Tue, May

At Least Seven Reasons Why We Should Be Thankful!


THE VIEW FROM HERE-This is the time of year we are expected to give thanks—for family and friends and good health, for a good job.  Of course, not all of us are lucky enough to have great family relationships or are ill or may have been recently laid off or all of the above.  The supposed-to-be’s can sometimes make us sad.  But there are silver linings. Perhaps a pot of gold will not be found at the end of the rainbow but there may one filled with silver or bronze. 


I am an inveterate optimist, a Pollyanna if you will (can you remember who she is?), an incorrigible cup-half-full kind of person.  So below is a partial list of items for which we can all be thankful at this time for this year: 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is in place and going to work!  Despite a rocky roll-out, the programs are being fixed.  People are beginning to sign up.  States with their own marketplaces such as Covered California and Kentucky’s e-Health Insurance, let alone  Massachusetts’ long-established plans, are being praised for their great successes .  Many states are already ahead of their projected numbers. 

People who have received cancellation notices should be reminded that insurance companies cancel all the time with no prior notice or rational explanations.  [My husband and I were paying for decades on our life insurance policies (not term life) and were suddenly told they would be cancelled.  And why?  Simply because the companies were not making enough money and laws did not prevent them from doing so.  We had to invest at much higher premiums for new ones.  But these were life policies not health coverage.  Essentially everyone can apply for and receive coverage.]  

These same cancellation notices advised health policy-holders that they could apply for a new policy with their current company, usually offering less for more.  Under the ACA, these cancellees have the option to look at a range of policies that can provide them more for less.  Often the cancelled products were “junk” plans in the first place and had the option to cancel as soon as a claim was made or required extremely high co-pays for very simple procedures or simple office visits. 

Already under the ACA, young people can stay on their parents’ policies until they turn 26.  Already, companies cannot cancel you because of major illnesses or cap the costs for them.  Already, companies cannot deny you a policy because of pre-existing maladies.   

A friend of mine has not been covered over the course of her marriage (both are hard-working independent contractors and have two children).  When I recently saw her, she was so excited:  For the very first time her entire family will be covered through an HMO (offerred through Covered California), a plan which includes  unlimited doctor visits, prescription coverage, lab work, radiology tests, hospital visits, emergency care—most with $5 co-pays.  

Should any of them have to be hospitalized at a significant cost, their only out-of-pocket expense is no more than $4,000.  Both she and her husband have pre-existing health issues (her husband requires surgery) and as of January 1, 2014, he can get his operation and she can receive her treatments—neither will ever be dropped because of their pre-existing conditions and there will be no cap to any prescribed treatments.   Furthermore, since the ACA does not, per se, include vision and dental coverage, there are packages that can be created to include health, vision, and dental at very reasonable costs.  Yes, she was ecstatic!  You can understand why she cried with joy!! 

We can be thankful that once the ACA is fully implemented, millions of previously uninsured or underinsured will be covered.  Contrary to what Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann claim, there will be no death panels but, instead, creation of a pathway to longer, healthier, happier lives.  And taxpayers won’t have to pick up the tab the way Walmart-like programs expect us to do! 

Speaking of Walmart, we can be thankful that Walmart has had its behind handed to them.  The National Labor Relations Board has found Walmart’s corporate practices illegal for threatening and/or retaliating against good, hard-working, diligent employees who had grieved sub-standard working conditions or who spoke up during organized protests and strike actions.  

As you may remember from a previous article, the Our Walmart campaign was created and supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union which set up 1000 protests across the country at Walmart stores in 46 states.  Many workers lost hours, were demoted, harassed, lost pay, and/or were fired as a result of their participation in these completely legal demonstrations.  And to top it off, at this time of “thanksgiving,” the Walmart in Canton, Ohio, started a food drive (which on the surface would seem the righteous thing to do) but this is the thinking behind it:  “Please donate food items here so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner”!  

What a slap in the face to the workers who make the Walton enterprise as profitable as it is.  Now the entire organization, led by the affluent, self-interested Walton family, who look down on their “peons” as nothing more than drudges, will finally have to answer to the NLRB.  I can’t wait to hear just how dramatically the bell tolls for them!  Sam just might be rolling over in his grave. 

