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Writer's Block: Regime Change

Today marks the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. Obama's campaign was built around a message of change. What changes would you most like to see in the next 4 years?

I have begun to make those changes right now.

For one thing, I got up and changed my clothes. I usually wear black. All black, all the time, most of my wardrobe consists of black. Today, thinking about it, I decided to put on blue jeans and a red t-shirt -- colors, the colors of Inauguration day, American colors. I have white on the band of my shorts, so the white is in there too somewhere.

I am not mourning anything at this moment.

I'm dressed like a working man getting ready to do something cool and productive. I am invisible now, scruffy short brown hair, pale skin, blue jeans, red t-shirt. I could go into a neighborhood bar and look like, well, an American.

I think Barack Obama has mentioned all the major changes I want to see. Cleaner energy. Decent schools with less makework and more real education. Sounder economy based on real things where a fraud like Madoff doesn't wash up as one of the better looking investments.

The economy has had serious problems for decades. This trouble didn't start in September. September was when the symptoms became serious -- the trouble started all the way back in Reagan's presidency when people were expected to accept "Trickle Down" and "A Service Economy" as the direction for the country's future. Let all the rich have as much money as they want and do whatever they want, don't put strings on their ability to rip people off, and most of everyone else can become their servants because they still have to pay servants for services.

I just about gagged on that when Reagan was the one in office. It obviously did not work except to make every fraud in the upper-upper crust push the line a little farther at every wave of it. When I say excesses, I don't mean yachts and million dollar dresses.

Those are at least real things.

Up in the levels this country calls "wealthy" the real things don't change when fortunes rise or fall. They still have a car or their car collection. They still have a house or some houses. It's not connected directly with people for whom job loss might mean homelessness, might strain a relationship to the point of divorce, might mean starvation in order to make the rent and pay the mandated expenses for children's schooling.

The biggest victims of this ripoff are the working middle class, including the people who used to be considered wealthy. Doctors and lawyers have been swept down into working class. The cost of medical malpractice insurance is so high that a newly minted graduating doctor could not just go off to some rural area and practice in a hole-in-wall office holding free clinic two days a week.

This new doctor needs to support a $250,000 a year insurance policy against giant lawsuits. The option to choose the level of practice and decide what to do with their time has been turned into the necessity to find work with a time clock at a clinic owned by investors and then bend their ethics every month when one too many leukemias cross the door, one too many people need an expensive test and they exceed their quotas.

Docs that put the patient first will exceed the quota every time, sooner or later.

So there they are making ludicrous high money with ludicrous high expenses and student loans that are compounding every year, paying heavy interest on the accrued interest. This new doctor may have no more chance of getting out of that treadmill than the coal miner who has to shop in the company store with a couple of heartbreaking twists.

They have to pretend to be that prosperous and keep up appearances while living month to month, they have to watch the ethics of their profession grind down under the reality of the system as it is. This has to change. Obama's already faced this and I trust there will be major improvements in the medical system in this country.

Over my lifetime the proportion of people caught up in economic entrapment has risen and risen. It's finally risen to the level where the upper middle class is as desperate and financially unstable as deep poverty, while deep poverty has been rising and conditions for deep poverty sinking to where we are no longer really a first world nation. Not when it comes to infant mortality statistics and general health.

There's a lot of press about obesity and a lot of blame shoveled onto the obese. It's rare to find articles that go to the causes without blaming the person. Nutrition is a major cause of obesity, not always overeating. The quality of the food counts. If you are lacking basic nutrients the need to eat more of the poor quality food to get them in at all goes beyond some lack of willpower problem. It becomes body survival.

A few months ago, Kitten reported that the price of apples was running higher than the cost of meat. No wonder people are getting obese and not eating healthy. It's reaching a point where it is luxury to eat well or it takes the kind of skills Kitten has at keeping the budget down and the quality high. She tends to buy the seconds, the fruit that's bruised or a little old... and we always have fruit in this house. My grandkids aren't fat. It took a while to get used to it but I started eating the fruit for snacks too.

When Obama spoke today about dropping the blame game, he opened up a level of change that will go as deep as any heart can take it in.

I know from the way we actually live that a lot of people will look at how the economy pinches their lives and panic. React in blind terror of poverty while they still have enormous personal resources without seeing those resources for what they are. The biggest change Obama brings is the one that began with today's speech.

