I am saddened to tell you that LT, a senior in IM's Meals on Wheels program who is featured in our promotional video, passed away at the end of last year. While this is a sad event for his family and all of us here at IM, LT got his wish. In the video, LT talked about how he built his house for his wife and after she passed, IM's Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston helped him stay in his home. He said that he had no problem "going to heaven or where ever" when he died, but as long as he lived, he felt that he should live in his own home. Well that's exactly what he was able to do.
Watch the IM video and listen to LT tell his story.
Friends, no one tells the story better than LT. For five years IM gave him a meal each day and the opportunity to live out his life exactly where he wanted to. He was a tough old coot who got his last wish. What more can be said?
I wish I could take LT to hearings on the Texas State budget. I think he would say something like: "There are a lot of folks like me who worked hard all their lives and now are stuck in their homes unable to take care of our basic needs. I paid taxes on every penny I earned, and paid my social security and medicare taxes too. All I wanted was to be able to stay in my own home. Yep, that means that other Texans should help me, just like I helped them all those years when I worked hard."
If you listen to our politicians they are afraid to say the word "tax." To our current representatives taxing folks is the same as robbing them. Well I don't agree. Now don't get me wrong, I like to take home as much money as everyone else - but I do believe that there are some things that governments must do: fix our roads; keep us safe; make sure that there are great schools; provide the basic safety net infrastructure so that folks who are poor get fed and life-saving medical care. And the list goes on.
That's the problem. There are just too many needs and too few dollars. But what is absolutely clear is that if we try to balance the budget with cuts alone, there will be pain that will scar our state for years. We will become uncompetitive if we don't have an educated workforce. And we will be uncompetitive if we are not a compassionate state. There is no way, in my mind, to meet the needs of our state without some balance between revenue growth and responsible cutbacks.
LT got his wish because the federal government and the State of Texas shared the burden of providing for him with you, the supporters of IM. Government funding makes up about 60% of the cost of Meals on Wheels; and the rest comes from donations from United Way, congregations, corporations and foundations, and folks just like you and me.
There's no easy answer. But if we just keep cutting, at some point we will get to the bone and by that time there will be no way to be anything other than crippled. That's not what I wish for the state that I call my home.