Friday, September 11, 2009

The Last Paragraph is All That Matters

The Last Paragraph Is All That Matters

The Supreme Court seems poised to eliminate the need for the sham that is the Political Action Committee (PAC) by reinterpreting the constitution towards ending the prohibition against corporations donating to political candidates directly. The rationale is to preserve First Amendment right to free speech for shareholders. But most Americans who have stock investments are passive or captive owners, via mutual or retirement funds respectively. At the risk of accusations of xenophobia, I am also concerned about the huge amount of foreign investment in U.S. companies, er, like China. Whose free speech is actually being protected?

Obama’s Heathcare reform bill is now Dickensianly thin gruel due to intimidation by healthcare profiteers like hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical firms and the politicians who are beholden to them. The banks are bailed out to the tune of nearly a trillion but mortgages are not being modified and the foreclosure rate is at its highest since the depression. Bailout recipient and whopping Republican PAC contributor, Bank of America posts a 4.2 billion dollar profit.

The outstanding website Open Secrets has lots of statistics about contributions to candidates and causes. Some corporations and special interest groups donate to both Republican and Democratic candidates but certain factions very seldom cross party lines. I boycotted them in support of the Farmworker’s Union for so long that I still, on automatic pilot, seldom buy grapes. Now though I am tetchy about labor unions. I wonder if there isn’t some way to protect the rights of workers without manacling management to rotten lazy assed employees and policies that stagger modernization and growth. Almost every union in this country strongly favors Democratic candidates.

Neither is the party line particularly nuanced when the American Medical Association, almost every bank, insurance company and pharmaceutical shows a consistent preference for Republicans. Corporate political interests are served with more than just PAC and political contribution monies; three billion dollars was spent on lobbying last year. Until we reform election financing and corporate and special interest lobbying, most of the political rhetoric which addresses moral position and the public good is bullshit. Perhaps candidates should be permitted to use donations exclusively from private individuals to finance the collection of ballot qualification signatures. After qualification, candidates should be issued equal stipends of public monies to conduct a campaign.

Joe Wilson shouted “You’re a liar!” when Obama promised that no illegal aliens would receive subsidized health insurance. My friends at aptly point out that if some pinkish congressman had shouted the same at Bush when he addressed the Congress, most of the left would have gone gaga with joy and even centrists obliged to address civility and decorum would have been secretly smug. Rapture readers also noted that Obama’s choice to specifically single out abortion is pretty revolting and that Hilary would never stoop this low. The jabber about Wilson’s hotheaded immaturity obfuscates the gesture’s poignancy in characterizing the blatant hatred for immigrants there is in this country where over 46% of the voters did not choose Obama. This contempt is directed at ILLEGAL immigrants publicly. Of course that is not the IT of it and the IT of it is mired with racism. I am nonplussed by Wilson’s outburst but I am made bitter by Obama’s wussy pandering.

We are arrive at Julia’s for dinner to discover that our hostess is covering a nursing shift for her A.L.S. stricken mom, who is adamant about remaining in her home. My own mother at least has no say in where she is to be cared for. Actually, I don’t much either because Medicare has no coverage for Alzheimer’s residential care. Mom has been wandering at night and becoming agitated and waking up everyone else. There is a message on the machine from her former residence that the police have picked her up wandering and confused and found the old joint’s brochure in her purse. I call her current facility and find she is safely ensconced there and I do not make a fuss. I have dropped by unexpectedly and have consistently found her being lavished with care. I know how treacherous she can be and I ask for no elaboration about the escape incident. I notice the house is newly fitted with buzzers on every door and I trust the caretakers not to let it happen again.

I stop by the board and care to drop medication for my mom on my way to work several mornings each week. I have already done several hours of work at home before I arrive there and the time of my arrival at the office is of no real import. When I drop her meds, the attendant asks me if I want to come in and say hello to her, I lie and say that I am late for work. I see my mother on the weekends, every weekend that I am in town. I bring her ice cream, cookies, candy and makeup. I try not to go alone and either drag Richard or one of both of the boys. Turner Classic Movies is usually on the big t.v. and the two or three other residents sit in their assigned recliners, laps quilted. There is a turnover in residents that remains unmentioned. I ask my mother a few questions, confer with the caretaker and then we watch TV. I log an average of 45 minutes a week visiting time. Julia spends hours every week ministering to her mother’s every physical need but I cannot bear to sit on a couch and watch an old movie with mine for an hour.

I bring my mom a box of brownies and cookies that I baked. She eats a brownie with relish but keeps glaring at the cookie. “That doesn’t look very good.” It has a powered sugar icing which I have forgotten she dislikes. Richard tells her that I’d baked the cookies but this is beyond her realm of possibility. She attempts to scrape the frosting from the cookie with a fork but decimates it in the process. Then, she offers the plate of crumbs to us about a dozen times and each time we refuse, she approves. “It wasn’t very good anyway.” She compliments my fair skin and my profile and notes that my hair is becoming gray. She remembers that I am left handed. She asks the sixteen year old his age and insists that I am only a few years older. We tell her that I am his mother. She waves her hand. This is ridiculous. She introduces me as her daughter. I am curious about what she understands that to be.

