Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!


I trust that everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and New Year's celebration.

Kick back, and fix yourself a Bloody Mary. 2008 may well be the best year of our lives. So let's chat a bit.

We are camped out at the workshop, testing out new 'puters and new audiovisual stuff in the RV, and admiring the hardwood floor that we have finally (almost) gotten finished. We've been working on this frickin' floor since the Thanksgiving holidays and it's finally time to kick back and admire the handiwork.

Cats are well behaved {har, har, har} and healthy, and we hit two parties last night wherein you could just feel the good vibes and tell that everyone was genuinely your pal.

Right now I have more writing projects going on than I can shake the proverbial stick at, and myself and other partners are discussing some really interesting collaborative ventures in a couple of fields. The reality of being an entrepreneur is two-fold: 1) for every idea that gells into something that makes money you will sift through hundreds of ideas that don't go anywhere, and that's just the nature of the beast, and 2) as my Momma always said, "Don't give up the day job!"

The RV lifestyle is suiting us well. This is something that I wished that I had done maybe 5-10 years earlier, but the reality is that if I had purchased an RV back then I wouldn't have experienced my Third Perfect House. And the Third Perfect House was the one that finally convinced me that, as wonderful as it was (plenty of garage and workshop space, swimming pool, private offices, fancy vaulted ceiling, and a kitchen to kill for), that it was keeping me from doing what I always wanted to do. Which was to cut some ties to The Perfect City and my Perfect Circle of Friends and to travel.

Things sound awfully good, don't they?

I'm worried.

Here in Jacksonville, Florida the nighttime temps are supposed to get into the 25 degree range for a few days.

And here at our workshop on the Southside we have discovered that the couple in the little concrete block house just outside our fenced in workshop compound doesn't have any utilities. No heat, and no water. Not having any money available for deposits will do that to ya.

A few days ago the lady that lived there asked me if I could spare 50 cents so that she could buy a small bag of potato chips for dinner. I gave her $1 and saw her the next morning eating a bag of chips so I assume that she wasn't joking.

I'm not quite sure what we can do. I did ask the landlord if we could run an extension cord over to them for a few days and the response was ... well ... unprintable here. And I'll print quite a bit on this blog, trust me. So you get the picture.

Now, I have seen plenty of houses in rural Mexico that didn't have glass in the window openings because the owners hadn't saved enough to buy glass.

And I have seen similar things in Appalachia as I was growing up as a kid in Kentucky.

But in an era when we have billionaires competing to see who can build the largest yacht on the planet (think in terms of 450 feet, incidentally), and when the wealth of this planet has spread to the point where the wealthiest man is a Mexican gent (Carlos Slim, who controls the phone system down there) and reportedly there are as many families with middle class incomes in China as there are in the USA, I find it hard to imagine what it must be like to not have heat. Or food, for that matter, here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Did you realize that the Iraqi Constitution provides for health care to all Iraqi citizens? "Article 31: "Every citizen has the right to health care. The state takes care of public health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building different types of hospitals and medical institutions."

You tax dollars are paying for that m'friend. And I don't want to take that away from the Iraqis, because, after all, what they have is more of the international norm than what we have, which is basically zero health care if you are uninsured.

Did you realize that an employer in Mexico has to provide health care to their employees? In fact, generally speaking, the employer is responsible for the employee from pretty much the time that the employee leaves the house to the time that he or she returns. In an article that I was reading in one of my truckin' periodicals the Hyundai plant in Tijuana, which is producing trailers for, among others, FedEx, is providing shuttle bus services and a full-time physician for their employees.

Contrast that to the negotiations that the UAW have going on with the auto makers which will inevitably require the UAW to give back many of their members' health and retirement benefits.

What's the point, you ask?

Here in the USA we have gotten so wrapped up in cutting services to the poorest of our people that we have lost perspective. Other nations are taking care of their citizens. We are basically the only industrialized nation without any form of health care for our poorest. And to my way of thinking nothing is a more fundamental human right than to avoid freezing to death. Or to avoid starving to death for that matter. Particularly in a nation such as ours that prides itself on our wealth and our humanity.

Something is seriously out of whack here.

As our #1 resolution for 2008 we need to consider our weakest. Those folks without basic necessities. Those folks in frail health. Those folks who could benefit from a helping hand.

Let's all count our blessings. If we have heat and a 'puter in front of us, then we literally may be doing better than the family down the road. Or across town.

The next time that some panhandler asks for money look them in the eye. Don't shy away from them. You can quickly tell the genuinely down and out from the shiftless. But no matter how you slice things, these people are someone's son and daughter. And they are our neighbors.

But for the grace of God go you and I.

Here's to hoping for the very best for you and yours - and your neighbors for that matter - in 2008.

1 comment:

amazinm said...

Thank you for your remarks. We discussed this last night at our New Year's Eve party - and a diverse group of people too - from New Zealand, Japan and here. Not as a criticism, but as a concern because we are all in danger of being a week away, a disaster away, of our lives changing and not always for the better.

I think it rather fitting to start the new year out with some compassion for others, appreciation for what we are blessed with - at whatever level, and some communication to build for the better - together.

Careful John, you could let the cat out of the bag that not all Pirates have black hearts.......