The more things change

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on

–Marvin Gaye

These are interesting times, don’t you think? I was a child in the late ’60’s, but I suspect it might have felt like it does right now. Clashes over civil rights, voter suppression, women’s liberation, gay rights, wars, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and a war which was controversial to say the least. Woodstock, hippies, riots and protests. Kent State. The fear that our country’s police might not be equally willing to protect and serve all of us.

When I grew up, it  seemed like  there had been a lot of  progress here in the realm of civil rights and human rights,  but as time goes by it seems like the changes everyone has struggled to achieve were superficial at best, and all too reversible. Marriage equality seems very much at risk. Voter suppression is becoming more and more open.

Instead of the catch-phrase “America, love it or leave it” we have “MAGA” but it’s all the same old story,

After years of slow increases in the amount of diversity, the judiciary is being stacked with white men who are willing to do all they can to make sure that only people who think like they do can vote easily. Computers are being used to rebuild districts so it is easier and easier for Republicans to hold them. People are increasingly being elected who have no interest in ensuring that all of us are equal under the law.

In fact, more and more often we are seeing white supremacists on the rise. The KKK wears polo shirts now, but it’s the same old story. Fear being used to manipulate us into surrendering without a fight.

The clashes are only going to get worse. People are tired of the financial and judicial inequity. The sexual harassment. The bigotry. The fear of everything and everyone who is different. A relatively small group of citizens is voting based on fear and religion and politicians are using that base to turn the US economy into a machine that feeds only the wealthy.

Most of us want some moderation. There’s a big segment of our society that wants a slightly financially conservative government that is slightly socially liberal. Another segment wants a slightly financially liberal government that is socially liberal. The differences between the moderates in social issues and taxation are not huge, but the one issue and fear voters (no gays! no abortion! no transgender rights! no immigration!) are tipping things ever rightward. Unscrupulous, opportunistic politicians see that as fear that can be leveraged in their favor.

My fear is that the tipping point has passed. That it may be too late to regain control of our own government and get it working for us again.

Or maybe it’s just a pendulum over-correcting and it will eventually settle back in the middle.

The more wealth accumulated in fewer hands, the more purchasing power those few have against the many. As part of the many, I don’t want to see that happen. Since one of the tools being used against us is the detestation of our public schools, it’s one of my biggest fears that our young people will be educated in ways that will lead them away from independent thought and the ability to analyze facts.

We need to be asking more questions. Challenging the answers. Keeping money and power distributed to a larger , more moderate base. It won’t happen until we stop electing the same old people who have been in office forever.

Change is coming. We need to make sure it’s the kind we want.

A journey

If I was going to really do this right, I should have started it sooner. But when?

When I went to what I not so fondly referred to as fat camp four years ago?

When my first love rubbed my tummy and asked if I had ever considered losing weight?

When I first lost weight my freshman year in college and became a man-magnet?

When I gained weight because of getting too much of a kind of attention I wasn’t equipped to handle?

When I lost 50 pounds on Optifast?

When I gained 50 pounds when my husband got cancer?

When I lost 60 pounds through sheer discipline, strict calorie control and exercising so much I eventually got hurt?

When I stopped loving king at a scale at all because it made me want to kill myself?

When I figured out that I should treat myself as well as I expect my friends to treat me?

When my Hgb A1C started creeping from pre-diabetes into the stop fucking around and do something zone?

The first time I ate a whole bag of potato chips without even realizing it?

When I signed up for a bariatric surgery seminar?

Does a journey start with the first step or with all of the things that make you think you might need to take the trip?

As usual, I am full of questions.

Maybe this time some of them will be answered.

What do you value?

It’s the end of the college football season, and that means it’s time for the annual dance known as coaching changes.

I keep reading comments from fans and media pointing out how the coaches have to do what’s best for their families and make sure they’re getting paid fairly. Leaving aside the question of how much money is fair for anyone to make–how much more care does a family need if you’re already making over 2 million dollars a year?

Sure Scott Frost, Willie Taggart and all of the other coaches in the States want to take care of their families. Sure they have places they love. Places where they have extended family. Lots of us do. But let’s not pretend that going after a multi-million dollar paycheck has anything to do with taking care of their families. They can take care of them just fine for 100K. Luxuriously for 500K.

“But their families are from there!”

A lot of people live in places they don’t have extended family because of their jobs. Professors. Traveling nurses. Photographers. Many professions require being where the work is. Coaching is one of those professions.

If they wanted to take care of their families, maybe they should have just stayed at home in the first place! Or maybe they should have selected a profession that doesn’t require them to travel.

What is teaching young men to play a game at an elite level really worth? Does it have more value than, say, educating young adults to become doctors or architects? Is it worth more than the nurse who takes care of your sick baby in the NICU? More than the paramedic who gets you to the hospital alive?

The average yearly wage for a full professor at the University of Oregon is around $115,000. The Athletic Director makes around 700,000.  The new head coach of the football team makes around 2.5 million a year. As an assistant coach he made $717K. Many of the coaches and assistant coaches are making more money  than the man who runs the entire athletic program. Certainly more than the athletes who are putting their bodies on the line in order to play.

In a society where we prove what we value by throwing money at it,  we may wish to reconsider our priorities. What are the things we really value?

Paying for healthcare for everyone who needs it doesn’t seem to be valued by all of us. Hint: everyone needs it, so why isn’t it valued more?

Taking care of the veterans who defend out country? We love to say we love our veterans, but not if it means providing money for the care and housing they require after they leave active service.

Making sure the teachers working with our children make enough money to take care of their own families?

Making sure our nation’s infrastructure is in good repair?

Everyone would probably say all of those things are important, and they are all wildly underfunded. So why don’t we put our money where are mouths are? Why are we so willing to pay a college coach $5 million a year, or an actor $30 million for a movie, but not pay a teacher enough money to support her family? Why will we pay a corporate executive $10 million, but a nurse only $70,000?

Am I saying that sports and other forms of entertainment are without value? Absolutely not. We need authors, artists, athletes, actors and all of the people who keep our minds engaged. The people who make us laugh. The ones who make us cheer. They are part of what makes life so much fun.

What we need to do, though, is make sure that we balance the value of entertainment and entertainers with the value of the people who really run things around here. Oh, not the politicians and bosses–the plumbers, electricians and carpenters. The computer people. The farmers. The doctors and nurses. The pilots. The truck drivers.  The people who feed us, take care of us when we’re sick and make sure we are warm and comfortable. The people who make things.

We all have a role to play in the world, but we’ve lost sight of what is really valuable.

It’s something we all need to start thinking more about.