I am not a crank. I know this after reading IDIOT AMERICA: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. According to the author, Charles Pierce, a crank makes a great effort to develop a theory based upon absolute nonsense, and convinces the public to buy it, thereby expanding the limits of contemporary thought.
I have no theory to explain anything that is happening around me.
I just returned from Anchorage where I met with a client, a friend, and Don Young. I met with my client so that he could sign Social Security Disability Form HA-520-U5, cover sheet for a brief that I’ll be sending to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia, an area dense with mid-level government bureaucrats, consultants and lobbyists.
My client was able to sign his name on the form, nothing else. He suffers from mental illness which is obvious to a casual observer. Staff at Anchorage Community Mental Health told me that, prior to my arrival, the client had been circling in the lobby, “getting in the face” of other guests. He was responding to internal stimuli, as psychiatrists put it, speaking in a soft, high voice, unlike his normal loud, deep voice.
Sitting down with me, he ran his hands over his face repeatedly and patted his chest. I could not understand his earnest attempts to explain himself as I do not speak Tagalog, but from what I could gather, he was communicating with the Virgin Mary. He pulled out a tiny figurine or talisman from a place near his heart, inside the four layers of clothing that he wears as a homeless person, and nodded when I said, “Mary?”
I am beyond irritation with a system that finds him capable of landing and holding down a full-time job if he will just understand and accept what is happening to him, get to his medical appointments, pick up his meds and take them as prescribed while living on the street.
Next, while on the way into The Lucky Wishbone to meet my friend, I ran into Congressman Don Young. I am not a fan but greeted him politely. True, he is a Republican and a bit of a crank, but everybody knows where he stands from one day to the next. He is not a shape shifter and he was not placed in office by his father. This is hardly a ringing endorsement, but in the present political climate, it will have to do.
Lunch with my friend was depressing. A delightful, dedicated social worker with the patience of a saint, she was just fired, without warning, the day before her 60th birthday. As an additional act of meanness, her employer has challenged her application for unemployment benefits. What is going on in this world?
I am attempting to develop new friendships and new skills to cope with our wonderful changing times. Responding to invitations to dinners in Anchorage and afternoon get-togethers in Willow, I meet new people, listen to the ever-present political discourse, and strain to keep my mouth shut. Conversation always comes around to the economy, and true to form, the wealthiest people at the table rail against the poor, against entitlement.
Very nice friends and neighbors and colleagues sit there with the basics: a beautiful big house, log-built or log-studded, with a view, a two car garage, an SUV and a pickup, a hangar, an airplane, a dock, a boat, an ATV, two snow machines, a trailer to haul them on, a greenhouse, and some chickens. Some have second homes in warmer places, some merely travel or set off on trophy hunting trips. The American dream, Alaska style, not entitlement.
I do not begrudge ultimate consumers their bounty. I do object to those ingrates who bristle with righteous indignation over the indolent poor, the elderly poor, the disabled, the 47%, the illegals, all of those lesser types of human beings who threaten the bounty that more successful citizens of our nation have earned through hard work and sacrifice, not entitlement.
When I look at my disabled clients and my more fortunate friends, I do not see the relationship between effort and wealth that others see. As a little girl, I asked my mother whether hard work led to money. She said no, look at waitresses. I think she was right. There is actually no relationship between effort and wealth. Who works harder than a Mexican migrant worker, or a meat cutter in a slaughterhouse? Or my best friend from high school who teaches 35 first graders in a ghetto school in New Jersey, and just had her pension cut?
The theory that wealth is based upon effort does not hold up to scrutiny. It’s a crank notion. Somehow, in the trying times ahead, we will have to develop a more careful approach, and cross-examine underlying assumptions, to answer the big question: who gets to keep what in the future?