On Tuesday, retired steel worker Steve Skvara tearfully asked Democratic presidential candidates, "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?"
The question was, according to a reporter on the CBS Evening News, an example of when "a moment of truth breaks through a political campaign event." On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews told Mr. Skvara, ""You're a great American to speak so well to the needs of this country." Chrissy later gushed: "Well, can I pay tribute—can I pay tribute to you, sir?"
I'll not attempt to minimize Mr. Skvara's plight. When I heard his question, though, I thought back to a 1992 presidential debate when a man questioned the candidates: "And I ask the three of you, how can we, as symbolically the children of the future president, expect the two of you, the three of you, to meet our needs . . .”
Who'll take care of me? Is that what we've come to expect of a president? So far, no one in the mainstream media has asked Mr. Skvara, who is an executive board member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, what protection he was provided by the union to which he paid dues for so many years. Isn't protecting members' interests what unions are supposed to do? Or is their principal function to price their members out of the market with increasingly extravagant wage and benefit demands?
Mr. Skvara is disabled as the result of a 1997 car accident. He and his family were returning from a vacation in Disney World. In a December 24, 2004 (Northwest Indiana) Post-Tribune article, Mr. Skvara "said his medical bills and his son's medical bills totaled more than $250,000. He paid only a few hundred dollars."
"'We didn't pay anything because our health insurance was so good,' he said."
Because of good insurance, "we didn't pay anything." That's fine, but I wonder why then he allowed a benefit to be held on his behalf. The June 21, 1997 Post-Tribune carried a story that began:
When it comes to caring, the Skvara family here has never delivered a short stack, says family friend Lenore Samanas.
For that reason, Samanas and a group called Union Cares will be stacking pancakes high from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. today at Union Fire Station, 551W Indiana 130 in Wheeler. The breakfast benefit is to help support Stephen and Sandra Skvara and their four children as medical bills mount, said Samanas.
Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.
Too bad he didn't set aside that benefit money, since he didn't really need it for medical bills, to pay for his spouse's health insurance. Or maybe it's better to demand the Federal government, specifically the president, take care of you. The Democratic candidates seem to think so.