Oct. 30 is the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1972, and we need to recommit ourselves to these reforms today.

These amendments made two big positive changes in the lives of Americans with disabilities.

First, the law created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, providing monthly payments to low-income people with disabilities.

The Social Security Administration estimates that 8 million people (including children under 18) will receive $47.6 billion in SSI payments this year. These are disabled people who have no adequate means of support because they are unable to earn an income through employment or they have not worked enough in the past to receive an income through Social Security Disability Insurance. Currently, the average monthly SSI payment is $517.

Second, the law also expanded Medicare coverage to people with disabilities under age 65. Today, Medicare covers 8 million people who are under 65 and disabled. Medicare helps them pay for essential but expensive goods and services that keep them healthy and active, such as therapies and equipment like wheelchairs. Ironically, it’s doubtful that these amendments would pass today in our regressive political climate, though they were signed by a Republican president, Richard Nixon, and more than 100 Republicans voted in favor of them in the House of Representatives. In fact, today’s Republican leaders are doing their best to drag Americans with disabilities in the opposite direction. The Romney-Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, for example, could leave people with disabilities who depend on Medicare without the coverage that they have currently. The best way to commemorate these landmark reforms, which have helped millions of Americans with disabilities, is to resolve to resist the pernicious schemes to undo them. Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT (www.adapt.org). He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

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