Political

The Rich Have No Idea What Working Folks Go Through

It was on the cool side Friday afternoon when Tommy, the AAA guy from Bridgeport, CT, knocked on my door. He was here to test my battery, a free service for AAA members.

I offered Tommy some water or a coffee. He declined and got started testing the battery. He was dressed in a blue, polyester outfit and yellow safety vest.

“How bad has it been this summer, with the heat?” I asked.

“Oh man,” he said, “sometimes when I get home at night, I’ve baked for so long, I can’t even talk to my kids until I cool down.”

“Jeez,” I said, “what’s it like in winter?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t been doing this that long.”

It turned out I needed a new battery, so he swapped out the old for a new.

“What’s the trickiest battery situation you’ve seen?” I asked during the installation.

“The battery in a Dodge Stratus is in the wheel well. You’ve got to take the tire off to get at it. In a Ferrari, the battery is under the seat.”

I had no idea. We talked a bit more about batteries and then I went back into the house.

A little later I brought him a glass of water. He thanked me, gulping it down.

I told him I was a writer and played guitar.

“I used to play drums,” he said, “but when the kids came, I had to start working two jobs.”

“What’s your other one?”

“I work for an armored car company,” he said. “I’m moving inside soon; happy about that cause people get shot.”

“Are you serious?” I said, clearly naive; of course those guys are at risk.

“A few months ago somebody’s partner shot him in the head; then took the money. The shooter had worked there six months.”

I didn’t have to ask if the guy shot had died.

I paid Tommy for the work, shook his hand and wished him luck. As he drove off I was thinking that Bridgeport is only ten miles away, but the sorts of things Tommy faces, folks around here in Westport are clueless about. When I think about the little things that I get upset about, compared to what Tommy deals with, it’s embarrassing to even mention.

No doubt government needs to be more efficient, but it’s not right that in the United States a hard working guy like Tommy must put his life at risk, working 80 hours a week, just to provide a crap apartment in Bridgeport for a family of four. How do more tax breaks for the rich help a guy like him?

You can’t fight City Hall


A few weeks ago I got a tax bill for a car I sold back in April. Today I went into the Town of Westport to tell them that I don’t own this car anymore.

They said it was up to me to tell them and that I would need the Bill of Sale and a copy of the receipt provided by the CT DMV when I turned in my license plates.

I told them I had no idea if I had either, but that surely you guys track vehicle transactions via computer.

“We get an update once a year,” the woman in the Westport Tax Office said. “The onus is on you, so either pay this bill now, or face the interest and late fee penalties.”

“But why is it my responsibility?” I asked. “I reported the sale and turned in my plates to the DMV. You have all the information you need to tax me properly.”

“That’s the state. We’re local. When you turned in your plates you were given a receipt that tells you that you must contact your local government.”

“I don’t recall any such conversation with DMV,” I told her.

“It’s clearly stated on your receipt.”

“It might, but who reads all that fine print?” I said. “I’m not paying this. It’s unfair.”

“You’ll be fined.”

“Look, I know it’s not your fault,” I said trying to get the woman on my side. “But this seems ridiculous in an age of computers. The DMV is fully computerized, how is it you can’t get that info on a timely basis?”

“Do you want to pay this bill or not?” she asked, crossing her arms across her chest.

I wrote the check and left.


Don’t Get Sick

 

As a freelance writer and communications consultant health insurance is necessary and expensive. Before this legislation was upheld by the Supreme Court, I could be denied coverage at any price (and I have even though I’m healthy); now it’s not only possible to buy, it will be affordable.

Being forced to buy insurance isn’t about freedom. Before this legislation, if you didn’t have insurance and you got into a serious accident, a hospital still treated you. That cost was picked up by the rest of us who buy insurance.

Not having insurance when you can afford it is irresponsible and unfair to the rest of us.

The uninsured roll the dice, reaping the benefit of not paying, and they still get coverage in an emergency. That’s unpatriotic.

With all of us in the system, those who absolutely can’t afford it get subsidized; the rest of us take advantage of the collective economies of scale.

That’s sounds a lot more like capitalism than socialism. Corporations are all about scale.

To Drink or Not to Drink — Who Makes the decision?

Everybody knows big sugary drinks make big, unhealthy people. But do we need government mandating soda sizes?

Why shouldn’t ‘We the People’ have the freedom to choose SuperSize?

Nobody wants to be obese. Most people don’t want to die young either. So why do we make such unhealthy choices?

I’m all for freedom of choice, but marketers use advanced tools to maximize the impact of advertising and packaging. The days of Don Draper working up late-night creative based on intuition is long gone. Everything is tested and retested using advanced monitoring devices to determine heart rate, pupil dilation, breathing. Nothing is left to chance.

Is it any wonder people act against their best interest, defying health warnings as if they’re Zombies?

Although I prefer government to stay out of such matters, the People are at a disadvantage.
Marketers are always one step ahead: product placement in TV and Film, sponsoring our favorite musical and sporting events, even supporting our favorite charities—and each expenditure is quantified, evaluated and refined to maximize impact on our behavior.

Michael Bloomberg knows this better than anyone and he has certainly benefited from such corporate success, but he also realizes a fat, sick population is a vulnerable society that is unsustainable.

Imagine using that marketing capability to promote nutrition and exercise.

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