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Buy, Buy, Buy (A Round Up)

This week saw the breaking story—sorry—of Gazans blasting their way into Egypt to buy such advanced commodities as…milk. The world at large seems to have collectively looked at this with a resounding, “meh.” I don’t like to comment too much on Israeli/Middle Eastern politics because a) I have a fear of hyper-flammable materials and b) I don’t know enough to speak with much authority. In this case, however, whether you think this is good for Israel or bad for Israel, a sign that Egypt will take more responsibility for “the Palestinian issue” or that America should get more serious than Anapolis showed we were—you have to admit, people willing to blow a hole in a seven-mile wall to buy milk probably means that the ostrich approach won’t work for too long.

Speaking of buying things, welcome to morning in America. Yes, there may be a recession on the way; yes, the housing market may be imploding (thanks, subprime lending!); yes, things may not be looking up. Don’t worry: the U.S. government says “buy!”. (We’re good at that.) And to help us buy, we’re looking at a $150 million economic stimulus plan. I am not an economist, but $600 in my pocket sounds fine.

Except maybe I’d like to give mine back. I am so furious at the S-CHIP veto override that I could honestly vomit, and I can’t help but feel that this is, if not blood money, something pretty dirty. To recap, S-CHIP, a bill providing additional spending for children’s healthcare, passed the House. It passed the Senate. It got vetoed at the White House. A slightly revised version passed the House. It passed the Senate. It got vetoed at the White House. The House tried to override the veto and fell short by 15 votes. (Please, please, please, demand accountability from the people who represent you in our government.) This next step towards the nightmare of socialized medicine would have been paid for pretty much in its entirety by an increased tax on tobacco products, removing precious funding from nothing at all.

(Look, even if it doesn’t come across in my writing here, I am, by and large, a relatively reasonable human. I want to have the wisdom and patience to appreciate multiple points of view, and the understanding that there can be different paths to solutions and different values in play for various people. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, and so on. But I really, really don’t have the patience for this one. We’re talking about healthcare for kids. Kids! They can’t possibly have hurt anyone, haven’t “chosen” to go on welfare, haven’t voted for the wrong people. There is. No. Reason. To punish them. I come from a family where the phrase “As long as you’ve got your health…” was oft-heard and considered a Jewish value as much as—more than—most rituals. This sort of devaluation of children is anathema to me.)

So we’ll have more money in our pockets. As it turns out, buying stuff may not be that great for us, anyway. (Click through that link to see Annie Leonard’s fantastic mini-movie, The Story of Stuff. It’s a lesson in basic “eco” knowledge—economics and ecology—with a decided feminist twist. [Who else talks about breast milk?].) However, if you happen to be in front of a computer or tv Monday night, consider buying yourself a beer—it’s State of the Union time!

—Mel Weiss