Adventures in American Healthcare

A few days before I left England, my ear began to itch, in the spot where I used to have a cartilage piercing. I didn’t worry about it, but scratched at it, absentmindedly, thinking I really should do something about it but then forgetting. Then I got on a 10 hour flight, followed immediately by a 16 hour train ride. I got to my dad’s house and felt exhuasted and my ear was irrated to heck. I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror and my entire ear was red enough that I could step in for Rudolph and save Christmas, in case a holiday movie suddemly formed around me.
My dad took me to see a doctor at an “urgent care clinic.” This is American for a walk-in clinic. First, a nurse took my contact details and then told me to wait in the lobby. The primary feature of this was a large flatscreen TV showing adverts for prescription drugs. “Feeling stressed? Ask your doctor about Damitol. Damitol can help with burts of impotent rage. Do not take Damitol if you are already taking Fukitol. Side effects of Damitol may include becoming red faced, excessive sputtering and fatigue. Damitol works best when combined with diet and exercise. . . .” Blah blah blah. They had a 5 or 10 minute advert for a diabetes drug. Then they had a minute or two of random health-related information, then another advert. It was all branded as CNN Health.
“This is weird.” I said to my dad.
“I think it’s just general information about insulin . . . oh. That is weird.”
A nurse took me back, weighed me, took my blood pressure, pulse and temperature and asked about allergies. All interactions with healthcare providers in the US start with weight, blood pressure, etc. I explained about my ear, which was significantly less red by then. She took notes and left.
A moment later, the doctor came in and I repeated my story. He looked at my ear for 5 seconds and prescribed sulfa antibiotics. “They’re cheap,” he explained. I asked something about my ear and he said it was probably a staph infection and they tend to respond to sulpha.
“Staph?!” I thought.
“Unless it’s MRSA,” he continued.
I quit listening to his list of dire diseases. I asked about side effects and he started talking about posssible allergic reactions. “In the worst case your mouth and tongue will swell up and . . .”
“I just wanted to know if it was ok to drink or not.” I interrupted.
“If you drink, it will make the allergic reaction hit more quickly . . .”
I stopped listening again. Then I went out to the front to pay. Actually, my dad paid. It was over $100. Then we went to a pharmacy, where the drugs were only $14. They really were quite cheap.
The pharmacist explained that they might upset my stomach, etc. i had forgotten that in the States, you get this information from pharmacists and not doctors. Probably because we were in Washington state, she didn’t mention that I should stay out of the sun.
So I started taking antibiotics, wondering if my British GP would have prescribed them. he certainly would have poked my ear several times first. I also started putting hot compresses on it. It hurt if anything touched it, so no wearing headphones or hats or sleeping on that side.
Last night, on the 8th day, it was bright red again. And still hurting and warm to the touch this morning, so I resolved to go to a clinic. I called the one closest to my house. They weren’t answering, so I called another which was taking a holiday and then another and another. Every clinic seems to be closed today, except for one 3 miles away, which said it was open, but the recptionist was busy. I cycled over. It was closed.
Finally, I tried the Berkeley Free Clinic and was startled when a person answered. I described my woes. “You need to be seen,” he said, but they couldn’t see me before Monday. “Do you have money or insurance?” The person asked. Money, yes. Insurance, no. He suggested that I go to Highland Hospital. “They have an urgent care clinic. Go to the emergency room and they’ll direct you.”
I faffed around for a bit and finally got on a bus. Highland is an emergency-only hospital with a reputation for highly organised, professional helpful staff in the midst of the complete chaos.
I asked for the urgent care clinic and was told it had closed down. They said they just do it all in emergency now. The intake person said it was fine that I wasn’t having an emergency and took my ID and told me to sit.
I got called up to a triage desk and a nurse took my temperature pulse and blood pressure and asked about allergies and past illnesses. “When was your last tetnus shot?” Then she asked what the problem was and gave me a red wristband to indicate that I have allergies. She told me to wait in a different room.
I got called back to a different desk where I was asked for ID again, address, emergency contact information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, whether I had a job and a GP and many other questions. “Did you come by car or bus?” Then, she told me to wait again.
A nurse called me and walked me over to a bunch of cublicles. “Wait here for a moment.” He said and then vanished. A while later, a woman introduced herself as a doctor and I repeated my entire tale of woe. She looked in my ears and then prodded my ill one a bit. She said it was a minor infection and would probably go away on its own, but decided to prescribe me new antibiotics. She told me to keep sitting there and a nurse would come.
The nurse had the prescription forms. “You have to take these every 6 hours, which is a pain in the ass.” She looked at my warm, but no longer red ear and wondered why I had been given a prescription at all. She lead me to wait for a financial advisor. While waiting, I heard an announcement calling the trauma team to assemble, saying a type 2 trauma would be arriving in 8 minutes.
The financial person asked if I had a job and for ID. I said I worked in England. “So you’re not a resident of California?” Well, I kind of am, I’m just studying abroad. I gave her my expired drivers lisence. It has the wrong name on it. This did not help clarify matters. She said I would need to provide pay stubs to prove my income. I said they were in England. She sent me to wait to talk to her supervisor.
I looked at the information provided to me while I waited. “Cellulitis usually clears up on its own.” No mention of staph or mrsa. The financial person called me back.
“You’re not a resident here.” We began again. I finally gave up. She asked what had happened during my visit. “Oh, that won’t cost much anyway.”
“How much will it be?”
They don’t tally it up for a couple of weeks. In my experience, a trip to an emergency room is at least $400, so I really hope this will be billed as if their clinic still existed.
I took the prescription to Walgreens pharmacy, despite knowing that they have a 1000% markup on some drugs, including ones I got from them in the past. 7 days of the new antibiotic cost $60, but if I spend $20 to enroll on their discount program, I could get it for $30. Obviously, they have a large markup on antibiotics also. Charming. I enrolled in the program. The form I got explained that it was not health insurance. No kidding.

