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The wages of sin
by Andrew Barbano
Feb 23, 2008 | 825 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Joan Galt
Tribune/Joan Galt
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Pardon my preaching, but is it not time to address the moral depravity of the United States of America?

Violence, shootings, gangs, drugs, child abuse, slave trafficking, exploitation — all the plagues of Sodom and Gomorrah have proliferated in this, one of the most religious nations on earth.

Why not practice what Jesus preached? You can’t tell much from our conduct. We haven’t outgrown making war in the name of God, a plague perpetuated by so many others.

The Major League Baseball steroid scandal is only a symptom of our misplaced priorities. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Get out the salty snacks and let’s watch some ball.

And I don’t blame the ballwatchers. Americans are the most productive workers the world has ever seen, generating more output per hour than any nation on the planet. We let more than 400 million vacation days go unused every year. We are sleep deprived and calorie rich, but millions of our children still go to bed hungry every night.

Our schools are in such rough shape that parents who are able now assume an increasing share of the education workload. The children of parents who cannot do so will fall further behind.

Those good people are busy working several jobs and trying to stay awake driving between them.

The examples are legion and reported in your newspaper every day.

So what do we do to fix things?

Alas and alack, that’s both easy and obvious. But too many people are making too much money to allow tampering with the status quo. The definition of conservatism is keeping things as they are.

I view economic opportunity as the cure for many ills. The idle mind of the hopeless young is fertile recruiting ground for terrorists — foreign and domestic. If Timothy McVeigh had a decent-paying job waiting for him when he was mustered out of his beloved Army, would he have had second thoughts about building bombs and blowing up federal buildings? Very possibly.

If the Disunited States devolve toward divorce, as they indeed seem to be doing, it will largely result from our macho warrior mentality. Anyone who questions the war machine is labeled a traitor. It has worked to intimidate Democrats since WWII and still bamboozles like a charm today. Look at all the Donkeykongs who voted for Dubya’s Iraq war.

Diminished hope impels our young toward turning on and dropping out. What’s the point of seeking higher education that will put you in debt for the rest of your life? Better to just get high.

Aimless drift typifies the America of today. How else to explain the young Illinois parents who left their five month-old baby to die strapped to his car seat for eight days? That dead child lives as a perfect metaphor for his country and countrymen. So, what to do?

First, end two wars, both the military and drug variety. Neither works. Both squander our wealth and our hopes. We have plenty of money to provide universal, non-profit health care and free education for all who want it. The G.I. Bill for returning soldiers has paid dividends for over 60 years. Medicare is both effective and costs little to administer.

Border fences will solve neither immigration nor drug importation problems. Decriminalizing drug addiction and expanding treatment will resolve several issues at once. We must pressure the world’s banana republics to advance economic opportunity in order to alleviate the flow of illegal immigrants. We also have to stop propping up dictators at the behest of U.S. corporations, an ancient Yankee addiction far more corrosive than the noxious weed.

The solutions are both easy and obvious. Do we have the chops to implement them? Probably not. We will choose the time-tested path of self-destructing empire, a highly educated warrior nation which refuses to learn from the past.

The ultimate moral depravity is the insanity manifest when a nation is a danger both to itself and others and yet refuses to change.

Sunshine in a dark place

Regular readers will remember the fundraiser enterprised by the admirable management and staff of Crystal Springs Water last Labor Day weekend. Rallying behind cancer-stricken colleague Sue Toland, they gave up their holiday to raise money at Sparks and Reno events.

Sweet Sue had terminal cancer, something she freely shared with all who knew her. The disease never affected her sunny disposition.

The only time I saw even the hint of a frown on that friendly face came when she discussed her medical care: “My doctor killed me.”

She strongly felt that one of her physicians had ignored her complaint of a lump in her neck for far too long, telling her to just take some aspirin.

She regretted not having sought a second opinion.

I regret that her co-workers had to raise money for someone who had so-called health insurance. While she may have had medical coverage, Sue was not wealthy. She had to work almost to her dying day, which came last Thursday at 9:30 a.m., ending her great pain.

Her family had booked an ocean cruise for this spring. Now she can fly instead.

Sue was in her mid-50s and leaves children and grandchildren behind. Memorial services will be announced soon.

The United States, the richest, fattest nation ever, stands alone among first-world countries without a national health care program. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton have brought forth a decent proposal which will provide basic coverage for everyone. Both have advanced some monster which will perpetuate the predatory for-profit system.

In the name of Sunshine Suzi Q. Toland, I will not rest until our government starts taking care of its people rather than making them casualties of corporate stock pricing.

Rest in peace, fine lady. Your story will be told.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.

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The wages of sin by Andrew Barbano


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