President Obama Wants All of Us to Learn

I am equally concerned that a growing number of citizens are being spoon-fed their opinions from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck.

by David T. Bruce

obama-2009America has been divided for some time in terms of political agendas and in respect to opinions governing in what direction our country should grow, with Republicans and Democrats (and their constituents) often reaching an impasse, accomplishing nothing.  Yet the recent clash over President Obama’s scheduled address to school children is infantile at best, showing a lack of concern about issues that truly affect the nation as a whole.

I honestly doubt that the speech is an attempt to inject the federal government too far into public school business.  No Child Left Behind was such an attempt (and on many levels, a failed attempt), and other than school faculty and administration, I do not hear or read of the general public being outraged about that dandy piece of legislation.  In all likelihood, the opponents of the President’s address would say nothing, if the Commander-in-Chief were Republican, and vice-versa.

One woman interviewed by CNN stated that she is very scared to be in this country with the current leadership.  Was the administration of the past two terms satisfactory?  If so, then I am concerned about the population of this country who follow blindly, and I am equally concerned that a growing number of citizens are being spoon-fed their opinions from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck.  The President is not forcing anyone to watch his address at school, any more than citizens are forced to watch an address at home.

Are students compelled to watch; are they a captive audience?  Perhaps. Still, the Obama administration is making the speech available prior to the address for families to preview in advance. Doing so gives families the opportunity to discuss the speech and decide how the message relates to their values and beliefs. Damage control, for lack of a better term, may be initiated before the address. Making the speech available prior to the address also is a show of good intention by the administration, a gesture that seems intended to alleviate concerns that some socialist plot to brainwash our children is not happening without our knowledge.

Can we take the President at face value? I think we should try. Can we, for a moment, put our politics and biases aside, and imagine that a father of two daughters with the ability to positively affect the lives of all children might avail himself the opportunity? To those who would choose to raise hell over this one moment in time, please get a grip and get over yourselves. With the unemployment rate just shy of 10% and an economy knee-deep in recession, with a poverty rate at about 12% (according to 2007 statistics), and with over 15% of our population without health insurance coverage, our country is challenged with issues that affect us all far more than words of inspiration from of a man trying to put a positive spin on the future for our children.

Love It or Leave It

For whatever the reason, we the people have been negligent in upholding our end of the Constitution. We have a right – and a duty – to speak out. When we become fearful of doing so, we need to take a long look at our leaders and how they govern. We need to reestablish jurisdiction over our elected officials.

by David T. Bruce

dissent_fb_picThe American Revolution resulted from the efforts of the British government to subject the colonists to taxes and commerce polices that would help the government pay for the costs associated with the funding of the French and Indian War. These taxes and policies were an attempt to raise revenue by taxing colonists for such items as legal documents and tea. When the colonists objected, boycotted and revolted, the British government sought to take away the rights and privileges once afforded to the colonists. The two sides went to war. The colonists had the fortitude to say what the government was doing was wrong, and following a yearlong struggle, the colonists sent the British home. The United States was born of these events.

Comparable to many countries in the world, we have prospered as a nation. The United States has the largest economy and one of the highest incomes per capita. Compared to other nations, we lag behind in terms of health care with the highest obesity rate in the world and a mortality rate that does not even rank in the top 20.

During the Bush/Cheney administration, our nation became one that condoned torture, wire-tapping, and racial profiling. Were we to ask for a show of hands from individuals to determine who would support the aforementioned behaviors, few would do so. However, by our show of apathy, almost all of us are guilty as charged. As citizens, we have watched while justifications for war were concocted; we have silently stood witness as unemployment and inflation have increased at the same time as the salaries of government officials and corporate CEOs did the same.

Those that dared to speak out against improprieties at the beginning of the Bush/Cheney administration were often labeled unpatriotic. Those who disagreed with the wars in the Middle East were told love our country or leave it. What has changed in more than 225 years? Where is our outrage over a government that systematically chips away at the freedoms the original colonists fought to secure?

The colonists loved their new home; they fought and died to acquire the rights we now enjoy, rights that we seldom take advantage of for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. To stand up for the rights of an individual is to be patriotic. To bring attention to behaviors of government officials that go beyond the boundaries established by the Constitution is patriotic. We – the people – govern, and while anarchy is not desired, we, as citizens, have every right to defend our rights from those who might impede them, whether the perpetrators are foreign or domestic.

During the 2008 election year, many Americans spoke out against the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration by electing Barack Obama. As poignant and noteworthy this national epiphany was, a measure of frustration remains in that we, as a collective group, did not voice our opinions sooner. Some of us may have indeed been fearful. Others may have believed they had no choice. Still others may have looked the other way, lost in their day-to-day routines. For whatever the reason, we the people have been negligent in upholding our end of the Constitution. We have a right – and a duty – to speak out. When we become fearful of doing so, we need to take a long look at our leaders and how they govern. We need to reestablish jurisdiction over our elected officials.

Physical attacks – a literal revolution on the scale of the American Revolution – are certainly not the answer. Yet like those colonists willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believed was wrong, we must be able to sacrifice a part of us (whether that be a lifestyle change, time, or money) to change what we believe is wrong. We cannot continue to watch our government make ludicrous, expensive decisions on our behalf and then beg forgiveness and ask for our vote later. For the love of our country, we must speak out.

To love our country does not mean that we should follow our leaders as the country loses respect around the world. To love our country does not mean that we should remain silent as the government and business leaders of our country lead us to financial ruin. We must practice tough love. We should not have to leave because we disagree. We should hold our leaders accountable, make them pay for their choices, and send them packing when they don’t do their jobs.

