One Fabulous Thing

…because each day has at least one.

03.21.2010 I’ll Just Go Ahead and Say It March 25, 2010

Filed under: Humanity,Politics — onefabulousthing @ 10:15 am

I’m really glad that Congress passed the Health Care Reform bill today.

A lot of people (or at least a very vocal segment of the population) look at these reforms as some sort of handout, and I have seen and heard a lot of references to people on welfare, people who don’t work for a living, and so on. What I think these people fail to realize is that our tax dollars already pay for all of those people to get health insurance. And what is wrong with that, exactly? Are they concerned that if people have to stay below a really low income level to continue to receive benefits, then they won’t have any incentive to go out and work?

I am concerned about that, and that’s why I’m glad the reform bill passed.

The other part of this whole “handout” meme is that it is somehow un-American to get any type of support from the government, and people should be more self-sufficient. Are they concerned that young adults getting out of college will have a hard time moving out and becoming independent? Well, they already do have a hard time becoming independent, and many parents support their offspring in various ways well into their 20s. Having to worry less about getting benefits and concentrating more on getting their careers established and getting on their feet will hopefully help that. Besides, their parents can always choose to kick them off the plan or have them contribute their share of the premium if they choose. That’s a parenting decision, not a government decision – but at least now thay have the option of extending good, affordable group plan benefits to people who might not otherwise get them.

Regarding self-sufficiency, the options that will become available after these reforms mean that it will be more realistic for people to start their own small businesses or work independently, without having to worry that they are leaving themselves and their loved ones without a safety net in the event of catastrophic illness or say, a pregnancy. What is more American than entrepeneurship? Do you think the Founding Fathers really expected that we should all end up working for large corporations or the government? (I will save my comments about how deliciously ironic it is that a lot of people who view any type of government involvement in healthcare as an abomination are people who have benefits that are paid for by taxpayer dollars, and who luuuurrrve Medicare…oh wait, I guess I just said it.)

Even if I believe the group of people who say that these health care changes will cost us one trillion dollars over the next ten years (and I don’t), I’d still rather have that money spent on keeping our citizens healthy, happy, and productive than on killing people in a nation that never seriously threatened our national security. I know that the comparison is not that facile, but I do feel compelled to point out that there seems to be some funny lines drawn about where “we” spend “our” money. Also, if my premiums go up slightly on my very, very good health insurance plan in order to ensure more sensible coverage and treatment for other people – I’m OK with that.

If you are one of the people who bristles at the idea of being “forced” to have health insurance coverage, then I am sorry. But if you choose not to cover yourself, you better have the money to pay when you do get sick or need care. Otherwise, kindly refrain from using my money to go to the emergency room in that inevitable circumstance.

Most people are one or two crappy twists of fate away from being in a situation where they or a loved one in need of medical care with no means to pay for appropriate treatment. I know it’s hard to think about, but it’s essential that you do before judging whether or not these reforms were needed. How do you get your health insurance? What happens if the policyholder loses their job? Do you know all of the things that are not covered under COBRA, or if you would even be eligible? How much money do you have in the bank? Enough to pay $100K for emergency open heart surgery, or $30K for the safe delivery of your child?

As the great Jerry Maguire once said, we live in a cynical, cynical world. I, myself can fall into that trap sometimes. But no one wants to see kids left without health coverage, or parents who are demoralized because they can’t work their families out of the poverty level for fear of losing their benefits. No one wants to see senior citizens choosing between food and their medicine. Everyone wants to see those strange characters who artificially tan themselves into skin cancer taxed for that particular brand of crazy. (Or is that just me?)

Is this a perfect solution that will meet everyone’s needs? No. That probably doesn’t exist. But this is heading us in the right direction, I think.

So, Fabulous Thing #80: Health care reform.

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01.29.2010 Same Same But Different January 30, 2010

Filed under: Humanity — onefabulousthing @ 10:54 pm

I can’t remember the exact quote, but I remember attending a sociology seminar once where it was said that there is less genetic variability between all humans on earth than there is between types of snails found in the Andes. I think of this often, since it seems like we focus a lot of time and attention on identifying the things that make us different from one another. I appreciate the importance of recognizing the unique characteristics we all have, but I think we have gotten too far away from coming together on the things we have in common.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the divide we see when politics comes into play. I just can’t fathom that we are all as far apart on issues as the media would like us to believe. Let’s try this simple test:

Raise your hand if you believe that the government should pay everyone’s bills, and if the government can’t, they should steal money from rich people to do it.

