Government, corporations, and the rest of us

Trying to sort out the political and civic events over the past month or so has given me a headache (how about you?)!  But I can’t turn away from what is happening – the stakes are way too high to just sit back and act like nothing is going on.  We have reached a time when corporate greed is unprecedented, and the plight of ordinary people in the USA gets worse by the day.  Finally, though, we see a glimpse of possibility that some folks are waking up from the corporate drugs we have beenConsumer vs business fed for far too long.

But a story that a friend told me recently turned my attention to wondering how on earth we can reach folks who seem to be in a perpetual stage of adolescence – simple rebellion against the [government] parent.  My friend, who recently went through a horrendous treatment for a very aggressive cancer, just at a time when she lost her job and subsequently her medical insurance coverage, asked a woman protesting against health care reform: “What exactly are you against — any and all public health care programs?” The woman at least engaged enough to hear my friend’s story, and then brushed her off saying.  Here is my friend’s account:

She said: “Well, you can’t expect the government to solve all of your problems!” I said “OK, I agree completely!! I do not consider myself to be a Socialist, I’ve worked all my life and will continue to work, and believe in the free-enterprise model. But the situation is impossible. Please, tell me, right now, How would I obtain private insurance?? NO ONE WOULD INSURE ME. I”M SICK AND NOW HAVE A “PRIOR CONDITION” and I”M NOT IN AN EMPLOYEE GROUP PLAN. WHAT ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIKE ME SUPPOSED TO DO?????””  The demonstrator simply stuck her nose in the air and turned away. Clearly, I was just an ant at her Picnic.

The image of a grown woman walking away in this kind of situation brings up images, for me, of the kid who simply has to rebel against every kind of authority.  Perhaps this rebellion will teach us all important lessons, but I am hopeful that voices of reason, and human compassion for those most in need, will prevail in the end.

I once heard someone say that the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves.  Ironically, this is almost precisely how a great nurse leader in the mid-20th century, Virginia Henderson, defined nursing!  Certainly nursing and the government are two very different things, but when you think about it, we do share this central purpose that is not common to all social “entities.”  In the end, we all face the reality that while there are some things we are each responsible for, none of us can go it alone … and we need not only the government, but one another in the equation.  And, to those who have corporate connections, it is time to call on you as individuals to begin pushing and leading your corporations away from greed that saps the life-blood from the people.

About Peggy L Chinn

feminist, nurse activist, writer, founding editor of ANS Advances in Nursing Science, quilter, grandmother nurturing the future of the amazing children in my life.
This entry was posted in Health Care, Politics, Social Issues and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Government, corporations, and the rest of us

  1. Susan Kay Gilbert says:

    Peggy: I appreciated your post and your call for a more compassionate government and health care system. Every person needs care for her health, regardless of ability to pay. Unless we are a professional with training, we depend upon those pros to help guide us/partner with us, to get the best care, diagnoses and treatments. If we haven’t the ability to pay, the government must necessarily pay, and we should NEVER be denied health care for lack of ability to pay. Shelter, food, clothes and health care: Every American who is either able-bodied and works or worked and paid taxes into the system, or is disabled/senior/retired and unable to work anymore, should have access to all these essentials. Otherwise, we are not a compassionate country–we are a “for-profit” business, whose bottom line is more important than the quality and length of our lives.

  2. Thomas Cox says:


    In statistics we call it “Gambler’s Ruin”.

    If you go to a casino with wealth $X and the casino has far more wealth, say 1,000,000 * $X, and you gamble “long enough,” in a game in which the casino has a slightly better than even chance of winning on each transaction, you will, with probability 1.0000, lose all your money. “Long enough” means that you continue to gamble until either you win all the casino’s money or you lose all your money.

    When it comes to national wealth the same situation prevails. Over time the richest 1% tend to accumulate just a little more of the total wealth in each economic cycle. Some people may enter, and others leave, the collection of the wealthiest 1%, but the wealthiest 1% still tend to own a little more of the country’s wealth every year.

    The fact that the members of the 1% Club vary, from year to year, is what we call “economic freedom,” not the idea that everyone gets some sort of fair share.

    But eventually, this “rigged” roulette wheel leads to a situation where the wealthiest 1% Club owns everything and the poorest 99% own nothing. It doesn’t really matter at that point who the members of the wealthiest 1% Club are, they own it all.

    If the rigged roulette wheel is used in each future cycle, the essence of our “free market” economy, and there are no compensatory actions such as progressive tax rates, inflation, currency devaluation, or death taxes that turn this around, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” favors total ownership by the wealthiest 1% Club. Mere randomness in who fits in the top 1% Club is not enough, it is the certainty of the 1% Club’s increased wealth each year that is the problem.

    Ultimately the question becomes what are the values of the wealthiest 1%? Will they voluntarily share the wealth the fixed roulette wheel gives them for the benefit of all or zealously guard their wealth?

    In feudal times: Do the landed gentry feed the peasants in lean years or let them starve?

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