Archive for November, 2008

JK,OMGLOL – Healthcare Edition

Let’s talk irony, shall we?  Since we’re already in the mood.

Let’s say I was at work this past week, with a particular client that I see all the time, who happens to be in the healthcare industry.  I like this client very much, he is something like a friend to me but we still keep it formal, as is necessary because of the nature of our relationship.  Keep in mind, however, that even though I have great affection for this customer, we have already identified each others political leanings, and each of us has found the other wanting in that regard.  He is a classical conservative, whereas I am pretty much a modern liberal.  No worries, we leave all that at the door and have a good time anyway, which to me has always been a hopeful reminder that in America, even your worst political enemy can be a friend.

Well, anyway, the topic of healthcare came up as I knew it would eventually, being that this customer’s field is healthcare – let’s say he makes the widgets that connect to the sprockets on hospital beds.  Well, I was curious about his opinion of the appointment of Tom Daschle as Secretary of Heath & Human Services, figuring he would tell me the guy was a loser or whatever. Here’s our conversation in a nutshell:

“So, Tom Daschle, huh?  Remember him from the senate?”

“Sure, sure.  I think he’ll probably do a pretty good job of things.”

“Really?”

“Sure.  You know I voted for Obama this time around, and from what I can tell he…”

“You voted for Obama?”

“Well of course I did.   Look at what we do here – the current healthcare system is completely broken, especially here in our market.  I may not be for socialized medicine, but I tell you I have absolutely no problem with what Obama has been advancing – I see it as a win-win for businesses like ours, because even though our profit margin might recede, our market stands to increase far above whatever loss of profit we might encounter.”

What a cynical thing to say, right?  Well of course there was more to it than that.  As it turns out, this guy has had a bone to pick with private insurance for many years, and not just because of his shrinking “market”, but rather because he has found himself relegated by the insurance companies to be the bearer of bad news to patients when their healthcare provider decides to stop covering the services he provides to them, and it turns out that, wouldn’t you know it, that bothers a guy deep down inside after some years.  Well, good on him for having a heart, but there was still a whiff of irony in the air after we talked, and I think we both knew it.

See, it’s very simple:  Democrats and Republicans skate figure eights around each other on the concept of what constitutes compassionate policy-making.

Your poster-boy Republican has no time for the notion that God has no plan for the poor (of course He does!), because then he would have to admit that in fact this IS IN FACT a dog-eat-dog world, a world in which social programs might be necessary for those of us who have lost years of our lives and countless thousands of dollars to health issues.  So whereas it is PERCEIVED that the Democrats are a bunch of godless idiots just salivating at the prospect of wasting taxpayer dollars, the reality is that it is the Republicans who have always taken the more Darwinian policy approach, couched under mature-sounding terms such as “accountability” and “personal responsibility”.  No doubt their supposed espousal of free market principles speaks volumes about this as well.  And isn’t that ironic, too, that the rightmost wing of the party who would seek to limit our understanding of the way in which life unfolds (evolution), would also be the party that ultimately seeks to play that scenario out to its fullest extent?  I’ve always found one of the most courageous things about being a Democrat is that each of us is at some point forced to look at the world around us and say “You know, things are not exactly how I was taught when I was sitting in Sunday school class.” But democrats are the ones who cling hardest to that very vision, a sort of ideals-friendly world where nothing is perfect but everything is in process, and things are capable of changing if we take a stand.  That is the very reason I vote as I do.  Not to make government bigger, but to make wars less deadly, to make people less hungry, and to give everybody a fair chance at making something of themselves.  My fucking tax bracket has nothing to do with it, and it never will.

I have been studying for my MCSA exams for quite some time now, and you know, I don’t do it because it makes me happy.  I do it because I want to make more money, I want greater responsibility, and I want a chance to learn as much as I can, as I toil in the industry of my choosing (IT management).  I can make this happen, I know it, and as far as I can see, I know that one day very soon I will have that new certification, and even more besides.  But that is as far as I can go, that is the one variable I really control.  I don’t have healthcare insurance and I cannot will myself to be able to afford it, so I’m relying on luck, God’s grace, and the direction of the wind to make sure that nothing goes wrong on that front, whether it’s me, my wife or my kids.  It’s a gamble and a gamble I live in daily fear of losing.   I hate to think that because I waited to get health insurance, we were too late to find out that one of the kids has cancer, and he dies because of it, but what else is there to do for us?  We are not poor enough for Medicare, and we’re not rich enough for private insurance  These are just the pure, cold, hard, and yes, Darwinian facts of our lives.  As a Democrat I strive to lessen the encroachment of that coldness, and though it might be a losing battle, it’s one that is worth fighting.

