Finn's Tired of Waiting
By Patrick Beach — 3 hours ago
PLEASE NOTE AT THE OUTSET: If you donate directly to CaringBridge, the money will NOT go to Finn.
We're starting this page to get some at least short-term help for your friend and mine, Finn Bullers — father, exceptionally talented scribbler and editor, rabble-rouser and garden-variety pain in the butt. He was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and things have only gotten worse. A lot worse.
He has muscular dystrophy and gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He breathes through a tube and requires a 24-hour caregiver to make sure it doesn't get disconnected, which would kill him. The State of Kansas not long ago tried to take away such aid, which really pissed Finn off. Gov. Sam Brownback knows who Finn is because he's so noisy about this issue. And, frankly, it appears he doesn't care if Finn and people like him die. All politics aside, this is beyond inhumane.
Is that enough? It should be — but wait, there's much, much more: He's divorced. He got evicted from his home. He lives on less than nothing. The specially equipped van he travels in should have been crushed a decade ago.
While we look for long-term answers to mitigate the misery for him, you can help now in at least three ways: 1) Read this and pass it along. 2) Post a note and tell him you're thinking of him. And...
3) Your filthy lucre. That's right. If you have anything and I mean anything to give, do so here to help Finn climb out of the financial deficit he labors against every month. Imagine perpetually swimming against the tide or running into the wind. That's the unrelenting reality of Finn's budget every single day. We can't cure him. But we can help him. Please give what you can. The goal in the near term, and it is eminently doable with your help is $10,000. If 100 people each donate $100 there we are. Similarly if 200 donate $50. Not that this is something we should necessarily consider stopping should we hit that initial goal. Finn's needs are dire and ongoing.
And if you can't comfortably give anything, notes and good wishes, count, too. Let's regard this little corner of the Interwebs as a place where people who care about Finn to support him in any way they can.
Here's a lightly edited recent note from the old boy himself:
I've been thinking a lot about our most-recent email correspondence where I shamelessly described the financial quagmire and personal strife in which I find myself.
I've been writing more than ever in an effort to cobble together some coin to pay the bills post-divorce.
But after being forcibly evicted by the county sheriff from my own home, dumped at a hotel, abandoned by a caregiver and having my credit cards stolen and abused by $1,400, I have been left in financial shambles, unable because of the theft to access the limited funds I still control.
Simply put, the numbers just don't add up to keep my head above the roiling financial waters and meager Kansas financial aid.
And the social service policy in Kansas driving assistance for the most vulnerable, low-income, elderly and people with disabilities, simply does not make any sense.
In short, I need your help, dammit.
I would love to take you up on the idea of a social media fundraising campaign that you, Cindy and I briefly mentioned in a previous phone call. I know it would be a pain in the ass, but it would go a long way to help me dig out of my financial and emotional hole.
How is it possible, I ask myself, that a once-productive, tax-paying citizen can receive $1,840 a month in federal assistance; be expected to pay $2,200 a month as a higher "client obligation" to receive that lesser amount; and have enough discretionary revenue remaining to raise two children and juggle life's basic expenses -- rent, utilities, phone, vehicle, etc.
This is the cruel message hidden in the financial details of social welfare relief: The low-income, elderly and disabled are not supposed to live like everyone else.
-- They are to be shamed for an apparent lack of initiative.
-- They are to be punished for failing to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
-- And they are to be made to feel less-than-human because factors often outside of their control -- age, disease or socio-economic compromise -- unfairly limits economic opportunity in order for Medicare/Medicaid recipients to remain eligible for critical financial aid.
These punitive and demeaning impositions of welfare in Kansas and throughout America is morally ruinous. The thinking, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hiltzik, goes something like this:
(1) These people can't be trusted to manage their benefits themselves.
(2) They're on welfare in the first place because of their low morals, so they need to be watched by hawks.
Kansas lawmakers, Hiltzik reasons, "must have been kept up nights by visions of welfare recipients hanging out at morally repugnant locations." Truth is, real statistics show such spending is insignificant.
Look to Maine, where conservative Gov. Paul LePage went on a similar rant last year about his state's welfare clients making 3,000 welfare debit-card transactions over three years in smoke shops, bars, strip clubs and sports pubs.
In that period, however, there were 1.8 million transactions, so the targeted withdrawals amounted to all of two tenths of one percent of the total.
Harry Hopkins, the architect of FDR's New Deal efforts under the Works Progress Administration, knew best the mindset of the era's relief workers.
Observes Hopkins: "The applicant was in some way morally deficient [and] must be made to feel his pauperism. ... Every help which was given him was to be given in a way to intensify his shame."
Hopkins abominated the system.
