This is a disaster. My personal experience in the last year and a half is typical, I suppose.
I lost my full-time job in 2011 and also lost my health insurance. I am receiving Social Security as well as unemployment insurance, which is not a lot of money. I signed up for a local plan called Healthy San Francisco (HSF), which covers doctors’ exams, lab tests and prescriptions, but my real needs are for extensive dental care and for cataract surgery, neither of which are covered under HSF. I have had to pay for my own ophthalmologist visits and for dental treatment at the UCSF dental school (who, by the way, are excellent), and would not have been able to do this but for some money I inherited when my brother died.
I will not be able to have cataract surgery until I turn 65 at the end of the year, when I am eligible for Medicare coverage. My vision is deteriorating, and this worries me because the work I am getting is part-time and temporary and I work with computers. If I cannot see, I cannot work.
Nobody should have to go through this. I count myself lucky not to have any life-threatening illness, as many friends of mine do (at least not yet). My former 401k plan was gone more than a year ago. If this is the “new normal” I feel sorry for young people just starting out under these conditions. What do they have to look forward to?
San Francisco, California
29 April 2013
My heart aches for the victims of this horrific disaster.
I take exception to the claim by “labour and business experts” that western consumers’ insistence on low prices is partly to blame for the Bangladeshi garment industry’s poor working conditions.
If I remember correctly, Michel Chossudovsky points out in his book The Globalization of Poverty that the migration of clothing production from high- to low-wage countries didn’t benefit the consumer. Indeed, it had little if any effect on the end cost of the garment. The change came in the enormous increase in profit margin to the manufacturers and distribution chain, thanks to the plummeting cost of production.
The consumer had nothing to do with this preventable tragedy. It is a thoroughly corrupt and parasitic capitalist profit system that lies at the root of this and countless other similar disasters.
British Columbia, Canada
27 April 2013
Thanks for your tribute/obituary to George Jones. Greatest vocalist in country music history or not—there is some strong competition—George Jones certainly ranks way, way up there. He brought poignancy and sincerity to lyrics that at times would have been hard to take from a less talented interpreter.
But I am glad that George Jones did not always sing heartfelt professions of undying love or heartrending laments about loss and pain. Some songs, like “Her Name Is,” “I’m A People” and (a personal favorite) “The King Is Gone (So Is Elvis)” fit in the “laughing to keep from crying” category. With a little stretching, so perhaps could his duet with another great balladeer-and-much-more, Ray Charles, in “We Didn’t See A Thing.”
“Love Bug” is an unpretentious (silly?) infectious mix of humor and joy.
If one is in the mood to honkytonk or rock, “Maybe Little Baby,” “Maybelline” (with Johnny Paycheck), “Who Shot Sam” and “I’m A One Woman Man” could be added to the aforementioned “Why Baby Why,” “White Lightnin’ ” and “Ragged But Right.”
Although most of George Jones’s recordings reflected the troubled times he lived in, he was also a master at reflecting attempts to find respite, to hold on, in humor, celebration, finding love, squeezing a good time out of whatever means were available. I’ll remember him as much for those songs as for the ballads.
29 April 2013
Dear Mr. Collier,
Congratulations to the workers of Detroit—employed and unemployed—who put you on the ballot for mayor. Sending much affection to all of you from the West Coast.
Please do not participate in any radio or television debates or interviews that DO NOT SHOW PROPER RESPECT FOR YOU, THE PEOPLE OF DETROIT, AND THE SOCIALIST EQAULITY PARTY.
I think you already understand. Just wanted to shout it out.
28 April 2013