John Colson: Hit and Run
August 7, 2009
Ever get the feeling that you’re a character in a movie by some well-known horror writer?
Like, you’re sitting in a taxi being driven through Armageddon by a man descended from a Kenyan farmer who speaks English better than you do and really doesn’t like beer although he drinks it when it is politically and socially necessary. When the driver turns around to ask where you want to go, however, his eyes aren’t really looking at you, they’re staring through the back window and whatever he sees there is the true direction you’re going to take.
Or maybe he’s just a little cockeyed, and you’re too polite to mention it.
Or perhaps he’s just downright blind, and the erratic, weaving course through the lanes in front of you is not due to the crush of traffic but the simple fact that the guy at the wheel can’t see.
I’m not sure which author springs to mind for you, but for me it’s easy – Stephen King. And the road we’re lurching down is America, strung out like a city boulevard with strip malls along either side and traffic cops that all look suspiciously like John McCain, the Arizona senator who almost got the job of driving this dilapidated taxi.
Get my drift?
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That’s the general picture that came to my mind as I stumbled toward the door one morning this week, preparing to head out for another day of cataloging and reporting the facts of the moment.
I listen to NPR in the mornings, as do millions of others, trying to take stock of the world and sit dumbfounded at some of the things I hear.
For instance, some talking head, a U.S. Senator, I think, was casting aspersions on the Cars for Clunkers program, complaining that it was nothing but another bailout for an industry that couldn’t seem to get its act together on its own, and implying that the real result of the program will be that more Americans will have more debt to deal with.
“Well, duh,” I thought, “but isn’t it also a bailout for those who have the wherewithal to take on the car loans that are behind the cash? And didn’t we just sink billions into bailouts for corporations that have been claiming for decades that they know what’s right for America? And what’s wrong with tossing a little stimulus to the people themselves, rather than only to the bankers and the CEOs?”
I should state here, for the record, that I have a clunker I could turn in, but I decided that the last thing I want is yet another monthly payment sucking my wallet even drier than it already is.
So my clunker, a 1960 Ford F100 pickup that I’ve had for nearly 30 years, (which technically might not qualify, but it sure as hell should.) sits quietly rusting, waiting for me to get up the nerve to turn it over to a friend with a farm so it can live out its final days in the same way it got started – as a farmer’s work truck.
But that’s another story.
Another example of our current predicament – sitting in that taxicab waiting for the end of the road with a blind man at the wheel – is the health care fight. A deeply entrenched über-bureaucracy of insurance companies, lawyers, hospitals and doctors is fighting tooth and nail to prevent any move toward a single-payer, “Medicare-for-All” kind of health care system, which is our only hope at this point.
And our lawmakers aren’t any help in this fight.
So many of our elected leaders are so in thrall to the medico-industrial complex that it seems as though the only way out of this mess is to have a revolution. It’s as Jefferson said, the tree of liberty must be watered occasionally with the blood of patriots and tyrants, or something like that.
Clearly, the tree is gasping for a little true nourishment, and would be in much better shape if the parasites of the legal-medico-insurance complex weren’t sucking its sap from a million different taps. To mix our metaphors a bit, it has occurred to me that our taxi driver is careening straight toward that tree, and we may get the wreck we need even without declaring a revolution.
Certainly, neither eventuality would be very pretty, or comfortable. But then again, most of us are pretty uncomfortable as it is, right now, so what have we got to lose?