Given my mother’s recent agitation there has been an adjustment in her medication. A new sedative has been ordered. It is covered neither by Medicare or her supplemental policy. The price is $257.00 for a thirty day supply. I ask her physician if there is another medication that might be less expensive and he prescribes exactly the same medication in a higher dosage. It is covered by Medicare and the co-payment is $11.00. I wonder how consistent this coverage only for high dosages is and if it has any bearing on the huge number of the elderly who suffer from overmedication.

Many of the most vocal opponents of universal health coverage are Medicare recipients and this and Social Security are sacred and I hope to live long enough to avail myself of both. For the greater common good though, these should not be guaranteed entitlements and the extremely wealthy would not suffer at the loss of them. David Goldhill challenges our philosophy about Health Care in an excellent Atlantic piece “How American Health Care Killed My Father.”

Goldhill proposes that all but catastrophic health insurance coverage be abolished. The government would issue each citizen a coupon for a physical examination every two years. Routine and minor healthcare costs would be borne by individuals and every American would contribute to a medical savings plan. The government would subsidize routine expenses for those unable to pay for them. Every individual would be required to maintain a balance, determined by age, in a heath care savings account. Loans would be made against future deposits when necessary. The government would supplement the required balance on an as needed basis. There would be a ceiling placed on each account based on age and owners would be able to withdraw and use freely any amount in excess of this and account balance upon death would be dispersed as inheritance. This seems reasonable as it is predicted that based on the current structure, by 2083 the cost of administering Medicare alone will consume 11.4% of the Gross National Product.

Eight years ago I was stopped in traffic in front of the Pancake House on Figueroa taking the kids to school and I heard an odd news flash about the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I called home and told Himself to turn on the TV. I dropped the kids at school and then sat slack jawed in front of the set at the office until it was time to fetch them. I must have said something to the boys about it but I can’t remember what it was and know only, because even now eight years later I have no words befitting the scope of 9/11, that I must have been ineffectual.

It has been two years since the death of my father. His neat printing on film cases and film notes and shot lists fills the office and I feel unworthy to be his daughter every time I take up a pen and struggle to make my childish scrawl tidy and legible. I am glad for both of my parents that neither will witness financial conditions that hover perilously close to those of the Depression which wounded them both in ways I can only barely glean. I mocked and derided their frugality and while I would spare them both this current terror, if a magic wand could give me one moment of parental lucidity, I would apologize for my failure to respect and understand the poverty that formed them.

Kismet has sent me for my very own, to have and to hold, the most pessimistic person on the face of the planet. I intuited early on that it is our destiny that my optimistic disposition balance his gloomy outlook. I keep him from opening a vein in despair and he keeps me real and from becoming a superficial ninny. This year though has proven a challenge and it is a struggle to keep the realness from kicking the sunny optimism in the ass. I need to be reillusioned. I need Obama to do something really brave and ballsy. I need to make payroll. I need my thighs to transform while I sleep without the pain and expense of plastic surgery. I need an ironclad guarantee signed by God that my children will never, faced with the prospect of seeing me, become sick in the pit of their stomachs.

Like nearly every Friday for over three years, I have come to the last paragraph, the harbinger of week’s end and my first ritual towards the creation of Shabbat. This is where I tie everything together and try to finesse, from all the shit I rant about, a message of hope for myself and the few patient readers who get this far. I will proofread one more time and hope that a title presents itself and I can find a complimentary illustration. I will push the publish button and then clean out the office coffee maker and empty the wastebaskets. The computer is turned off and the alarm and answering machine turned on. I stop for a challah. I arrive home to find the table set for Shabbat but, ostensibly to complete work, I log on to the computer instead of starting dinner. There is very seldom e-mail of importance at 6 p.m. Friday but I check for my beloved’s comments on my blog. It embarrasses me how important this is to me but the satisfaction and comfort I get from his recognition of my life and my ideas , in a world that feels more and more hopeless and torn apart, is constant and solid and I realize as I tweak this sentence, a blessing greater than anything I could have dreamed of. To have this makes it not seem stupid to be filled, despite the fucking nightmare of a world, with hope. A brief comment a few lines below this one is what sustains me and with this I am able to truly breathe out, and then in, when we light the candles and our day of rest begins.

Shabbat Shalom

1 comment:

FionnchĂș said...

Actually I was getting dinner ready while messing with the clicker to light the oven, fussing about Niall's three neighbor kids suddenly in the living room, enduring the new Jay-Z CD he bought, checking my e-mail and classes that I must log into, and handling the sonic boom that got them all bothered; I'd figured it was them banging around. It was the return of a space shuttle, apparently necessary due to weather, but this being Patriot Day, I guess they were spooked.

Well, as I've said, with O. taking his $19 million for his personal campaign last autumn, I am not surprised about his capitulation. As with campaign finance reform, which being co-sponsored by McCain I suppose did not merit O's cooperation during the race, we are in deeper hock than ever to corporate, Chinese, and nefarious assorted "investors" in what purports to be our public sector. Our poverty rate's rising, too.

The system's so big, so global, and so intertwined that nation-states seem puny next to multinational firms upon which the sun never sets. I hope by the time we all get old that there will be reform, but given how many more of us there will be than there are elderly now needing expensive care, I despair at how we will sustain our own expensive golden years without, yes, rationing.

We seem to always grow up no matter our generation in the best of and the worst of times. At least you are there to watch them pass and keep me company as the time passes into whatever uncertain future we face together. Sorry I missed the 6 p.m. deadline but I was getting the fixins ready for the dinner you served, thanks to your skilled and my unskilled labor. xxx me