Ragged Edge Online



woodcut of man in rags, begging


By Patrick William Connally

Patrick William Connally is with Disability Rights, Enforcement, Education, Services.

David Coffey tried begging in downtown Ottawa recently

As the United States returns to the mythic realm of 19th century, as disability policy returns to the faith based and the withholding of medical service and equipment becomes standard; with the disability community being the poorest in the country and as disability rights are taken away by the Supreme Court, California needs to take a leadership role in the changing national climate.

Besides piecework and handicrafts, begging is the traditional method of staying alive in the disability community. Go to any non-industrial nation and the most pathetic people in the world stand at intersections or lie on the street begging.

Maybe it is time to go back. Most of us with disabilities and our families don't want to die to raise tribute to our new energy lords and conquerors who by right of war and the Supreme Court need to be paid by California. Medi-Cal, Regional Centers, SSI, housing will all be cut back or not expanded as the population increases. The bureaucracy is so strong, no one can do anything but increase top civil service and mandated non-profit service management's salaries and benefits so they stay around to keep the lid on things.

When the Victorian Government of England, a wonderful faith-based compassionate conservative government faced a similar crisis after the Crimean War, they licensed disabled soldiers to be beggars and assign spots on public roads for them to beg at. This should be the cornerstone of the new freedom and if we are going to be like many countries with a very wealthy top and most people being a very poor bottom, we might as well get started now.

There was a tradition that new beggars learned to be effective. We have lost that tradition in disability in California. I am writing the legislature to institute teaching begging as a vendor category for people with developmental disabilities from Regional Center and as a core service for Independent Living Centers. It will be an appeal to the compassionate conservative in all of us.

Thanks to Patrick Wm. Connally for allowing reproduction of this article. For more, visit www.dizbiz.com

News Story Could Lead To Loss Of Benefits
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 26, 2001

This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--The newspaper reporter asked David Coffey why he was standing on a street corner in downtown Ottawa, asking passersby for spare change.

Coffey told the reporter that he had to raise money somehow, because the $1,300 he and his common-law wife received from the government in disability payments was not nearly enough for them to survive. He went on to say that panhandling brought him between $20 and $100 a day.

This was news to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, who picked up on the article when it ran in the Ottawa Citizen three weeks ago. Now officials want to know how much he has received through begging.

Coffey and his partner, who both have epilepsy, have been ordered to meet with ministry officials and to bring all of their bank records going back to January 1998.

The couple could lose their benefits, according to this follow-up story from the Ottawa Citizen.


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