Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Battle in the War

The Battle in the War

The fake haired bastion of neoliberalism, Donald Trump, once said, “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”  I worry about this.  Today, I went into my class and did the Heinz moral dilemma test.  I asked them if a loved one was about to die in one week, and someone had the cure, but you couldn’t afford it, what would you do?  The answers are quite often predictable: rob a bank, sell drugs, ask everyone for a little, ask Bill Gates, do a kick starter, steal the cure, and sometimes they say, ask real nicely.  Hardly anyone says, “I would spend whatever money I had to have the best last week with that loved one I could. “
With Breaking Bad just ending, I figured I might get a lot of the drug deal ones, but I had less than normal.  While I don’t watch the show, I refuse to do it, I am glad to hear they killed him off (sorry for the spoiler).  I read the many reviews about the last episode and why it was great and why it wasn’t.  Regardless, my students quite often imagine they could easily steal the money they would need.  When we get down to real logistics of how to make it work, how they would rob a bank, or sell drugs, they don’t really know.  My students are pretty normal, lower middle class to upper lower class families and they haven’t ever really lived in that world and wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to orchestrate something like that in that short amount of time for that much money.  Like any good inflated ego, they are sure they could do it if faced with such a thing.
            I then asked them about our government and what was happening.  One person was quick to say that they want to socialize healthcare.  I asked them more about what does that mean.  What is “socialism?”  They talked about redistribution of wealth.  I mentioned to them that about 2/3 of the cost of their schooling is covered thanks to redistribution of wealth…mostly because we all decided that education is important.  So, socialism of healthcare.  I changed the rhetoric on them and said, should anyone die because they can’t afford healthcare?  No, no, most of them mumbled.  However, that is just me using rhetoric.  Neither are true.
            We talked about how a bill is passed, how people voted on a president, how the Supreme Court upheld it.  Then, why do a few people keep pushing this point?  Why use shutting down the government as a means to get your point across?  What really is the point?  The Senate won’t allow it, and even if they did, Obama will veto it.  The Republicans just come out of this looking bad.  Why still do it?
            The best they could come up with was lobbying money.  I don’t know if that is true.  It isn’t about Healthcare anymore.  You know, just like gun control, I am OK with trying something out to see if it works.  The Scientific Method works.  We try something, measure for success, try to do everything we can to show where it didn’t work, and if it didn’t, we make changes and test again.  I don’t think it is that difficult.  But I must admit, I don’t think this is what is on the table.  For me, I choose to look at what a government shutdown does.  This is a battle and surely not the war.  I figure these people aren’t as dumb as they may sound.  If the puppet head shell of a person seems to move like a puppet, then they probably are.  I figure they have run some numbers already about what a government shutdown does in terms of changing perceptions of people.
            I don’t know if this is true, or if this is only partially true, but I do know that you don’t do something as big as shutting down the US government without having looked at the figures to see how it changes public opinion.  And it does.  Already, people are complaining about the ineptitude of the government, and that is what they want.  Their game is to stop the government, to make us see that the government can’t run things.  However, if it was privatized it would not be closed down right now.  Grand Canyon is losing some 2.7 million dollars of possible revenue per day it is closed.  I know Republicans are not stupid.  Do Republicans take a huge hit because of their actions?  Yes.  However, they take down both parties with them.  They are emperors who would fire on their own people fighting in the battlefield, if it means killing the enemy.  Puppets like Cruz and Boehner are nothing.  They can be hit with their own arrows and die on the battlefield.  Besides, if the game is to make money, the job of congressperson doesn’t pay that great.  I don’t even think they care about the Republican Party.  They care about money.  It is that simple.  By shutting down the government, they will gain something. 
Be weary of talking too bad about our government or thinking that a private corporation would run these things better.  I am sorry for those people who planned expensive trips to our National Parks only to be denied, even though the parks are still allowing oil to be drilled.  I am sorry for the people applying for Medicare who can’t get their care, or for people applying for passports to visit loved ones in other countries who now can’t go.  I am not saying our government is great.  We need to remove the people who don’t know how to compromise and who can’t understand how science should help make policy.  And how we should move in the world with compassion for each other.  One of my heroes in my life, Abraham Lincoln once said in a very short speech at the end of a deadly battle, before the war was actually won:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

All I ask of people is to not give up.  I think the Affordable Healthcare Act is a compromised piece of shit law, but it is something that is trying.  It is an attempt and a start towards fixing something that needs to be fixed.  Our corporations are polluting the environment, cancer is on the rise, and if the corporations won’t clean up their mess, the government must.  And if the corporations won’t give us healthcare, all of us fair and equal healthcare, then our government should.  I don’t know if I would pass the Heinz test for morality or how I would react if I watched a loved one die from something that could be cured, but I do know that it shouldn’t happen.  I know people have watched friends and family die from a lack of proper healthcare.  If they haven’t died, they were unbearably saddled with debt.  I don’t think you should get rich off of the misery of other people.  From those “honored dead” we should take up “increased devotion” and fight for each other.  We are in this together.   I may not have a cure for cancer, but if I did, I would freely give it to anyone who asked.  The disease from which we suffer in the US is greed.  The cure for this is to come together, to greet your neighbor, and to help each other.  You can call it socialism, but I call it being human.


  1. Nate, Glad to see you engaging students on these current issues. The only thing I'd add is that unfortunately there are few negative implications for politicians who perpetrate the government shutdown. They come from gerrymandered districts with supermajority votes that make them impervious to being voted out for malfeasance. Ironically, many of the Tea Party types come from red states who receive more in govt funding than they give in taxes so I wonder how long it'll take them to realize this and come to terms with the ramifications.