Health Care Bill Passes… Social Justice?

With the recent comments by Glen Beck on Social Justice, and the fact that I had to teach Sunday School today, I thought I’d bring up the subject of social justice in the class instead of the typical lesson.  It brought up an interesting discussion on what my mostly middle class caucasian class thought on the subject.

I find it interesting that as some parts of the nation actively discusses social justice in ways not as widespread as before that the Health Care Reform Bill passed in a late night vote.  I don’t believe in a synchronistic universe, but it’s hard to ignore.  If the bill does go into law it will be one of the largest legislated social justice reforms in decades.

I happen to believe strongly in social justice.  As a Christian, I feel I’m commanded by Christ to support social justice.  And I can’t deny that health care is a social justice issue.  So why don’t I feel good about the passage?

I suppose a part of my animosity toward the bill is that I fundamentally don’t trust politicians or the government.  Not in some grab up the food and the guns and head to the hills mistrust, but more a general “if a politician’s lips are moving, they are lying” kind of way.

As such, I can’t believe a bill this large, sweeping and touching of so many lives is free from pork, bad ideas or bad design.  I look at the way it was passed, and can’t help but believe that hundreds of pages of back room deals and pats on the back have to be written into the foolish thing.  I wish I wasn’t so cynical, but I can’t help it.

So while I’ve been seeing the tweets and the blog posts celebrating the passing, I can’t feel the joy.  I don’t buy the “change.”  All I can see is a potential disaster.

I mean seriously, can you see anything that the Government has done in the past 20 years that it has done well?  It mucked about in the home loan industry, and we see how that went.  It’s had a war with the “mission completed” for how many years?  It fought another war in a country against the very people we put into power.  It’s mucked up the space program to the point it doesn’t have a focus right now.  Go talk to a teacher about “no child left behind” and see how that’s working for us.  Noticed the stiff rise in auto parts lately?  You can thank the “cash for clunkers” program.

So aside from the back room back slaps, its the unintended consequences of such a sweeping bill that worries me.  We didn’t intend to put an intolerant regime in Afghanistan.  We didn’t mean to raise the price of used auto parts.  The unexpected just happens.  And I can’t imagine that the people who wrote this bill had the time, or the study, to see even a fraction of what may come down the line.

If the estimates of some of the businesses are accurate, not that I trust businesses much more than government, but the loss of jobs is only one of the many things this bill may actually create.  As someone who’s attempted to run a small business, I can assure you that the $2000 fine for not offering health insurance to your employees is just another barrier to opening or keeping a business running.  How does it apply to part time employees?  Is it going to be cheaper for small businesses to just pay the fine instead of providing insurance?

In fact, this change is so large, I don’t even know where to look to ask questions.  I’m sure as the euphoria dies, and people realize that it is months to years before the uninsured start seeing a change other problems in the bill will be found.  Politicians will spin it that it just needs more legislation to fix… but why didn’t they just get it right the first time?

The Pinewood Derby

My son has entered himself in the Pack 359 Pinewood Derby.  He designed and built himself quite the car, with a little bit of help from his proud poppa.  In honor of his first derby, we made a little video.  Wanna see it?  Here it goes.

We wanted to number the car 42, but found out we’d be getting our numbers at the race.  (We’re 15.)  So in a nod to the number 42, and since he’d decided to paint it gold… well, we named it The Heart of Gold.

If you don’t get the reference, then you’ve never had a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.  And probably didn’t vote for Zaphod Bebblebrox.  Which is a shame.  Cause he’s just this guy, you know?

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare – Almost…

Fair Warning – If you have young children, expect a moment like this.  If you have older children, I imagine you can commiserate. If you’re a helicopter parent, you’ll probably think I’m the worst parent ever, but I think you aren’t all that and I pity your children.  Whatever the case, this was a scary time. But I’ll let you know it has a happy ending.

I’ve not had the best of days.  It started earlier today when I got yet another form letter telling me I wasn’t good enough for an interview, much less a job.  Then I got a call from family, and a family member was near death and we needed to go to the hospital.  Thankfully that had a happier ending and the family member is now stable.  I got home around 4pm, said hello to my 5 year old daughter who was happily watching The Disney Channel.  I needed a nap, or at least a rest, and went upstairs to take a few.  I heard my daughter talk to her Poppi a few times, and I heard the TV.  I got up at about 4:50pm to go get my son from after school care.  As I came downstairs, the TV was on, but the daughter wasn’t there.

