I1ULOST – A license plate for our times
I don’t think it’s fair to say that I felt angry. Just that I felt a pulsing twitch in my left eyebrow, which is usually a sign that I’m under entirely too much stress. But I couldn’t help but think that this guy’s license plate is nothing more and nothing less than analog for the times we live in.
Let’s be honest—I’ve always been what I consider center-left leaning. I’m big on tolerance, equality, open-ness in government. But I’m also a believer in the right to bear arms, maintaining a strong military, and in the U.S. having an influential (and positive) world role.
Something in the politics of the last decade or more, however, has moved me into the anger zone of a radical. My politics have pretty much stayed the same, but it seems as if the entire country has taken 5 giant steps to the right, leaving me way out in left field.
It’s the sheer meanness that gets to me.
Okay, I get it. The economy went bad. Like a lot of people, my job vanished in late 2008, and I found myself first contracting for most of 2009, then changing careers entirely at the end of that year. I became downwardly mobile. But two and a half years into my new career, I’m on my way back up. In short, I’ve been lucky. I currently make a little more than half of what I was ten years ago, which puts me in pretty good shape, considering the millions of Americans who ended up on unemployment, for years, in some cases, or worse, the roughly four million women and children in our country who have no cash income or government assistance at all.
The constant attacks from the far right seem to be going after everything I believe in. In the name of religious freedom, they are attempting to impose their own on everyone else. In the name of Jesus, they are attempting to yank away whatever help we have for the poor, in order to finance sweet tax deals for the rich. In order to turn back the clock to the nineteenth century, they’re jailing women who have miscarriages, passing laws which amount to state-mandated rape, removing collective bargaining rights from unions, and a host of other ill-considered ideas.
Our whole society seems to be shifting, and in the wrong direction. The forty hour work week is dead. Health insurance is a dream for many working employees (many health plans cost more than minimum wage employees make). There are actually proposals in Arizona and Florida to lower the minimum wage. Seriously. Do you have any idea what a minimum wage worker makes? I do, because I pay my employees that in cash each week. Let me tell you, it’s less than my family’s grocery budget. Much less housing. And some Republicans are arguing to make it lower?
Let sick people without insurance die. Drive more into poverty. Abuse workers by lowering their pay, eliminating their benefits and jeopardizing their safety.
It’s too much. They’re going too far. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a replay of the nineteenth century.
Personally, I want to live in a country where our decisions are guided not by I1ULOST, but by kindness and understanding. I want to live in a country with marriage equality, with universal health care, with a solid public education system, and where my children can grow up with opportunities to at least have as good a life as I have, preferably even better.