We can be thankful that filibuster reformhas finally come to the nation.  Democrats were hesitant to play that card in case the tables should ever be turned in the future.  But finally there is a tipping point from which pols with a conscience cannot turn back!  Way back in the days of Madison, the filibuster concept was created (though utilized few times over the next hundred plus years).  

During the World War I era when President Wilson needed certain wartime action, the filibuster rule was changed so that the vote of only 60 Senators was needed to overcome obstructionism—again a rule that was infrequently used over the next century.  It was also at that time that cloture came into being by which a filibuster could be overridden by a three-fifths vote of the Senators.  

Today, under the guidance of Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, the nuclear option was dropped—the filibuster rule has not been entirely eliminated but modified so that it will only take a simple majority of Senators to approve “presidential nominations to the executive branch and to the courts (except the Supreme Court).”  

From the time that President Obama took office, it was the sworn goal of the Right (not right) to block as much of the President’s agenda as possible through, as Alex Wagner stated, “the promiscuous use of the filibuster.”  

Departments in government could not function properly without directors.  Courts were backlogged and drowning from a long list of trials and decisions that should have been addressed.  Well, all this will change now.  The Republicans’ most recent act of obstruction was the last straw.  Senate Democrats almost unanimously found their collectives spines and took a stand.  I am thankful that we shall all have the opportunity to witness government move in a more positive direction as a result. 

We can be thankful that we are out of Iraq and moving forward to finalizing plans to remove most of our fighting military from Afghanistan.  For those of us who pray at Thanksgiving, let us entreat the heavenly spirits to protect our returning veterans and ask that they come back to loving family and friends and a community which will welcome them with warmth and appreciation as well as a good job which includes healthcare, paid sick days and vacation days, and a decent pension plan at retirement. 

We can be thankful that the LA City Council is addressing our earthquake preparation needs through retrofits of older buildings and consideration of state-of-the-art emergency rescue systems. 

We can be thankful that our wonderful Los Angeles is becoming a hub of cultural activity on the West Coast.  Forget those Eastern snobs who look down their noses at what they perceive as a bunch of countrified hicks who “ain’t got no culta.”  We’ve got LA Live, the Staples Center, the Convention Center, Nokia, the Kirk Douglas Theater, the Music Center which includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson, and the Mark Taper.  And what of the Long Beach and Northridge Performing Arts Centers?  We have professional basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer teams.  The list seems to get longer by the day.  

We can be thankful that 2014 holds promise that obstructionism will be a mere dark memory. 

If Democrats at all levels (consider what has been achieved lately in California alone) obtain the majorities they need, we can witness more construction and less obstruction.  We welcome, of course, the Moderate Republicans who can work with Democrats to attain the goals that the people really want:  a higher minimum wage; immigration reform; nutrition assistance for the needy; a jobs bill to bring about fuller employment—jobs that can repair our infrastructure and green our buildings; a cleaner environment (no XL Pipeline); assistance for students to help them make their way through the higher education system. 

These and more are Democratic goals, and some even used to be that of the more righteous-thinking Republicans (until the Tea Party entered the picture with their threats of  primarying the more independent-thinking  while inundating them with oppositional campaigns to turn those moderates out of office if they didn’t heal to the draconian demands of the far right). 

Yes, these are many of the reasons to feel grateful during this season.  Hopefully, the homeless won’t be out on the cold streets, hungry and hopeless.  Hopefully, we can help to turn their lives around—along with the drug-addicted and mentally ill.  Hopefully, we won’t forget our own relatives and friends.  What about those who have been stuck away in nursing homes?  Let’s not forget them either.  

Hopefully, we can reassess our own goals for the future.  Are they all about the higher-paying job, the bigger house, the grander car, the name-brand clothes—remember the admonition about “conspicuous consumption”?  Yes, let’s be grateful for what we have and what we have accomplished, but let us also consider that we can derive a great deal of satisfaction by helping “the lowly” to achieve their own greatness. 

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all and Happy Chanukah too.  How often does that happen at the same time?  Maybe there is a message there for all of us at this brown-and-orange, candle-lit season of the year.  At least we can think about it!  Maybe even be moved to act!


(Rosemary Jenkins is a Democratic activist and chair of the Northeast Valley Green Coalition. She also writes for CityWatch.)














Vol 11 Issue 96

Pub: Nov 29, 2013






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