I called out a few times, but got no answer.  Poppi came up, asking me why I was calling, and we quickly searched the house.  She wasn’t in it.  Poppi mentioned that she’s been checking on a pair of doves that have moved into the flower bed in front of the house.  So I went out front.  I didn’t see her.  I called, and she didn’t answer.  I looked around the yard, no daughter.

Now I’m scared, and the first thing I think of is the pool in the back yard.  I can’t help but think of last year’s well known case of a radio superstar’s child drowning in a winterized pool not far from here.  I rush to the pool, convinced that I’m going to find my daughter in it, and am thankful that I don’t.  I look around the back yard, calling.  Still no daughter.

I return to the front yard, screaming her name.  No answer.  She’s not in the house.  She’s not in the yard.  She’d just vanished.

Things are now serious.  It’s cold outside, and my daughter hates coats.  I’d already seen her jacket and her tennis shoes in the house, so at best she’s in a sweater and Crocs.  At worst, she’s in an undershirt and bare feet.  As I reached for my phone to call 911, I screamed her name one more time.  I got a response.  It took a minute for my mind to process it, but I heard, faintly, someone say “I’ve got her.”

I ran toward the voice, thinking it was the neighbor.  It wasn’t.  Down at the far end of the road there was a woman walking toward me.  I couldn’t see a child, but she waved so I continued.  Then I saw she was carrying a child.  Then I saw that it was my child.  I ran to her, and took into my arms.  And I got the story.

Seems Molly did go out to check on the doves.  And decided she wanted to see her mom.  So she started walking.  She did have on her sweater (inside out) but no socks or shoes.  She walked three blocks to a major 5 lane busy road in near freezing temps, and couldn’t figure out where to go from there. She basically gave up and stood on the side of that road crying.  Some stranger found her, coaxed where she lived out of her and brought her home.

Now my daughter was well aware of the rules.  She knew she wasn’t supposed to go into the back yard alone, or leave the front yard.  She even knew she had done something bad, but didn’t know how to fix it.  Needless to say she got a stern reminder of the rules, lost the privilege of being allowed to go into the front yard alone for quite a while.  And she’ll be getting plenty of reminders over the next few days.

Now what really upset me is where my mind went.  The very first thing I thought is that someone had taken her.  My little girl had been abducted.  I was scared out of my mind, a feeling of total helplessness and terror.  Why was I still looking instead of calling 911?  Some evil abductor had my little girl!  I know that stranger abduction is rare.  I know statistically it is unlikely to happen to anyone you know, much less your own child.  But that is exactly where my mind went.

I’d like to blame the media, and the over exposure child abductions get, but I can’t.  I think it’s preprogramed in a parent to assume the worst.  I can remember being upset at my own parents who, to my young eyes, over reacted to my being late.  I think I’ve been given a preview of the teenage years.  And a big dose of payback for what I put my parents through.

But will it take away my “free range” mentality?  You may remember that something similar happened with my six year old son at a shopping mall.  In that case, it increased my belief in free range parenting.  My son had a problem.  He was lost.  He couldn’t find me or his mother.  So he came up with a (wrong) plan and put it to work.  Again, strangers came to my aide and he was quickly found.  So why does this one feel different?

Maybe it is the willfulness in the way my daughter broke the rules.  She’s lost my trust, and rightfully so.  She thought she had a good idea, just like her brother.  But the bad ideas started when she went outside barefoot.  It’s not the first time she’s gone outside in less than ideal conditions barefoot.  I doubt it will be the last.  In fact, the picture on the left shows her footprints.  In snow.  Where she played.  For a good 10 minutes, with me asking her “aren’t your feet cold?”  So no, her running off down the street barefoot really doesn’t surprise me.

I don’t think this will turn me into a helicopter parent.  I do think the leash will be tightened on the girl.  She’s not going to enjoy the freedoms of yesterday for quite a while.  But at the same time, wasn’t the plan to instill in my daughter the confidence and independence to take on life without having to run interference for her?  Well, she certainly showed just how independent she can be.  She’s going to learn, at least for a while, just how much independence can be lost when we make bad choices.

As I write this, my daughter is snug in her bed.  The day ends with my WHOLE family safe.  Including the one in the hospital.  So ultimately, it ends on a positive note.  I think my heart has even slowed down.  A little.