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The Shot Heard Round the World

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When 90-year-old Addie Polk put the gun to her chest and pulled the trigger she was seeking an escape from foreclosure. The first shot failed to do the job so the elderly widow pulled the trigger a second time as Sheriff's deputies waited on the porch to serve her with an eviction notice. She was rescued by her neighbor, Robert Dillion, who grabbed a ladder and climbed in a back window. Sheriff's deputies were kind enough to radio for paramedics.

Mrs. Addie Polk and her husband Robert had moved into the home in 1970. Mr. Polk had a union job with Goodrich Tire Company and they lived within their means in their small home. In 1995 her husband passed away, leaving 77-year-old Addie all alone. In 2004 Mrs. Polk took out a mortgage from Country Wide for $45,620 on a home with an appraised value of $32,230. No one knows what the money was used for or where it all went, but considering her age, fast cars, gambling or stock speculation are not the likely answers. The most common reason seniors get into financial trouble is medical bills.

Mrs. Polk's solution to her social insecurity was to attempt to take her own life. We, as Americans, should hear the sound of that gunshot resonating in all of our ears. It should wake us up from a dead sleep because Mrs. Polk's situation is all of our situations. Yesterday it was announced that under the terms of the bankruptcy agreement Lehman Brothers was discontinuing the severance payments that management had promised to its employees for the next three months. Too bad, so sad!

Conservatives proclaim this as freedom; we must let the free market work. Mrs. Polk should have married a richer man and she shouldn't have gotten so old; it was her own fault really. The Lehman employees should have saved more and invested wisely and after being paid annual bonuses in Lehman Brothers stock they should have sold it and bought gold and buried it in the back yard. Radio talk show host and mental midget Neil Boortz was discussing price gouging going on here in Atlanta during our gas shortage and announced that he's all for it! The Governor's office had begun an investigation but Boortz feels they should do the opposite. Let them charge all that the market will bear, and then all these people doing unnecessary driving will stay home and the fuel shortage will take care of itself.

It must be wonderful to live in such a simplistic world, a world where others don't matter. Where the elderly don't need to get to doctors appointments. Where people don't need to get to work, where the health and well being of your neighbors just doesn't matter when compared to the greater good of the free market! Not to even give a thought that what you say might affect the sponsors of your own radio show. I seriously doubt that Lincoln Mercury dealers are in favor of fuel price gouging.

But it gets even worse than an ersatz Rush Limbaugh bellowing to the non-critical thinkers of the world. Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn who voted against the Wall Street bailout package twice for philosophical reasons said, "If the American people have to foot the bill for Wall Street greed and the Administration feels this is the most prudent way forward, then every Federal agency should be compelled to do their part and reduce what they are spending." It's Blackburn's assertion that the VA, Medicare and Medicaid, the elderly, and children with disabilities should help pay for this bailout.

Representing an Army base in her district, she is in lockstep with John McCain that we should remain in Iraq as long as necessary, even if it takes 100 years. She's proud of the additional $159.8 million she brought to Fort Campbell in 2007 and I wonder how she would feel about that funding being cut. Like Boortz she looks at the world through the keyhole of a privileged lifestyle, out into reality. Those poor people should just take responsibility for themselves and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

In Los Angeles a man, despondent over his financial dealings, shot and killed his wife, then his three children and then his mother-in-law before turning the gun on himself. The man, once a financial planner for Price Waterhouse, had lost everything in the stock market collapse.

"This is a perfect American family behind me that has absolutely been destroyed, apparently because of a man who just got stuck in a rabbit hole, if you will, of absolute despair, somehow working his way into believing this to be an acceptable exit," said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore. "It is critical to step up and recognize we are in some pretty troubled times."

The chief just doesn't understand freedom like Boortz and Blackburn do; he was exercising his freedom and his God-given second amendment rights. These little people just don't matter to the Blackburns and the Boortzes of the world. They are just losers in their eyes, and as long as they personally keep winning then the system is just perfect. Blackburn would rather see millions of senior citizens wiped out than to betray her own personal philosophy. To Boortz the robbers are the heroes and the cops are the bad guys because he wants the freedom to let markets work protected and to the Addie Polks of the world he says, too bad for you, Granny!

These anecdotal stories of murder and suicide are being repeated on a daily basis across the nation and the number of incidences is increasing. But the Boortzes and Blackburns of the world don't care because it's not happening in their circles, but they should. Freedom is a two-way street; after denial comes anger. Soon, very soon, sheriff's deputies will walk up onto a porch to serve an eviction notice and the next Addie Polk will point the gun at them and pull the trigger. That's freedom for ya!

John McCain, in last night's debate, told America that future retirees shouldn't expect the same benefits current retirees receive. No different from Boortz or Blackburn, we need to cut the budget and the elderly and the infirm look like a good target. After all, with all the baby boomers retiring soon we must either raise taxes or cut benefits and John's made it clear that he has chosen his side. Not a hard choice for a man with a 100 million dollar fortune to fall back on. He explains, raising taxes hurts growth in the free market. Obama then accuses McCain of wanting to give tax cuts to the wealthy. McCain shrugs and answers, "I don't want raise taxes on anyone, I want to let the free market work."

Addie Polk knows what kind of freedom John's talking about, the freedom to be chewed up and spit out. To spend your life working and struggling, and then when you get old or sick, to become a prime target for the budget cutters. That's freedom, children, that's the freedom that they are proclaiming to us! A eugenics of age and of situation while they see themselves as Gregor Mendel picking and choosing which bean sprouts survive. Too bad for the Addie Polks, plucked and tossed away so that the healthy can thrive, but they forget the other kind of freedom.

The freedom to get angry when a government that is supposed to protect us ignores our suffering. When the pompous and bellicose tell us that we deserve it and that it's our own fault. That irrespective of any personal loss we should respect the hand of fate and the whim of the market. On September 18 John McCain was way ahead in God's waiting room, Florida, by 51% to 41%. By October 5 the lead had changed to 52% to 45%, now in Obama's favor. Apparently Floridians' philosophical beliefs in the free market aren't as strong as Blackburn's; they don't want to be wiped out so that the stock market can purge itself. They don't want to finish their days cowering alone in a dark house, clutching a revolver, fearing the next knock at the door.

 

I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that I (more...)
 
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Addie's story just made me physically ill. I h... by Linda Bailey on Wednesday, Oct 8, 2008 at 4:43:00 PM
About three years ago, there was a man who had don... by Yvonne on Thursday, Oct 9, 2008 at 11:53:52 AM
But if the government starts to look after the poo... by Archie on Thursday, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:32:34 PM
The formerly middle class, the formerly working cl... by S. E. Hoffman on Thursday, Oct 9, 2008 at 8:50:38 PM