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Yes We Can! Try

Posted by ajspage on April 13, 2009

My childhood rolls through my memories in great splashes of color, camp, and change: The first footprints of man in the dust of the moon, the power of flowers and smileys and beautiful blackness, impotent fallout shelters, inexorable smallpox and polio eradications, Newlyweds and Tijuana Brass, a voting rights act with a Capitol “V”, seven overly-prepared castaways on a three-hour tour, balled up Wonderbread, naked Barbies, Goldie Hawn’s bikini. All against a backdrop of grinding death — but not “war” — in Vietnam.

Mr. Spock and warp drive introduced the first glimmers of cool to geekdom, while a big green muppet living in a trashcan ushered in the social acceptability of uncivil discourse and compulsive hoarding.

It was all innocence and goading The Man, except for one great, irritating influence: the story of The Little Engine That Could. Or as it is known in the medical vernacular, It’s All In Your Head, and popularly, It’s All Your Fault.

You see, I grew up in a household where my foreign-born parents encouraged me to eat my vegetables through stories of poor, starving children in China — like my dad, and my aunts and uncles, surviving by the skin of their teeth (and some occasional tree bark) in war-ravaged Shanghai.

My parents had just survived monumental upheavals of history in which tens of millions of people died of starvation and violence through events they had no hand in and no control over.

By the worldview of this authoritative childhood allegory, these millions of extinguished voices merely lacked an appropriate psychologically-uplifting phrase to repeat in their hour of need.

Welcome to the world of infinite possibilities and crippling psychological barriers, where all things are possible if we merely try hard enough. If we merely believe.

This theme suffused nearly every film of my upbringing and beyond (I mean the films that came after the ones where the leading animal always died at the end). No matter how dangerous the obstacles, determined the enemy, or ill-prepared you The Hero are — if you try, you will win. If you believe, your team will prevail. If you build it, the ghosts of dead baseball heroes will befriend you and attract stop-and-go traffic to your cornfields.

Is this representative of reality? That all you have to do is TRY to change the world? That all you need is a little determination and you can create an industry of health”care” insurers to do nothing constructive but shake down the American public for billions in profits every year, and get them to pay hundreds of billions more for the paperwork you use to do it?**

Oh. Wait.

I get it now. Maybe sometimes we aren’t solving problems because everyone says we can’t. (That is, everyone except the leaders and majority of the public in every other industrialized nation in the world where they are getting, in most cases, better, universal healthcare on average, and in every case, for less money.) Maybe sometimes we aren’t solving problems because everyone we come across (locally) has a good reason that we can’t.

Because the tired old engines (sick people) are too, well, tired to do it. Because the big, strong, freight engines (lawmakers and businesspeople) are too busy and important. Because the shiny new engines (the wealthy) have no idea that insurance companies’ flying monkeys are going to dismantle them and scatter their parts to every corner of Oz the minute they really need their coverage.

That maybe, when a problem seems too big and complicated, sometimes our biggest barrier is overcoming the doubters and the naysayers around us. Not that it’s going to be easy to climb the mountain on a little engine. Or go to the moon in a tin can. Or rescue our Democracy by electing the first African-American President in the history of this great nation. But the journey of a thousand steps begins with, “Yes We Can!”

And we did. Let’s do it again.


** According to a Public Citizen study, every year we spend less than half of our $2.4 trillion healthcare economy on actual care, the rest is non-care related, such as $450 billion for bureaucracy, largely due to private health insurance.


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Time capsule: Don’t Raise Interest Rates — Or Else (I Might Write You Another Letter)!

Posted by ajspage on April 13, 2009

I just found this letter that I wrote to Nancy Pelosi — in 2005!!  Yes, 2005.  Sadly prophetic.  And sadly unanswered — too angry to deserve an answer I suppose, but not angry enough to get a visit from the nice folks in Homeland Security.  (I’ve edited out some superfluous stuff, like concerns about the security of the vote — old news.  And the disaster I mentioned — remember Katrina?  Not old news.  Oh, and raising interests rates won’t help me anymore, sadly, my personal piggy bank crumbled with the country’s.)

So my question is:  what is a Conservative today, except NOT fiscally conservative?  (Okay, that was just a rhetorical question.  The answer has been settled for way too long.)

Please thank the Honorable Nancy Pelosi for naming the corruption and cronyism of this administration.

I’m tired of Republicans treating this country like their own private piggy bank that they can shake down whenever they want as if it will never crack.

FEMA used to be a good agency.  I watched them give the American people about as good a return on their investment as could be expected until this administration.  The scope of this disaster cried out more than ever to have lessons learned from previous disasters applied, and they have not been.  Don’t let them get away with saying that there is anything about this disaster, even the scope, that excuses the shambles FEMA was and is in.  If anything, it was more important than ever to apply lessons from previous disasters.  Don’t let them get away with saying, “we will learn for the next disaster.”  IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO LEARN FOR *THIS* DISASTER!  There have been plenty of disasters before this one, lessons have not been applied, and there is still plenty of time to take charge and do things right.  It could start TODAY!  Many thousands of people’s lives and productivity, hang in the balance.

As much as raising interest rates would help me personally in the future, how much pressure is the Fed under to keep raising them by this administration?   Do they think people really buy the argument that the economy is heating up and rates need to continue to be raised to keep inflation in check?  (That interest rates have ANYTHING to do right now with rising energy prices or that it’s in this country’s best interest to make credit as expensive as possible?!!)

I’m sorry to send such a cranky email, I’m tired of having to watch helplessly as a bunch of bullies and goons flush our beautiful country down the tubes for their own selfish gains.  I’m tired of having them sully the name of God and Christianity by associating their actions and party with it.  [Note for you Godless heathens:  The only thing that drove Jesus to physical violence was people using the church for their own selfish monetary gain…]

FEMA was flushed for what?  For two years now, my relatives in [anti-war European country] can’t send me food packages of pre-packaged, grocery-store bought foods — for SECURITY REASONS per this administration — and uninspected container ships arrive daily from some of the shakiest parts of the world.   Keeping this country safe from specialty foods sent for allergic children!  Wow! That’s money well spent in the fight against terror!

I apologize once again for my sarcasm and bitterness.  I love this country; thank you for doing everything in your power to defend its future as a great nation.

Whatever the road that got us here, we can no longer afford this war.  I do not want to see us collapse into a third-world backwater, we are better than this.  Thank you for doing everything in your power to bring our troops home soon.  Press this administration for the plan — rerun footage of Bush promising never to send our troops into harms way without an exit strategy if you have to, and make him give it to you!

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