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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The price of kindness

Working at a local television station that does a live news broadcast twice a night, I hear a little bit about what's going on around me every once in a while. Usually a week or two late, because it's a very small, under-funded television station--but when I'm not engrossed in catching up on Lost or reading a book or just trying to entertain myself in any way other than actually watching the news in front of me... sometimes I watch the news.

Such was the case this evening, and again during the replay, and again during the late broadcast, and again during that replay, and with every reiteration of one particular story, I found myself getting angrier and angrier. A few months ago, Akron Borough, a small town adjoining my hometown of Ephrata to the southwest, was in talks to build a Christian-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center within its jurisdiction. If you've ever read my blog before, or worse yet, met me in real life, you'll know how I feel about attaching that "Christian" word to such a venture, but all things considered, I was pretty excited that Akron was going to have a chance to build a center to help so many people. You might think a cute little town like mine would be immune to the problems of drug and alcohol addiction, because that's exactly what cute little towns like mine would love to have you believe. However, in the Nineties we had quite a heroin epidemic on our hands. So much so that our cute little town of just around 20,000 inhabitants had a clean needles program.

No matter who was to run it, this rehab center would no doubt provide a much appreciated positive influence on my town and surrounding communities--and an even better influence on the people it would inevitably help. So of course, the residents of Akron jumped at the opportunity to help out their fellow man, even threw in money to help bet the center funded and built... right?

Of course not! In fact, the organization that was working on the center has now pulled out in disgust, because the residents of Akron completely shot the whole project down. They refused to have such a thing built in their neighborhood because of: decreased property values. That's right, sons of liberty, the goodwill of mankind and the chance to help out some people sorely in need has been commandeered, yet again, by the Almighty Goddamn Dollar. Not even by money itself, but by the very idea of it. We can't have dirty drug addicts coming into our town making it "unsafe" while they work out their troubles and maybe Find Jesus to boot! Think of what that'll do to the resale value of our townhouses! Putting in that above-ground pool out back won't have done a thing!

It saddens me. I'm hardly even angry, really. I'm just so frustrated that this kind thing, when our greed overrides our empathy (if we even have any of that left at this point). It's the same thing that put a boot to the throat of our health care reform. You've heard that bill was going to get passed, right? Not in its original form--but not with a public option, not even with an early Medicare buy-in like they talked about when the bill was sounding its swan song. Let alone what should have been in the bill and wasn't, like what Congressman Kucinich included in his H.R. 676 which I really can't even say was swept under the rug when it didn't even make it to the floor. We care more about what's going on in our bank accounts and our wallets than what is going on in the bodies of our neighbors and friends. And much more than we do about the people we don't even know. They're not our problem. They'll figure something out, they just have to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. They're just lazy and if they want health insurance they'll figure out a way to get it--and if not, we'll fine them for it. No seriously, we will. Somehow, that made it into the Senate health care bill.

Money > People. Learn it, live it, love it.

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