Lest I forget my manners.......

As we come upon another miserable election season, (Did we ever actually conclude the previous one?), I realize that I have been remiss in my social obligations to offer my deepest and sincerest thanks to all those elected officials, appointed municipal administrators, and the cast of usual suspects in patronage positions. I feel that rather than taking up their "ever so valuable" time, I will content myself with a generic, all purpose, works for everyone thank you note. In the true spirit of thankfulness, I will try to itemize every single "benefit" which I have received for my votes and tax contributions. I will attempt not to overlook, nor slight, any single individual, no matter how minute their particular contribution to my well-being might be. In church, we are admonished to be ever grateful and constantly seeking the good in all things, remembering to give appropriate thanks for blessings received. Having done my daily devotions and squaring myself with God, I will now move on to make sure that the same careful attention is paid to all those "leaders" who impact my daily existence from the local mayors and county boards, to state government and even our federal administration.

First of all, I really appreciate your minimizing the damage and scope of unemployment in America. I am sure that you don't want to discourage the American people with the true numbers. I am sure that you don't intend to rob them of hope for economic recovery. I am sure that there is an altruistic and rational reason for the gross inaccuracies in reporting the true job picture to America. After all, every single jobless report in the media is followed up by amendment stating how the data was flawed and didn't really indicate the true nature of the problem. I can appreciate exactly how it feels to be given erroneous data and be expected to make intelligent and rational decisions. I, too, am overwhelmed by the statistics and interpretations thrown at me by the media, so I guess that none of us, including yourselves, truly understands the reality of unemployment in our nation. But, in a way, I guess that I appreciate you attempt to issue all of us rose colored glasses. I appreciate your attempt to make us feel better, even though situations are not materially improving. Thank you, also, for not rushing into anything, doing anything rash, attempting anything radical, in your efforts to get America back to work. Thank you for your slow and considered approach to decision making. Thank you for your in depth analysis of every single aspect of anything relating to business, taxes, and the economy of this nation...I realize that a conclusion will eventually come from all this rumination, but until then, I thank you for your undivided attention to this real and present problem. I know that results will be forthcoming sometime in the next millenium.

And I wish to thank all of you for being so concerned about my physical well-being that you hurriedly rushed to pass a healthcare bill of over 2000 pages without first having read it and understood how it would work, how it would be funded, and if it would even make a difference. Your enthusiasm to insure the healthcare of everyone in America is laudable, albeit, perhaps unrealistic. Instead of fixing the bus, you have undertaken to re-invent the wheel, which is an daunting and ambitious project. Unfortunately, the time frame for the implementation of benefits is very long range indeed, and has already been subject to modification, as reality has a funny way of creeping in, preventing the best of intentions from being fulfilled. I guess I have to thank you for all the individuals who have been excused from the new healthcare requirements in the issue of "fairness", even though I do not fall into any of those groupings. It is good to know that somebody will benefit from all this chaos, and the efforts are not totally wasted. I need to thank government for giving me one less thing to worry about, which is the relative quality of healthcare that I can expect to receive for my family. In the dedication to cut costs and make the system more efficient, you have been very good stewards insuring that we move towards a one size fits all program of delivery in medical services. Based on the premise that everyone needs to be treated equally, we have arrived at a system that means everyone receives the exact same care, regardless of whether that is appropriate to their situation. True equality means that when the government approved methodology isn't appropriate or sufficient to meet the needs of a patient, nobody will receive anything unique or different. Rather the patient will simply carry the blame for their affliction and allowed to suffer the consequences equally. Thank you for standardizing the age at which our children are deemed to be sexually active, and insisting on vaccinating them for inherently sexually transmitted diseases. We, as a nation, will save massive amounts of money, as research for new therapies and cures are not necessary any longer, because it isn't in the lexicon of approved services or providers. We don't need to worry about further cancer research, or therapies for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, because all these maladies have been defined as products of lifestyle choices and therefore not the concern of medical care. And as for medical issues regarding the elderly, I have to commend you on the solution of offering the new and improved services which are lumped under "end of life counseling". Given time, I imagine that the government will find a way to eliminate the need for medical care on all levels, saving the taxpayers huge amounts of revenue, and insuring that each and every person living in America, whether a citizen or not, whether legally here or not, receives the identical treatment and care. A real return to our pioneer roots, where each and every American is responsible for the well-being of themselves, separate from expensive medical treatments and therapies, separate from needing medical personnel or specialized equipment.

As an addition to the above thanks, the United States government needs kudos for being able to offer definitive answers for questions that have baffled the great philosophers and thinkers of the ages. Our government has been successful in defining each and every human existence in terms of an actual dollar amount. There have been surveys for decades purporting to demonstrate the actual dollar value of all the raw materials that make up a human body, but our government has gone one step further and given us definitive limits on the value of actual human existence, the mind, the soul, and the potential contribution that any one person might make relative to the greater society. That is impressive, to say the least. But I wonder if in their calculations, they considered some of the great contributors to humanity-people like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Benjamin Franklin, Churchill, FDR, our Supreme Court Justices. These people actually needed an entire lifetime of experience and knowledge to equip them for the tasks that they performed. None of them made their world changing contributions in their 20's or 30's. But, obviously, the government has determined that these individuals are exceptions rather than the rule, and as such society shouldn't be burdened overly. Once again, in the interest of fairness, we should be thankful that you have exercised prudence and caution.