The thing neither side really wants to admit is, we only have so much money to spend here, no matter what our goals are.  I personally would rather give my tax dollars to make sure that everyone in the country gets access to health and dentistry services, rather than continue to fund the monstrosity that is our military-industrial complex.  You may disagree with me on exactly HOW MUCH money should go to WHICH PART of the military, but no one can deny that the Boeings and Lockheeds of the world have far too much influence on our yearly budget.  Our budget should always be determined by our policy needs, not the need to reach some company’s bottom line projection, but that just isn’t the case right now, and really hasn’t been since the end of World War II.

One of my favorite Republicans, Dwight Eisenhower, had this to say about our rampant funding of the military:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

And perhaps the world’s first true liberal, Jesus Christ, had this to say about folks like me:

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

I Don’t Thaink I Like Yor Tone, Boy

said Joe Bob in the low-buzz of his grizzled fury, as he broke open the neck of his Natural Light beer bottle against the corner of the blue-tiled bar and brandished it my way, finally revealing the teeth of his argument.

I’m rethinking the parameters of the blog because

  • I’m bored with politics
  • I’m not exactly getting any real readership
  • I’m unsure how personal I wanna get with this thing; contemplating the proposition that I could just simply let it all hang out, even with my name exposed – I do have future employers to worry about.

Oh yes, one thing:  I passed my third MCSA exam, the 70-290 Server 2003 exam.

It was very hard, and I pulled a short-form adaptive exam (only 30 questions, yikes), which made it harder still but I scraped by with the equivalent of a C.  It might not have been the ace I was expecting but, frankly, I’m just glad to have seen the other side of it and to start looking forward to my final test.  I’ve only got until February 29th to finish the last one, or else I will not receive the discount I signed up for, so the next couple of months are going to be hurried and tense.

Will it be worth it?  I think at some point, yes, although this is hardly a employees market right now, and I have no desire to strike out on my own.  Still, one day I think it will lead me a little further up the chain.

More later, must drink beer.

Too much [lame metaphor]

We are all going down.

I am referring, of course, to the fact that the S&P 500 has hit it’s lowest percentage drop in………well, it’s lowest ever.   (The S&P Index wasn’t around for the depression, but even the DOW is on track for beating out the first year of the depression in raw loss percentages, as the DOW is down almost 50 percent from September 2007, when it briefly hit 14000.)

Daytraders, high flying entrepreneurs, IT people, office administrators………soon we’ll all be garbagemen, picking up what’s left from when times were better.

Except it won’t really happen that way.  And you know, it might be better if it did, because what we are essentially going to see once all the smoke clears from what has happened in the securities market is very similar to what we have today.  The stakes might be ever smaller…perhaps “the Donald” Trump will be reduced one day to showing off his new Trump Cardboard Casino Playset, instead of the real thing, but make no mistake…….the rich might briefly stop getting richer, but it will be brief, it will be underplayed, and it will be in the end but a preface to the next great widening of the class gap.  Because those who have ANYTHING left when this is all over will be the ones who had the most when it all began.

Good News Is No News

Still here.

Still studying for my Server 2003 core exam, coming up five days from now.

Still poor, but damn, it could be worse.

Spent last weekend in Alabammy, paying respects to family who came out to see Gramps after he gave up the ghost the other day.  It was sad as usual to see my extended family, and just to see the overall state of the connections I once had with people who I now only vaguely recognize as being part of the brood.  Time, distance, and wildly different demographics will do that to one’s regard for nearly anybody. It was great to see my Mom’s Mom, our beloved Granny Monk, who at 83 is still up and at ’em, still busy selling herself short but not letting that stop her from busting ass on the family front.  I didn’t realize until spending a couple of nights with her, that lo and behold, my entire clothes-washing technique was completely wrong.  She quickly set me to rights, however, and after a brief penance I may one day try to wash my clothes unaided once more.