Post Script

The bill from Highland came out to $283, which is a lot less than I’d anticipated.

Not Shopping at Amazon

Dear Sir or Madam,

I was distressed to read in the Guardian that you quit hosting wikileaks’s website ( I had intended to do all of my Christmas shopping with, but instead, I’ll find an online retailer who does not practice censorship. I’m very disappointed by this and I hope you change your mind.

Thank you for your time,
C Hutchins

Sooooo….. anybody got any suggestions about from where I should mail-order gifts for my family in the US?
First of all, I think the wikileaks thing is really cool. On the one hand, it is a problem for diplomats if they can’t write frank assessments for fear of seeing them in newspapers. But, on the other hand, there’s so much unnecessary and undemocratic secrecy that the embarrassment of the diplomatic corps is a small issue by comparison.
Also, the leaks don’t seem to be actually making the US look as bad as I thought they would. The bad behaviour (bombing and lying about it) was already fairly well known. I didn’t know, however, that the US was being pressured by Arab states to declare war on Iran. I would have guessed the opposite. So I’m happy to learn the US has been resisting this course of action. Also, the the cables about Sarkozy and others are really fascinating.
I’m also very happy to hear that banks are next. This is whistle-blowing on a large scale.
They keep telling us that if we’ve done nothing wrong, we have nothing to fear. Well, large, powerful organisations like governments and banks actually should be accountable to society at large, so prying into their secrets actually serves a useful purpose whereas CCTV cameras pointing into our windows do not. If the banks hadn’t destroyed the economy, I’m sure the prospect fo seeing their memos leaked would be much less pertinent. So I hope wikileaks keeps it up. Also, Manning is a hero, assuming he did it.
What’s not cool is Amazon giving in to government pressure. This is part of why I’m very wary of using US-based web services. Certainly EU governments do censor things, but the land of the free and home of the brave seems to be full of corporations who cooperate very easily. Also, as far as government goes, the Patriot Act gives them the right to spy on us, which is also not really what you want from your IT provider.
In short, Amazon pulling the plug makes the US, and especially US-based companies, look worse than the leaked documents do.
But seriously, from where should I order Christmas gifts? And what does one get for a 2 year old, anyway?

