Individually Rapped

In Freedom!, Random Life on March 4, 2011 at 1:42 am

“This revolution has transformed Libyans, has made us feel that there is a thing called freedom that must be won, and that one should not enjoy it alone, at the expense of others’ happiness, toil or lives…

…Our revolution is a revolution of the people, people who can no longer stand the stench of tyranny, who cannot be healed by handouts.” — Mohammad al-Asfar, “Libya’s Patient Revolutionaries,” NYTimes

“real gangstas make billions making slaves of civilians
making slaves of ya children making slaves do the killin
really the game’s brilliant create the pain and the illness
then sell you the medicine that they claim will heal it
Real Gangstas don’t need guns to leave ya brains on the ceiling
they teach ya self hatred and leave ya chained by ya feelings”

~ jasiri x, “Real Gangstas”

Are we individually wrapped in our feelings like a plastic spoon? Or can individually rapped dreams soar into a collective swoon?

“The hollow cry of broke” is at least half true, not because we lack money, but because our society is broke when it divides me and you.

Tomorrow (March 4, 2011),  the nurses of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. are holding a one-day strike for better staffing ratios, and to attempt to resolve a now year-long dispute over shift differentials and firings of senior nurses during the “snowmaggedon” storm last year .


“Executives at the hospital have said that they are under enormous pressure to trim costs. Admissions at the hospital are down, as they are elsewhere.”

Maybe people are too scared to go to the doctor for illness…they realize it is a gamble on either their home or their health if they don’t have insurance…even with insurance, the cost of premiums and high deductibles is an effective tax…countries with universal health care only appear to pay  higher tax rates than we do because we accept healthcare as a cost of living.

Sometimes we pay the health insurance executives twice, as in the case of another 8% rise in our condo fees after a 10% rise last year…due to a staggering projected increase in the cost of our condo maintenance workers’ health insurance over the next 2 years, to  7/10 as much as payroll itself.  Wow–the cost of health insurance for the workers almost equals the cost of water for the entire condominium community.  We pay fully for their insurance, as well as our own private health plans, if we have them.

Not just our community, but condo associations and towns all across the U.S., would be relieved of an immense burden if we had a medicare for all type system funded by our taxes.

So, _The Washington Post_  article cited above also undermines the nurses with a strategy similar to the events in Wisconsin and Ohio…they are well paid, what are they complaining about?  The problem is, the median income for this area, which Fairfax County, VA, is a big part of, is $150,000…which has pushed home prices to such astronomical levels that a majority of people are paying upwards of 60% of their incomes to their homes….and is why nurses are driving in from 2 hours away, as noted in the article.

I cannot find the article I read from 2010, but this one from 2007 states a problem that continues:

“For example, a medical services manager who earned $87,300 a year could afford only 14 percent of the homes in the Washington area last year, compared with 49 percent four years earlier, the study said.”


But the issue is as much about unity, dignity, and the power to control their work environment–the hospital– as about specific wages…it is heartening to see that the pastor of the church recognized that his congregants had been served by these nurses…and as a community member, I plan to join their picket line too…I could only be there in spirit in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Wisconsin…but tomorrow is the day to lend my voice in the flesh to unity, in defiance of the dominant narrative of division that plays throughout our media, that may as well be “state-run,” since it is wholly “corporate-run.”

And if we were really successful tomorrow,  it would dovetail into a much larger community movement for a more affordable health care system paid through our taxes…not only eliminating health insurance companies, but also restructuring the non-profit/for-profit hospital system, creating more community hospitals, and also focusing more on people, with high-nurture, low-tech delivery of care.  Ah, to return to the days when nurses really did give you a warm bath, a soothing back rub, fresh, sweet-smelling sheets, and held your hand…couldn’t you be cured of almost anything if you had the right nurse doing so? And even if it didn’t cure,  you wouldn’t mind enduring the insult of illness so much?

We were just in the hospital twice in the last 3 months, and this op-ed by Dr. Verghese rang so true, as our nurse, also, had  her back to us while she filled out a computer screen and asked my daughter to rate her pain–not even making eye contact, let alone holding her hand! (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/opinion/27verghese.html?scp=1&sq=treat%20the%20patient,%20not%20the%20ct%20scan&st=cse)

As Mr. al-Asfar sang above, this thing called freedom not only should not, but cannot, be enjoyed alone…it shrivels if we have all the freedom in the world to raise our voices, to collect in the streets and at the doors of employers, but rather than uniting and exercising that freedom, we remain dispersed…and, worse, divide ourselves in a petty blaming that keeps our wrath from the rightful targets.

Tomorrow is a day to bring all the high-spirited idealism nourished by the revolutions of the last weeks to our own streets.   If they can overcome all fears and obstacles, so can we. We will one day rejoice in proportion to our efforts.  Now is the time for those efforts!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: