Braille Monitor                                                                                January 1986



Is Independence Worth $2.50?

by Fred J. Wurtzel

(Reprinted from the Summer, 1985, News from Blind Nebraskans, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska.)

Independence means many things, depending upon the context and the parties involved. Within the context of blindness, we can talk about two interrelated ways of expressing independence. First, is individual independence, and this is the one which most people think of when discussing the subject. The second comes close on its heels; that is, collective independence.

Unless you live alone on a desert island, it can be reasonably argued that freedom is for all or none. As long as one person is discriminated against or otherwise denied his or her constitutional rights, then no one is truly free.

Blind people, as a class, are certainly no exception. As long as one of us is treated unfairly on an airplane or in employment, none of us is free. This applies to our organization. The NFB must remain independent in thought, word, and deed. The minute that we are beholding to any group or individual, we cannot act in our own best interest. One only need look to the American Council of the Blind to see the result of selling out. When the Council states, as they have to the Congress, that blind people need not be paid the minimum wage or, as they say in their new airline handbook, that blind people are inherently less capable of traveling, they are bowing to the master of their purse strings, the agencies which have a vested interest in keeping blind people dependent and subservient.

When the NFB goes to the Congress or the courts, we have only one interest to promote, our own. We can speak clearly and loudly for what is best for blind people. As our President has so eloquently stated, "We know who we are." Our identity is not distorted by the clash of conflicting goals.

Our clear identity is made possible in large part because of our financial independence. We are willing to "put our money where our mouth is." With candy sales and various thons, we turn energy into cash. These fund-raisers are very important locally, but they do not fully meet the national need. We have developed a simple and dependable fund-raiser, which uses little time and energy to raise significant amounts of money for us. It is called the Pre-Authorized Check Plan, or PAC Plan, as it is known.

Last year the PAC Plan raised around a quarter of a million dollars! Over one thousand people have joined up. This is money that we can use to fight our battles and change what it means to be blind without, in any way, compromising our principles and goals.

You might ask how you can become a part of this approach to building and maintaining our independence. It is simple. Fill out a PAC card, sign it on the raised lines in two places, void a check, and mail it to our National Center, or ask me to help you. I, any officer of the affiliate, or any other Federationist who knows how will be most happy to assist.

Help us all keep our collective and individual independence. Join up today. You can contribute as little as $2.50 a month. Isn't it worth it?