Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 323- In-flight entertainment, death panels and superheroes

Dear Mr. President,

While listening to my favorite song off of the new Kanye West album on continuous loop, I've been surfing internet news stories to find an appropriate topic for today's letter. While a number of stories caught my attention, nothing about them seemed significant enough to become subjects of a letter to the White House. What do you care about Superheroes patrolling the streets of Seattle? Or a couple getting married in the minutes their flight entered Canadian airspace? Or the way budget cuts in Arizona are resulting in low-income patients getting kicked off of lists for organ donations?

These stories so have something in common, and that, I think, is important to you. Or at least it should be. The theme today is about what happens when Government fails. My city government has failed to keep people safe. It's own budget cuts have prevented the manpower and training necessary for proper law enforcement. And so citizens with military and martial arts backgrounds are donning capes and masks, climbing in their KIA and fighting crime for free.

Your administration has failed the gay men aboard that flight, who cannot have their union legally recognized in their own country. You've failed to make this a front and center civil rights issue, to shame the opponents of same-sex marriage for imposing their hateful system of so-called values on the rest of the country. And so two citizens who want to commit to one another for life took to the skies, entered Canadian airspace, and wed.

And when governments fail, sometimes, as demonstrated by (but by no means confined to) the state of Arizona, citizens have no other option but early death. It is a tragic and unacceptable fact that in this country people die all the time from treatable conditions because they are too poor to afford treatment. It is a failure at all levels of government, and, while I should find solace and inspiration in the stories of those taking (criminal and social) justice into their own hands, I can't help but think about the cities cutting police officers (or unable to hire badly needed new ones) who don't have their own roving band of caped crusaders, or the gay couples who can't fly to a place where their marriage will be recognized. And while poverty will always exist, (and will, unfortunately, carry with it a much shorter life expectancy,) while people will always get sick and many will die when they might have been saved, that the wealth that might offset this disparity is concentrated in the richest 1% of our population is a difficult fact to ignore.

The government, as you are so fond of recalling President Lincoln reminding us, should only do for the people what they can not do better for themselves. I think the government is generally better at law enforcement. I think the government could bestow the basic rights same-sex couples deserve. And I think the government can ease the suffering of the poor and uninsured. But so many of us are still waiting for you to step up and show us how it's done.

Respectfully yours,


No comments:

Post a Comment