Why would a highly paid, highly educated scientist with MS be using a clunky 50 pound depot wheelchair that is difficult for him to push and clearly doesn’t fit him?

Because he got fed up with the roadblocks his insurance company put in the way of getting a properly fitted lightweight chair, and in a magnificent example of cutting off your nose to spite your face, decided not to buy his own, even though he can obviously afford it.

I don’t know if this says more about the absurdity of the American health insurance system, or the sense of entitlement that even the well-off disabled can exhibit.



  1. Patricia Tryon

    To me, it’s all about the absurdity of US “health” care, but I have my biases ;-) His choice could also be seen as an act of political solidarity with people who can afford only clunker chairs — IOW, with people who have no choice. Or maybe it is mostly peckishness. Regardless, I’m far less dismayed by any sense of entitlement he may be exhibiting than by that regularly on display by, say, former Enron or Qwest executives. Comparisons are odious; they are also inescapable.

    Entitlement has become a primary currency in the social contract, it seems to me. Most of the copyright/intellectual property issues I end up dealing with spring from exactly that. Perhaps entitlement is a response to the myriad injustices in a society that purports to value equality of opportunity, but cannot ever provide for, much less assure, equality of circumstance. I don’t know. It’s simultaneously complex, intriguing, and frustrating.

  2. Patricia Tryon

    Well, an hour of face mail (yours) trumps a universe of wishful thinking (mine).

  3. Nick P.

    Hello there,

    I never tried this way of communication so far but I am going to now.

    My name is Nick and I am from Athens Greece. Yesterday I became 25 and was quite scared by the idea that I only need 5 years to become 30 years old. Don’t mean to offend any one older than me of course…

    Well, apart from being quite stressed with this groing older thing and beside my wish to share this feeling, I would also like to express my opinion on the statement i read above.

    Bein a wheelchair user myself, I really understand the importance of recieving financial support from the state, in order to provide yourself the best equipment needed. This is not about luxury, it is about abetter living and therefore an easilly achieved independence. When This is not possible, I understand that there is no choice to be made but…What if there is a choice like in the case described above. It is reasonable to expect a financial support by the state but when this is not provided, it is even more resonable for someone to seek for alternative ways of offering him or herself what they deserve. Otherwise you end up pumishing yourself for something you are not responsible for. Before you say I should not be careless about implementing policies for disabled people, Im telling you that I care and I was always involved in that kind of action. Therefore, I learned not to take anything for granted. If they wont offer me something I deserve, I will do almost everything to get it myself. To me that is also a form of independence. I go out and pick up my wepons so that I am able to fight activelly against any form of unfairness. Not alone but together with all those who feel the same way I do.
    And now, I would like to reveal something about myself, related to this kind of communication.
    As a postgraduate studentin politics and new technology. I am writing a dissertation about disability blogs, focusing on how this blogs can finaly form a community. I entered this site as a wacher but I couldn’t help myself taking part in tis dialogue. A part of my dissertation includes the construction of the first greek blog on disabolity. As soon as I have it readyI am going to let you know .

    will anyone of you be visiting Athens for the Olympic Games? we still have to fight for abetter accessibility for wheelchairs here in Greece but on the other hand, your attendance would indicate the importance of providing a more accessible environment for wheelchairs.

    Sorry if I wrote to much

    xxx Nick.

  4. Nick

    Dear Katja,

    thank you for your quick responce. It is really cool that I am having an international view of things that occupy me too. Of course the whole thing will help me succed in my dissertation as well. This time, I leave you my e mail adress, so if you ever need anything from here, just shout!

    xxx Nick

  5. Katja

    Given the grand total of about an hour I spent talking to the gentleman, I’m going to vote for peckishness. He talked about independence, but (and here I’m thinking about the entitled people I used to work for at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, ambassadors and the like) seemed content to let people do things for him and smooth his way.

  6. Katja


    Thank you very much for your comments. You touch on one of the aspects of the issue, namely state support of the disabled. As I’m sure you know, in the US we rely on employers to provide the benefits that in Western European countries are commonly provided by the state.

    One of my frustrations with using blogs as a communications mechanism is the difficulty of having real ongoing interaction; because no one besides the blog owner is notified of new comments, it can be difficult for other participants in the conversation to remain aware of updates.

    I look forward to visiting your Greek disability blog when it’s ready.


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