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McCain’s Pick Stirs Mrs. Left-Eyed Jack To Jump In With Her Two Cents

9 September 2008

Dear  Readers:

Today, due to a decided lack of peace at home since the Republican Convention, I have decided to let my dear wife of 34 years have her say on how she feels.  While CNN, MSNBC and the Big Three Networks obsess over Sarah Palin, the Mrs. and I feel that the issues that make a difference in our lives are being overwhelmed by the personality contest pushed by the McCain Campaign.  Mrs. Jack has been as prickly as a cactus since she heard Governor Palin’s speech last Wednesday, so today I said to her that I would give her a chance to speak for herself in my blog.  My name is Left-Eyed Jack and I approve her message.

A WOMAN’S TRUE STORY

As a woman, I’m concerned about healthcare, unemployment,  the minimum wage, where this country is headed, and the future that our children will be given and have to deal with.  As an older woman, I’m concerned about retirement and people living on fixed incomes.

I’m unhappy about being unemployed, uninsured, and that I never received equal pay for equal work.  I’m unhappy that the hospital I worked for was run into the ground by bean-counter MBA’s and finally had to file for bankruptcy.  I’m unhappy that I have to shop at Wal-Mart  because I can’t afford to shop anywhere else.  I’m unhappy that I had to take early retirement at a lower rate rather than work until full retirement age and receive a higher monthly check.  I’m angry with the Bush administration for raping this country for the last eight years and want someone to start undoing all the damage.

Now, to top that all off, I find myself extremely unhappy that John McCain has insulted my intelligence as a woman by picking as his running mate a woman who is against everything I believe in.  He seems to be hoping that I, as an addle-headed woman, will forget my problems and rush to elect Sarah Palin simply because she’s a woman.  He’s very wrong and here’s why.

*****

A year ago I was working in the Cardiology Department at a mid-sized hospital in Houston, Texas.  I had been practicing the art of making myself indispensable to the department ever since I was hired as a temp 13 years ago.  I wanted them to make me a permanent employee so I’d have medical insurance.   I thought I had a lump in my breast.

After 52 weeks of temping without benefits, they did hire me, but I had spent that year worrying about whether that lump in my breast was a serious thing or just one of those things that come and go.  I also was a colon cancer survivor and was worried about whether that would return.  I felt those health issues would have to wait until I was actually covered by medical insurance so I didn’t say anything.  I just worried.  Of course, even after you got hired and were eligible for coverage, there was still a six-month waiting period.  Eventually the lump did go away but not before a lot of sleepless nights.

I had been hired to do some medical transcription and catch up on the operative reports.  As very often happens, they gave me additional duties after they made me  permanent – secretary, unit clerk, gopher.  I was primarily working with the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, but also was given duties to perform by the Cardiology and Radiology transcription departments.

I got only the minimum raises even though I had transferred the patient records from 3×5 index cards to a computer file so you could search for a patient name or a particular date.  That reduced the “hunt time” for information and decreased the frustration factor for our doctors. Then, in my “spare time,” I created a database using Microsoft’s Access.  That way, we could pull out our department statistics for the benefit of our manager, the hospital administrators, and our cardiologists.

I think I did my part to improve the functioning of the department even though I was not a technical member of the team.  “Just a secretary.”  Never got a merit raise — just the bare minimum.  I never got a pat on the back from the hospital.  I often had doctors coming in at the eleventh hour saying “I need my stats for the last two years for re-credentialing.  Could you get those over to my office as soon as possible?  Thanks.”  Once or twice a doctor commented that the time it took to get his stats was much shorter than it used to be.

I worked there for a total of 13 years.  When I was there, it was much easier to find reports.  If a doctor asked a question about a patient who had been in the Cath Lab yesterday, we could put our hands on the information almost immediately due to my efforts.  We had come quite a way from the list of patients on the legal pad to a sortable relational database that could answer your questions.

But when push came to shove and the “Front Office” needed to cut somewhere, they chose to cut me first.  It’s true that I couldn’t perform an EKG on a patient.  I didn’t know how to do an echocardiogram or cath a patient.  They considered me replaceable and “deleted” my job to save money.

Well, I was stunned.  I didn’t even get five minutes’ notice.  I searched for a new job, but I had a severe handicap; I was 61 years old.  I applied for a large number of jobs, including some online transcription jobs.  Not one ever gave me a call-back.  The few who responded with a polite no said they had been inundated with applications and had quickly filled the position.  I spent six months on the job hunt.  I even investigated all those work-at-home ads, which mostly turned out to be scams.  Finally, my 62nd birthday came, and out of desperation I took early retirement.  We had bills to pay, food to buy, and my unemployment benefits had run out.

My husband had already been laid off a few years earlier and had gone through pretty much the same routine with the job-hunting.  Over-qualified for many available jobs, no one wanted to hire a counter clerk who had previously been a professional with his own business and a teacher after that.  He is lucky enough, now, to have VA benefits to take care of his chronic medical problems, but he was first turned away by VA and had to wait until we were in a desperate financial situation to get in.  As for me, I am gritting my teeth until I turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare, because the State of Texas doesn’t consider our income level, about $1200 a month, to be low enough to make us eligible for Medicaid.

I feel like my president for the last eight years has been stuffing his face with Texas barbecue and State banquet fare, while I have been forced to shop at Wal-Mart and buy whatever is on sale today.  I get the impression that he doesn’t care that I got laid off a few years short of full retirement age and have no medical insurance or life insurance.  He’s been spending trillions of dollars fighting a war that only he wanted.  He’s been actually encouraging corporations to move offshore by giving tax incentives, giving us Americans less hope of finding a new job when we get laid off.  I really wonder if this Republican president hasn’t been trying to break the back of the American worker, so that we will be willing to work for less, take less benefits — if any at all — and knuckle under to “Big Business.”

I am struck by the goals of the McCain/Palin ticket.  They don’t offer anything to me.  They leave me behind on the issue of healthcare; they leave me behind on the issue of economic security at a time that I am most vulnerable.  I’m not personally concerned with the issues of abortion, although I strongly disagree with McCain’s position and violently disagree with the position of Sarah Palin. McCain’s plan is to have me pay more in taxes than Obama will.  He wants to continue Bush’s war and continue spending the money on that instead of spending it here in this country on improving education, repairing potholes and bridges, and giving incentives to businesses that might hire me.  He only seems interested in advancing the ability of big business to continue whittling down the American Dream for the working class.

So what am I going to do about all this?  I’m going to vote for Barack Obama.  He cares about whether I have medical insurance.  He cares about education being available and affordable to all who want it.  He cares about women getting equal pay for equal work.  He cares about the high numbers of people out of work.  He wants to raise the minimum wage.

I’m going to vote for the team most likely to take care of the things that matter to me.  That would be Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  If you care about the same things, perhaps you would consider voting the same way.

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