It Is So Simple


I had a wonderful conversation today with two intelligent, thoughtful women. One is a college student. Incredibly bright, well read, an engineer in training, and a gifted singer. The other is her grandmother, born and raised in the Netherlands, but an American for many decades.

We were chatting about life at a family party, and the topic of motherhood came up. The young woman has her doubts about wanting to raise a child. As I teased her and prodded her about the joys of parenting, she said something that brought my words to a halt.

“I don’t know where this country will be in five or ten years. I don’t know that I want to bring a child into a place like this.”

That lead us to a discussion of national politics, and to the scary and bewildering place in which we find ourselves.

We talked about the current horde or Democratic candidates, and realized that all three of us are firmly behind the progressives who are running. We all shared our excitement about the fact that there seems to be a competition to shake out which one of them is the most liberal.

How refreshing, I said to them both, I’ve been calling myself a Socialist since the 1970s!

That’s when my new friend, the woman raised in the Netherlands, began to share her thoughts.

“I don’t understand this strange reaction to the word Socialist! It doesn’t mean that you don’t want any kind of capitalism! It means that capitalism must have a conscience!”

We talked about the fact that a healthy and thriving country is one that takes care of the very basic needs of it’s people. About the fact that our friends from Europe are unable to understand when we tell them that our daughter will only have six weeks of unpaid leave after giving birth to a child.

We talked about the fact that if a country is able to produce a healthy, well educated, financially secure next generation, it is likely to have a stronger economy than a country whose people live in poverty.

“It’s so simple!” said my friend. “Socialism means that the government takes care of the social needs of the people. Why don’t Americans look at the lives of Europeans and see what it could be like here? Why don’t they look at life in the Scandinavian countries? Or in the rest of Western Europe?”

I had no answer for her, obviously. But I agreed with her assessment.

It is so simple.

Taxes should be paid to the government so that the government can provide the basic needs that individuals can’t grant to themselves. Education, paved roads, healthcare, national defense, a secure retirement, a healthy environment.

“It is so simple.”

Yes. It really is.

I wonder if the United States can ever get itself to see that fact.

Earning a Living in the Modern World


Money, money.

How I hate you!  How I need you!  How I wish I had a big giant huge humungous pile of you that I could rely on for the rest of my life!

Yup.

I’m a pretty typical modern human.  I need money.  But I refuse to bow down to the crass need for said money.

Here’s the thing.   I loved having a career where helping children was more important than getting rich.  I loved living modestly but comfortably.

I was proud of those years when I saved up for a pair of 6 dollar sneakers for the boys.  I lived frugally, and I made do.  I bought whole chickens and roasted them and served them to the family. Then I boiled the bones for soup and chicken pot pie.  I reused my ziploc bags.   I bought one pair of jeans a year and used them until the knees wore out.

But here I am, supposedly in my golden years.  I was pushed out left teaching much earlier than I should have.  So my pension is way less than it should have been.

And I need money.

And you can’t make money staying home and being a nice older lady and reading a lot and cooking for your dogs.   I know.   Crazy, huh?  Why can’t I make a decent living by keeping my leather sofa basically dirt free?

So.  Here I am.

Faced with a dilemma.

I need to earn my keep. I’d love to think I could write the Great American Novel, but I’m not completely delusional.

I have chosen a slightly easier path.

I am going to accept ads on my blog.

Please don’t throw tomatoes!  Please don’t stop coming here to read my wonderfully pithy insights!   I couldn’t help myself.  I may be a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders and a confirmed Socialist, but a person’s gotta eat, right? And so do her dogs.

So I’ll keep on writing, and I’ll keep on lighting up with joy every time one of you tells me that you read my words.  But sometimes I’ll include a little promo for a product or two. Or three.

What can I say?  Capitalism has won this round.

But I’m still planning to wear my Bernie shirt every single time I leave my house.