A black and white lino-cut image of two men wearing top hats. One of them wears a necklace of skulls and is smoking a cigar.
“The heartless rich,” an image from the December 2010 Street Spirit. (Victor Arnautoff)

To my dismay, I’ve missed out on at least one California stimulus check, because the amount I’ve earned at writing has been well below an amount that requires a tax return. A family member advised me not to do a tax return because they felt that I’d be opening yet another Pandora’s Box of troubles. A different family member advised that I report my income, even though it is well below a reportable amount. I believe it is unfair that those who are deprived of the privilege of earning their living are additionally deprived of stimulus money. People who can’t work or who can’t get hired are worthy human beings, as much as are CEOs of mega corporations. It is not necessarily our own turpitude that makes us unable to have professional employment. 

Those who have had Ivy League educations often consider themselves to be intrinsically superior, and well deserving of the economic and social privileges they have. They feel very entitled. Many would not give a dollar to a homeless person starving on the street, even if well within their ability. 

The Biden Administration and the Newsom Administration have targeted stimulus money toward those who work. The presumption seems to be that disabled people would misuse the money or should just not have it. Those who are living on the edge because they rely on Social Security could better our life circumstances in a substantial way with a stimulus check—in fact, we are the people who need that money the most.

Firstly, the problem that politicians face is that it is unpopular to give money to those of us who don’t have a job. Secondly, those who collect Disability probably won’t donate to any political campaign, and many are less likely to vote. Thus, politicians do not court popularity with us. 

Kudos and thanks to Biden and Newsom for the cost-of-living adjustments, that will help us a lot! 

Yet, if I could have received more stimulus checks, I’d be in a better position to improve on my circumstances in my life. I’d like to see politicians stop discriminating based on disability—which is essentially what they’re doing—in their decisions of who gets a check and who doesn’t. 

Jack Bragen is author of “Revising Behaviors that Don’t Work,” “Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia,” and “Jack Bragen’s 2021 Fiction Collection,” and lives in Martinez.