Ending with a bang and a rant

I’m pretty sure that tomorrow is the last day you can vote to put Zoe in a Cheerios box (until 11:59pm Central Time). It’s not looking so good for our girl, but the whole thing has been a lot of fun. I realized yesterday that all this blogging and thinking about Zoe has led me to dream up a number of new story ideas for her, and that might be the best prize of all.

I leave in a little bit for the airport because I’ll be speaking In Newark, DE tonight at 6pm. Can you come and see me?

If you can’t, be sure to tune in to the streaming, live video feed of the event, courtesy of Penguin’s Point Of View website!

I’ll be talking about Wintergirls tonight (a BIG change from Zoe), which makes it appropriate to point out this Book Recommendation Theme I Never Considered for Wintergirls.


I haven’t had a political rant in while, so I hope you’ll indulge me.

There was a time in America when education was totally private: people who wanted their children to go to school paid for it. Eventually, Americans decided that public education was such an incredible public good, i.e., something everyone benefits from, that we moved to a taxpayer-funded system of education, open to all. And, of course, there are still private schools for families who want to make that choice.

There was a time in America when clean water and electricity were available only to the wealthy. The poor pulled up water from wells or dipped buckets into dirty rivers, and lit their homes with candles and lanterns because they had no choice. (My father-in-law, who died in July, did not have electricity on his street until he was 10 years old.)

Our fellow citizens argued and grumbled, but eventually decided that it was a benefit to the entire nation if all Americans had access to water and electricity. So programs were put in place, funded in part by taxpayers and in part by consumers, to make that happen.

Now the debate has turned to health insurance. My grandparents did not have it when they were young. In the middle of the last century, it became a widespread job benefit, and programs were put in place to insure the vulnerable; elderly, poor and disabled people.

There has been a shift. In the past three generations, insurance has moved from the privilege of the rich to something that most Americans consider a basic part of life, like education, electricity, and water.

(Please let me know if you disagree with that.)

But I am confused. Why is it proving so hard to craft and pass legislation that will accomplish this? I think it’s because the chuckleheads in Congress – on both sides of the aisle – are puppets and the insurance companies are pulling the strings. Don’t get me wrong – I am all about capitalism. I love capitalism. I am a small business owner and so is my husband and it’s working for us. Almost.

The Fat Cats have made the playing field uneven. BH and I cannot join any kind of group insurance plan. (We’ve spent countless hours examining this.) We pay almost $20,000 a year in insurance premiums just for the two of us. I’ve thought about canceling the policy and setting that money aside for medical emergencies, but I’m a cancer survivor. If I had a recurrence of cancer without insurance, we would lose our house and retirement savings.

Am I pissed? Damn straight. One of my three adult kids doesn’t have insurance. My friends who have been out of work for too long have no insurance. People who might take the plunge into small business ownership don’t because they are afraid to leave their job and give up their health insurance. Americans die and suffer needlessly every day because health care in this country has become a trip to the roulette wheel.

The time has come for us to agree that all Americans deserve basic health care coverage – the same for all people in all states. If you want a fancier program with bells and whistles, you can pay extra. The insurance companies have to buck up. When your service is considered a public good – a public necessity – you have to trade in outrageous short-term profits for long-term secure cash flow.

If you have decent health coverage through your job, or your parents’ or spouse’s job, please stop and think. What would happen to your life if you had to pay 20 – 40% of your income for your insurance? How is that fair?

::wipes spittle from face:: I will rant about the evil doings of health insurance companies – denying coverage that people have paid for – another day.

What do you think about this? Is health care coverage the new rural electrification? Do we have a right to health care?

And now for the last beating of the drum to get Zoe in a Cheerios box:

You only have a day and a half or so to vote!!


2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. (Yes, this is the tricky part. No, I don’t know why Zoe is buried at the absolute back of the pack. Kind of makes you feel sorry for her, huh?) That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify every person you have ever met in your entire life to PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE. I seriously mean that.

5. Do this every day until 11:59 pm Central Time, October 30. It’s almost over and then I will stop grovelling and pleading, I promise!

fun things first, then rage

Before I climb up on my soapbox and rant, I will try to use my “inside voice” and politely share a few things.

Thing #1 – You can read about why I wrote CHAINS on the Simon & Schuster website.

Thing #2 – Because Simon & Schuster is a totally excellent publisher, you can find a CHAINS Reading Group Guide on their website, too.

Thing #3 – Bookavore weighs in on the demise of the Minx imprint and how publishers might be missing an important segment of teen readers.

Thing #4 – I’m putting together my book tour presentation about CHAINS with Apple’s Keynote software and I am loving it so much, I want to dedicate the rest of my life to making Keynote presentations. Seriously. Ditch your PC and switch to a Mac. Today. (Thank you, Officemouse, for nudging me to get this software.)

Thing #5 – I went for my first post-race run yesterday and I have definitely aggravated my left ITB which in turn is tormenting my left knee. I have been stretching it gently many times a day since the race, but it is one stubborn tendon. Do any of you have experience with this?

Thing #6 – I would like Congress to pass a bill that allows Americans to “do over” the month of September. I am currently running a 700 billion minute deficit and I need some help.

Ooops, the rant is beginning. I cannot hold back any longer. If you aren’t in the mood, you should leave the room now.

::climbs up on soapbox::


Is anyone else worried about the lack of checks and balances on the authority of the Treasury Secretary under the proposed socialization bailout of Wall Street? And is anyone else as angry as me that the same people who don’t think we can afford – or should even consider – providing basic health care to all Americans because that would be socialist, are in such a gol-darned hurry to bail out the irresponsible greedy SOBS who were permitted to bring our economy to the brink of disaster?

And why does it all have to happen so quickly? When politicians want to make not-quite-Constitutionally approved decisions this fast, I get very nervous. And angry.

If you’re feeling the same way, please write to your Congressional representatives today. And don’t forget to register and vote!