Missing the mark

In the last month there has been a fair amount of air time given to a few words taken out of context from a speech delivered by Secretary Clinton. She revealed her policy position on training current and former coal miners for jobs in renewable energy and working with corporations to locate those jobs in states where these miners have lived and worked for generations. Somehow, these expressions of concern and intelligence about the needs of workers in a changing economy were consolidated in a few phrases that said exactly the opposite of the theme of her speech, then used them to nail her to the wall in West Virginia.

This attack on Secretary Clinton seems to be working in certain quarters, but it misses the mark.

dog teethThe prolonged attack on the Affordable Care Act, sustained over years now, is another example of missing the mark. The ACA is providing health care coverage for millions families in the US who were previously unable to get coverage in the past. Further, tens of millions who were previously insured are covered for pre-existing conditions that were excluded from the health plans before. The problem isn’t that the ACA isn’t working, though it isn’t working well enough to be sustainable.

This attack on our president seems to be working in some quarters, but it misses the mark.

Public schools are also under attack across the US. Politicians and parents express real concern over the lower and lower rates of high school completion and credit attainment. Far fewer are pointing to the increasing gap between city and suburban per pupil expenditures for education. The richest schools are getting improved facilities while failing schools are getting lead poisoning. Many states have attacked school districts, gutting their budgets, privatizing administrations, and restricting worker rights of teachers.

These attacks on our public schools seem to be working in many quarters, but they miss the mark.

Memes and video clips appear every week depicting police either playing hopscotch with children or shooting unarmed Black youth. It is rare, however, to have in depth discussions about the “thin blue line,” police department recruiting, police training, or the dumping of billions in ¬†“excess” military equipment on departments. We are still quaintly referring to a criminal justice system¬†as if the point of the system were indeed justice. Both police and those they are profiling are under attack in social media.

These attacks on police practices and those who break laws seem to be working almost everywhere, but they, too, miss the mark.

In communities, we depend on one another, know we are part of something greater that the sum of our individual relationships, and commit for the long term to our, each other’s, and the group’s well-being.

imageWe miss the mark on police profiling and violence when we fail to recognize that the set up is far greater than the continuing brutilization and taking of Black lives. The brutilization might culminate with police, but it precedes it as well. Why would anyone take cigarettes, brandish a knife, or sell single cigarettes on the street. Hell, why is there even a market for single cigarettes? County jails are filled with poor people who cannot make bail largely for nonviolent misdemeanors like driving without a license. Something bigger than individual police officers or individual municipal departments is happening to us and we are not addressing it.

Public schools are not under attack for their failures. They are being blamed for the failures caused by poverty, joblessness, white flight, and the results of incarceration on families so that privitization can increase and turn a profit. Thus, we miss the mark by spending less on schools instead of more.

imageThe ACA will not start to magically work by taking money out of health care coverage. The complex puzzle of the ACA required every part of it to hum along in order to work, even modestly well. A Canadian-style single payer system would have obviated the need for this complexity, but the industry (from the hospital association and medical associations to the pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment folks) had no stomach for it. The so-called single payer system would eventually put hundreds of thousands of billing staff and insurance staff out of business. Opponents of reality are showing through their treatment of Hillary Clinton how that will go.

When we fail as community to seek and achieve sustainable well-being for all, we support the continued conditions for which we blame others. That blame misses the mark, namely us all.

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