Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

May 29th, 2011 9:52 PM

Memorial to Another Day

It’s impossible for me to allow Memorial Day to pass without thinking of the sacrifices my father and his generation made to build better lives for future generations like mine.  And so it is today, Memorial Day 2011, when my thoughts turn to what he dreamed for me and his grandchildren and how glad I am that he isn’t here today to see how woefully I failed to protect what he fought for.

My dad’s America was full of future possibility and the social and political pressures that advanced civil rights.  Even if he was a fiscal conservative, the energy of the nation and for our family was one of anticipation of better things to come.  At least in the early part of my adulthood, I thought it possible to work hard and live a decent life.  But the wheels came off those modest ambitions very early.

For the past several years, I have been engaged in the fight for healthcare justice.  What began as a nagging concern and increasingly costly necessity while my kids were still growing up evolved into a full-fledged crisis in less than a decade.   I couldn’t keep up very well.  I spent the prime years of my career angry and frightened as I chased jobs with good benefits, including good health insurance.  Those jobs sometimes left me exhausted, crabby and resentful of what might have been, and daily life was less happy than I had ever imagined within our household.   I am sure the kids suffered not only because of the hours I was away working but also because of the less happy moments when I was home.  I felt like I was trapped in a vice from which I could not escape.

Holidays would come.  Holidays like Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer and what should have been more fun.  My dad’s America in which the family went to the community parade, honored its fallen soldiers and surviving veterans, and retreated to a large, family barbeque gave way to holidays much less tradition-filled and much more commercial.

That seems to have been the trend with everything in our nation.   In almost every area of our human endeavors we have commercialized traditional days and activities and needs.  I cannot think of a day or night any more that is completely free of money-making or money-spending potential.  And the pressure to engage in financial activity is everywhere all the time.  No rest.  No time for reflection on the past or imaginings of the future.  The average working person in America in 2011 would have a hard time completely disengaging for a real holiday of any kind.  Most jobs allow scant vacation or paid leave time or holiday time or the jobs that are good enough to offer some personal paid time off often come with the reality that actually taking that time off signals a lack of full commitment to one’s employer or position.   And getting sick is definitely a detriment to any sort of career growth.  Working sick and working hurt is a reality in America in 2011.

My dad’s lifetime of work resulted in a good home, modest vacations, and holidays with family, with most of his evenings and weekends free to take care of his personal life.  Mine has never been that way.  Holidays have often been a reminder of what I have failed to do and with family scattered all over the country, like so many families now are, holidays rarely include get-togethers with anyone.

When I think about how the commercialization of the U.S. healthcare system has driven my own life and career, it is even more important to me that we fix the mess.  Recent days have given us hope as Vermont has begun to place the building blocks for a sane health system based on healthcare as a human right.  If Vermonters can keep the momentum going and if they can pass additional legislation to keep advancing their work, they may well become the first state in the nation to provide access to healthcare that is not so intricately tied to one’s job that it stifles both employees and employers.  That would be amazing.  But it isn’t there yet, and powerful economic interests will fight against that sort of building block legislation spreading to other states or regions.

Other states may also develop progressively financed healthcare models to provide a single standard of high quality care to all of their residents, as several states, including California and Pennsylvania, have single-payer bills in the works.  Creating a single risk pool for the financing of healthcare as a human right is just sound fiscal policy, and as costs rise ever higher, more states will look to plans like Vermont’s and California’s and Pennsylvania’s to solve their building fiscal pressures related to healthcare.

Until the healthcare mess is fixed, more and more people this Memorial Day are suffering without access to needed care.  For them there are no building blocks that provide access to a doctor or a treatment if the money doesn’t come with them.  Their lives are expendable when deemed too expensive.  And the measures of who is too costly to receive treatment are based on status and wealth alone; the commercial rationing of healthcare continues unabated on Memorial Day 2011 in America.

It is hard for me to accept that we’ve allowed so much of the wrong sort of pressure to overcome the clear and genuine and hard-fought aspirations of generations past, like my dad’s, for future Americans.  If we really honored our elders and our fathers and mothers and if we really sought to remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom, I don’t think we’d settle for lives of quiet desperation of chasing the almighty dollar and supporting a healthcare system that values human life so little that patients are just widgets in the engine of profit and not human beings at all.

I do not believe that is what my dad fought to protect as he served in the U.S. Army in World War II.   The American way of life he hoped I would see was supposed to build on those sacrifices and make it a better place where the chance to be what you want to be is not restricted by those whose powerful interests would overrun individual freedom.  Clearly, a healthcare system as ours is today has little to do with that sort of freedom and everything to do with commercial and financial power.  Until that is changed for good, the promise of my dad’s hard work and determination will be but a memory.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? ...by Ray McGovern www.michaelmoore.com Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles