Monday, March 18, 2019

Writing Checks and Checking Out

There are two things I want to talk about this week.

Is Maryland the New Oregon?
Two weeks ago, the state of Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a bill to allow doctors to prescribe to patients with less than six months to live, a fatal dose of medication to allow them to end their lives. The bill passed narrowly, 74-66, with a vote in the State Senate still to come.

Opposition to the bill is coming from usual religious types, like the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, which is not unpredictable. Archbishop Lori said that the bill would “further undermine the dignity of life.

I would ask the Archbishop how dignified it is to live out your final days in agonizing pain, or in a drug-induced stupor, forced to have others tend to your waste processes.

This issue is a lot like the abortion issue, wherein people from outside of your family want to make painful, personal decisions for you, admonishing you to abide by their own morals and not yours.

I would posit that the opposition comes from families who have never had a loved one suffer through a painful, drawn-out death. Or those who have never had to contemplate helping a loved one die peacefully while risking murder charges themselves. Otherwise, they might think twice about putting anyone else through that kind of torture.

Obviously, there should be safeguards in a law like this, preventing patient coercion. Great care must be taken that this is a path the patient chooses to take, for their own benefit and not to avoid the inconvenience of others. Authors of this bill say there are such safeguards, critics say there are not… Just like every other political debate going on. The two houses should be able to bang out some protections to calm any reasonable objections.

Granted, they’ll never calm the philosophical ones, so that leaves us to again fight the MYOB fight.

One thing the law does have in its favor is that the state of Oregon has had an assisted suicide law on the books for years. My friend and Oregonian, the Infidel, may know better, but I haven’t read of any rash of terminal patient suicides; in fact, I heard the number actually decreased after passage. That disarms some of the scare tactics opponents throw around about how people will be lining up to bump off their parents and claim their inheritance. Or people making rash decisions that they will regret, albeit for a very short time.

I know I’ll feel a lot better if this law gets all the way to passage. Then if one day, in what I hope is the very distant future, I’m wracked with pain on my deathbed, I can check out on my own terms without having to drag my sorry carcass out to the car and run a hose from the exhaust pipe.

The College Bribery Scandal
I so wish it involved Colgate University so we could call it “Colgate-gate.” And if Bill Gates was involved but got away with it, the headline would be Bill Gates Skates Colgate-gate. (I could go on, but I already did, once. I hate the whole “Adding ‘Gate’ to Every Scandal” trope.)

It’s only an important scandal if celebrities are involved, right? That’s why the only people we know about who are implicated in this pay-for-admittance deal are the two Hollywood actresses. You’d think it was a whole Hollywood undertaking. It’s always, “These two actresses, (here are their headshots!) and 48 other less well-known rich people, were charged blah blah blah…”

The Press’s knee-jerk use of the celebrities in the lede allowed the Republicans to position this as a “liberal” scandal. Now, I don’t know who else is involved but I’d bet that Republicans predominate, for no other reason but the culprits had to have a lot of money on hand. Worst case, it’s a split, making it an American problem and not a Republican/Democrat problem.

The NY Times referred to this as Snowplow Parenting. That’s a step up from Helicopter Parents, who merely hover. The Snowplow Parents work to clear all obstacles from their offspring’s paths. It’s nice in theory but leaves the children totally unprepared to deal with life’s inevitable obstacles. Or even normal adult tasks.

I always thought a parent’s primary objective should be to prepare their kids to be independent. Knocking down every obstacle and refusing to let your kid try something and fail is a huge disservice. If one can’t handle disappointment, (and life will be loaded with it), it will be a miserable existence indeed.

OK, I guess it would be quite nice if your parents bought your way onto teams and got you into colleges for which you weren’t qualified, but eventually, the snowplowing is going to come to an end, and then what?

Personally, I’m glad I worked for whatever I got. My rewards corresponded with my efforts. My parents always provided a safety net, but I was out there on my own. I did my own homework and my own projects. If they were crappy, I got a bad grade. It was on me.

Side note: I stopped asking the folks for homework help very early in life, after the Math Debacle. I went to grade school in the 60s when the “New Math” revolution was in full swing. My parents could help me with math, but their way had nothing to do with the way I was being taught. So even when I got the right answers, my parents’ methods didn’t lend themselves to the next tasks, when we moved on to other functions.

After that, I had my mom review writing projects and suggest edits, (usually for grammar and clarity.) That was it.

I picked my own college, did my college application by myself, and got myself enrolled. More importantly, I paid my own way through school via part-time jobs.

My folks supported me… I guess you could call it a collaboration. I purposely picked a state college to which I could make a daily commute, so to avoid dorm costs. They helped me with buying books, which was a complete racket. And during my last semester, when I ran out of money, they kicked in the last $500 of my tuition.
They would have paid for me to live on campus but it was important to me to do this on my own. That’s how they raised me. I made it my business to get in and out in four years.

