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A Chance of Thunderstorms, Politics, and Other Passing Problems

A chance of thunderstorms is in the forecast for our portion of the Kansas plains today, but despite all that global warming hysteria the weather around here hasn’t been anything like that “Wizard of Oz” kind of scary for the past several early falls, and we’re holding out hope the coming weekend will also be free of any extraordinary political turbulence. Our Thursday afternoon was mostly devoted to sitting around the lobby of one of those free market medical facilities that have lately proliferated on the east side of our humble prairie hometown, anxiously awaiting the results of our beloved Pop’s eyelid surgery, and as anxious at it was at least we weren’t paying any attention to that awful presidential race, so we hold out hope that blessing lasts through the weekend.
Our beloved Pop at long, long last emerged from his surgery in seemingly fine shape, still a bit loopy from the happy pills they’d given him to keep his spirit up and his eyes open during the grueling hours-long procedure but cognizant enough to order a Sprite and ask some pertinent questions about the doctor’s post-op orders, so at that point we were inclined to call it a good day. During that long wait we also had a nice chat with our beloved Mom, despite her own apparent anxieties, although even that heart-to-heart conversation couldn’t avoid the rest of the world. Our beloved Mom is a refined and cultured woman who long ago slapped a proper respect for the English language and other highfalutin ideas about western civilization into our stubborn heads, but she’s also an Okie by birth and upbringing, so of course she led the conversation to the latest football results, which in turn led to a mutually desultory talk about those National Football League players who won’t stand for the national anthem and how the National Collegiate Athletic Association is boycotting North Carolina because it insists on the very same sex-segregated locker room arrangements as the NCAA.
With nothing to distract us but weeks old copies of People Magazine and Sports Illustrated and other waiting room fare full of people we’d never heard of, that inevitably led us to the point when our beloved Mom confessed that both she and our beloved Pop had quite reluctantly decided to vote for Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, as much as they loathed him, but only because the only alternative was Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and at that point we were in no mood to dissuade either of them. They wheeled our Pop out of the surgery room a seemingly long while later, and we and our beloved Mom then wheel-chaired him into the comfort of his easy chair on the third floor of a rather swank east-side old folks’ home, and after we were convinced they could take it from there we headed on home.
Conveniently located on the way home was the notorious local dive bar called Kirby’s Beer Store, so of course we stopped in there along the way. The relatively young bartender with the National Geographic earrings was on the job, which we were glad to see because he’s such a great guy, and the only other customer was a fine fellow of our long acquaintance with a Roy Acuff tattoo on his forearm and who plays a mean rockabilly guitar, and with “Goodfellas” playing on the bar’s television we had a fine talk about our favorite gangster movies. This naturally led to talk of the presidential elections, and after some sincere sympathy from them about our beloved Pop’s plight, and despite our usual disagreements about politics, we all wound up agreeing we wouldn’t vote for any of the major party candidates. Oddly enough, and comfortingly enough, we find ourselves in agreement with all sorts of people on this point lately.
No matter how all that political stuff turns out, we cling to some hope that it won’t be “Wizard of Oz” scary, and that those free market medical joints on the east side will continue to provide due care to such deserving folks as our beloved Pops, and that our beloved and high-cultured Mom will continue to regale us with the latest reviews from her book club and the latest football results, and that our friends in low places will share with us both a beer and a disdain for the rest of it.

— Bud Norman

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One response

  1. We are orphans ourselves, having lost our beloved parents over a decade ago. But we understand the love that sons and daughters have for the people that brought them into the world, raised and nurtured them, and who set them on the path to adulthood. And as they age, become infirm and the inevitable medical problems that age brings take their toll, we come to realize all the more that people are not statistics. When they are the flesh of your flesh, the blood of your blood, they are not abstractions.

    As we have gotten older, hopefully a little wiser, we have come to understand that all the more. We were once seduced by abstractions, by ideological catchphrases that came as part of the package from reading Conservative, free market and Libertarian certainties. Bill Buckley in his prime was a graceful, compelling and elegant writer. We were convinced by the examples of how “comparative advantage,” a theory developed by David Ricardo back in 1817, worked to everyone’s advantage and made everyone richer. And since we were educated and, even as we came from humble roots, in great demand in the labor market, we were ideological free traders. But even as we spouted the benefits of unrestricted free trade we had occasional nagging flashes of doubt about how well our less fortunate fellow citizens would fare if they were forced to compete with people who would gladly work for less than a dollar a day.

    We just noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal (a must read for a Registered Investment Advisor) entitled: “In White, Working-Class Areas, Social Institutions Are Crumbling. That Decay Is Fueling Trump’s Rise.” It recounts the grim human toll of sending the jobs that Americans once did overseas.

    Now we see the results and we have come to the conclusion that while time, and the grim reaper, cures all ills, in the meantime we don’t allow the weak, the powerless and the less fortunate to suffer on the altar of theory. To the moral son, our parents can never be abstractions as they decline. We never discard them and let time solve the problem of what to do with the aging. We take them to the doctor or the hospital and sit in the waiting room for the doctor to reassure us that they are still with us even if, from a purely theoretical, economic perspective it makes no sense. We do this because we are moral actors. To do otherwise would make us moral monsters.

    Good for Bud.

    [For a link to that article go here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-places-with-fraying-social-fabric-a-political-backlash-rises-1473952729?mod=djemalertNEWS ]

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