Now, I am beginning to understand, thanks to budget director Mick Mulvaney.  When asked by Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan why money for water protection in the Great Lakes was zeroed out in the budget, he said we had to look at this through the eyes of a taxpayer in Arkansas: “Should I really take some of his tax dollars to do something in Michigan?”

Stabenow commented, “that’s called having a country, with all due respect.”  She went on to say that 20% of the world’s fresh water bordered 8 states. I wonder how many Americans can name all the Great Lakes.  I wonder if Mulvaney could even name the states; he’s from the South.

I would have gone right back at Mulvaney asking why I, here in Oregon, should give a damn about a trailer park in Arkansas that gets leveled by a tornado, something that happens virtually every year.  Or some chicken farmer, when I’m vegetarian.  Why should I care if some cattle rancher’s herd dies in a winter blizzard?  That doesn’t affect me.  Why should I pay to truck sand into some North Carolina beach, so it will get eroded away the next storm?  Or to fight grass fires in Texas, build levees in Louisiana, where the ground is sinking and the Atchafalaya River needs to flow naturally again, which means taking over from the Mississippi.  Why should I care about floods in South Carolina?  That’s Mulvaney’s home.  Let him pay for it.  I’m not going there again.  If there is an EF-5 in Oklahoma, why should I care?  It’s a red state, most of the people there wish somebody like me would drop dead, and they certainly wouldn’t want my money.  Why then?

Because we are the UNITED States, not the UNTIED States.  We fix things in the country that matter.  We help people who need help.  We protect the environment for the next generation, and if I, a guy who neither desired nor wanted nor had children, thinks that helping those who lives have yet to begin is important, why can’t the president’s budget address this fact?

How local to we go, Mr. Mulvaney?  Do we go so local that we only pay for medical bills that affect us?  That our taxes shouldn’t go to medical research because I may see no benefit, to building trauma centers I may never use, to research that tries to cure other childhood cancers, like we cured acute lymphoblastic leukemia (it wasn’t prayer that did that, you know) even though I will never in my life have a child who could have it?  Mr. Mulvaney, it should be noted, failed to pay payroll taxes incurred by a nanny for his triplets from 2000-2004, arguing she was a babysitter.

Why should I pay for somebody who has head trauma and wasn’t wearing a helmet?  Or somebody with a gunshot wound when I think the NRA ought to pay for it? They use firearms, I don’t.

Are we becoming a nation of crowd source funders, passing the digital hat, without a clue what a country is about?  Is this the rugged individualism approach that sounds good when you hear Sheriff Richard Mack, of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, the same Mr. Mack who hated Mr. Obama and his ACA?  Sheriff Mack, to remind some and to educate others, had a heart attack and his wife became ill as well.  They went to GoFundMe to try to get their medical bills paid for, since they didn’t have insurance. Crowd sourcing isn’t the answer, because medical bills are far more than most realize, and Sheriff Mack, your bill and many others with similar conditions can’t be anticipated, so that’s why we have a thing called insurance.  Now insurance isn’t all that great when it restricts what you can use it for, so it was changed.  Personally, I would have the government cover all medical care to a certain extent, but I am open to honest, fair debate as to what that extent should be.

For example, I think medical care for heart conditions, cancer, aneurysms, blown out knees, fractured clavicles, broken necks, concussions, childbirth, strep throats, ought to be available so that people—even right wing, red state folks who hate me and everything I stand for—get it when they fall ill, rather than dying and as Charles Dickens would have said, “decreased the surplus population.”  I think a 30 year-old, uninsured, in a coma, should be given medical treatment to try to save his life, not “let him die,” which is what the audience yelled at a Ron Paul rally in 2011. Paul himself said, “let people assume responsibility for themselves.”  Really?  People in a coma can assume responsibility?  Old people can shop for the best value medical care?  Should those who were too stupid not to wear a helmet be left at the side of the road to die?  Granted, I didn’t like coming in at 2 a.m. to care for them, but these people needed medical care, unless or until there was a time when in the my judgment where care would no longer help. I wasn’t, of course, trained as an OBG like Paul, just a neurologist, and I was a few years behind him in medical school, so I didn’t hear the part about having the churches take care of these people.  That’s been tried in this country, and it doesn’t work, although if some of the megachurches put their dollars towards actual hands on care, we could probably make a moderate dent in the scope of the problem.

By the way, Paul’s 2008 campaign manager died at 49 from pneumonia, leaving behind a $400,000 medical bill, because while he could raise money for Paul, he couldn’t afford a few hundred a month for COBRA coverage.  Paul managed to extol the man’s skills and tried to raise money for his medical bills.  Is this the America he envisioned?

Are we united or untied?  Will my America be money for defense, tax cuts for the rich, where the money will not trickle down, but we will continue to hear that it is true? Will my America be where the president’s family uses the office to generate money and virtually nobody will try to stop it?  Where Mr. Putin’s approaches to journalism and money are copied here?  Is it here where we make a budget based on unrealistic growth expectations?  What happens when a Cat 5 hurricane levels Miami, storm surge again wipes out New Orleans, or a cluster of EF-4 tornadoes takes out Birmingham?  Are those people expected to take care of themselves?  What happens if the San Andreas or Cascadia Fault slips, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Eugene, Salem, Portland or Seattle is leveled?  Or we have an oil spill from a pipeline that a lot of us didn’t want, and the Ogallala Aquifer or Lake Superior are polluted beyond repair?  You’ve heard, I assume, Mr. Mulvaney, of the Enbridge 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.  What happens if this 65 year-old pipeline, whose supports have failed, leaks? Who fixes Lake Superior?

This is what I finally understand.  I know now where we are going: we are to become a nation of take care of yourself, because nobody else will.  That’s the case in many places in the world today.  I’ve seen those places and those people, in Manila, La Paz, Caracas, Lima, Djakarta, New Delhi, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lusaka, Nairobi, Cairo, and Tripoli.  Of course, we have them here, too. And we will have a lot more.  You see, the AHCA will remove insurance from 64,000 in Oregon Congressman Greg Walden’s district, and he helped craft the bill.

You know what?  He will be re-elected in 2018.

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