Body Scanners

Passengers who wish to fly from the UK have no choice as to whether to allow the government to peek at their genitals. However, in the US, you can opt to allow an agent to feel them (through clothes) instead. Speaking as somebody with an unusual genital configuration, I would rather allow myself to be groped than photographed, for a few reasons. One is that nobody can keep a copy of a grope to look at later. Another is that it’s highly possible I would be groped anyway and I don’t want to be singled out for special attention based on an unusual scan. Finally, I don’t wish to increase my risk factors for skin cancer by stepping into a beam of ionising radiation, if I can at all avoid it. For those who are fertile, there are also issues with exposing germ cells to radiation, especially those with testicles, as these would normally be shielded during an X-Ray.
There is a movement afoot to try to get people to ask for a grope instead of a scan, especially on the Wednesday before thanksgiving, when many people in the US will be flying. The TSA is making ridiculous statements about this helping terrorists, however, I’d like to posit that when getting on an airplane necessitates security agents looking at or feeling my genitals, the terrorists have already won. It is your right to ask for a “pat down” instead of a scan. This may be inconvenient for TSA agents, but this is a normal tactic of protesting. It would hardly do any good to launch a protest that nobody noticed.
Today, I read an article in the New York Times, which stated, “Do the imagers, for example, detect sanitary napkins? Yes. Does that then necessitate a pat-down? The T.S.A. couldn’t say.” So some security worker at the airport knows whether or not you’re menstruating. Charming. And they may or may not decide to grope you as a result of that. “Screeners, the T.S.A. has said, are expected to exercise some discretion.” They have little training, no union, low pay and no job protections, but a lot of discretion, I’m sure.
This is just too much. I wrote a letter to my senators:

Dear Senator –,

I am wiring to oppose the new body scanning devices that have been installed at airports. Today, I read in the New York Times that the devices are able to detect menstrual pads and the TSA “couldn’t say” whether this detection would necessitate a pat down. ( This level of grossly indecent privacy invasion is unAmerican. It is an outrage.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the pat down one receives if they opt out (or potentially, if they’re menstruating) involves a TSA agent feeling the passenger’s genitals. All aspects of this policy are horrifying and I hope you take action to change it.

Thank you for your time.

Charles Hutchins

Ok, yes, I did actually call something unAmerican. I know this is problematic. But Americans are, by and large, a prudish people and this is really not prudish at all and hence violates the national character. Also, I am exceedingly annoyed.
I wrote a different letter to my Representative, Barbara Lee, who is a proper leftist and involved with the Progressive Caucus in the House:

Dear Representative Lee,

I am wiring to oppose the new body scanning devices that have been installed at airports. As a transgender person, I am concerned about how these machines peer unnecessarily and invasively at my genitals. I am also highly concerned that once a security screener becomes aware that I’m transgender, I may be subject to discrimination or be publicly humiliated.

I intend to opt to be patted down instead, but as this involves an agent feeling my genitals, it’s hardly better. There is little evidence that any of this makes us safer while flying but it certainly causes me and many others quite a lot of distress. I’m faced with a terrible choice between not seeing my family over the holidays or having my genitals looked at and/or touched by a TSA agent.

I hope you can do something to improve this situation.

Charles Hutchins

New Passport Due Soon

I have just returned home from the US Embassy in London. In three weeks, a new passport with correct information will arrive by post. Huzzah!

