Monday, August 17, 2009

Lip-Smackin' Good

Used to be, not too long ago, a Remote Area Medical setup serving impoverished and underinsured people being needed in Los Angeles, CA would have been not only unthinkable, and intolerable, but world news, some say. It shames us, others say. Well, I dunno. Remember the Watts Riots? Go back further, to when Hispanics or the Japanese were displaced, the latter to concentration camps in WW II. Coolies built, as indentured servant / slave labor, the railroads that met at the Golden Spike, creating transcontinental travel for those who could afford to ride. Need we mention King Cotton and that Civil War contretemps?

My point is, we never treated our unmonied manual labor forces particularly well. Maybe we should have been allowing Remote Area Medical help, and other foreign aid, to come in from other countries long ago. That a wealthy nation like USA allows so many of its citizens to exist in poverty, without the slightest chance to afford basic health care, and with nowhere to turn but foreign assistance for even a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be looked at and helped with poor eyesight, bad teeth, and even minor surgeries; that this happens here is indeed shameful.

Trouble is, the rich have no shame. They have anger and hatred toward the poor and the brown. They rail and scream and throw fits over not wanting to pay for those lazy fat idiots who eat bad take-out food and watch TV every night -- never mind the plain fact that they can afford to do nothing else, the way the whole corporate exploitation system is set up.

These people work hard for a pittance and are spit on when they dare ask for basic human dignity. Why should Mr. brand new Mercedes-Benz pay for Mr. clapped-out 15-year-old Chevy's kid's school breakfast? Hell, a little hunger is a great motivator, don't'cha know? Why should Mr. $2000 Three-Piece Suit pay for Mr. Ripped Up No-Brand K-Mart Wal-Mart Jeans's kid to have glasses so she can see in school, or dental work so she's not in chronic pain, or how about gym equipment and trained teachers and new up-to-date textbooks and -- why go on?

In general, the rich hold the poor in contempt. "They don't try enough," or "They're just lazy" or "They want a hand-out, they don't want to work for what they get."

As if it's not every child's right to good health care and a chance to learn and be healthy and live a good life. Born into the wrong family -- especially if you're brown -- and you, my sons and daughters, are shit outta luck.

At the Forum in downtown Los Angeles, California, USA doctors from all over the world, many of them British, Australian, New Zealander, or even South African, are providing basic care for a brief time for as many as they have time and resources to see. And the lines are long, and orderly, and the need is far greater than they can meet.

Meanwhile, literally across the street, rich and largely white Americans saunter along on easy street with good clothes, clean, healthy teeth, bellies full of healthy food they can afford, heads full of educated reasons why they need not bother giving a shit about those stinky poor folks. It's the same blinders worn by people driving past those endless cattle pens, pig farms, and chicken cages; horrific suffering, torturous fear, disease-ridden death is all ignorable. Why?

Because we want our meat finger-lickin' now, god-damn it, because it's the American way to eat death and pretend it's lip-smackin' good.

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