Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pensions and Peanuts: Too Much of a Good Thing

Under a Breitbart News headline of “Jesse Jackson Jr. to Grab $8,700 Per Month in Disability, Plus Pension in Prison”, a conservative friend sent me the following note,

“So, Jesse Jackson, Jr. 17 year veteran of the US Congress, suddenly gets a "mood disorder" (about the same time he learned he was to be indicted) and is going to prison for 2.5 years. Because his "mood disorder" was so severe, he has become disabled and will receive $8700 per month as a disability payment as well as $45000 a year from his congressional pension (ed.—when he turns 65), a total of about $150K per year. 

“Is this a great country or what?”

My response was, “How come there wasn't any righteous indignation when other congressmen and senators, many from the Republican side of the aisle, were forced to leave Congress and still got their pensions? I agree, it is pathetic that an elected official who violated the law can be entitled to a government pension, but let's be even-handed in who we single out for public contempt. 

“The timing of the disclosure of his "mood disorder" does make one cynical, but there's also a deeper issue involved here. For too many years our culture has not recognized psychological disorders for the illnesses they truly are. One need only look at PDSDs to see that the military's been a Johnny-come-lately to recognizing injuries that do not manifest themselves through the loss of blood. 

“I'm not qualified to say if Jackson Jr. really has a mental condition. I hope he doesn't, because even the receipt of $8,700 a month is small compensation to the trauma such a condition can have on his life and that of his loved ones.” 

More on Peanuts: My recent post on Finley’s reaction to a peanut elicited some quick responses from Gilda and his mother, Allison. Gilda wanted me to correct the record to show she did not recommend a visit to the emergency room, that baby Benadryl was her recommendation after hearing his symptoms which, I failed to initially cite, included hives on his body. Gilda also said Dan was four months old, not three months, when he drank milk for the first time and experienced anaphylactic shock.

Allison’s corrections and updates to the record are that Finley definitely is allergic to peanuts. The question is how severely and to how many of the three peanut proteins. Finley also has been tested for tree nuts and sesame. 

Finley has been continuing to eat things that have been processed in factories with peanuts and some traces of them since they have never bothered him before and have yet to. But Allison is reading labels of anything novel more closely. 

She also noted it was their pediatrician's on call nurse who suggested a visit to the ER. Overall, Finley’s wind pipe was never in danger of closing; he vomited and got hives but never had any airway restriction (“thank goodness”). 

Peanut allergies affect 1.1% to 1.3% of the U.S. population, not an insignificant number when you realize that means some three million Americans. One friend commented, “We have two grandchildren allergic to peanuts and selective tree nuts.  It's a real challenge.”

Another grandmother responded, “In the incredible nut world, (new southern Florida resident) Caroline reports from the new Temple pre-school that they serve lunch every day if you want it and they also claim they are nut free but one of the acceptable foods to bring was peanut butter (ed.—italics added). Really?”