Four-year-old boy, with open
can of beer, found stealing
neighbor’s Christmas presents.
Tabloids, you know, those sensationalistic papers you cannot avoid while standing in line to check out of the supermarket, have become an item of interest to me. They also feature huge headlines like “Hippo gives birth to giant watermelon,” or “Tiger Woods seen dating Hillary Clinton,” or “Oprah Winfrey has only six minutes to live,” and other such gripping tales of utter foolishness designed to make you want to read them immediately (if, that is, you are a complete idiot). Anyway, they became of interest to me simply because I remarked to my wife that in all of my 80 years of life I had never, ever, seen anyone buy one of these rags. She replied that I must not be paying attention because people buy them all the time. I doubted this, but in the spirit of continued discussion I suggested I didn’t see how they could stay in business, just producing so much BS all the time. My wife, who is a very intelligent woman most of the time, but occasionally comes up with something that seems to me to be impossibly wrong-headed, said they stay in business because lots of people buy them. I suggested that was impossible, they could not survive just by the number of papers (I’ve never been able to decide if these are newspapers or magazines) people buy, they must have lots of advertisers. But, as I had never actually read one of these tabloids, I couldn’t prove it. Thus I was faced with having to somehow obtain one of these items. The thought of actually paying for one never crossed my mind. First of all, I could never pay money for something so frivolous and useless, but more importantly, I felt it would be degrading. I have already been stung by the looks I received from the checkout people when I bought pig’s feet, squid, and octopus, all of which they regarded with horror. My wife suggested I simply peruse one of the tabloids while in the store, an activity that I regarded as something akin to shoplifting, and besides, would make me look ridiculous. It’s easy to read the covers, in fact almost impossible not to, as they feature the damn things right there at eye level no more than a couple feet from where you are forced to stand and wait. But I wanted to get inside one to see who advertised and how lavishly in these fantastic journalistic masterpieces of utter crap. In desperation I approached a young man standing idly by and suggested that perhaps he would buy one of these for me when he went through the line. Apparently thinking I had asked him to perform an unnatural act, he looked at me with such disgust and sidled away so fast I feared he might call the police so I quickly left. The next day I tried to screw up my courage enough to buy The National Enquirer that featured a particularly racy headline. I thought I might explain to the clerk that I was buying it as part of a scientific study. Then, remembering that scientists here are regarded as people who spend their lives trying to prevent the locals from doing everything they would like to do, like killing all the animals, cutting down all the trees, polluting and damming all the rivers, and so on, I chickened out at the last minute. The following day, knowing my wife was going to the store, I slyly said, “Buy me a National Enquirer while you’re there.” She is no fool, my wife, she looked at me like she was about to step on a stink bug, and said, “Oh, no, Buster, if you want an Enquirer, buy it yourself.” I begged and pleaded, but to no avail whatsoever. Finally, exasperated, she said, ”Look it up on the web.” I did. I didn’t find out much, but I did learn that of course they have advertising, lots of it. When I tried to say, “I told you so,” she pretended she didn’t remember the original conversation. Everyone has to save face.
But enough of my misadventures with tabloids, let’s turn to serious stuff, like health care reform. It seems that now there are three schools of thought about what is currently happening. Everyone seems to agree the bill about to come out of the Senate is pretty terrible, but one group of people thinks it should pass because “it’s better than a kick in the ass,” and presumably can be improved later. Another group, those who did not want any reform in the first place (Republicans), and have done everything possible to destroy it, want it simply junked so we can start over (thus making it probably impossible to have any reform for a long, long time). A third group (that I gather might exist), following Dean, thinks the bulk of the bill should be scrapped but we should try to keep at least some portions of it (this group has been improperly cited as supporting the second group that wants it killed). I guess the strategy that will be followed is to pass any bill possible out of the Senate and hope that it can be improved when it must be reconciled with the House bill that is much better. I have sadly come to the conclusion that this is mostly farce. I doubt that Obama or anyone else truly wanted to reform health care, in spite of their claims. If they had they would have opted for a single-payer system in the first place, one that would have eliminated Insurance companies entirely. As far as I am concerned any bill they might pass would not constitute health care reform unless it eliminates entirely the Insurance companies. There is no reason whatsoever why Insurance companies should be involved in health care. They contribute nothing, skim off enormous profits for doing nothing except shuffling paperwork, and represent the privatization of health care. Health care, like the water we use and the air we breathe, and other very basic necessities of life, should not be privatized. It is possible, of course, to argue that health care is perhaps not a god-given, or even natural right, but it is certainly a priviledge (if not a right) that should be awarded the citizens of any so-called “civilized” society. We are seeing right now before our eyes the basic fact that our country is being controlled by Insurance and Bank companies, along with other huge corporate entities that are not going to allow us universal health care without their obscene profits being insured. They win, we (ordinary citizens) lose. President Obama and our “leaders” in Congress have sold us out once again. So be of good cheer, Christmas is here, there is peace and good will towards men everywhere (except on earth).
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
There are people in the United States, right now, actually praying that 30 million of their peers not receive health care.