Remembering Who We Are

The following is an editorial. I fully accept that anything can happen and none of my concerns may come to pass or the entire enchilada goes up in flames. Who knows? Just making notes; not an argument.

It has been particularly overwhelming. Everything is being shuffled, gagged, depreciated, or defunded – EPA, ARA, FDA, USDA, CDC, ACA, and more every day. By the end of the week I expect they will run out of departments to shut down or disconnect from the people.

I don’t think any of these departments were without issues but, by and large, they provided a decent watch over the American people. One needs to remember why we have such institutions. Recall, before the FDA there was cocaine in the soda and arsenic in the wallpaper; morphine was an ingredient in cough syrup for kids. And, when industry hurt the worker, these entities would step in and provide support so people were compensation for their pain, suffering, or the loss of loved ones. Think we don’t need regulations? Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory? As a history nerd, I read a lot about how things were. Maybe people have forgotten? Perhaps the ability of these institutions has been so successful that we forget what they do to help us.

In any case, a few prevailing themes are coming to light.

One, this administration doesn’t want the public to know what it’s up to. They certainly don’t want to hear what we think about it. The White House telephone line for the public has been turned off. Many pages on their website cease to be. When asked direct questions, representatives dodge the answer or provide fuzzy responses. Just about everything they tell us can be disputed by fact-checkers. And they are asking us to believe those lies, disproved by the fact-checkers, calling them “alternate facts.”

Two, this administration is very pro-business. The president has committed to reducing regulations by 75%. This will include labor laws, environmental protection laws, worker safety laws, and financial regulations. This will allow business to proceed forward without having to worry about such pesky hindrances and fair wages or health plans or worker safety. There will be no safeguards for the consumer. The people will be forced to accept anything that results in a higher profit. People will have to cobble together two or three, temporary jobs just to make ends meet. If you do get paid enough, you will have no guarantee of another similar secure job once your contract ends. It will be the gig economy gone wild. Thankfully project managers are the relatively flexible sort, but the idea of having to look for a new job every couple of years is daunting.

Three, this administration believes that healthcare should be paid for by the individual. If they can’t afford it, too bad. If they’re old, too bad. If they’re young, too bad. If they’re disabled, too bad. You are on your own. No help from the federal government, no help from local government, and no help from your employer. If you can get into a union – you might be spared. This self reliance doesn’t come with equal requirements that the health care providers charge affordable rates. Nope – the burden is entirely on the patient to negotiate a rate and pay out of pocket. If you don’t have the savings to do so, you don’t get care. High-risk, a.k.a. expensive things like pregnancy, no longer have to be covered by insurance (see legislation just passed in Minnesota). I foresee this becoming a plan of attack on a national level. The most vulnerable citizens will be left without care. From a business perspective, it makes sense to keep premiums down by getting rid of the expensive services – offer fewer services, lower the premium enough to get people to shut up, and raise those profit margins sky-high along with juicy executive compensation. (http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/compensation-issues/20-highest-paid-healthcare-ceos-in-2015.html)

Four, this administration will be highly isolationist with a focus on white-supremacy-oriented nationalist views. There aren’t advisers at the White House from minority groups but there is one from the white-nationalist group. (Bannon – Counselor to the President of the United States, former founding member of the board of Breitbart News, known outlet for the white nationalist’s ‘alt right’ – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Bannon) It was evident in the inauguration speech and the rampant use of “American First.” We should endeavor for others to call us first because we’ve earned it. You don’t get to be first just because you declare it.

Five, this administration will have the audacity to expect nations to renegotiate trade deals in our favor at great disadvantage to themselves. I project several countries telling us to go scratch. Increased import taxes will cause the prices of consumer goods to skyrocket. Places that sell a lot of imported goods, such as Walmart, where incidentally many lower class people shop because it’s inexpensive, are going to be hit hard, which will translate into higher prices. The poor will carry the burden.

Six, the environment is going to take a big hit. The problems with lead in the water at Flint Michigan are just the tip of the iceberg. The administration does not believe in science-based fact and denies the urgency of climate change.

Seven, beware of jobs creation. The most recent use of this misdirection is the approval of the Dakota Pipeline saying that it’ll put tons of steel workers to work. First, the pipeline is just about complete so I doubt it. Second, the better approach would have been to say that when the pipeline ruptures, as they do, plenty of jobs will be created to clean up the mess. Steel workers need not apply. Under the guise of job creation, all manners of sins will be covered, when it’s convenient. For example, the hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost due to the repeal of ACA is a footnote. But, creating jobs while destroying the environment is OK. Or creating jobs where the workers will be paid a minimum wage they can’t live on is also OK.

I could go on and on and on. Literally every hour something new happens. Something unbelievable. Something that undermines the founding ideals of the country; the ones that made this country a pretty cool place. Something that should make everyone nervous but just isn’t. And it’s pervasive – people flat out saying I haven’t heard what I heard someone say directly. People saying something happened at an event I was at, that I clearly didn’t see, with my own two eyes. The expectation that I’m going to deny what I’ve seen and heard is a very scary expectation indeed. So here it goes. One story out of many. One perspective out of many.

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