cannot overlook the serious dissensions and the lack of unity in our war of the Revolution, in our War of 1812, or in our War Between the States, when the survival of the Union itself was at stake.

If ever there was a time to subordinate individual or group selfishness to the national good, that time is now. Disunity at home—bickering, self-seeking partisanship, stoppages of work, inflation, business as usual, politics as usual, luxury as usual, these are the influences which can undermine the morale of the brave men ready to die at the front for us here.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

Excerpts from Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union Message to Congress

“Into the Light” (c) Rob Goldstein 2016-2020