Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tilting Left?

With marriage equality now the law of the land, the ACA firmly supported in the Court, and the Confederate flag coming down, could it possibly be that the nation is finally taking a turn toward sanity, toward the left?  If so, it's about time.

Consider equality.  Just the word.  Who hates that?  How is this religious persecution?  We are a secular nation with many of different religions and some of no religion.  In order for all to have the freedom to worship - or not - as they see fit, we must remain secular in law.  This is a win-win, not a loss for people of any god.

And if the emblem of your proud history is also the emblem of another's degradation, is it not imperative to relegate the emblem to its place in history?  Can one not be proud of the selfless sacrifice and bravery shown on the battlefield of individuals without flying the flag of a lost cause? Did not the common German soldier also fight bravely in support of his country?  That does not remove the bile from the mouth on seeing the Nazi emblem.  Let us move on.

I have lived all my life in this country and I love it so I hope we can always find middle ground to lay a path forward for every citizen.  I hope we are big enough to continue to welcome immigrants, as my grandparents once were.  I hope we find our way toward healthcare for all. I hope we can get the politicians out of our bedrooms and allow doctors to practice medicine as their patients require. I hope my granddaughters will never face the discrimination leveled at my generation.  Most of all I hope we can see that hate helps no one, that diversity enriches us all, and that this nation must serve us all, not just the wealthiest.

Today I am proud to be American.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


The Supreme Court just ruled that I can keep my health insurance.  Actually, the ruling affects other people, too, but I've been viewing this through a very personal lens. You see, when I was laid off in 2005 I went without health insurance for years until the ACA made it available to me.  As a woman in her late 50s, I was considered uninsurable during a time of life when many people find serious health issues.  I was lucky; I did not, but I lived in fear.

Today I am partially retired, working part-time as a consultant.  Without the ACA I would be unable to afford insurance.  Yes, I am one of those people who receive a subsidy.  I am unapologetic about it.  During the years no one would insure me I broke my foot.  The hospital x-rayed me and put my foot in a boot but would not treat me further - even though I gave them my credit card for any expenses.  They said they "were not accepting new patients" but I finally got someone to be a little more specific:  she said "We are not accepting uninsured patients."  This from a medical college hospital! So I paid out-of-pocket for an orthopedist associated with a different hospital to examine me, take more x-rays and determine that I did not, in fact, require surgery.

Most people think that the uninsured can just go to the emergency room and get "free" care.  Not so. The emergency room cannot turn you away, but all they have to do is stabilize you and refer you for care.  They do, in fact, charge you, probably more than they charge insurance companies, and if you do not pay, they can legally take action against you.  And the referral they give you may well be useless unless you have insurance. And if you go to an emergency room and discover a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease, the hospital does not have to treat you.

If you are OK with that then I want you to consider how you would feel if your parents, or your friends found themselves in this position?  Don't think it can happen?  In the last recession nearly 10% of our population was unemployed.  People like me who had worked for years, for decades, many at one job, found themselves out of work and out of insurance at a time when no one was hiring.  People get sick.  Accidents happen.  Health care is not a luxury.

The ACA is far from perfect but it is a lifeline for many and I, for one, am glad to have it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lost in the South

So, there's been another mass shooting.  This time some fine black folks were mowed down in church of all places.  It's too much.  It was too much when all those second graders were shot in New Town. Too much blood.  Too much insanity.  Too much hate.  And, very likely, too many guns.

I live in Georgia and I've been in the South for 30 years. As a natural born Yankee, I never gave much thought to the Civil War until I moved here.  I never knew how deep those wounds ran here in the South.  I never realized that people here are proud of their efforts back then to leave the Union. There are still those who would secede today, given the opportunity.  I've gotten used to it, though I do not agree with this feeling.

The United States is one country, North and South, East and West, black and white.  We have our problems, but guns are not the answer.  They were not the answer during the Civil War and they are not the answer now.  Can we not agree to give guns the same kind of oversight we give vehicles? We not only register them, but we test for skills, we fine infractions, and we revoke licenses for the worst offenders. We even require insurance so that if someone is hurt, they can be compensated.  I understand that illegal guns can be gotten but we make that so easy.  It should be made more difficult.

If you must have a gun, why would you object to the same regulations as on your car?  I just don't get it.  The government isn't coming for your guns unless you do something irresponsible or criminal with them.

If one cannot see; one cannot drive.  So I think it follows that if one is unstable, mentally, one should not own a gun.  And if one has a history of violence, why allow them a gun?  And really, does anyone need an automatic assault rifle?  Can we not use common sense?  Apparently not.

Take down the flag.  It was treasonous before and is widely regarded as a symbol of racial hate now.  One can be proud of the fact that one's relatives stood up for what they believed in without perpetuating the problem into new generations.

Let us vote for candidates that support gun control.  No one will come for your guns unless you use them against others or become incapacitated. Enough blood has been spilled.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The correlation between anger and poverty

There have been many news stories recently about violence against mostly poor, black people by mostly white police officers.  This has been widely seen as having a large racial component.  I tend to agree but believe economics may run even deeper.

The tension between the haves and the have-nots is well documented at the highest levels.  The headlines in every newspaper and television newscast include daily reports on "the 1%" and how cutting some program designed to benefit poor people needs to be done in order to save the economy while cutting taxes for the rich is seen as having the well-known, if debunked, "trickle-down" effect.

In a society where money is power - and this is certainly such a society - then the absence of money equals powerlessness.  Nothing is more likely to engender despair or anger than that. So, when a young black girl who perhaps has no access to a cool pool on a hot day is ordered off the premises by a white cop, perhaps, she mutters in anger.  His position, which if we are honest, is not far above hers, is to strike out, not only in anger but also as a defense of his precarious position.

I know a little of poverty and a bit about anger.  I am not so presumptuous to think that my own reactions to things are universal but neither do I believe myself unusual.  I think the denial of power to the poor is at the root of even our racial divide.