Like most of us, I grumble about the inconveniences, injustices, and especially the absurdities we encounter as we fumble through our hum-drum lives. Now that I’m retired and a member of the geezer generation, I don’t have a job or a business to bitch about. Geezers are big-time complainers. Geezers can piss-and-moan about every-day stuff like it is the only thing we care about or have in common.
A friend and a world-class ranter recently confessed, in a bitch-free conversation, that he has given up ranting because his give-a-shit factor has fallen below the level of caring anymore. Society has burned out another loud, outspoken critic. Well, I’m not going to take that, the flames of my discontent still roar. Here, in fine geezer fashion, are some of the things that really piss me off:
This Damn War
What the hell are we doing in Iraq? We unseated an evil dictator (yea for us) and we’re struggling to referee a civil war (woe is us) with no end in sight (boo on us).
Forget, if you can, that our only reason for being in Iraq is that George W took office with an agenda to clean up something his father left undone in the first Gulf War, defeating Sadam Hussein. We laugh now at how the Bush staffers tried to lay the blame for 9/11 on Iraq and how Iraq surely was harboring terrorists and developing WMD. Who can forget Colin Powell’s passionate speech to the UN with all of his CIA photos of Hussein’s weapons caches?
Every thinking person knew at the time that we could run right over Iraq’s Republican Guard in a week or two. But then what? Remember W’s fly-in victory speech? Everyone but George knew that being an occupying police force in a tumultuous Arab country would be a never ending, lose-lose situation.
Are we any safer now? Do you think less Arabs dislike us today than they did before we invaded Iraq? Bush tried to squelch a recent report that documents how our war has been a boon for terrorist recruiting. We’re the recruiting poster-boy for Al Qaeda. Bush just reaffirmed all of the anti-U.S. propaganda in the Arab terrorist training manuals. We’re a hell of a lot less safe now than we were back in 2001.
Instead of invading Iraq we should have really declared war on terrorism. We’re six years into Bush’s wimpy war and we still can’t find a 6’5” Arab on dialysis making tapes in a cave in Pakistan. If we were serious about stamping out terrorism in the Middle East we would have done it. We should have had the 1st Marine Division combing the nooks and crannies of the Middle East, killing terrorists, rather than riding shotgun on milk trucks in Iraq. They would have found and killed Osama, dismembered his band and stomped on any new want-a-be Al Qaeda groups regardless of where they hid. They would have chased Ben Laden into Pakistan whether Musharraf liked it or not. Fuck him, we’re at war.
How come I can buy prescription drugs in Mexico for half the price of my local Wal-Mart? In almost every case these drugs were designed and manufactured in the U.S. by U.S. pharmaceutical companies. It seems that everyone else on the planet is getting a better deal on drugs than we are. Isn’t this the opposite of what you would expect? I think I know why this is but I don’t know is why we stand for it and why we don’t fix it.
There are at least three reasons we don’t fix this. First, most people don’t pay for their drugs, their healthcare insurance carriers or our government picks up most or all of the tab. Secondly, no one in Washington feels this pain, they have wonderful healthcare and drug-coverage benefits. And lastly, drug prices are just a part of our broken health care system and revamping this is just too big, if not an impossible, job.
If the national healthcare systems of Mexico and Canada can negotiate favorable pricing with the pharmaceutical companies why can’t we? Who should have this action item?
The Big Ugly Wall
Have you been to Mexico recently? We’re actually building a big, god-awful wall in selective areas of our two-thousand-miles-or-so southern border. Locally, the border physically separates two small, sleepy little desert towns totally un-noteworthy except for this huge, I mean huge, ugly wall. I’m really embarrassed by this. Let’s see, we had a wall in Berlin to keep the bad guys in and another in Gaza to keep the bad guys the out. Have we come to that?
This big ugly wall will only be a small irritant to the impoverished Latino in search of a job and a better life. Illegal immigrants come here because they can easily find work for higher wages than they can in Latin America. Remove the jobs and they won’t come. This wall might work; maybe potential wetbacks will see our wall and want no part of a country that would construct such a thing.
I don’t know about you but I’ve had it with two-year long political campaigns. These folks aren’t that interesting that I need to see them or read about them every day for what seems like forever. I want Hillary completely out of my life until a week or two before the day I can vote for someone else.
I know why they do it, it works. What if we, the voting public, choose to only vote for candidates with campaigns that run for three months or less?
How Much Was That, Again?
I have an endless list of bitches about our healthcare system and I haven’t seen Michael Moore’s new movie yet. Did you know that insurance plans negotiate fees for each procedure by treatment code with individual physicians and physician groups? They drive hard bargains with their huge enrollment figures. The docs have to roll over and agree to what ever the insurance companies demand if they want a patient base. Now I get to the part of this little story that really sucks. With this complex pricing structure, the only patients that pay full or inflated prices are the uninsured. Is this the policy of the “greatest country on earth?”
Why do we put up with cable and satellite services that give us hundreds of channels of junk we would never, ever watch? It’s like buying every magazine on the rack just to read Field and Stream. Spend an evening watching HSN, PTL, or some other mindless cable channel and if you don’t commit suicide you’ll probably kick in your TV screen. The way we avoid this neurosis is by flicking through these channels quickly. Channel surfing/flicking is our national pastime. We’re actually entertained by endlessly scanning through channel after channel of shit shows. Our lives have become a series of fleeting glimpses of totally uninteresting stuff.
I want a cable service that offers channels ala carte. I want to select and receive the half a dozen or so channels that I might actually watch, throw away my remote control and get on with my life.
Trucks and More Trucks
Another thing that bugs me is the huge number of trucks that are clogging up our interstate highways. Traveling by car isn’t fun anymore. I’m not sure it ever was, but it definitely isn’t now. I don’t like competing for my little space of roadway with all of those behemoth semis.
As best I can tell, this is a unique U.S. problem. In most parts of the civilized world they ship their freight by rail and travel by car. Why, because their rail systems work and their fuel prices are so high that trucking is more costly. I don’t know the answer but I’m ready to give the interstates to the truckers and take the little blue highways.
My wife can’t get sick. Why, because she has a chronic skin disease that private insurance companies won’t touch for less than $2000 a month. Our government is no help either because she isn’t a veteran, makes too much money with her skimpy retirement to qualify for state aid, and is too young for Medicare.
I’ve heard that unpaid medical expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. We’re living one virus, tumor, or lump away from skid row. If she were to develop some life-threatening but treatable disease we’d spend every cent it takes on her care. We’ll sell everything we own, declare bankruptcy and become homeless deadbeats.
This doesn’t seem right. Maybe we should move to Cuba?
Air travel sucks! Why, because we’ve proven, over and over, what we really want is the lowest possible air fare. Sure, we want frills like real food, a comfortable chair, and more leg room but we don’t want to pay for it. It’s like dining at the cheapest restaurant in town and complaining because they don’t have linen napkins or a decent wine list.
What else do you shop for totally on price? We’ll fly Air-Ubangi and change planes in Fargo if we can save a buck. We’ve all become expert air fare price shoppers because the air lines have made it a game to see if we can find their super-duper-saver fares. If you book thirty days in advance, stay over a Saturday, travel on Tuesday, use the internet, and can break their secret code your fare is only $1.37 otherwise its $1,248.64.
©2007 by Bob Rockwell