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Reflections on a Sunday evening

I saw 2 “reality TV” shows that made me kind of sad for the folks who appeared on them, and the many more like them.

The first one was on the popular TV game show “Deal Or No Deal this past Friday. The contestant is a young woman from Kentucky who is about to graduate out of college. She auditioned for the show and was accepted because she wanted to win the million dollars (or whatever the best deal was she could get) so she’d be able to buy health insurance so she and her husband (who was in the military) could afford to start a family. She was reduced to pleading with and being able to get on the show to be able to get the money she needed to afford that health insurance. (She did win 471 thousand $).

The second show was on :Home Improvement – Extreme Edition”. A family in New Hampshire had their house completely destroyed in the Mother’s Day 2006 floods that swept through that state. To make matters worse, their application to obtain a loan/grant money from FEMA (the woeful relief agency in th US that screwed up big time after Katrina and Rita hit the US in 2005) was denied. It took a tearful plea from the family to this show to get a new house built for them. It also highlighted an organization called “There’s No Place Like Home” which was started up after Katrina and Rita hit the US (and after I presume FEMA was shown to be woefully lacking in their response), who are now building homes (by volunteers) to help people in Louisiana and in New Hampshire and elsewhere hit by natural disasters (they showed another house that was completed in New Hampshire for another family who also lost their home to these floods, and who also I must assume couldn’t get any help from FEMA).

My point to this post was: While both stories had happy endings, I think it pretty sad that people have to resort to getting on game-shows or hoping they can catch the attention of a TV show or hope a volunteer agency can help them out when straits are dire. I couldn’t help but think how many more people are in that same scenario. This is what happens when the social safety net is either weakened by ideologues or isn’t there in the first place. Sure there are lots of generous and charitable people out there, but there are simply not enough of them and they don’t have the resources.

That is why I believe that government needs to be able to use the resources they have so that as many people as possible can be helped who’ve fallen through the capitalist systems cracks. I don’t believe you can have a system that only collects taxes (as little as possible) and maintains a military. That is why I’m a liberal (small-l), that is why I’m a believer in the theories of John Maynard Keynes and have an utter distaste for Milton Friedman and his theory of economics, and that is why seeing the 2 shows I previously described make me sad.

Here’s hoping a Democratic president gets elected next year who can turn things around and, among other things, get a universal health care system down there, as well as overhaul the federal agencies that have been stacked with George Bush cronies and who have little regard for whether their federal agencies are working properly or not.

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