Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I denounce hatred

The events last weekend in Charlottesville were horrific.
The taking of a life by another always is, but even more so, when the motivation is hatred.
The blame is not only on the person who drove the car that killed Heather Heyer, the blame is on everyone who fuels the flames of hatred and everyone who does not speak out against it.

I think many of us thought we had moved past such bigotry, and in some ways we have, but in other ways, we have not.  It may not be as open as it was in the 1950 and 60s but its there in the underfunding of programs designed to lift all of society out of poverty, its there in the suppression of minority voting, its there in the suppression of wages and workers rights, its there in the growing economic inequality, its there in suspicion of others because of race or religion or place of birth, its there in the daily deaths of young men of color, and its there in glass ceilings.
Often it is just out of view, or at least out of our view, for we often choose not to look at our own ugliness.
But its there.

It's waiting for someone to add fuel, and then it erupts into violence.
And then, we can no longer ignor it.

I know I am not a president, or a senator, or someone famous.
I know I am but one single person.
But I am a nurse and as such have dedicated my life to healing.
I am a trade unionist and as such have dedicated my life to solidarity.
I am a person of faith and as such have dedicated my life to love.
For what it is worth, as a nurse, as a trade unionist, as a person of faith, I denounce such hatred, such bigotry and all who perpetrate it and all who support it by their actions, or their inactions.
I ask others to do the same.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Life is short, (life is busy)

Sometimes, at the end of one of my many long days, as I step into the shower, I am faced with that deja vu feeling.......didn't I just do this?
Another day has flown by.
Another day fighting bad bosses, fighting for funding for schools, fighting for healthcare coverage for all, dealing with "issues" at home and work with children and employees, answering phone calls, attending meetings, paying bills, and on and on.
Before you know it, another day, another week, and other month has raced by.

I know you know.

Then something stops you in your tracks.
Something that reminds you that this thing called life doesn't last forever.
Something that makes you pause.

Our work, our home life, our "mission"in life are extremely important.
These are the "things" that make up "life," that give us purpose.

But they don't make us who we are.
What makes us who we are is our relationships with other people and our Higher Power.
It is these relationships that give us the strength and the drive to accomplish the "tasks" that keep our life so busy.

Nothing wrong with the meetings, the phone calls, the business of life.....as long as we remember the really important things.
As long as we occasionally put down the iPhone and the iPad, and the iAmTooBusy, and spend time on our relationship with the people most important to us and our Higher Power.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Rhetoric v Results

We live in strange political times.
Times when the U S House of Representatives passes a healthcare reform bill, holds a celebration in the Rose Garden with the President, only to have the President latter tweet that it is a "mean bill."

No matter what viewpoint I look at this, I fail to a the logic in this strategy, in fact, I fail to see a strategy at all, unless it is to build an opportunity to spew rhetoric.

But this is just one example, and so many of us are guilty off it.
Republicans, Democrats, Conservative and Liberal "think tanks," politicians and everyday citizens who have a social media account.
I get why it happens.
It's effective.
It's one of the reasons why we have a populist president who ran with no real agenda other than to "Make America Great Again," whatever that means.
We bought it because we love it, just like we love gossip, scandals, and reality TV.
We'd rather talk how we need to "drain the swamp" because of dirty politicians than about what would make a good politician and how we could elect them. We'd rather repeat the negative ads in campaign season than cheer the occasional campaigner who speaks about the issues.

I guess my point is this.
We wonder what the reason is that there seem to be so much rhetoric and so little real results. 
Maybe we need to look in the mirror. 
Maybe our encouragement is contributing to it.

Yesterday I had coffee with a conservative member of the Connecticut legislature.
We began a discussion through a mutual friend on a particular bill that I had worked against and they had voted for.  They were willing to meet and listen. 
As it tunes out, although our political views are at opposite ends of the spectrum, we have much in common outside of politics.  We spoke about this bill but also about many other things like the role of regulations on business and the role of unions in society.

There was no rhetoric because there was no audience, and no attempt to convince the other that they were wrong, just an opportunity for two people with a different look on politics to sit an talk about it, and maybe better understand where the other person is coming from.

I think what we both found was a person who shared similar values on many topics, including topics close to my heart, like a society that cares for its weakest and most vulnerable citizens, and for the working class.
Where we differed, was not on these core values, but on how we as a society achieve these goals.
While we may never agree on how to achieve these goals, and while we may argue that the other's point of view may worsen our chances to achieve these goals, agreeing on shared values is a real good start.