OK, now raise your hand if you believe that, faced with the grave illness of a close family member, you will stand by their bedside when their insurance lifetime cap has been reached and say “Tough break, should have worked a little smarter and harder to get better insurance. Viva la capitalism, sucker!”

Anyone? Right. I like seeing those political maps that go a little further than just red state and blue state designations. When you go county by county, then zoom way out, you can see we’re a pretty purple country overall. I’m not sure what is to be gained by making everything seem so overly simplistic – black and white, red and blue, plumber and intellectual elite, truck and Prius. I cringe at the nonsensical rantings of the Teabaggers (I mean seriously – did anyone Google that?) and at the ridiculous ravings of the people who are disappointed that there is still crime and poverty and poor education one year into the Obama presidency. Where has reason gone? What are people hoping to accomplish by painting everyone who is “other” with such a broad brush?

That’s why it tickled me to read today that there is a family link between President Barack Obama and newly-elected Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. 10th cousins, I know – not like they’re long-lost brothers, but it does bring you back around to thinking that there are a lot of threads connecting us if we’re looking for them. I wish we’d do that more as a country, and write angry things on signs less.

So, Fabulous Thing #29: Realizing that Scott Brown’s win was clearly political cronyism, and potentially nepotism. (Kidding!)

 

01.23.2010 Lost, Found January 23, 2010

Filed under: Humanity — onefabulousthing @ 11:37 pm

On the most even-keeled of days, I am slightly sentimental. On days where emotions might be a little closer to the surface for whatever reason, I sob at cell phone commercials and the final skating performance in The Cutting Edge. (What can I say? I love me some D.B. Sweeney.)

This week, things have been a little closer to the surface. I almost had to pull over when I heard this piece on the radio while the baby and I were driving this morning. If you can, take a minute to listen to the audio available on that link. The presentation isn’t overly saccharine or designed to pull at your heartstrings. It’s a nice piece of reporting about one family’s situation in Haiti that portrays an experience many people can connect with, but does not gloss over the realities unique to their current situation.

I have been overcome with the stories and images of loss and devastation coming out of Haiti since the earthquake last Tuesday. This story doesn’t erase or overshadow those ones; but, it is a story of beginnings instead of endings, hope instead of sorrow.

So, Fabulous Thing #23: Life, finding a way.

 

01.17.2010 Drumroll Please… January 18, 2010

Filed under: Humanity — onefabulousthing @ 2:34 pm

From my post the other day encouraging people to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti and offering to make a donation myself based on comments on that post, 41 people made comments. 41 people! (Out of over 200 that viewed the post, but still!) The majority vote for the organization that will get the money generated from those comments went to Partners In Health, an organization that has already had a presence in Haiti and will be providing invaluable services throughout the initial and sustaining relief efforts.

From some of the comments, it looks like the post had the intended effect of encouraging people to make an easy, small donation of their own while they were reminded of it. There are also stories of some good news emerging from the initial rescue efforts there, including some of families being reunited with their loved ones after several long days of worry.

So the behaviorist in me is so disappointed in myself, since I have to now admit that I was going to donate the whole $250 regardless of how many people commented. Why should the people of Haiti suffer because some people have internet-forum-comment-submission stage fright? However, that doesn’t mean if I do something similar in the future I won’t stick to the limits that I have set. You’re on notice.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read, maybe comment, maybe make a donation of your own. The rising tide raises all boats, to paraphrase JFK. Thanks for helping to add a few drops to the ocean.

So, Fabulous Thing #17: Delurking for dollars worked!

 

01.14.2010 People Get Ready January 14, 2010

Filed under: Humanity — onefabulousthing @ 10:14 pm

UPDATE: I’m extending the end time on this to 10:00pm EST, to give it a full 24 hours since I posted this…thank you so much to all of the people who have weighed in, and to you guys lurking out there – pick a charity!

Today, I’m going to create my own Fabulous Thing. The tracker on my little blog tells me that a fair amount of people stop by here over the course of a day, and today I’ d like to take that bit of attention on this small corner of the internet and turn it into something worthwhile.