My sis also got married (again) in the past week of all these other goings on.  God love her, she doesn’t really stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being happily married but she’s determined to try it again, and I guess in light of recent events, good on her for giving it another shot.  We’ll all still be here – minus one unhappy ex-husband – when it doesn’t work out.  Not to be prophetic, but…….it doesn’t take Nostradamus to see through this particular tunnel of time.

Enough with the family abrasions for today.

Timing…

Timing is everything.

Had a good chat with one of my BFATs (best friends of all time) for a few minutes on the outside of a hospice I figured I would get to know pretty well (much to my chagrin), then talked with Mom about the situation with my Grandfather.

I walked in the room and it was like WHOOSH, Death is on His way here. SOON. A moment’s dread: I might have let Him in with me when I opened the door. This sort of reckoning is new to me, and no surprise: we insulate ourselves from death as much as we possibly can.  (Why do we do this?  To make it even harder when it happens?) Oh, but we know it happens.  Deep down you can almost feel it as a part of the whirlwind of the aether around us, but we pin it down to the pegboard of science, or we pare it away even further as a part of fate or God’s plan.  Both viewpoints are chimeric, but the illusion of control or of understanding is what keeps us relatively at ease; you might say it keeps the tarp on the elephant in the room.

But nobody had any illusions here.

I go inside and spend a couple of hours with him, basically just talking to my careworn grandmother, trying to make some sort of sense out of the mess that life is (and always has been – it’s just more obvious right now), and secretly whispering to Gramps all the stuff I needed to say: love you, sorry to see you this way, it’s alright with me if you’re tired of hanging on, etc. God knows I would be tired too. He’s 83, which in today’s times doesn’t sound unspeakably ancient in the way it once did, but it’s like he’s been looking down the barrel of a gun for at least the past five years or so, just waiting it out.  So many setbacks.

First these mysterious seizures.  Almost total blindness, and hearing that probably would have failed even the shittiest quality control testing if he’d even bothered to care enough to check it out. Then, Alzheimer’s was confirmed, and ONLY THEN did it all start rolling downhill.  So, would YOU want to stick around and see what’s around the corner?

I love life.   LOVE IT.  Fucking can’t get enough of that sweet sweet stuff, etc.  I really mean it.  But I wouldn’t wish this kind of life on anybody. Not on Hitler, even, to throw out an old cliched demon of times long past.

Finally, I say my goodbyes, some more meaningful than others, get back in my shitty car (which was recently broken into, so now my soft top has a nice airy rip in it to keep me from being too warm in that motherfucker) and go home. Told Grandmother I would see her here tomorrow at the same time.  Inside I was wondering, will I really?

I wasn’t actually there when it happened. I had just gotten in the house and barely scarfed down dinner when Mom called with the news: he’s gone.  The mortal coil of a once-great man, shuffled off probably as I was yelling at my kids to shut up so I could hear the TV. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not a recrimination: this stuff happens all the time: amid the daily trappings of life, there is death, and let there be no mistake. But now, I wish I had stayed just a little longer. To bear witness. To say, Salut!, or fare thee well, or goodnight sweet prince, perhaps.

Anyway, he’s gone, our family is smaller, Grandmother is beside herself with grief, as is only cruelly natural, but at least this tormented but to-the-end gentle giant of a man is finally at peace, and for that I am glad.

Love to you always, wherever you have gone.

My new president is hopefully yours too.

It was a scary rollercoaster ride, the past few months, but it was fun at times.  The end result:

Insert inspiring and gracious comment here.

Insert inspiring and gracious comment here.

Not much to say about it, just happy that it happened, and happy that I can go back to my life before this election cycle began some SEVEN THOUSAND YEARS AGO.

Also, to Republicans:  I feel you.  I really do.  I’ve been there too, for many years now.  Not to worry, we’ll fuck it all up for you eventually.  But for now, at least, give us a few moments to enjoy it.

Thanks.


November 2008
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Currently Reading:

Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame - Charles Bukowski

Currently Listening:

Mr. Bungle - California

Why, yes, I am cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.

You lika de juice????