Standing in line.....

My father is well advanced in his old age.   Like every child with an aging parent, housing becomes an issue.  Where will he live, who will be there to care for him, etc……?   With this in mind, I finally faced up to my fathers need for assisted living.   Despite his refusal for such an accommodation, I insisted on at least doing the research.   Within a few days I learned a lot about how America works.  

And of course how China is involved.

There are a few types of housing suitable for my dad.   One is simply put, a retirement home.  Just a bunch of condos for old people, really.   These however, range from several thousand a month to “only” $3000 or so.  Too pricey.  All with a hefty deposit required.  These are profit centers.  Privately managed.   Fair enough.   Many folks simply sell their homes, take the money…..and come here.
Next I looked at subsidized “senior housing” for those 62 and over.   Hmmm…..ok, something dad can afford.   I called up both locations.  Three year wait list…..”shit”.

I was pretty surprised about this, to be honest.   Call me na├»ve, no problem.   Suddenly I found myself looking for a scape goat.   My mother came to mind.   Shouldn’t she have thought of this sort of thing, earlier?

Suddenly I remembered the inlaws.   Last year they stayed several months and it got pretty intense.   We decided we had to find housing for them.    No longer surprised, I discovered the Chinese had this little social benefit cornered as well.   As I’ve said before, Chinese are world class at finding free stuff.    

It’s part of their DNA.  

Chinese culture can be so cold, callous and unforgiving, that when combined with a “the government takes care of everything” mentality,  and a hypercompetitive mindset intent on getting anything free they can,  foreign countries simply do not know how to handle the onslaught of Chinese’ need for social benefits.

We all like to claim how Mexicans come here, and cannot speak English, and grab all these social benefits for free.   Yet no one talks about the current phenomena of Chinese doing just the same.   In California and New York, the number of Chinese able to live off the government social system is huge.  It is a large reason elderly Chinese flock to these areas.    In short, the Chinese are adept at gaming the system.   Don’t know about your country, but in mine it’s legal.   Still, I never thought much about it.  It had nothing to do with me.

Until the day for the first time in my life I found myself going to a HUD building for Seniors.   In America HUD stands for the Department of Urban Housing and Development.    Short for the government agency for low cost housing. 

To my surprise, there are many of them in America, and equally to my surprise they all have waiting lists.  Really long lists.  Equally not to my surprise I personally found the apartments a wee bit subpar.   I wasn’t complaining.   One only has to pay approximately one third of your monthly income to the government, as well as any internet and cable you may wish to have.    And you have to cook your own food.

However, all you need is a Green Card to participate.   You don’t even have to be a citizen.  At first take, this may seem unfair.  After all, the original intent was that these would be for American senior citizens.   But Green Card holders have to pay taxes, too, and as such should be eligible.

Except Chinese senior citizens DO NOT pay taxes, and they DO NOT have jobs and they DO NOT bring any contribution to society that I can think of.   That is, the vast, vast majority of them have only just got here!

So should Chinese be eligible?  According to the government, yes. 

Now….let’s reverse this a bit, shall we?

What if I was a senior citizen in China, and my family was in China….would I be eligible?   I want to shout out to the stars a hearty “Fuck no!”, but instead I’ll settle for a less knowing….

“Probably not.”

When these buildings first went up, there was no massive influx of green card holders here comparable to today, let alone in all likelihood before even diplomatic relations with China.     But as I alluded to earlier, the Chinese are pretty good having come from a bureaucratic culture themselves at finding “the loophole” in any governmental service.

And we Americans are pretty generous at setting the bar low when offering such services.   As such a perfect storm has been created.  

The above income standard of “one third” of one’s monthly income was quickly noticed by the Chinese.  Most of them have Chinese retirement pensions.   None of them have an income here.   As such, they should not be able to qualify.  Yet all of them do pay a minimum monthly fee of $200-$300 per month for a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen and living room.    Their kids simply pay it.  Simple. Any way you slice it, it is a good deal.  

The government does not ask for any proof of this income.

Approximately 20% of the tenants in this building are Chinese.   And my guess is it will continue to grow.   There are just too many Chinese coming to America to stay, with their parents in tow.  This number, like the number of Chinese kids in our private high schools, will continue to grow.   The Chinese have found it to be a community center where one can live with people their own age.   Fair enough. 

But what about that wait list?  When I first showed up a year ago it was only one year.   Now it has stretched out to a year and a half.    And as the number of Chinese inevitably climb I can’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe they aren’t taking a slot my dad should have…..?

My dad served in the military.  As such he gets free medical care, which he takes advantage of.   I would say this free medical care has probably extended his life more than once.    He became physically disabled at a young age, and the government helped out there, too.   Am I right to insist he jump ahead of a mere green card holder?  

To the average clerk in these housing developments, I sense ambivalence.   It’s not their job to editorialize.   Yet it seems strange that someone who did not grow up here, who cannot speak English, who has no sense of belonging to this country, and has never paid taxes, should get preference over someone who is a bonafide American. 

These people can after all, always return to their homeland.   My father is already in his.   So why should he actually have to wait in line behind these people?  Is there any other country like this,  that places a newly arrived green card holder with no intent of assimilating on an even par with a citizen?
My wife often likes to say America is a great place for the poor and for the rich.  I give you the above example.


  1. I think this says more about America than the China. Are the Chinese gaming the system? Absolutely. However, the Americans created this bizarre system. Its really based on the American government's greed. They want to tax Green Card holders (PRs), so they can get as much money as possible. The funny thing is many PRs not only bring in no taxes, they create negative taxation. Any non-working PR whose spouse is American is doing that since that American prior to marriage would be paying at a higher rate. It is the same IRS that requires people like me (Americans living abroad) to go through the ridiculous requirement to fully file taxes every year. As I live in a higher tax country, unless I have a really good year in business, I never pay a dime to Uncle Sam; waste of my and the government's time and money.

    Getting back to the Chinese, it is interesting how Chinese immigrant to America has changed in the last 100-150 years from the destitute guy from Taishan, Guangdong seeking the American Dream, to richer Chinese looking for a retirement home in the US Suburbs.

  2. PR's folks= Permanent Residents.....

    Today I took my inlaws to the immigration office. It was an 18 mile drive, I arrived 45 minutes before opening and mine was the 11th car to arrive. There was one other Chinese family, a couple of Europeans and the rest were either Indian or Hispanic.

    You are right.....our system....our governmental desire to track where we are...what we are making....and to get a piece, a damn piece of it, is not the least bit exhilarating. I hear the Europeans can actually work overseas and not have that income taxed.....Really? How does that feel like?

    I'm not upset actually at the benovelence of our system. As I am happy to read that plaque in New York Harbor a certain lady holds closely to her chest. But that plaque...those with our current system, were created in a time very, very different from NOW. Some policies and words, and phrases, can simply not stand the test of time.


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