We also agreed to continue our discussion.
Maybe if we all did this, we could have less rhetoric and more results.
Maybe we could start by accepting the others point of view while not agreeing with it, and debate the issues, not the personalities.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Next steps on healthcare in America

Obamacare has been on life support since January 20.
To be truthful, it's been ill for some time before that.

Obamacare is not perfect.
It's an imperfect healthcare plan and always has been, but it provides healthcare for millions on Americans who would otherwise not have access, and it improves healthcare for those who already had access by removing pre-existing coverage requirements and lifetime limits, and by requiring coverage of essential benefits, preventative care, and some employer coverage.
Again, not perfect, but an improvement over what was the case prior to it.

It needs to be improved because in some areas of the country, insurance companies are dropping out of the marketplace and because premiums continue to climb,

Since January 20, Congress has been trying to repeal Obamacare, first outright, and then with a replacement. The problem is, both of these approaches takes an imperfect system and makes it worse, not better.

I am hopeful, but not confident, that Congress is done this attempt and will work in a bipartisan way to improve, not make worse, healthcare in this country.
But I am not confident.

In addition, the President speaks of starving Obamacare so that it slowly dies, "then they'll be willing to deal."
I don't even know where to start on a statement like that.
The thing is, by directing agencies to enforce or not enforce provisions of Obamacare, Trump can affect it's survivability, but it is at the expense of millions of Americans.

Many people have spent many thousands of hours, writing, calling, and visiting legislators, at town halls across this country and in Washington.  They have spent hours at rallies and protests and on social media.  Some have been willing to be arrested in acts of civil disobedience, all to save healthcare for Americans. I have never heard any of them claim they were unwilling to "deal" or that Obamacare does not need improvement.

The good news is that all these efforts engaged millions of Americans in a fight to save a vital human service  for their fellow man, the bad news is that even with all these efforts, even will polls that showed repeal and replace to be incredibly unpopular, even with no viable alternative put forward, the House of Representatives and 49 U S Senators still voted for millions a Americans to lose healthcare and for premiums to increase.

I wish the battle was over. 
I think Americans now see healthcare as a right.
I wish we could move to a single payer system or at least a public option, so that the rest of America could be covered.

I am hopeful, but I am not confident, that we can find a way.
I'm proud of those who have worked so hard on this, community groups, healthcare groups, unions, and so many more.
Thank you.
Thank you to the legislators who stand on our side on this.
The work continues.
Lets continue to improve healthcare in America.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Who is my brother?

"I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor,” Pope Francis

I begin with the pontiff's prayer because today I am troubled by what I see as a society where looking out for number one is considered a positive trait.
I offer three examples.

I know a professional man who works in a union shop.  This man is friends with the CEO and believes that he can get a better deal on his own than standing with his sister and brother co-workers.
He probably can, what with his personal relationship with the boss. 
But what of his coworkers?
Where is his care for them?
Where is his responsibility for them?
This man has filed a petition to dissolve the union.
Because HE can do better.

State of Connecticut employees have voted to give the state concessions that will total in the billions over the next ten years with their overwhelming ratification of the new SEBAC agreement on pensions and healthcare.
This is the third time since 2007 that they have given concessions.
Why would they do this?
These are the people who work in our state tech schools, hospitals, prisons, courtrooms, road crews, parole offices, etc.
They care about the people of Connecticut.  They know the Connecticut budget faced a deficit.
They stepped up and did their part to help because that's who they are.

Now legislators must approve the deal, use the savings the state employees have given them (from their own pockets) and adopt a budget.
There are some in the legislature who want to reject the deal.
Why would anyone reject a giveback?
These legislators are not interested in a deal with the employees, they seek to bust the unions because state employees are not their friends. 
State employees believe in shared sacrifice.
These legislators do not.

That is why these same legislators will not even consider raising taxes on Connecticut residents lucky enough to be making a quarter or half a million dollars/year or more.
Like the guy who can get the better deal because he knows the CEO, the rich already have the better deal, and they want to keep it.
So, after givebacks from the state employees, they will look to cut social programs for the most disadvantaged among us, rather than ask the richest to do their part.

The last example is the effort in Washington to strip 23 million of the oldest, sickest, and poorest Americans of healthcare while giving the savings to the richest Americans and corporations in the form of tax cuts.
It is an effort that will just not die, despite that fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose it.

It's disgusting.
All three examples are disgusting.
We have a moral obligation to help our sister and brother.  Our society applauds those who do the opposite.

I share the pontiff's prayer.