The sad thing, in today’s world, is that this is practically impossible anymore. Not only have tuition costs skyrocketed, there are so few jobs left for teens and young adults to do. The entire retail sector that once was, is now GONE. The stores that are still open don’t have nearly the same staffing level that they did in the late 70s.

I worked at a grocery store, a gas station, and a record store. (There was also one summer in a glass factory, which I call My Summer in Hell.) But that was enough to pay my tuition and gas/beer money.

Now, the grocery store would have self-service cash registers, and the stations with live cashiers have them bag the groceries too. So there would be no bag boys and half the number of cashiers.

The gas station? Well, that was a pretty cheap operation right then. I worked by myself all day and that hasn’t really changed. But they were so cheap, they didn’t even have a cash register… I had to make change out of a cigar box. They were so cheap, they advertised their gas prices in liters. Don’t think THAT didn’t get me yelled at all the time when customers found out gas wasn’t really .49 per gallon. Like it was the gas jockey’s idea…

And record stores? They’re just gone, disappeared from the landscape. And the malls you usually found them in, are either gone too or a shell of their former selves. So what’s left? Food, I guess. Big box stores. Everyplace else is on a skeleton crew. Stores make sure they keep their payroll down and no one gets over 30 hours, lest they become eligible for benefits.

So I feel for kids and parents today, who are caught in this mess. It’s a shame that kids who work hard and do their best are getting squeezed out of the competitive colleges by kids whose parents stacked the deck for them.
But at least they’ll know what it’s like to survive not getting your first choice in life.

Chances are, they’ll handle it better than those who have received everything they’ve ever wanted, but yet spend their nights rage-tweeting about not getting enough credit and respect.


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

And this brings me to another topic. College is not for everyone. I couldn't have done without it. But I see my nephew and a niece who struggle. They feel they have to go yet they don't wish to. He is so talented with his hands and building things. But everyone insists he must go to college and pick a major and find something else to do. In high school they were only prepared to go to college. No more woodworking class, or anything trade related. (high school boyfriend took drafting and went on to become a mechanical draftsman, not a shabby gig) As sexist as it is, during the 70's I had other options in high school. From classes in typing and bookkeeping and other "girl" related skills to going to a vo-tech and working on cars, building homes, learning about construction, being a buyer (yes I almost did that cuz i love fashion) there were so many more options. Now, it's college or you're a loser. Look it didn't help the inarticulate buffoon in the white house. College isn't always the answer and not sparking other skills sets and interests while in school they are doomed for life they will end up hating. We've seen it. or perhaps you've lived it. We are screwing kids today on so many levels. They are not prepared for life in any way anymore. They have only been protected from it and coddled. Off my soap box now.

W. Hackwhacker said...

Just popping in to say I enjoyed your posts. I'm guessing from what I know of Gov. Hogan (as fellow Marylander) that he'll veto the bill if it passes the Senate. That's why we need a Democrat in the State House. Also, I had frugal parents who put aside enough money so my brother and I could attend school full time, though tuition & room and board at a good public university out of state was not in the stratosphere at that time (1960's). It was interesting to read your personal perspectives on both issues.

jono said...

Way back when I was in college gas was only .29 per gallon. Of course they had just invented the wheel a few years before. I did have to borrow, but it only took ten years to pay it off. I can't imagine the debts being incurred now.

bluzdude said...

Thanks, Whack.

With an issue this contentious, I don't see the likelihood of a Hogan veto being overridden. But a boy can dream...

bluzdude said...

I remember that time... gas was like .32-.33 per gallon, but you could get it for .29 the "cheap" stations.

Obviously the average wage has not risen at the same rate as college tuition, which is insane right now. That's what makes the minimum wage fight so important. There was a solid 10 years where there were zero raises to minimum wage, while the price of everything kept going up.

But even at $15 per hour, there is still no chance of paying one's own tuition, unless we're talking community college.

The school loan companies must love this.

bluzdude said...

I think high schools need to do MUCH more to prepare kids for being an adult... not just trades but how everyday life works... keeping a checkbook, paying a mortgage, how not to lose your life to credit cards, renter's obligations, etc.

Vocations are another thing; that should totally be an option because like you said, not every kid is cut out for college.

What bothers me is the spate of memes put out by conservatives, touting trade school over college. And it's always the conservatives. That tells me there's a political reason for them to campaign against college. Not only because they're perceived as hotbeds of liberalism, but they benefit when the population aren't taught the basics of logic and critical thinking. That's why all those memes (which I regularly debunk in the space) hit home with so many who don't have the tools to see through them.