I’m ending the third day of my withdrawal program. You see, recently it dawned upon me that I’ve become an Obama hate-junkie. I am obsessed with what a turncoat-liar our 44th President has shown himself to be. It crept-up on me so gradually that I hardly noticed. One day I was a supporter, giddy with delight at his election, waiting expectantly for him to begin making sane, compassionate, fair decisions. The kind of decisions that would bring-about some of that “change” he had talked so much about. And I waited, and I waited, and I waited…
For ten months following the election, I shook-off Obama’s continuance of Bush’s neo-conservative agenda. While most everyone around me lost their jobs, their homes, their retirement funds, and their faith in our system, I watched as B.O. appointed one Wall Street lackey after another, gave a lap-dance to the big-bankers, and begged the Republicans to help him sell-out all his principles in exchange for bipartisanship. But by the time he gave his big healthcare speech in September, Representative Joe Wilson shouted-out “you lie!” and I was shouting much nastier things to my car radio as I listened.
After that, I was a gone goose. My frequent encouraging emails to the White House morphed into hate-mail, my political conversations with friends (both black & white) and family were peppered with unflattering comparisons between B.O. & the hated W. (No, I never ventured into “birther” territory or anything of that ilk; I’m a progressive, not a racist nutjob). About a week ago, like an alcoholic who suddenly realizes he is drinking way too much, I saw that I was spending hours every day searching-out Obama’s latest failure and then spewing venom about it online.
So made myself taper-off. And I can use some of that venom on the other Democrat & Republican politicians. After all, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
Any working American knows our economy has gradually sucked more and more at higher and higher levels for decades. And all the while, that increasing suck-level has been vastly ignored by our media, our politicians, and anyone who occupies the levels up from where the suck reaches. For instance, I remember about 15 years ago when I worked in Engineering & Product Development and our building had an experimental machine shop. Well, one day the bigwigs decided to eliminate that machine shop and farm-out the work to outside shops. The Engineers I worked with couldn’t have been less sympathetic toward what they called “blue-collar” workers losing their jobs. I warned them that someday the tide would probably rise to eliminate them and the idea was soundly hooted down as preposterous. Now, of course, we see Engineering and developmental work increasingly off-shored. In fact, many of those same Engineers and Chemists were downsized along with me about 9 years ago when the company moved to greener pastures (that is, where labor was cheaper and environmental standards not as strict).
Our habit of turning-away from the plight of our fellow-citizens who are in need is much like that old poem about Nazi Germany that talks about (paraphrasing) “When they came to get the Jews, I did nothing because I wasn’t Jewish. When they came to get the Catholics, I did nothing because I wasn’t Catholic. Finally, they came to get me and there was no one left to fight for me.” The lower-class 90% of the population better wake-up and realize it’s in their own best interest to stand-up for each other. Our ancestors learned this the hard way, as we are now doing. To a great extent, during the Great Depression until the 1970′s, the working class usually stuck together and won higher wages, paid vacations, sick leave time, holiday pay, overtime pay, reasonable work-week hours, and many other benefits that the plutocrats didn’t want to give. Since the workers stopped sticking together there has been a steady erosion of all those work place improvements.
One of our greatest weapons is the ballot box. It is time to turn all the Washington, D.C. politicians out of office (my apologies to the handful that are not slime). And a mild form of that is just what voters thought they were doing when they elected Obama. His campaign of “change” resonated with citizens who didn’t want to destroy the underpinnings of our Constitutional system but knew America’s “public servants” are now only serving the plutocrats. And his sell-out to those plutocrats and war machine betrayed their trust. Like me, most of them won’t vote Democrat again and they already know the Republicans are nuts, so they are ripe for a third party.
On a related note, in the last few days our corporate-owned rulers have decreed yet another give-away to their masters. I’m speaking of the mandatory insurance company subsidy that was passed into law as “healthcare reform.” Over the next few years, the cost of forced insurance purchase will destroy many a family’s budget. Those who are already financially sinking will drown and those who are barely keeping their heads above water will sink. In advance of this bill’s passage, concerned citizens, politicians, and media rightfully asked how people who couldn’t afford insurance in the first place were supposed to buy insurance when required by law. The politicians gave solemn assurance that there would be government help for those who couldn’t afford insurance (much like they assured us after Katrina that New Orleans would promptly be rebuilt). And, amazingly, the questioners swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
But most anyone who has had to ask for government help can tell you, the gov’t help will turn-out to be an off-putting maze of underfunded bullshit that will amount to near zero help. In the end, millions of Americans will have to choose between buying insurance to avoid fines or paying for their rent, groceries, and utilities. Worst of all, because of factors such as unaffordable co-payments and insurance company denials for treatment, these new insurance customers probably won’t see any real improvement in their access to healthcare. And all the while America’s “leaders” will continue to pour unimaginable money down the rat-hole of endless wars and more tax breaks for the ultra-rich. I believe there is a very good chance this healthcare “reform” (which isn’t) may become the issue that will finally ignite a citizens rebellion.
I haven’t had health insurance in 9 years. The end of my coverage coincided with my downsizing out of a 20+ year career in the printing industry (another of the multitude of enterprises America no longer has within its boarders). I still remember how ecstatic I was back in 1980, when I got that job; my first that not only paid well, but had fringe benefits like health insurance and a retirement pension. It was a real “grown-up” job like my parents had.
