Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Had to Ask

On my bicycle trip across the USA this summer I talked to a lot of the good folks who live in rural parts of the country. My opinions were often very different from those I encountered and so I stuck with a "smile and nod" technique. I listened because I was very interested in the way they saw the world, but I kept my opinions to myself. One day though, I just had to ask.

My route passed through a very small town in Wyoming - population 2. I stopped there, in the middle of nowhere, to get a bite to eat in the cafe/bar/post office/store - which was all in one small building. While I was eating my surprisingly good cheeseburger, I chatted with 1/2 of the population - the man behind the counter. The TV was on and tuned to Fox news (of course) and the elderly man scoffed in disgust at what he was hearing about the Presidents plans. He started saying how it won't be long before someone at the grocery store would start pulling things out of his cart that he wasn't allowed to buy. I was amazed at how angry he was - especially based on the benign topic that was actually being discussed on TV. I couldn't hold my tongue. I ask him did he really think that would happen - that someone would be telling him what he could or couldn't buy at the store? He replied in all seriousness that he absolutely believed that would be the case. I decided I better go back to my smile and nod rule.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident - that not all people in rural towns are so out of touch with reality - but I heard it over and over again in the cafe booths next to mine. Their opinions seemed based on a total lack of information on the facts. Either they hadn't heard the facts or they chose not to believe them. The scary part is that these are the people who actually vote while, sadly, lots of people who do have the facts choose not to.

I share this story because I truly wish there was some way to get all the people to hear the same story. People will always have their own opinions and that is good. But the media we have today is often so skewed and dangerously misrepresents the actual facts. The town hall meetings are a prime example. Folks are yelling and screaming about "death panels" and "socialism" without knowing one single word about what is actually in the bills being considered. They heard it on Fox news so it must be true.

I know you are busy America, but you must do some research and verify what you heard before you make an opinion - and especially before you vote. Please!


If we compare President Obama to President Bush, it seems he has made 2 big mistakes since taking office.
1. Honesty
2. Accountability

On point #1, President Obama has lost some poll support because he has been forthright with the American people about how long some problems may take to fix. He has also been straight with the people about the sacrifices that we may have to endure to turn some situations around. The Bush admin would simply say nothing is wrong - go back to the mall. Obama's honesty may have cost some poll numbers, but at least we know what is going on.

On point #2, some Americans are screaming about how much all this government intervention is costing the taxpayers. Perhaps they would be less angry if we just left those costs out of the budgets the way the Bush Admin left the costs of the wars out of the budgets. Folks are angry because they know - the way they should have known how much those wars were costing.

Oh, and have you seen the protests going on at the town hall meetings? You never saw that with the Bush team. They only gave speeches in front of supporters. The Obama team seems to be letting everyone in. In my opinion, the arguments are healthy and every citizen should have the right to attend and voice their opinions (calmly).

Where Is My Soap Box?

I have been quiet for several months due to my fantastic bicycle adventure. On this trip across the USA I was pretty much shielded from the daily news except for an occasional TV in a Burger King. From what I gathered, there were really only 2 news stories this summer - Swine Flu and Michael Jackson. At least that was all I heard.

Talking with folks in rural America, I had many topics that would have fit well in this blog but I decided to just hold back until I returned to my "normal" life. Now I have so many topics swimming in my hollow head I don't even know where to begin. But I do know where I won't begin and that is on the topic of Health Care Reform. I'll get to it later but the whole thing is just crazy!

Yes, it seems the public is still revolting - so I am obliged to put in my $.02.