Always be Prepared

This is a culmination of a much longer process. In May, I changed my name via statutory declaration. Then I contacted my phone companies to get them to change their records. I brought a copy of the form to my GP’s surgery. Most Brits change their name via deed poll, as it’s cheaper and easier, so the receptionist had never seen a statutory declaration before and was reluctant to accept it, but eventually did so. Then I went to my bank, who I hate with the fire of 999 suns, and they refused to let me change my name on my account at all, unless I could also provide photo ID in the new name. And finally, I went to my university, who updated my student records and ID card and printed out a letter affirming that I am a student there.
Then, I had to wait for phone bills to arrive in my name and to call BT more than once. And finally, appointment letters from the hospital where I had top surgery provided the final documents. So I then had three types of paperwork with my new name on it.
Shortly after I began compiling paperwork to change my name, the US State Department changed their rules about gender markers on passports. The letter I was planning on asking my surgeon for would no longer count. However, a letter from my GP would suffice. I asked him to write one saying I had completed transition, as then I could get a full term passport instead of a two year one. And, indeed, under the terms of the new regulations, I have completed transition. I find this to be entirely reasonable, as nobody would mistake me for a woman if they saw me or talked to me and the state of the parts of me covered by clothes are nobody’s business but those in who’s company I choose to disrobe.
My GP wrote the letter and charged me £25 for it. When the surgery’s receptionist asked me to pay, I was initially surprised, but then went to a bank and got some cash. GP practices are privately owned and the money they get from the NHS doesn’t cover things like letters to foreign governments. If this had been a problem for me, I think I could have gotten the Charing X psychiatrists to write a letter for me. That would also be acceptable to the embassy, but it’s over a month until I even see them again.
Armed with all of this paperwork, I made an appointment to go to the embassy, as you can’t just turn up. I began to fill out the application forms. They wanted to know if I had ever been married and what was the date of that and what was the date of my divorce. The divorce date, I remember. The date of the marriage? Not so much. I went back reading through old blog posts, seeing if I could figure it out. The ceremony was on day, but a paperwork snafu meant we got the license on the following monday . . . finally, I made a guess. And then I remembered the Defence of Marriage Act.
Every country in the world considers me to be legally divorced, except for my home country, where they hold that I was never married at all. When I was in Holland, I had to get a certificate to say I wasn’t currently married, so I have US Government-issued documentation that says I’m divorced, but they don’t actually back that statement. The state of California, however, also considers me to be divorced, as do five other states. It’s a strange sort of feeling, the one of non-recognition. The marriage may not have felt real, but the divorce certainly did. All those documents and lawyers fees and bitter acrimony never actually happened according to the great country of my birth. Obama said something about overturning that law, the one that says that years of my life weren’t real, but he didn’t actually mean it.


