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Welcome To the Machine

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Welcome To the Machine
By David Glenn Cox

I walked past the sign in the window almost unnoticed. But as I past, it caught my eye, an American flag then underneath the words united we stand. A relic, a leftover from a time of make believe, a time that never was. An illusionary fairy tale we told ourselves to blunt our fears with the facade of outrage and national unity.

As I past I thought to myself, yeah, united we stand, right. Bullshit on both counts as we are neither united nor standing. The last thirty years of American politics have been about nothing but division. To break apart unions and workers rights, about dividing us into haves and have-nots. The arbitrage of profitable corporations making some wealthy but leaving most just holding the bag. Some take their golden parachutes and depart with employee pension plans under their arms.

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To deregulate the airlines making ticket prices cheaper but to invest nothing to make the infrastructure better, changing flying from a pleasure into a drudging misery. The great railroad empires built beautiful ornate lavish train stations and terminals as monuments to their power. They were building something, something to last for decades, something that spoke to us about American power and industry. Today airports are built at public expense and no one questions about the tax dollars spent if they choose not to fly.

No airline CEO in their right mind would invest in a terminal. Their only concern is for the profitability of the airline. They aren’t interested in building anything but stock value, just getting, what do I get?

So we watch as our communities erode, the affluent say, why should I pay higher property taxes? I send my children to private school where they can have all the advantages I can pay for. No matter how you slice it or dice it, it is for the most part all about exclusion, resegregating ourselves within our own social or religious classes. United we stand right?

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Through tap jazz and modern its still just a song and dance singing a chorus of, I don’t want to pay taxes for schools my kids don’t attend, Yeah united, right.I thank God that my parent’s generation didn’t feel that way. The school was the pride of the community, we had nice parks as well but the schools were second to none. We didn’t have any lights on the little league fields but we always had new textbooks.

Our High school football team was only so so as 90% of the graduating class went on to college. The indoor Olympic size swimming pool made it possible for the swim team to make state. Frivolous really, thousands of dollars to teach swimming but every student attending learned to swim. I doubt that in the following decades if any of my classmates ever drown, the community made sure of that. The pool was also open nights and weekends for the community to use, manned by the lifeguards they had trained.

We could swim, we had the best of facilities and we could study, we had the best of facilities. Yes, we could play sports with the best of equipment and play music with the finest instruments in the best of facilities. Even at that age we understood the unspoken contract, we give you this because we value you. Your success or failure reflects on us and on our community. If you fail, you will know that it was not from any lack of effort on our part.

The town had ridiculously high property taxes and made no bones about where the money was spent. But the school system was an irresistible draw to families with children and the town’s government was strict and prudent about growth. They built the tax base carefully so as not to swamp the boat. The value of the homes in the community soared over and above those in surrounding communities. By building something for everyone they had built something for themselves and profited handsomely in the bargain.

The city of Atlanta where I currently reside has been faced with enduring crises. Grady hospital, a public hospital that has served the poor for decades is in desperate need of funding. More than just a public hospital Grady is a teaching hospital serving both Emory and Moorhouse Universities to train physicians. The board of directors have come up with a plan for salvation.

To allow a private corporation to take over the hospital but there is a hitch in the plan. First they need the city and state along with private donations to come up with over 200 million dollars. In effect to fix the problems before the corporation will take over. Ignoring that if we fix the problems what do we need the corporation for? But you see this plan is being sold to us as a rescue!

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This nice friendly benevolent corporation will take this troubled facility off our hands if we will just fix all the problems first. Now before I go any further allow me to mention that our Republican Governor, Sonny Perdue gave Hyundai motors a ten year ten million dollar tax wavier to build a parts facility in South Georgia.

The state of Georgia will help to under right a profitable corporation to the tune of 100 million dollars for 400 jobs. But now for a level one trauma center that serves 9 million of its citizens, that trains its doctors and therapists, paramedics, pharmacists and EMT’s. Grady gets a blank stare and, gee we would like to help you but… Like I said united we stand, bullshit!

Because Grady is a public hospital they must accept every one that comes through the door. Private hospitals in the area can offer faster services and luxury accommodations drawing away insured patients leaving Grady to try and do with less, another case of the financially strong exploiting the financially weak. The net affect of this has left Grady with only 7% of patients with private insurance and 75% of the patients being on Medicaid. This speaks directly to the heart of the problem we as a society have digressed from the great society to the awful society.

From shoddy schools to shoddy bridges and levies to life itself. We must turn over even the sufferings of the poor to the corporation. In a related story, Countrywide Finance the troubled mortgage lender currently under investigation for corrupt practices and predatory lending has been lent 51 billion dollars by the Federal home loan bank board. Just sign here and the government runs to their rescue but a public hospital for the poor? Hit the road jack!

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I was born and raised in Chicago in a liberal Democratic home my Grandfather was a labor union organizer my Father a Democratic district committeeman my Mother was an election judge. My earliest memories were of passing out Kennedy yard signs from (more...)

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