Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Art of Doubt

OK, stop.

Last night at dinner, I was informed that women aren't capable of being president. They're too emotional, I was told. They're too compassionate.

No, I wasn't trapped in a wrinkle in time. I checked, and it was still 2009. Now, from certain underdeveloped ignoramuses, all of them under the age of 18 and male, I expect this sort of thing. I do have two teenage boys, after all, and know how their little brains work.

But this was my 15-year-old stepdaughter, reporting out on a debate she'd just had in her social studies class. As noted, she assumed the "we gals are just too weak and emotional to be in charge of anything really important" position, while another girl - "a wicked feminist" - refused to budge from on her position that women can be just as sensible as men. Remembering this girl's words, my stepdaughter rolled her eyes.

When I could speak again, I asked how she could possibly feel this way. She is, after all, one of the most defiant individuals on the planet, as her teachers constantly tell us. "Look at Nancy Pelosi!" she practically shouted.

Huh? I told her Nancy Pelosi was tough as nails and I'd hate to meet her in a dark alley. Her father said he's always admired Margaret Thatcher. I brought up Indira Gandhi. He mentioned Benazir Bhutto. I threw in Hillary Clinton and, digging down a little, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. But our little pumpkin remained unconvinced.

So my question remains: Where is this coming from? Are we as humans destined to relive all the turgid social arguments of the past, ad infinitum, until the sun explodes?

Unfortunately, having seen how children develop their views, I already know the answer to this. And the answer is yes. Teen boys are all bluster, and, though annoying, perhaps it's a good thing. Why wave a white flag of personal weakness in front of friends and enemies alike? Self-understanding can come later; teen and young adulthood is a time for courage.

But teen girls dabble in the art of doubt and self-effacement, sometimes for effect, but often times as a strategy for life. Admit what I can't do, and no one will expect me do it.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Hater-Entertainment Complex

Tell me: is there any way - any freakin' way - to slow down and maybe even stop altogether the Radical Hate Train that pulls out of Fox News headquarters every day? Conspiracy? Facism? Nazism? Murder, mayhem, mass hysteria, totalitarianism? It's all there, piled high in big manure mountains, waiting to be tossed, shovelful by shovelful, to the sad, gullible masses. How easily those poor little impoverished souls can be manipulated. Me, me, me; I want more, more, more, and I don't care about anyone else. If you tell me I can't have more, I'll call you a villain and throw you out of office. If you tell me we can't go on spending this way, I'll call you Hitler and say you're trying to squirm out of what you owe me. If you tell me that as Americans, it's only right that we should talk about creating a sustainable system that's good for everyone, I'll say you're a socialist. If you say let's figure out a better way, you'll say government can't do anything right.

And politicians are the problem? How about the immature voter? And the hater-entertainers who feed them? What could be their rationale? What visceral fear motivates them? Terrorists outside the U.S. don't scare me half as much as the terrorists within.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health is the Problem, not the Solution

A newsletter I get, from Join Together, recently posted this article, about how some people think that the issue of personal responsibility should play a bigger role in the health care debate. Predictably - since this organization focuses on substance abuse and addiction - many readers cried foul, pointing out that addiction is a disease for which people can't be held responsible, at least not in the conventional way.

That question doesn't interest me near so much as the larger one of whether (or not) we're finally coming to understand that, in one way or another, we ALL pay for one another's health care. Yes, we're socialists, folks, whether we like it or not, whether or not the word makes us rip our eyes out and wail into the dark night. Therefore - because we're all unfortunately in it together - it would make sense for us to take some simple measures to keep ourselves healthy, not just for our own sake, but for society's sake as well. We can't avoid this distasteful financial intimacy, given that that's what insurance (public or private) is. Sorry, I'm just saying. It's not who issues the insurance. It's the very concept of insurance. You pay for mine, I pay for yours, and we all pay for the sickest. That's the way it is.

Anyway, in responding to the article, a woman named Carole points out that we're all just a bunch of goodie-two-shoers. It turns out that we can natter on about "prevention" and "responsibility" all we want, parrotting back the conventional wisdom about how health care reform will make everyone healthier and thus save us all a big pile of money. But NONE OF THAT'S TRUE, I now find out. Not seeing how it's healthy people (yes, HEALTHY people) who end up consuming the most medical care over a lifetime. It seems that, on the way to their high-cost nursing homes, they wheel their walkers over the corpses of those who died early from obesity or smoking - people who, in dying so prematurely, thoughtfully saved us a lot of dough.

So it's our relative health and lengthening lifespans that's the problem, eh? What do we do with this perhaps obvious bit of information? Encourage smoking and the consumption of trunk-loads of junk food? Well, maybe not. But since we've been hurtling toward this point for at least a century, it seems time that somebody dare utter it: we can't afford the long (and at the end, unhealthy and costly) lives we've granted ourselves. And making ourselves still MORE healthy isn't going to help; quite the opposite, conceivably. (Yes, I know. Healthy people are productive and pay taxes. Sick people on disability don't. That's another discussion). What now?

A New Job for Sarah

I hate people. No, it's not the first time it's occurred to me. It's just that this summer has been so completely depressing. I'm actually beginning to develop a conservative-like disdain of the Ideas of Others. Blah, blah, blah, they say. Blah, blah, blah. I'm supposed to be open-minded and patient; such are perhaps the only true virtues of the more liberal-minded. But, I'm tired of it all. Euthanize? There are several subpopulations of our society I'd love to euthanize, and whose timely death would, I think, only enhance our social discourse (not to mention our balance sheet). So run, ignoramuses, run. Sarah Palin, grab your high-powered, antelope-size rifle, board your helicopter, and turn your hand to the really important work of America. Come on, I know you can do it.

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