The embassy makes people queue outside, on the pavement. Fortunately, the weather was sunny. I waited for a while with non-US citizens and then got into the correct queue. I knew one of the security guards from when I played in the gay band. She came over to chat and then came back to let me skip ahead of the queue. I appreciated the gesture and it made me a lot less nervous, actually. ID checks and pat downs make me nervous, for obvious reasons. She was cool. I did feel a bit guilty about queue-jumping though. I hadn’t brought my phone, although I could have and they would have held it for me. They took my USB stick and my Boris Bike fob.
The architecture of the US embassy is somewhat reminiscent of the Lincoln Center in New York. It’s sort of brutalist concrete, but with a lot of decorative corrugation. Inside the waiting room, there are gold-coloured metal columns. I wish I’d got a picture of it, but, of course, cameras are not allowed. I also wish I’d gotten a picture of the sign that sad to beware of terrorist bombs. “If you suspect something, call 999.” it said in small print at the bottom. I sat in one of the several rows of chairs and waited to be called.
Over the course of the last week or so, I’ve had an email correspondence with an embassy worker who was not very informed about new State Department rules. She seemed to think a surgery letter was still required. She asked for a “background statement,” something left undefined. When I asked for more information, I was instructed to ask for a particular staff member when I got there. So when I was called to the window, I asked to speak with the staff member with whom I had been having emails. She was a posh woman, apparently the manager. She told me to go to a window in a private chamber – a room with a door, however the walls don’t go up all the way to the ceiling, creating an illusion of privacy where none exists.
She started to ask about my medical history. Had I fully transitioned surgically? It seemed as if she was trying to be delicate while enquiring about the state of my genitals. In fact, the State Department has no right to any information beyond the letter written by my GP. What operations I have or have not had are none of their business. I explained that under the new rules, the letter from my GP should suffice. She said that the letter was only good for a two year passport.
The hassle of a two year passport isn’t just that I would need to return to the embassy every 18 months. The UK will not issue me a visa that extends longer than my passport, so my plans to get a two year work visa after graduating would become much more of a bother. Also, I would have to produce a new GP letter every time and appear in person with it. Otherwise, I would revert back to my initial state.
I argued that this is not what the new rules said and I was certainly not going to disclose information to which she had no right. I had the distinct impression that she just wanted me to declare that I’d had surgery, not actually provide documentation of it. I refused to budge, but the strength of my principles was somewhat undermined by the fact that one of the documents I brought to demonstrate that I’d changed my name specifically mentioned “mastectomy for transgender.” She called me up later to say that document would do nicely, but they were going to have to write to the States for guidance on the new rules. I hope they are provided with ample clarification. Indeed, plastic surgeons are not even on the list of doctors allowed to provide documentation.
The first time I spoke with her, she noted that she had seen a lot of this sort of thing before, and I certainly wouldn’t be the last. Perhaps she was trying to appear professional, but it was more of a knowingness, like she was an anthropologist and I was an exotic subject of study, about which she might one day write a book. So despite, apparently, being entirely successful in my mission to change my name and gender on my passport, I was still fairly wound up when I left. I rode a Boris Bike home, pedalling away my annoyance. Mostly.


I can see from my facebook newsfeed that a lot of my USian friends are boycotting BP. BP ignored a lot of safety stuff, had a history of infractions and there’s been a huge disaster as a result. This kind of reminds me of the previous, then-largest spill in US history, when the Exxon Valdez crashed in Alaska. They also failed to follow safety regulations or best practices. Their filed statement about what to do in case of spill was similarly bogus (it assumed that all spills would take place in perfect weather on the summer solstice). Angry consumers also wanted to launch a boycott.
It turns out that it’s really hard to boycott oil from any particular refinery or source. Oil is fungible and the gas station closest to your house might have a particular brand on it, but they’re probably selling oil from many different refineries, including competitors. If nobody wants to buy BP gas at the BP station, the price of that gas will fall and Shell will buy it and start selling it from their own stations. You can hurt BP’s retail brand, but you can’t touch their refineries and wells unless you cut your overall gas consumption.
I’m not going to talk about car travel, because that’s too obvious. But we heat our houses with natural gas or diesel fuel, which is also a petroleum product. We heat our water with natural gas. Taking shorter or cooler showers is a way to stop throwing so much money at BP.
Also, we can be secondary consumers of petroleum. If I buy produce that’s flown on an airplane, I’m paying for the jet fuel that brought it to me. So to keep money form BP, I could try to buy more locally grown produce. I could try to get local stuff in general, or just buy less stuff, and thus give less money to BP.
Plastic is a petroleum product. Reusable shopping bags and reusable water bottles will keep money from BP.
A lot of electricity is generated from natural gas (including some which comes from plants that are supposed to be solar. They make up for cloudy days with gas), so turning stuff of at night, etc keep money from BP.
Now, obviously, because oil is fungible, these same steps keep money from other oil companies too. But, really, every oil company is up to no good someplace in the world. Shell is not currently causing problems in the US, but they’re doing all kind of bad things in Africa. Exxon (now branded Valero) hasn’t spilled anything in the US recently, but the Alaskan coast still hasn’t recovered – and neither have the workers who tried to clean up the spill without being provided proper safety equipment. Basically, there’s no such thing as a good oil company. And BP is the one that’s currently causing problems in the US, but every oil company is causing problems for somebody somewhere. Oil is dirty and toxic and often under places of great natural beauty or places where people inconveniently live (but can be removed from with armed violence). Countries that we might not want to be best buddies with sell us a lot of oil. And burning it causes stronger hurricanes and will eventually melt the world’s coral reefs.
So boycotting BP is a good start, but if we want to get serious about this and ensure real change that prevents stuff like this from happening in the future, we need to think bigger. Many countries require relief wells to be drilled at the same time as regular wells. Congress could pass a law requiring that if we ask them to. They could legislate that best practices be followed. And the US uses more petroleum per person than any other country – totalling a quarter of the world’s oil. That makes us vulnerable to spills and foreign powers. BP is just a tiny piece of a much larger problem that spans an entire industry and the way our lives are organised. If we want to fight them, we need to stop requiring so much of what they sell.

