But I’m safe

Middle-finger-jesusOne of my old friends posted on Facebook about the new insurance law of the land – his child has a “pre-existing condition.”

A response from one of his FB acquaintances said:
“Why will your situation change? You have insurance and your procedures are covered.”

And this, American public, is what’s wrong with this country.

We cannot just care about the people we personal know.

Just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean they don’t need your help.
Just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean they don’t deserve compassion and basic human dignity.

I am horrified that the Republicans and the conservatives have absolutely no empathy, sympathy, or compassion for anyone other than themselves.

They want to make basic health care unaffordable for the disabled, the elderly, and the victims of domestic violence.

They want women who have babies punished by cutting off their insurance or making it unaffordable. (And to anyone who wants to respond by saying that women who can’t afford children shouldn’t have them needs to go down to an abortion clinic and pay for the abortion or pay for the prenatal, labor and delivery, and post-natal care, as well as paying up for the next 20 years for the kid’s life…)

They want to take care of themselves and their cronies, giving money to people who already have it while taking it away from those who do not have it.

Let me tell you this – you are not “safe.” No one can predict what will happen in their lives, where they will be in one year, five years, ten years.

But the thing is, even saying that, that is not the point.

**The point is that it shouldn’t have to happen to you for you to care about it.**

It’s that simple.

Care about your fellow human beings.


The Digital Divide and the Panacea of the Masses

Family watching television, c. 1958 By Evert F. Baumgardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Family watching television, c. 1958 By Evert F. Baumgardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2002, Dickard and Schneider reported that only 54% of Americans were online.  According to a recent CNN Money article,  52% of lowest income families (making $20,000 or less) don’t have a computer in their homes.  However, 62% of those in that low bracket own between two and four televisions (as of a 2009 survey).

What does that actually mean?  And why should we care?

CNN Money asks if it means that they aren’t poor.  But maybe they’re missing the point. 

It IS poverty to own a TV and not a computer.  Literacy does not refer to just reading skills.  Illiteracy, according to Ribriro (2006), is not just a lack of schooling but anyone who has a “limited mastery of reading and writing skills.”   In this day and age, reading and writing occurs online. 

It isn’t just reading and writing that gets accomplished online, though.  In order to make a difference, in order to start a movement, in order to get involved and be able to be empowered, one must be able to get online.  Grassroots organizations solicit members, get donations, and even sign petitions.  They make others aware of problems, get people involved, and get ideas for helping to overcome problems. 

How can someone nowadays find a job that will help them earn more than $20,000?  They have to look for it online.

How does someone get the training and skills they need for that job?  They have to look for it online.

Not owning a computer, and not knowing how to use one, is part of what keeps many of these people at that level.  It’s easy to buy a TV and know how to use one; it’s hard to buy a computer and know how to use one.

The last time I went shopping for a laptop, I walked in knowing what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend on it.  Even then, the salesman questioned me.  Why did I want that computer?  Did I know about this computer?  What was my budget?  If I hadn’t been sure of myself, I might have crumbled and caved, given in to his “I know more than you” attitude.  Would someone, earning less than $20,000 a year, who may already be unsure of him or herself, give in at that point and allow themselves to be bullied? 

Even if they don’t give in, even if they buy what they intended to buy, what about being able to afford everything that goes along with it?  Would that person be able to afford monthly connectivity charges to the Internet, ranging from $30 or more a month?  Would that person be able to buy the software that comes as a free sample and then runs out?  What would they do if the computer broke – or was broken when they got it home – and they couldn’t tell how to fix it?  And just how many computer shops (that aren’t pawn stores with questionable stock) are located in the middles of areas with median incomes of $20,000, anyway?

There are more questions than answers, but I think the important thing to take away here is the fact that we can’t judge that someone who has a TV or two instead of a computer is “not poor.”  If anything, they are far poorer than they know.