Friday, February 19, 2010

A Letter to the Editor:

Do you read the daily Letters to the Editor in your newspaper? Well, I read one last week that ruffled my feathers a little bit. The writer complained that because the President is on TV so often, he feels like he’s living in a Third World country. It seemed like a strange complaint so I wrote the following Letter to the Editor (Tacoma News Tribune) which they printed a few days later (2/10):

A reader recently wrote that because Barack Obama is seemingly “on TV daily” he’s “beginning to realize what it feel’s like to live in a Third World country.” A third world country? Really? We have groups of people organized to do nothing but trash our president 24/7. People who are not only free to express their opinions, but are free to make up their own “facts.” So called “facts” often based on politics, hatred and fear rather than reality; fueled by corporate interests, along with second and third generation millionaires and billionaires who stoke the fires of ignorance in order to further their cause of power and self-reward, at the exclusion of those of us who must work (if we can find work) to survive. We even have an entire pseudo-news network dedicated exclusively to this cause. Would this be allowed in the third world country? If you want to call us a third world country, call us one for relying on the outside world by exporting our raw materials, and importing finished goods like real third world countries do. Call us a third world country for making medical care a privilege rather than a right, while giving corporations the right to profit by gouging consumers for needed medical care and to profit even further by denying that same care when it suits their bottom line. Maybe becoming a Third World country is what our president is trying to save us from.

That letter set off a barrage of comments on the Tribune’s website, most of which were very unhappy with my letter. So unhappy that several of their comments were removed by the paper for being too “abusive.” While most of the 110 comments were negative, here’s one of the few that defended my viewpoint:

“Randy, this is one of the best letters that I've read in awhile! Each and every post proves your point! Sad to say, however, that some of the entertainment value in the different post are over shadowed by the hatred, ignorance and racism in other post, which really comes back to your main point, which is that "people are not only free to express their opinions, they are free to make up their own Facts." And I might add that people are also free to live their miserable, hate filled lives, as evidenced by some of the fine comments on here.”

Well, in the end, I had to leave one last comment of my own on the website:

It’s a shame that we’re so easily polarized by buzz words, and that we so quickly turn to name-calling instead of thoughtful problem solving in this country (and I mean that at every level, from our Congress to our blogs, to our dinner tables.) Single-payer has become such a loaded term these days. To some, single-payer = Socialism = Communism = Fascism = Liberal = Democrat. Have we forgotten what these terms really mean? Do we care anymore, or are they just words to sling back and forth at each other like mud? Is a single-payer system really evil in all cases, or is it in some cases a reasonable option? Isn’t it in some ways a sort of reverse monopoly? A monopoly that benefits people, rather than corporations by replacing several for profit companies with one non-profit government run (ie. citizen run) entity. For many enterprises this would be a terrible option (I am not anti-capitalism, just anti laissez-faire capitalism,) but in some cases it just might be worth considering. Do we like our single-payer military protecting our shores? Do we like our single-payer fire departments protecting our homes? Do we like our single-payer police departments protecting our property? Shouldn’t we at least consider a single-payer basic health insurance to protect our very lives? For some reason we start screaming “Socialism” at the very thought of it, yet our military, our fire departments, and our police departments are all “social” programs that few of us would want to privatize and turn into for profit enterprises. I don’t want to have to pay private companies to protect my home from fire, my children from being assaulted, or my shores from being invaded. Sure I can pay for “extra” protection if I feel the need and have the means to do so, but for the basics I kind of like having those aforementioned American institutions standing at the ready in case I need them. And by the way, private insurance companies will still be able to make billions of dollars each year by insuring all kinds of valuable “things” that need insuring, but lives are not “things” and one person’s death, shouldn’t be another person’s performance bonus (at least I don’t think it should be.)