Hey, the State Department Changed Their Rules

It’s now way easier for USian transgender people to get their passport corrected. The new rules are published. From now, people need only be receiving an appropriate course of treatment and do not need surgery. This is established by a doctor’s letter. And the ever-helpful National Center for Transgender Equality has a sample letter available. Only certain types of doctors can write the letter. They haven’t yet stated what they will want from foreign doctors, but I’m going to call on Monday to ask. I imagine that in the UK, it should be fairly straightforward.

Why this is good news

There are a bunch of obvious reasons why this rule change is good. People can have an identity document that matches their presentation, thus making border crossings a lot easier. People in the US who do not have the thousands of dollars it takes for surgery can now get a passport. People who, for health reasons, cannot have surgery can get a correct passport. Trans people will no longer be subject to mandatory sterilisation in order to qualify for a correct passport.
FTMs could sometimes get away with just having top surgery to meet vaguely worded rules, but after Thomas Beattie (the pregnant man), some officials were more aware that some FTMs had male ID but were still fertile, and sought to stamp that out. Also, MTF surgery is widely understood to include sterilisation.
There are a lot of trans people who do not want to stay fertile, and they shouldn’t have to. But there’s a reason that phrases like “mandated sterilisation” make one shift uncomfortably. It’s a human rights violation. Trans people should have the same rights to become parents that cis people have. Cis people are not forced legally to decide whether they can have appropriate identity documents or can produce offspring. Now, at least for passports, trans people are no longer forced to make that choice either.

I Changed my Name Today

I am now, legally, Charles Céleste Hutchins. (But you can keep calling me Les). I changed my name via a device called a statutory declaration. Rather than hiring a solicitor to draft the document, I used a web form at Press for Change and added a spot at the bottom for me to sign. I printed it out and then called around Solicitors in my area. One of them told me to just pop by.
A woman there looked at the form and had me sign it in front of her. My signature is wonky as I’ve never signed “Charles” before. Then, she she asked me to raise my right hand and swear that the contents of the form were true and correct, so I did so, feeling kind of goofy. She then filled out her part and stamped it. I paid £7 for this, which is apparently the going rate.
There are several ways you can change your name in the UK, but this kind is the only one recognised by the US embassy. I also need to show that I’ve been using the new name, so I called my phone company and will need to mail or fax them a copy of the form. Tomorrow, I’ll go to my bank for a new checque book and then my GP for a new NHS card. Those three documents should be enough for me to get a new passport with my new legal name. I will also need to inform my university and documents that they send me would also count for the embassy.
This is a lot easier than changing at home would have been. I’m quite pleased.

I write letters

Dear Honorable Senator,

I am writing to encourage you to protect meaningful health care reform by protecting the public option and women’s access to reproductive health services. In order to be meaningful, the public option must be available to everyone, even if their employers offer health insurance. I would chose government-run health care and would like the right to do so no matter what my employment situation.

I’m alarmed about the abortion amendment tacked on to the house version of the bill. I hope that the senate is able to protect women’s rights to access abortion.