I will say this: I’m not raising “awareness” for the Haiti Earthquake. “Awareness” doesn’t pay for water, food, medical supplies, or shelter. If you are not “aware” of what is happening in Haiti, then you are probably not reading these words right now, so it’s not you I’m addressing. If you are aware and actually want to do something about it, then this post is for you.

Here’s the first part, very easy ways to give a little bit of money to organizations that will do a whole lot with it:

Text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, the amount will be added to your cell phone bill, repeatable

Text “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Organization, the amount will be added to your cell phone bill, repeatable

The Pioneer Woman Blog will make two $500 donations, just leave a comment on her post, see link for instructions

Donate online to:

Doctors Without Borders

Partners In Health

Save the Children

Mercy Corps directly or via Amazon.com (easier if you have an Amazon account with a saved funding source)

Here’s the second part:

The Fabulous Household will donate $1 for every comment left on this post, voting for where to donate those dollars out of the four organizations linked directly above, up to $250.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by 5pm tomorrow (Friday), either saying simply the name of the organization you choose or adding some detail about why you chose that one. Please feel free to share the link to this post with anyone you think will be willing to take a small step to help.

Tomorrow night after 5pm Eastern Standard Time, I will tally up the votes and make the donation to the winning organization.

Of course, I could just donate $250 and not bother any of you with it. But if a few people are led here and choose to donate a few dollars on their own…well, that’s a whole lot better, isn’t it?

So, Fabulous Thing #14: Doing something meaningful, together.

 

01.13.2010 Mercy January 13, 2010

Filed under: Humanity — onefabulousthing @ 10:09 pm

To choose to write about something today that is anything other than related to the absolute devastation that is unfolding in Haiti would read a little false and beside the point. I could easily say that I am grateful to not be there, to be safe in my intact house with running water and electricity and food, close to medical care should the need arise. I am grateful for those things, but it seems a little flip to say that the One Fabulous Thing about today is that I am not in Haiti. I don’t actually think that is the One Fabulous Thing anyway, but I’ll get back to that in a second.

Disasters of this proportion, like the Tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, always take us by surprise. Of course they do – there is no way to know when or why something like this will occur. As the years go on and the internet and social media become more integrated into our every day experiencing of the world around us, we turn there first for information when something like this happens. I went to bed last night after an evening of working from home and watching something on the DVR, unaware of what was happening in our neighboring country of Haiti.

I heard about the earthquake on the radio during my commute, and tried to figure out what sort of magnitude of a disaster this is. I turned on my computer at work, and had a wait while CNN.com loaded, a sure sign of a lot of people trying to do the same thing. I popped over to Facebook and saw a note from my cousin at the top of the feed, giving some details about the earthquake and appealing to people to help. The name of the organization she linked to is Mercy Corps, but I will caution you that the page might have trouble loading right now. Later in the day I saw Mercy Corps referenced in a list by the American Institute of Philanthropy as a high-rated nonprofit group that is assisting in relief efforts in Haiti. After that, I saw Mercy Corps as the organization that Amazon.com has linked to on its home page for direct and easy giving. Mercy, mercy.

Every news article I have read has had embedded links to organizations that you can donate to online, that will immediately and directly use those dollars to assist in saving lives and restoring order in Haiti. Because I am a cynical person by nature, I have to assume that these links are only included because people want them. News organizations want people to read their articles, and if they in their infinite market-researched wisdom think that people want to know how they can help, then people probably want to know how to help.

I remember right after the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina being able to donate money online, and I did so. It was so easy. It’s so easy now. What did people do to feel effective and not so unbelievably helpless before the internet? It is a double-edged sword, since the same channel that brings a conduit for relief also brings realtime images and stories from inside these events that stay with you for a long, long time. I claim no privilege to feel sympathy for pain and suffering due to my recent marital and parental status; but, I will say that for me, meeting my husband and having my son has made these images and stories evoke a stronger response from me. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, maybe it’s weaning hormones, maybe it’s that I immediately put the sweet face of my son on these stories and myself in the shoes of the mothers and sisters and wives that are searching for their loved ones in the rubble.

Back to the mercy. I’m not plugging one relief organization over another, since there are several that are great and worthy of your donations, but that word has stayed with me all day. The prominence of the conversations about how to help really move me, and make me hopeful that the compassion and mercy that people are sending toward Haiti right now are more reflective of the underlying nature of people than the pettiness that more often preoccupies our attention.

So, Fabulous Thing #13: Giving early, giving often, having mercy.