My excellent health has enabled me to go these 9 years without the wallet-draining help of the medical profession. I attribute my good health mostly to my long-standing belief in positive thinking and what used to be called “health foods.” I don’t have the highest opinion of doctors. I really think they aren’t good for much beyond operating if you’ve got something like appendicitis or diagnosing an obvious condition like diabetes. Anything more complex and their attempts at a “cure” may be worse than the ailment.
But in spite of that, I know modern medicine has its place in civilized society. I don’t forgo medical coverage out of choice, I would love to have it if I could squeeze it into my minuscule budget. Ah, the luxury of being able to take my sore throat or aching foot to a physician and receive treatment…
(Excuse me, I was lost in reverie for a few moments) Delirious from the hope induced by Obama’s election, I truly thought America’s politicians were, at long last, ready to provide their citizens with universal access to health care.
Wow, was I wrong! And now, it looks like Americans not only won’t get universal coverage, their crazy government will try to force the poorest ones to buy insurance coverage, under threat of being branded as criminals and fined. Only the twitterpated mind of an insulated-from-reality Washington, D.C. multi-millionaire politician who gets perks like free haircuts (and free healthcare) could think that this is any kind of fix for the problem.
“Where in blue blazes are people who were too poor to buy insurance in the first place supposed to get money to buy insurance when they’re forced?” ask many sane Americans. “Don’t worry,” the multi-millionaire politicians assure us, “they can apply to the government for assistance to pay for their forced insurance.”
Well, as one of America’s many financially-ruined citizens I have first-hand frustrating experience with applying to the government for assistance. To cite two examples out of many: 1) so that my working, divorced daughter could go to college, she needed financial help with my granddaughter’s daycare. That took seven weeks of almost daily calling the social workers and, finally, in desperation a call to our state governor’s office hotline to get results. 2) I applied for heating energy assistance for this winter, which involves getting up about 3 am in order to stand in line in the freezing cold outside the application office to get one of 25 entrance tickets at about 8 am.
I was 17th in the heating assistance line that day, because some people camp out there all night. There were about 50 people in line, which means a lot of people turned away each day. My point is that there will be a lot of poor people spending a lot of their time going begging “hat in hand” to the bureaucrats in order to buy insurance.
I was once solidly middle-class and paid taxes for 37 years before being destroyed in the Great Recession. I was surprised at how confusing, uncaring, and inadequate our social safety net is. Pray that you don’t have to find out also.
For three years I owned and operated a mini-market/gas station in a Cincinnati, Ohio suburb. I bought an already existing store using all the assets I had, including my 401K funds, after being down-sized from my middle-management career of 22 years (in one of the many industries which the U.S. can no longer keep onshore). Things went along fairly well and the business grew as I acquired a large clientele of regular customers from the local construction companies, other business owners, and the Ford plant. My girlfriend and I worked 90+ hour workweeks and, along with help from a few part-time employees, we operated 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In other words, I was a real practitioner of the kind of free-enterprise capitalism that our windbag politicians and business leaders praise to the heavens while making sure it doesn’t apply to them.
In the spring of 2008, I went to the county “economic development board” asking for advice about expanding my business. And because his office is in the same shopping center as my store, I walked over to Representative John Boehner’s (remember him? the Republican House Majority, now Minority, Leader) office to ask for help. I asked the bureaucrats whether grants or tax breaks were available to help me hire employees, buy equipment, etc. No, no such thing available. Their only advice was to go to the Small Business Administration.
So I called the SBA. I won’t go into details other than that they sent-out someone to take a look at my store and see if he had any words of wisdom. He was the former head of Ford’s truck and ambulance division and knew nothing I could discern about small businesses in general nor especially the retail store business. So back I went to the county development board. After a few lengthy consultations, I was steered to a Vice President of Lending at a local branch of one of our nations larger banks (I won’t tell you which one, but their initials are PNC). In cooperation with that very nice VP, my girlfriend and I hashed-out a business plan and jumped through a multitude of hoops necessary to secure a relatively paltry SBA loan of $75,000.
Meanwhile, I realize now that throughout the spring & summer business had started to go sour. We were close-enough to our customers that many of them confided their troubles: they were losing their jobs, they were losing their homes, their own small businesses were taking on water like Katrina. We finished-up our paperwork with the bank and awaited an answer.The V.P. anticipated no problem as I had A-1 credit, very little debt, and a good plan for growing the business.
Then the financial tsunami hit. Suddenly, Americans were informed the banks were bust and Wall Street toppled! Fed chief Ben Bernanke and his bankster buddies told us it was our money or our lives: we could either pony-up nearly a trillion dollars or our economy would eat lead. My business flow slowed to a trickle, people who are terrified don’t go out shopping. In the midst of all this it was announced that the bank I had asked for money was using its government bailout to buy the bank where I had my business accounts (National City). I didn’t think badly about that arrangement, until during that same time my business loan was turned-down. The nice V.P. confided that “we just aren’t loaning to anyone right now. Come back in the spring and you can probably get it then.”
We hung-on for five months after that. The store died a slow death. People without jobs to go to don’t buy near as much gasoline and candy. I let the employees go after the New Year holiday. In late February, I contacted the bank V.P. but was turned-down again. I heard on the news that the credit markets were still frozen. A few weeks later, I put up the sign that said “Out of Business.” I didn’t get much out of the used equipment because so many businesses have gone belly-up that there’s a glut on the market (part of that real free-enterprise again). I’m not embarrassed about my story because now most everyone is either financially ruined or close to it. And our so-called “leaders” don’t really seem to know or care about fixing it because the Dow Jones Average is going up again. I’m unemployed, broke, and waiting/praying/working for the revolution that seems inevitable.