American Healthcare Debate Is Sickening

Good for you who have found a means to make the American dream work in your favor. Shame on you who would damn your neighbor for not having the same benefit. What do you care that someone else would prefer an affordable option for health care, which allows for preventative care and affordable prescriptions?

by David T. Bruce

dollar-1175293_1280It doesn’t seem to make sense that a government operation automatically has the advantage of putting a privately owned enterprise out of business.  If this were the case, then the U.S. Postal Service would not be struggling.  The post office struggles because consumers perceive that the postal service is not providing a service that is comparable to various competitors: UPS, DHL, the Internet, etc.  Similarly, a government run healthcare program does not automatically have an advantage over services provided by various privately owned insurance companies. If the government provides a better service at a better cost than privately owned companies, subsequently putting some privately owned companies out of business, so be it. Frankly, I am tired of watching our government bail out companies and CEOs who fail at their jobs.  It is about time that the government bails out citizens for a change.

Unlike those responsible for the financial collapse of the recent past, those citizens without health insurance are not looking for handouts.   The uninsured are not asking for funding to make amends for poor or reckless business practices.  The uninsured are asking for a health insurance option that is affordable and not a measurement of a person’s social status or a way to line the pockets of an insurance company’s board of directors.  How can a person earning minimum wage hope to afford the cost of insurance from a company that is focused on earning a profit?

Good for you who have found a means to make the American dream work in your favor.  Shame on you who would damn your neighbor for not having the same benefit.  What do you care that someone else would prefer an affordable option for health care, which allows for preventative care and affordable prescriptions?  Many Americans can no more afford private health insurance today than they could afford a new car or new clothes.  A person cannot find insurance policies on a Goodwill clothing rack.  For those that concern themselves with the fiscal ramifications of a government-owned healthcare program, I have news for you.  Medicaid is paid for by taxes, and over 20 percent of the country is already living with a government operated healthcare program.  We have socialized medicine.  Yes, the government already provides some health insurance coverage, and the government dictates who will provide health care.  Incidentally, some insurance company policies dictate the same.  Get over it, and let us move past that particular label that is designed to strike fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere.

Our nation as a whole can only benefit if the majority of the population is healthy.  If a health care system exists that excludes any Americans from even the most trifling of care because of socio-economic status, then that system is flawed.  Many of our nation’s leaders recognize that their constituents are of no use to themselves, their families, or their country if they do not receive regular medical care.  On the other hand, many of our nation’s leaders recognize that their bread is buttered by health insurance companies.  I suspect that many of the people who are currently offended by the possibility of government intervention in the health insurance industry had no problem accepting checks resulting from the government stimulus package two years ago or consenting to the government bailouts that prevented further deterioration of the United States economy.

In 2007 approximately 1 in 5 persons in the United States was enrolled in Medicaid, a government sponsored healthcare program.  We need to stop worrying about the labels associated with government assistance and begin concerning ourselves with why (according to the World Health Organization) we spend more for health care than any country in the world yet rank 37 out of 191 countries in health care performance.  Everyone deserves basic health care, and no one has the right to deny that care: not insurance companies and not those waiting for the next stimulus check.

Modern-Day Pirates

Modern-Day Pirates

by David T. Bruce

We no longer hear because we no longer listen.
We no longer see because we no longer look.
We no longer wonder because we no longer care.
Deaf and blind are we.

Driven by greed,
we plunder for wealth.
we have lost much more than we have gained.
The true riches of life will not be found at the supermarket or in a mall.
Perhaps it is better to be dirt poor than filthy rich.

Behind a child’s eyes is the wonder of living,
the grandeur of being.
Capture that state!
Not another plot of land,
not another concrete possession,
not another way of life!

Value that which is yours by birth,
not that which you have bargained or looted for.
Of all the treasures we may covet,
our souls – our essence – are our most precious jewels.

A Civil(e) War

A Civil(e) War

by David T. Bruce

A civil(e) war rages on
On the home front still
So many hearts haven’t changed
Not really
So many still believing
Thejigsthespiksthejapsthegooksthequeers
Have a home not here

A civil(e) war rages on
Along the highways still
The Prius versus the V10s
The Mach V versus the Mammoth Car
A 21st-century energy crisis ignored
A road sign of excess

A civil(e) war rages on
In the department stores still
A “me first” mentality
Wasn’t this on sale?
Keep up with the Joneses
á la Cantor’s Power Set Theorem
Roll back to a time
When a ball, a book, a bike (or food) was enough

A civil(e) war rages on
In our homes still
Homework and home work
Versus intimacy and next of kin and cries
For encouragementnourishmentencirclement
Gimme a second!
Take a time out!
I need MySpace!
Stop meth-ing around!

A civil(e) war rages on
Inside our heads still
A Freudian Armageddon
Where no one wins
Without losing
Our fucking minds
Trying to make sense
Of ourthoughtsourpainglacialthawuniversalrefrain

“Through mansions of glory in suicide machines”
“Time is flowing like a river”
“Could be the human race is run”
“It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap”
“And in the end . . .”
“Nothing matters and what if it did”
Because we’re not supposed to sweat the small stuff
Because it’s all small stuff
But it’s the little things that count

Bruce Springsteen, “Born To Run” © 1975
Alan Parsons Project, “Time © 1981
Roger Waters, “not now john” © 1983
The Beatles, “The End” © 1969
John Cougar Mellencamp, Nothing Matters and What if it Did © 1980