Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Short Words, Without Too Many Syllables.

NTodd does, as is often the case, a better job of making the point that I was trying to make in last night's post about Senator Coburn (R - Soulless) telling a sobbing woman that she should look to her neighbors to provide skilled nursing home care for her very ill husband and just SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP about expecting any help from her insurance company or from its wholly-owned subsidiary, the United States Congress.

I'm a lawyer and, we lawyers, we're big believers in reading the actual words in the actual law. The actual Constitution of the actual United States of America begins with these actual words: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

"Promote the general welfare." The snarky, bitchy side of me wants to say: "The defense rests," and call it a blog post. But I'll spell it out anyway, since about 20% of our population doesn't get it.

There's a reason why people form governments and it isn't, recent evidence to the contrary, to make Haliburton and Blackwater rich, to engage in immoral wars against people who never attacked us, or to conduct the sort of sick, vomit-inducing, soul-destroying torture that has recently been the calling card of the United States of America. As our Founders explained, we create governments to, inter alia, insure domestic Tranquility and to promote the general Welfare.

I know from neighbors helping neighbors.

I think the notion of neighbors helping neighbors is charming. Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was honored to take off work in order to accompany her to her biopsy on one day and her appointment with a surgeon on another day, to buy her lunch and some over the counter meds, to take her for her surgery and sit with her until some other friends came to get her through the night, to meet with a group of her friends and set up a website to coordinate help for her, to buy books that she wanted to read concerning her condition. Others helped her to care for her pets, rehab her home, deal with her own mother's death. This summer, when I underwent surgery, a dear friend showed up to help me to do laundry, to pick my lavender, to cheer me up. The other day, I baked some lemon bars for a neighbor up the street who had a baby. I regularly read Tarot for strangers who want a reading. One of my dear neighbors organizes every year's block party for which I bake a big, special cake; I take herbs from my garden to all of the folks who live around me. I know from neighbors helping neighbors.

That's all beside the point.

We, as neighbors, citizens, fellow travelers, what have you, band together and form governments so that these matters can be taken care of in an efficient and fair manner. Let's talk about efficient. None of us could have given my friend the chemo treatments that she needed. My dear friend couldn't have done my laundry on a permanent basis. When I had breast cancer, no friends could have done for me what the visiting nurses did: advise about dressings and medications. That poor sobbing woman's neighbors can't give her husband, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, the care that he could get in a nursing home from trained professionals. And, yet, we, not only as neighbors who want to see our sisters taken care of, but as people who know that we, ourselves, will benefit from the care that others receive, that we, ourselves, will benefit from domestic Tranquility, have ways of "promoting the general Welfare."

We do that by paying taxes and having our government provide services for everyone. Here, in my county, we pay taxes that provide a Fire Department. They buy v expensive fire trucks and ambulances, they train people in emergency medicine, they install fire hydrants all through the neighborhoods. As a result, if my neighbors' house catches fire, they won't have to hope that I'm home and can run over with water from my rain barrel. And my own home won't be in danger. I pay taxes so that when Katrina hits New Orleans, or fire hits Southern California, or a toxic waste site makes people sick anywhere in the country, the government can show up and insure domestic Tranquility. Kali Fuck, is this too difficult for Republicans to understand?

Of course, it isn't. They understand it. They just don't like it.

I believe that there are two reasons why they just don't like it. The first is that they don't want to care for their neighbors, and Coburn is just a lying sack of shit about this. They believed Gordon Gekko that "Greed is good," they think, "I've got mine; fuck everyone else," and they aren't capable of realizing that other people with Swine Flu can infect them, that a woman whose husband gets no care will impact their own bottom lines, that their neighbor's flaming house may turn their own into cinders.

And, the second is that they'd willingly see their own homes burn to the ground, see that woman's stress levels give her breast cancer even if she works for them, see those illegal immigrants who can't get shots infect their own children with Swine Flu before they'd ever see "the other" get some help. Patriarchy. They're soaking in it.

All of the talk about government inefficiency, about high taxes, about liberty and not allowing the gov't to "interfere" in "private" lives (unless it's a brain-dead woman or a woman who wants an abortion or a liberal who doesn't want Bush/Cheney to read their emails) is, IMHO, complete bullshit. They're willing to run deficits to make Blackwater and Enron rich, but not to pay for nursing home care for that woman's husband. They care about liberty to carry guns, but not for a woman to control her own body. They're all about the Second Amendment, but happy to confine people trying to exercise their right to assemble peacefully to First Amendment zones. The only constant principles motivating their actions are patriarchy, pissing off liberals, and nastiness.

Let's talk about fair. I'll just add, that domestic Tranquillity and Justice involve providing services to everyone, not just the neighbors we know or like. That's something else that our Constitution does. People who live in big cities (currently, most Americans) and don't even know their neighbors, or the Muslim, lesbian, Wiccan, or black neighbors who move in, but aren't yet well-beloved by the people who live around them, may not get help from their neighbors. But they can get it from the government that we all fund and for which we all provide. And that contributes to Justice and the General Welfare.

I call upon Republicans to stop shitting on the entire notion of government. I call upon and invoke America's founders to aid Republicans to see what this country and this government is all about. And if the Founders can't turn their hearts, then I call upon the Founders to turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping. Coburn, I'm looking at you.

Photo by the author; please link back.


fokowi said...

whew. you go girl...

echidne said...


xan said...

It's all about "deserving." Your neighbors know if you are "deserving"--if you meet their standards for housekeeping, and yard maintenance, and number of overnight visitors of appropriate sex, and church attendance, and number of liquor bottles in your trash in a given week, and loudness and genre of music played etc.

They are therefore in the best position to tell if you deserve healthcare (or anything else for that matter) which might otherwise have gone to them. Perish the thought that such treasures should go to the undeserving.

If you're deserving, your neighbors will rally round and have bean suppers to help you pay for your medical treatment. At least that's what they do around w. TN.

but I orate. Brilliant post Hecate. Makes me even more glad I never went into the Law, lest I ever find myself on the other side of an argument with you. :)

Lavanah said...

Said far better than I've been able to. May I place a link to this post on my facebook page?

bb mumblings said...

amen xan!

Anne Johnson said...

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant Post, Miss Hecate. And I was more than happy to do your laundry and help.

But your point is well taken. If you had to have dressings changes or injections. I may not have been the best person for the job.


Desiree said...


Tina said...

*rises to her feet, applauding*

Souris Optique said...

*goes for lighter then remembers she works in a library*

jaz said...

you rule!!!!

Medusa said...

Great post!

Stirring the Cauldron said...


That was powerful.


Anonymous said...

Very astute observations, but I think (a) those are not all always applicable to many of their supporters, and (b) there's a factor that is that's not on your list.


I think that, deep down inside, many people who oppose health insurance reform and other such "socialist" things sadly believe It Will Never Happen To Them. They want desperately to believe It Will Never Happen To Them, so they let their fear convince them those "others" did something wrong to deserve such a fate. They didn't work hard, or pick the right career, or handle their money well enough to foresee a crisis, or get enough insurance, or take proper care of their health, buy a home in a place where natural disaster will never hit, drive more carefully, etc., etc.

In other words, they believe that they're the gods of their own universes, that they're powerful enough to outwit a twist of fate or a random event or a sucky confluence of bad circumstances/bad genes/the occasional human error we all make. Silly rabbits. They think being human will never affect them.

gidget commando

suz said...

fantastic post!
suz (your newest fan)