"It is a matter of opinion whether more damage is done to the human spirit by a lack of vitamins or complete surrender of choice," Hopkins wrote decades ago.
Hopkins understood all too clearly the messed-up welfare policy that in Kansas seeks to destroy the human spirit and impoverish the soul -- without a candlelight's flicker of hope.
Notes LAT writer Hiltzik, "Hopkins would have understood the drafters' goal: Crush the spirit of the welfare recipient. Who cares about them -- those tattooed, body-pierced, drunken, gambling, porn-obsessed figments of the Kansas legislature's nightmares -- anyway?"
My friend, I guess I'm trying to fight back in the only way I know how.
I admit this has been one of the most trying and frightening times of my life where I have no control and little clear direction on the best path to take to untangle mind-numbingly complex and inane rules just to stay alive and be a good father and role model for my children.
THE GOAL: $10K
Your social media fundraising idea could be used to help me clear some nagging past debt, primarily the remaining amount owed on my ramp van ($5,500), fixes ($2,500) and about $2k in medical and credit-card debt, or approximately $10k in total.
Any social media amount raised toward that goal would knock down my heavy fixed costs that are hammering my daily living costs.
I continue to gratefully lean on area food pantries and have for the first time in my half-century come to realize that I need to advocate for me right now before I can gather the strength to fight for others.
Warm regards, Finn
Finn M. Bullers
You were all so terribly generous to Finn and his family. He was, as he's said in this space and elsewhere, overwhelmed and grateful beyond words. (And Finn had all the best words.)
I mainly wanted to be sure all of you knew if you didn't that we'll be having a gathering to remember Finn at DG's Tap House, 125 Main St., this coming Saturday, April 30 from 4-7 p.m. Live music, drinks and lots of remembrances.
Meanwhile, the family would like to redirect fundraising to Finn's education funds. Over this way you made almost $20,000 for an impossible and impossibly great man.
Lots of you have been asking about how, when and where you might donate to Christian and Alora's education funds. Here are some details from Tom. Please be generous: We are collecting contributions to help along the next generation of Bullers Cyclones - Christian (15) and Alora (11). We've established an IRS 529 College Savings Plan for the cause. Your contributions to their education are greatly appreciated. General info about Contributing to Christian and Alora's College fund via the Ugift website - You can pay via direct withdrawal from a bank account (You may need to look at a check for the routing # and account #) - Or you can request an emailed form from the site, print it, and snail mail a check - The IRS 529 plan has a minimum contribution of $25.00 and gifts are not tax deductible How to Contribute: - Visit the ugift site at: http://Ugift529.com - Enter the Ugift code: H16-N4X (Christian Bullers) and / or Z83-81P (Alora Bullers) - Provide your name and the amount of your gift
As you've almost certainly heard by now, Finn died yesterday. Your thoughtfulness and generosity in what proved to be his final months helped him immensely and he was unfailingly flabbergasted at the outpouring.
That says a lot about the kind of people who were drawn to Finn. And in addition to providing some measure of material assistance, your efforts also energized him. I'll always be grateful to you.
Tonight I spoke with Finn and he sounded kind of awful because he's on a ventilator. (Is that different from his usual breathing tube?) Anyway, he couldn't talk really but I spoke with his nurse and nobody came to see him today. Could someone please stop over in the next few days? I don't even know where precisely he is but I think Al or somebody does. If I hear back from him and get the name of the hospital and an address I will update you. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
I sure hope you had a good 4th of July. Hang in there and don't lose hope...they are discovering new things everyday. I have been a member of The World Community Grid for fifteen years and have contributed over ninety-three years of computer processing power...crunching data for an AIDS cure, cancer, MD, MS, ALS, Ebola ... If your interested...check it out at www.worldcommunitygrid.org People from all over the world are contributing. So hang in there and good luck.
Finn you still have the gift of writting. If anyone has the power to change things...it is you.
A few of us here in NE Kansas moved Finn from Research Hospital to his new digs in KCK on June 29th. We moved his "stuff"--and boy does he have "stuff"--from his last apartment to his new group home, where he will have better care. But, things did not go well for a spell....his van had a flat tire (changed the tire after figuring out how the spare tire is removed from his converted van) and Finn then had a blood glucose level of 61...so he was unable to supervise us during the move! Bummmer! As we left the group home, he was not feeling well and had nurses attending to him. On our second trip back, he was snoring like an activist should...against the Kansas legislators and governor in his dreams! Welcome back Finn! With each day comes increased challenges...but he was able to attend the Stones concert with his son last Saturday...nice! Good luck to ya Finn in your new home. We will be visiting again soon.
Finn you're my inspiration and friend. I will share this & see how much I can give and my friends & family too. My prayers are with you and your children. Love You Finn! Sincerely, Barbara Delia