Thursday, November 3, 2022

Values Mean More Than Profits

Like many writers I make notes of topics and quotes to be used in future prose. (On “60 Minutes” last Sunday the writer David Sedaris displayed a pad he uses for quick notetaking. I quickly pointed out to Gilda my companionship with Sedaris, though our similarities ended when it was revealed his writing success has enabled him to own multiple homes around the world and a Picasso.)


Sometimes I inscribe my notes on my iPhone. Usually I jot them down on a piece of paper I carry in my shirt pocket next to a pen (a journalist hardly ever goes anywhere, even inside his home, without a pen or pencil at the ready).


The paper fills up over the course of a month, not just with story ideas but also with errands and tasks I need to perform as I cannot rely on memory alone to fulfill my obligations or desires.


When there’s no more room on the page I transcribe the notations still to be accomplished on a new sheet, often with great difficulty as my scribble is difficult to read even by me. For the last several months I’ve had the following on my “to do” list: “Values mean more than profits.”


I’ve forgotten the context of where, who and what prompted me to write down the aphorism, but with less than a week before Tuesday’s elections, it seemed particularly relevant.


It appears, according to many polls and prognosticators, that monetary issues and crass political calculations will supersede social issues when voters cast their ballots.


Many voters complain Washington does nothing useful, forgetting or not realizing that under the first two years of the Biden presidency 10 million jobs were created; unemployment has been at historically low levels; a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package was passed; 500 million COVID-19 shots were administered; stronger gun control measures were enacted; Congress passed a $369 billion bill to combat climate change; college debt relief was initiated; child poverty was cut in half; prescription drug prices were capped at $2,000 per year for seniors on Medicare; a 15% minimum corporate tax on some of the largest corporations in the country was imposed; Medicare was given the power to negotiate prescription drug prices; and healthcare premiums under the Affordable Care Act were reduced by $800 a year. 


On a more global scale, Biden recommitted to the Paris Accords on climate change; ended U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan; strengthened NATO; aided Ukraine in its war with Russia; authorized the assassination of al-Queda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (https://www.upworthy.com/amp/joe-biden-s-23-greatest-achievements-as-president-of-the-united-states-so-far-2658343604). 


However, as Biden himself would say, “I get it.” Voters don’t see the big picture. They just see high gas prices and high food bills. 


They don’t see how voting in Republicans will accelerate statewide and perhaps national efforts to eliminate and even criminalize abortions, perhaps even conferring personhood status to fetuses. 


They don’t see how arch conservative judges will become even more dominant in state and federal courts, granting more power to corporations and fewer avenues of redress to ordinary citizens, especially minorities. 


They don’t see how electing Republicans will invigorate Trumpism and honest election deniers and further stalemate Congress as the GOP seeks to tit-for-tat impeach Biden. 


They don’t see how Republicans want to cut back or even eliminate Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 


Yes, I cannot recall how I came to believe that values mean more than profits. But I can clearly see the outcome of an election that could set the country on a course from which it could take decades to recover. 

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