People will make sacrifices to get ahead, to gain something they want. It isn't even always money. They'll make financial sacrifices to spend more time with their loved ones or to live somewhere they love. It doesn't hurt to work hard and make priority decisions and inch closer and closer to a hard-earned goal. It makes that goal taste all the sweeter when it's real.

No one can endure constant deprivation followed by involuntary sacrifice of necessities. Something breaks down. Living month to month does not last forever -- something has to change for that individual, or life is unlivable.

The news has been calling it A Lack of Consumer Confidence.

Obama didn't call me or anyone a Consumer. You call someone a Consumer and you are saying "Sit in front of that television set and zone off buying anything you're told to buy. The purpose of your life is to produce nothing and consume everything." How insulting is that? Aren't you more than a Consumer? Whoever you are, aren't you more than a Consumer?

The days of that BS are blown. People produce as well as consume. People do things that are real. The country is reeling from the Madoffs and the slower-growing legal credit card scams of decades... and the country is in the position of a suburban homeowner who got burglarized. Shock and horror, omg what will we do, find someone to tell us what to do, everything's gone, everything's ruined... while sitting in the middle of real resources.

Hope is a change in itself.

Hope is the difference between couch-potato consumer and active personal growth. I have a good idea that Obama's policies are going to make it easier for people to start businesses, that self employment is going to have some roadblocks knocked out of the way. There it is -- that's the tangible specific change I want to see. Knock down the roadblocks against self employment.

Anyone who figures out that he or she can start a business and live on their work is not competing for the shrinking number of jobs there are. Anyone succeeding at it has a shot at becoming an employer and providing jobs. Legislation intended to rein in the abuses of very large companies can shut down small ones -- like this business with the components of toys needing testing on a scale only large companies can afford. The person who makes rag dolls at home out of safe products that were already tested before being sold as fabric or toy parts is going to be shut down by needing to spend more than those toys earn to have each one tested to destruction before being sold.

That kind of thing is nonsense -- it's one more way that legislation that favors giant companies and their investors has managed to clear out its competition. A company that can afford all that testing will stay in business and kids will only be able to get toys that come from those few large companies.

I have a good idea Obama's already aware of that scam among others. I hope that when he's taking a serious look at everything in this country, he tackles ways of distinguishing small business from large and lightening the load on startups while effectively reining in the big companies. I hope some kind of legislation protects the kind of doctor that opens free clinics instead of working for HMOs, that some avenue of dealing with abusive student loan policies gets put into action.

The problems are myriad. The deep change is that we're moving in the right direction to solve them. For once I can say we without choking on it, because I stand with Barack Hussein Obama and other Americans with pride.
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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
I'm greatly interested to see what changes will occur in America over the next few years. While they don't necessarily affect me directly, what with living in Canada and all, any changes could potentially affect friends of mine, and I'm hoping that the changes will be good ones. At least the majority of them, anyway. If the people who hold America in their hands would start thinking beyond their own borders and looking at what other successful countries have been doing that works, and addressing the needs of the poorer many rather than the richer few, I can easily see America rising back into a position where it's not the butt of bully jokes, where it's respected again instead of feared, where it's known for tolerance and sound intelligence instead of bigotry and stupidity.
Jan. 20th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
Yes! *hugs*

I think we'll have lots better relations during the Obama years. Gods, for most of my life Canada was the one friendly other country where you didn't need a passport or any particular fuss to visit. So close and so warm a relationship... and in Bush's era the door got slammed on your country in a bitter way that left me ashamed.

I think you're right -- we're on a new track now and all these good things will come.

I think the change has come in time too, that the damage is not irreparable to our reputation or our economy.
Jan. 21st, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
Red, white and blue! That's what I wore today, but I didn't give any conscious thought to it! LOL! And I'm not mourning either - this is the most hopeful I've been about this country and our future for decades. An asset based approach is refreshing after all of the manipulation through fear. I may wear red, white and blue again tomorrow!
Jan. 21st, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
I think it's the most hopeful I've been about my country all of my life.

I am so tired of the paranoia and the threats, the cheating and the bullshit. Obama's speech gave me so much heart. I think things will start getting better very soon, that it'll turn out a lot better than it has for a long, long time.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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