We are intensely grateful to know that our elected and appointed officials in government will be in the best possible health when they debate these life altering ideas. They will not be subject to the same health care regulations as the rank and file Americans, thereby insuring that they will have full use of all their faculties in determining the best course for each and every human being within the United States. Their judgement will not be clouded by medical conditions or affected by physical limitations. And it is also a source of great comfort, that the poor and disadvantaged, for whom the healthcare bill was designed to protect, will still continue to receive their medical care for free. It is wonderful to know that our officials abandoned the notion of everyone paying a share, according to their ability, in favor of continuing to provide all things to all potential voters. It inspires our pride, as a nation, to know that our government has already relaxed its stance on this "ever so important" social legislation to insure that groups suffering undue hardship are exempted from the requirements. I am struggling to grasp how this is any different from the situation previous to the reform, but I am certain that I will be enlightened in due course of time. Meanwhile, I will struggle to fulfill my social obligations, paying higher taxes to support a program that promises great benefits to all, because I am thankful to know that the people who approved it and signed it into law had the "best of intentions." Seems to me that I remember an old proverb about the road to Hell being paved in good intentions, but I am thankful that the spirit of "fairness" governs all legislation despite the fact that the condition of life is inherently unfair.

I am grateful that our government is trying so hard to keep people from losing their homes that they allow those in trouble to refinance, allow people to simply walk away from an overwhelming obligation of debt. It is a source of thankful pride that our government is committed to allowing every single person in America to own a home, whether they can afford it or not. I give thanksgiving when I survey the empty houses, empty businesses, vacant construction sites, as they represent hope for the future, opportunity for employment, locations for new businesses, homes for families. I am just not sure in whose future these hopes will become a reality. But I am thankful for all that potential. I would feel grateful about the value of my home being less than 50% of what it was only 5 years ago, except that the tax burden is not reflective of that evaluation. Usually, if property is valued at less, the tax burden is less as well. Still struggling with that one. But in the interest of "fairness", with all the vacant property which produces reduced tax revenues, I guess that I should be grateful that there are still property owners out their to help me pick up the slack and shortfall on taxes collected. There! I found a way to count it as a blessing. I am grateful that the government is giving people free help with their utilities so that they are not ill effected by weather conditions and able to prepare healthful meals in their homes.
I am grateful that many people qualify for the government to make their homes more energy efficient, so that they need less utilities subsidized, even though I have to pay all my own utility bills, pay for my own service work and improvements. Oh yes, and thanks for thinking of those of us who are still paying for all these items ourselves with energy rebates and energy tax credits. Unfortunately, you have to be earning enough money to qualify for a tax deduction, and you have to have purchased your energy efficient products and services prior to the funding running out for your designated area.....but thanks for thinking of us anyway. It was a nice thought, a lovely empty gesture.

Thank you for stimulus money spent. I am sure that somebody, somewhere got a new school, library, roadwork, parks, and of course jobs to produce these wonderful things. Thank you specifically for posting signs to alert me to projects that represented stimulus money at work. It was so gratifying to see the weeds treated and killed which were coming up through the cracks in the pavement on the bridge. I was so grateful to have the litter picked up along the shoulder of the highway, so I can avoid the potholes by using the shoulder freely without danger of puncturing a tire on trash. It is nice to know that the new and improved traffic lights and turn lanes, complete with photo control, were projects for my safety that used stimulus dollars. Thank you for the host of new government buildings that seem to have cropped up in just about every community surrounding, new police stations, new village and city halls, new administrative centers, new courthouses. I am grateful to see some construction workers employed. Thank you for contributions to road work projects that increase the flow of traffic and the amount of traffic which roadways can handle. It is a nice gesture, but over the past five years, the volume of traffic appears to have decreased because fewer folks are travelling to and from work. But thanks for raising the toll rates to insure that the tollway is kept in repair for the few of us remaining who still have to commute. The expressways are much more "express" with fewer of us out there competing for space in the lanes, trying to get on and off. So, I guess we have to thank you for lesser commute times.
There! I found another hidden blessing. And added to that, I have no problem finding a decent place to park most places, as parking lots simply aren't as full as they used to be.
Wow! Another hidden bonus. Which leads directly into, I do believe that I am spending less time in line when conducting my daily business. There aren't as many folks in the store, at the bank, in the clinic, the restaurant, the movie theater. Until this moment, I guess I didn't take time to be grateful for all the time saved that would normally have been spent waiting in line.