Thank you for your leadership on health issues.

C Hutchins

Write your congress person

The public option is a compromise, and not a very good one. But access to health care is a moral issue and we have to do whatever we can to make sure that everybody has access. We can pass a compromise now and fix the rest of it later.
Howard Dean has a list of how everybody in congress has indicated they’re going to vote on health reform. The number of people who “don’t know” if they support a public option is high enough to swing it either way.
Feinstein is on the list of “don’t know”s, so I used her web form to send her a letter.

Dear Honorable Senator Feinstein,

I would like to encourage you to support a public option for health care reform. Any bill which does not include this option is not real reform. I voted for Obama partly because of his promises on this issue.

I vote absentee in California, but I’m studying overseas in England. The NHS is a fantastic system and we would be doing well to recreate it in the states. A public option is a compromise and not the best one. Failure to support even that is not just a political failure, it’s a moral failure. I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you of the alarmingly high number of uninsured children in California. They are counting on you to support a real reform, with at least a public option.

Thank you for your time,

C. Hutchins

It’s probably also worthwhile to write congress people who support it and thank them.


The image that pops into your head on my post title up there says a lot about where you fall on the political spectrum in the US. For those of you thinking about unsanitary practices, there was recently some discontent about taxes in the US, as there often is. And long ago, there was the Boston Tea Party, where angry revolutionaries threw cases of tea off of a boat rather than have anybody pay taxes on them. Somebody more recently was inspired by this story and organized a protest where people would throw tea into a body of water. And since loose leaf tea is uncommon, or, at the very least, more expensive than Lipton, tea bags were littered into a water way. This seemed like an idea worth copying on other places and somebody gave it the name “teabagging.” Somebody wholesome gave it that name.
These unfortunately-named parties were not originally organized by the Republican party, but they seized on it. Now if you want to see somebody holding up a sign calling Obama a Nazi, a Muslim, s Socialist or the Anti-Christ, well, here’s the venue for you. It’s too easy for us urban elites to mock these parties. They share a name with a sex act. They attract spectacularly misinformed people, some of whom are clearly racist. But I think it’s an error to dismiss them out of hand.
How many of you, when writing you check for the last tax day, thought of some of it going to a $5 million AIG bonus? Or some kind of bank or financial institution. Admit it, you felt even less good about mailing in your check than usual. What’s the point, they’re just going to give it to a hedge fund, right? This annoyance you feel could be rage. Maybe it should be rage. Houses sit empty while homelessness grows and we give our tax money to bankers!
If you ask any of the folks at these tea-tossing rallies what they think the word “socialism” means, they will start talking to you about giving away money to banks. If you say, “what if we spent it on healthcare for everybody instead?” most of them would think that was a good idea. These folks actually want a mixed-socialist economy, they just don’t know it’s called that. Thanks to Fox News Newspeak, they use all the wrong words for things. There is no word in their heads for what they want, so they express their extreme discontent and social and economic insecurity by symbolic protest (and misuse of another, less innocent term).
People are becoming radicalized by the economy and they could go either way. Obviously, I would prefer it if the left won, and so would most of the people throwing Lipton around. There used to be a quite popular flyer that listed all the stuff you could buy for the cost of a single stealth bomber. Hundreds of schools, hospitals, etc. Well, what could you buy for trillions of dollars? How many YEARS of universal healthcare? How many bridges could be rebuilt, giving people jobs and making roads safer? You see where I’m going, but instead of just listing the object that would be there at the end, also mention the means. Workers build those projects. Workers like the folks at the rallies.
The financial sector is fucked to be sure, but we didn’t get out of the Great Depression by giving money to banks, we got out of it through a massive government spending program. Rather than a devastating war, we could rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Giving these folks the security and employment they need is also the key to fixing the economy. But this plan does not widen the gap between rich and poor, so it’s not on the agenda and it won’t be until protests force it to be. This could be the germ of change. Stop snickering and start a conversation!