The Teacher’s Task

The snow is slowly receding, a process that will be accelerated by the rain and seasonal temperatures expected during the next few days. Most days now are marked by well below freezing nights and sunny days with temperatures in the mid-forties, Fahrenheit. When the sun shines warm and bright, the sap is likely to flow generously. Continue reading

Healthcare Reform: A Dystopian Nod to Charlie Dickens

Well, the snow is slowly settling and melting, and we have found our driveway, so although today’s high is forecast to be 19F, it appears spring may be imminent.

Sunday we had a lovely evening as friends joined us to acknowledge the vernal equinox and the coming of spring. I love the term “vernal” with its hints of the transitional and temporary. In a few weeks vernal pools will form in the woods behind our home, serve as breeding grounds for amphibians, then dry up. With luck, for a time the forest will fill with frog song.

I’ve been watching the news, from some distance, with interest, especially that pertaining to health care. Apparently those representing the government have been justifying ending health care for seriously ill folk by insisting the ill, and the general good, would be best served by dying. At first I took this as Dickensian hyperbole, but increasingly it appears the bureaucrats are, if you will pardon the pun, dead serious.

They appear to be taking a similar tack regarding hungry children and elders, insisting that both groups are an inconvenience and encouraging them to die as soon as possible, thereby reducing stress on federal and state budgets and the tax rate for the uber wealthy.

They apply the same logic to persons with disability. After all, supporting we disabled folk, and making public spaces accessible is expensive. The strong likelihood that these same politicians, or members of their families, will become disabled seems of no consequence. As for me, I have been facing repeated frustration with inaccessible places at home and abroad. After all these years I’m beginning to imagine that even in the West there is a strong public sentiment that disabled folk should remain invisibly at home, or at least magically rise above our disabilities a la Tiny Tim.

Finally, although there is extensive science declaring that environmental toxins and stressors are major contributors to illness in human, and non-human, populations, these same politicians seem hell-bent on flooding our shared space with pollution. Of course, they tend to live in areas removed from the immediate impacts of pollutants, but water and air move, and sooner or later these political sorts will encounter the toxic effects of their greed.

Now the thing that surprises me most about all of this is the absence of discussion about the social consequences of all these policies. Let’s just take health care for a moment. More pollution will result in an increased incidence of illness in the general population, and therefore in greater health care costs. Then there is the problem that, should twenty to forty million citizens of the US lose health care, a great many people will take the politicians’ advice and die. That will undoubtedly make for a host of angry, grieving family members, some of whom will enact their rage in arenas outside the ballot box. After all, loss is a very personal experience rather than an abstraction.

The idea that money and privilege should guarantee some folks happiness and health at the cost of others’ misery is ancient. That said, in the last three hundred years such practices have seldom worked out all that well.  Maybe we, and the politicians who claim to represent us, should rethink all this, eh?

Staying Home

The snow has let up, the sky has noticeably brightened, and the birds have spent the morning on the feeders.  Over the past couple of days we’ve stayed home, as our region experienced the largest snowfall ever recorded in March, and the 3rd largest ever recorded (it may end up second on the list). I guess the storm decided we needed the snow after all. At the moment we’re wondering where the guy who plows our driveway has disappeared to. Continue reading