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[12/28/00 Editor's note: As many of you who have dealt with the media surely know, newspapers often misquote or misrepresent those whom they interview. But, if the NewsDay writer accurately quoted Suffolk County Social Services Commissioner John Wingate, it's no wonder the area is having problems:

"If institutionalization is cheaper than home care, wouldn't it be better to institutionalize?"

(I find this statement particularly odd in light of the fact that Bayon's hospital bill is currently at $300,000 and climbing every day -- a considerable sum compared to the relatively small cost of an in-home aide.)

On the eve of the year 2001, Wingate's quote reminded me of the following passage from Charles Dickens', "A Christmas Carol" (1843), in which Ebenezer Scrooge is addressed by a gentleman collecting donations for the poor:

'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.

'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'

'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.'

'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.

'Both very busy, sir.'

'Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very glad to hear it . . . I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'

'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'

--End of excerpt---

We have come so far, folks, but have so very far to go.

--Dave Reynolds, Editor]

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