Thank you for making education "fair". I used to think that fair meant that every student learned the exact same skills to insure that the were ready to enter the world of work and
adult responsibility. I have since learned that this is not the point of education at all. In a fair society, education not only enhances the mind and abilities of the student, but addresses all their social and emotional needs as well. Thank you for not assuming that parents. receiving food stamps and WIC benefits, actually cook for and feed their children. I am grateful to know that our educational system has stepped into the breach to fulfill the nutritional deficits, offering free breakfasts, lunches, and in some school districts, even contemplating a dinner meal. Thank you for not insisting upon children having their physicals and vaccinations before the beginning of school, as this provides work for many administrators, public health personnel, and school nurses. Thank you for saving parents the difficulty of having to make time in their schedules to take their children to, or attend, counseling sessions, by providing social workers and psychologists in the school itself. Thank you for not evaluating students too harshly who cannot seem to master basic skills. Thank you overlooking this gap in educational accomplishment in favor of nuturing the entire individual. And thank you for not holding teachers to unrealistic standards of performance and accountability regarding successful outcomes in the classroom or with individual students. Thank you for making school a warm fuzzy place, a safe haven, removed from and isolated from the strife represented in the wider community to encourage children to attend school, enjoy school. Thank you for making school "fair" by continually modifying standards of achievement. I am so glad to know that my government doesn't cave in to the notion that our children have to be educated to the same level as those children in other nations. I am so proud that we do not feel that our standards need to be measured against anyone else. And along with that, I supposed I should be grateful that we have pretty well eliminated standards even within our own nation. Thank you for dispensing with pesky notions such as standardized achievement, minimum graduation requirements, even testing to confirm the ability to move forward in education as all these things only serve to frustrate students and teachers and deny "fair" access to education and training. Thank you for removing the desire to excel as a stressor in modern education. And thank you for continually bringing the shortfalls of education in the United States to our attention, compiling the statistics and data, which are inherently "unfair", but which are the reason for us to gratefully contribute even greater portions of our resources to improve. And finally, thank you for pointing out that the problem of unemployment rests largely on a population lacking skills and training to fulfill jobs in a global marketplace.

Specifically, thank you for "Cash for clunkers." This program taught me amazing things. I learned that an 18 year old car with almost 200K in mileage is not a clunker by definition.
Thank you for re-educating my false notions of what constitutes a clunker. I was really working under some pretty ridiculous definitions. Thanks for forgiving people tens of thousands of dollars of mortgage debt, and letting them refinance at a lesser interest rate. I guess because I have faithfully paid my mortgage for 25 years, and as such don't owe tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars is the reason that I cannot get refinancing? A little confusion here, but I guess I am just not grasping the concept of "fairness" in the program. I have several neighbors who walked away from their homes, went into short sale, or foreclosure, and while I am grateful that you are not burdening the taxpayer with legal actions against these folks, I am trying to find the silver lining in the fact that their actions, or their failure to act responsibly, is directly responsible for my direct financial loss in terms of my property, and the direct increase in my property taxes despite falling values.

Finally, as somebody who is unemployed, thank you for the ridiculous pittance called unemployment. Thank you for continually reminding me at every turn the severe legal penalties for violating the terms and conditions of receiving these benefits. Thank you for reminding me to report in at regular intervals, and thank you, also, that I am not burdened, nor my schedule disrupted, with contacts from counselors assisting me to become employed. Thank you for explaining to me the potential assistance that I might qualify for while under these extenuating circumstances. Thank you for having me wait in endless lines, speaking to multiple administrators and functionaries, while attempting to get closer to actual answers. Thank you for giving me more than ample time to consider if I want assistance at all, by the lengthy wait times for evaluation and approval. Thank you for letting me know, up front, that everything is first come/first served, so that I won't be disappointed when my name is finally called and there is not funding left to assist me. Thank you for managing to make me feel foolish for responsibly taking care of my obligations, paying my bills, and trying to be self sufficient. Thank you for penalizing me for doing exactly as the government expressly wishes, which is to prepare personally for retirement and not expect Social Security and Medicare to meet all my needs. Thank you for holding my savings in the form of 401K, and IRA, which represents many years of my family forgoing other luxuries to accumulate, against me. Thank you for allowing me to remain completely independent and autonomous of any assistance or aid until the point where I have literally lost everything and have no further alternatives. Thank you for such a high degree of respect for my ability to work out my own problems completely unaided. And finally, thank you for making me feel like a blight on society, as well as a potential fraud, if and when the time comes that I need to ask for assistance. Thank you for considering yourself my superior and thereby giving me an accurate and true picture of my place in society. Thank you for not allowing me to be prideful, arrogant, condescending.....thanks, for doing all that for me. Thanks for demonstrating that the loftiest of principles, the highest of ideals, also can mask the most unseemly of motivations and self serving. I am much wiser, thanks to this experience, and thankful that the wisdom comes prior to making the ever so important election decisions as a voter.

Actions speak louder than words, or so the saying goes. Based upon that truism, regardless of the money expended for commercials and fliers and debates, I have, thankfully, a really good idea exactly how much I am valued as a citizen, a voter, a taxpayer. It is pretty clear what my election choices will be, based upon the evidence of what has been done and what has been left undone. Thank you for clarifying my political decisions.

Filed under: The Job Search

Leave a comment