A lesson from a gasping catfish

Jul 23, 2017 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer

Most of us are just a few poor decisions away from real trouble.

There was a surprise early one morning by a section of gated pipe just below our house last week. A wayward catfish had found its way into our upper pasture. The seven-inch fish was a long way from home and in a desperate state, lying directly in the spout of a stream of water flowing through one of the open gates.

The flow was enough to keep him alive after exiting the pipe but barely. The little fish was a metaphor for all of us,

one day swimming peacefully in the Wind River, then, a few bad decisions later, lying helplessly in a trickle of water.

This fish's story had a happy ending.We have a pond on our property. I filled a bucket with water, lifted the catfish into it, and walked down to the pond.I put the stunned fish in the water, carefully avoiding the painful spines just below its head. I swayed him back and forth in the water for a few seconds, and, zoom, he darted into the depths of the pond.

The pampered clowns in Congress should take note of this little story.

People go happily along, make a random decision, followed by another and too often end up like this catfish, helpless and waiting for a miracle. Health issues often arrive as a bolt from the blue.

Suffer from allergies, diabetes or any other ailment you have no control over? Tough. Your elected officials plan to abandon you like that catfish so the fat cats can make even more money off the backs of the workers.

Our two senators and lone (Virginia) representative swim happily with the majority that would bring back pre-existing conditions as a cause for eliminating insurance.

Sen. Barrasso, you are a physician. You know better. Sen. Enzi, you're a family man and made your mark as a small businessman.You once supported your workers. Why not now? Liz Cheney, you are so out of touch with the average person, it's not worth the space.

A personal case in point about the ridiculous, upwardly exponential spiral of medical costs came two weeks ago.

For the last 15 years I've taken an allergy shot in early summer. It cost $35 for the first decade. It entailed calling my doctor's office and having a nurse administer the shot.

Not so anymore. It now costs $520 and requires an office visit so a distracted physician can make small talk for three or four minutes before the nurse gives the injection. Do the math -- a 3,500 increase in a simple medical procedure over the last five years. There are loopholes in fixed medical costs, and I stepped right into one.

Those of you with a far-right tilt have probably heard one of your media heroes claim that the constitution makes no promise of health care. Well, sorry guys, but it actually does.

Too many extremists ignore the sections before and after their favorite clause in the preamble: "provide for the common defense." The intent of our constitution is to form a more perfect union, establish justice and insure domestic tranquility. It says nothing of screaming pundits calling for civil war, courts rigged in favor of the privileged, or militarizing the police to insure tranquility.Those are just pipe dreams of the ignorant and disconnected.

But the preamble does clearly state "promote the general welfare." (Oh that word, "welfare.")

General welfare in legal context means the basic goal of our government should be the health, peace, morality and safety of our citizens. In our constitution? Really? Sounds like socialism, doesn't it?

Article I, Section 8 of the constitution states it clearly: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States."

Those of you storing food, stockpiling ammunitions, and digging the shelter out back won't like it, but this was and is the intent of our founding fathers. It is not to throw poor people under the bus by giving more tax breaks to the top half-percent of the population that owns 91 percent of the nation's wealth. It's not for Congress to exempt itself from the rules inflicted on the rest of us.

No, the idea is to have a truly representative government that serves the needs of its people first. And it is most definitely not supportive of Mitt Romney's claim that "corporations are people."

We live in strange times and in a nation that grows more divided by the minute.Don't think the divide is simply racial. It is not.We can watch as cops are portrayed as killers, minorities as hopeless victims, and white men as vile, evil creatures, or we can use our own judgment and realize our real differences are not about skin color, ethnicity or religious beliefs, but on the quantity of things we can pile up and keep away from someone else.

The handful of obscenely wealthy people that actually control America don't get it.They already have everything money can buy, but they choose to ignore the inevitable: "He who dies with the most things still dies."

Congress and many state legislators glom onto the wealthy in the vain hope that a few crumbs will come their way. The payouts to our elected officials come with tight, unbreakable strings, and the process just repeats itself as every newly elected representative or senator falls corrupted by the siren song of wealth.

Until term limits or some other draconian measure are in place, we should all think of that little catfish, swept away by the tides of fate, making no mistakes but suffering from the improbabilities of life.

There won't always be some to carry us to safety.

Editor's note: Staff writer Randy Tucker is a retired public school educator.

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