Wednesday, November 16, 2016

4 years to do the right thing

I was  surprised on election night  that  Donald Trump actually made it into the white house. Horrified actually.   He is the type of person  that  makes my  hand itch with the desire to punch him in the face every he opens his mouth. He  is  everything I detest. He is thoughtless, inconsiderate and lacks compassion for the  human condition.  He's  a bored billionaire  with a dimwitted trophy wife   that wanted to add  'and the president of the united states'   to  his  Wikipedia page.  To be perfectly honest , I think it is embarrassing to have a president that was once a  trashy reality tv star.  All that said... He is now the  duly and legally elected  leader of America.   I have a lot of faith in this country and its people. I am unwilling to label  all the folks who voted for him  as racist, sexist, homophobes.  But I do  want to know why so many would  choose someone that is so obviously unqualified for  the job.  Someone who is so far  outside the establishment. ... Why?     As has become my habit over the last 30 years when I am faced with a conflict, I  always  look to home first. I  always  turn inward and examine  what I am doing  that contributes to the problem. I examine my own culpability.    So, that is what I am trying to do now.  I'm bringing it home.
Its very easy for us, up here in our beautiful pacific nw, to judge others for the choice that was made.  We are  oh so enlightened.  We are so accepting and  tolerant of  diversity.... as long as  the diversity is in a category  that we like.  But if you want to see the  tolerance and compassion go out the  window   just put a poor person in the  room (any color, gender, sexual orientation).      We have no tolerance for poverty or those who live in it or near it.   Unfortunately  having a job, any job, is no longer a ticket out of  poverty.   We have no respect for people  in the service industry. Which , by the way, makes up the majority of jobs in WA  state.    I can not tell you how many times I have heard   he or she is  'just' a server, mechanic, housekeeper etc,   as if having a lower wage job makes some one a lower class person.   With the emphasis on class.   We may not  discount  the person of color next to us or  the lgbt person(s) but  the   person  handing you your change at the drive through window is invisible.  Its ok to bulldoze their home and put up luxury apartments or condos  . Cuz they can 'go some where else'  (sound familiar?)   If they cant afford  to live where they work well, they can  get a better job.    Yep, we have our own brand of  bigotry and intolerance up here.        We can say that we voted the right way and  didn't contribute to the  left losing  in the federal election  but, we did.   Not yesterday but quietly  over the last few years we have  allowed some reprehensible  things to happen in our state in the name of obscene profit.  Before we can wag a finger at the rest of the country for desperately  trying to achieve change in their circumstances,  we need to fix our  own problems...... Or  4 years from now  the wave of  anger  that took the white  house   will be a tsunami that we cant escape.

  We in Washington State on the right, on the left and in the middle are a pretty enlightened bunch.  We  regularly  buck the feds  in a big way when we know what is right for our people. We have passed  a lot of legislation  for individual rights. We are good that way.   And then we pat ourselves on the back and take a nap.  Over the last 4  years while we were enjoying our celebratory  snooze I5  has become lined with homeless encampments, many of whom    were priced out of  their homes by runaway  rent  increases.    While we voted to increase the minimum wage in our state, we did nothing to stop   skyrocketing housing prices.   We still allow landlords  to  raise rents by astronomical numbers that  they choose, at the time they choose to do it.   Those tents, contrary to popular belief, are not all housing drug addicts. Many are housing working people  whose incomes simply couldn't  keep up with the cost of egregious rent increases.   I have a friend who gave me permission to use her  circumstances here.  She has a good job  working for a very respectable institution.  She  gets  a 2 to 3 %  cost of living raise every year.  Her rent  over the last five years has increased  12% a year.  The next  rent increase of 12% will put her into critical  failure.   Please don't respond with  'move', 'get a better job', 'get a better education', 'make better choices'  She has two degrees and has held her current position for several years.  She already lives in a tiny studio apartment.   She is one of the luckier ones because her  housing costs are not increasing by 30, 50  or 100 percent a year .  She is one of thousands  that our state is failing. That we are failing.

Then lets talk about the  drug addicts in the homeless camps  and opioid  addiction  in our state.  There is this idea  that all  drug addicts are  strung out meth heads or  needle  littering heroine junkies  that CHOSE to be addicts, that chose the lifestyle.  The sad fact is that enormous numbers of people in Washington state are addicted to pharmacological  opioids.    This can be laid  on the doorstep of big pharma.  They made a huge political  push  about 15 years  ago to  loosen the regulations  on class 3  drugs so they could more widely distribute them.  Then they  created an entire industry around them called 'pain management'.  Today , getting a prescription for an extremely  addictive  pain killer   is easier than   getting  a prescription for antibiotics.   In the name of profit we  have allowed big pharma to unleash a demon in our state.   When the problems associated with  addiction  become  evident we blame  the addict  who in the beginning was, most likely,  simply a patient , an individual who trusted  their  health care provider.    We let this happen by letting profit come first.

We all know that  our health care system is a nightmare. It is completely out of control.  The access  to health care in our state is based on  how much money you can pay insurance and health care providers.  Health care in our state is only available  to those who can pay.    Those who can pay  are coddled and swaddled  in the loving arms of the  medical industry ,their every need anticipated and met .  Those  who cant pay or those who cant pay as much?  ...  well, they can pretty much 'f*&k off  and die.  We need to create a single payer system in this state that bypasses  the  for profit, traded on wall street, insurance  companies.  We need a  system that puts every penny paid into  taking care of  our people, not putting money into shareholder pockets.  We need to push back at very greedy pharmaceutical  companies  that have raised prices  astronomically  on  essential lifesaving drugs like  insulin  and asthma inhalers.  If this means  turning to Canadian or Mexican  pharmaceutical suppliers , then so be it. Everything else in America is produced in other countries to  cut costs, there is no reason why we cant take our business  across the border.

Better jobs.  We have  enough  service position  jobs.  We have enough  high paying tech jobs. What we don't have are enough mid level  manufacturing/production jobs that pay a living wage. 

We need to stop runaway development  and foreign  real estate investors from pushing  more and more of our people into poverty. We need to stop the medical industry from pushing more and more of our people into poverty. We need to stop our  cities, counties and state from putting  'tax revenue'  before the  quality of life of our people and pushing more and more of them into poverty.  We need to  take social responsibility for  where we live. We can not keep  pushing  out an entire  segment of our population and we  can not  continue to allow policies that  increase  that population. .  We have work to do.  Rioting in the streets and posting on social media about how unhappy  we are  with the newly (and let me add again  LEGALLY) elected  administration is pointless.  Standing up and doing the right thing where we  live  is the  only available action to us that  can bring a positive outcome  to all this divisiveness.

We cant  do anything about  who was elected POTUS for at least 4 years.   That gives us 4 years to  change how ALL of  the  people  of Washington State are treated. 4 years to insure  a good quality of life for all of our people. 4 years to set an example for the rest of the country to follow.  4 years to  abolish  the messed up class system that  has  divided us all.   Four years  to even out the egregious  income disparity  that is growing daily.  4 years to set an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Can we do it? Yes.   It wouldn't be the first time in the history of Washington State  that we smiled sweetly, gave the feds the finger and did  the right thing.     The very first time we did it was in 1856.    The last time we did it  was 2012.   In the last 163 years  we have defied the feds  on 12 occasions that I know about.  In each case  other states followed our example.  And they will again if we do the right thing.

(Inane little chicken reports will return next blog)