Monday, December 15, 2008

But the Good News is...

Life is not easy with a hyperactive social conscience. Combine that with self-righteousness (completely unwarranted), and you've got a recipe for toxic emotional reactionism. I don't know when it started. I was skipping school to attend anti-war rallies when I was 13. When I was 14 or 15, I "rescued" a three-legged dog who was going to be drowned; a family legend that will not die, or even fade. But even I was surprised when I was cruising the paper yesterday morning for blog fodder, and every story pissed me off.

"Are Hospitals Doing Enough for the Poor?" A story about how hospitals get huge tax breaks for providing services to the poor, but contribute only a fraction of that amount in services. Although they are granted non-profit status with a big basket o' tax goodies, the hospitals torture and humiliate people before they provide any aid. Now we also learn that they count other "services" such as providing information on their website, or CE classes for their doctors, as "public benefit." Charity care as a percentage of revenue ranged from .55 to 2.57 percent. And by the way, the CEO's salaries at three of these major hospitals ranges from $844,767 to $1,292,713.

Unfortunately, I know about this first-hand. I had to do some groveling to get financial aid, and only someone with my contrariness could have succeeded. Every time they turned me down for some vague reason, or based on incorrect assumptions, I came back even angrier and more determined.

"Another Honor, Again Too Late" The last Tuskegee airman in the state is to ill to attend the presidential inauguration.

"Life Keeps Getting Worse in Zimbabwe" On top of all the miseries heaped on these poor people in the last decade or two, now there is an outbreak of cholera. Cholera! President Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980 and refuses to acknowledge the recent elections, insists that cholera is a "calculated racist attack" by the British.

"Election Day Disparities Found" If you voted in a predominantly black or Hispanic precinct, you were more likely to encounter long waits and voter ID challenges.

"Rights Violators Buy Arms from U.S." Sales reached $32 billion last year, more than half to governments or regimes that engaged in human rights abuses. Sales to those countries totaled more than $16.2 billion over 2006 and 2007. The total "contrasts sharply with the Bush administrations pro-democracy rhetoric." Yeah, pro-democracy unless his buddies can make a few billion. Then, not so concerned.

"Lunch Program Squeezed" At a time when more students than ever qualify, the money reimbursed to schools "continues to fall short of the actual costs." Gee, if only those hungry schoolchildren could afford a few good lobbyists.

As the day wore on, I finally came to realize that it wasn't just garden variety crankiness, my reactions were influenced by the fact that I was actually sick. I don't want to be sick, but it was kind of a relief. I don't want to have to stop reading the paper.

Copyright Rob Rogers

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