by William Skink
I was asked recently why I’m angry. This after picking a foreign policy fight in reaction to Missoula picking a gun background check fight.
The point I’m trying to make is echoed in the conclusion of an article (yes, from Counterpunch) by Rick Sterling, titled Examples of U.S. Foreign Policy Dysfunction:
There is profound need for dramatic changes in U.S. foreign policy. Given that over 55% of the discretionary budget of the U.S. goes to the military, it’s likely that positive changes in domestic policy will depend on changes in foreign policy. The starting point has to be realistic assessments of conditions in other countries, sincere examinations of the consequences of past actions and a genuine committment to abiding by international law. As we can see from the above examples, there is a long way to go.
Go to the article for the examples, it’s worth a read (unless you’re a Bernie supporter).
I like the conclusion because it links military expenditures to domestic policy, and that link is important. When Martin Luther King tried making that link half a century ago, he was assassinated.
Thinking about America’s foreign policy makes me very angry, because I’m not just thinking about the suffering happening half a world away. I’m thinking about the suffering happening right here, in Missoula. And I’m wondering how bad it’s going to have to get before all the endless talking turns into actually doing what needs to be done.
There are multiple worsening system overloads happening in the city and the state that have me increasingly alarmed. Montana’s State Hospital is dangerously over capacity, there doesn’t seem to be any real plan for closing down MDC in Boulder, jails across the state are full, so inmates are just shuffled around, like Flathead sending juveniles to Missoula.
And then there’s the aging crisis that’s only just beginning, sometimes referred to as the Grey Tsunami.
Out there in policy land, where things can be dealt with in the abstract, the author of that last linked piece takes issue with associating the 70 million Boomers getting old and dependent with a natural disaster. Here’s the opening:
Over the past few decades, most individuals, academics, and writers have learned that certain terminology which was once linguistically and culturally acceptable are not longer to be used and, in fact, are often the subject of scorn and sometimes legal recourse when they are used. The recent scandal with the use of the “N” word by Donald Sterling, owner of the basketball team LA Clippers, is an indication of just how sensitive we have become to language and how strongly we react to certain terms that are no longer considered acceptable, polite or suitable in a refined population although everyone knows that at other levels such language and terminology are commonly used—just not in public, the press or contemporary literature. Just remember the controversy that surrounded contemporary editions of Mark Twain’s classic novel Huckleberry Finn, which took the liberty of expunging the “N” word, thereby to many distorting the power of the novel within its historical context. Of course there are many other terms that get used negatively to describe groups of people by religion, racial characteristics, colour of skin and country of origin- these two one rarely would use publically but we all know that they are part of many people’s regular vocabulary and conceptual framework of humanity.
So what about this term “Gray or Silver Tsunami” that has come into even polite parlance to describe the growingly aged population primarily in the western world. Following such natural disasters as the Indonesian and Japanese tsunamis, which were associated with horrendous geographical and human damage, one began to see the term used in the popular media especially to encapsulate the perceived and primarily negative impact of what could just as well be deemed the actual miracle of modern medicine and society – the growing human longevity. Rather, the term began to be used even in small local papers, such as The Press Democrat; for example, their article published on February 10, 2013, titled “Aging baby boomers will create ‘silver tsunami’ for Sonoma County” merely reflects the kinds of articles in publications with much larger distributions.
Even organizations that purportedly have the well-being of the aged high on their agenda may inadvertently use terms like tsunami or other similes to make the point of the urgency in addressing the many challenges that society is facing associated with the aging of the population, even when that aging process is the result of all the wonderful advances that we have achieved in medical and other healthcare-related practices. For example the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada produced a very comprehensive report called The Rising Tide, which is directed to policy makers to help them understand that planning must occur to make sure that our aging population received the care it deserves. A Toronto Dominion Bank (one of the largest banks in Canada) reported on the challenges of aging also using the negative term in their 2010 report, Navigating the Storm Ahead.
Ah, how nice of Canada to produce a report to help policy makers understand that planning must occur to make sure that our aging population receives the care it deserves. File this under no shit. I’m sure people were paid good money to produce this report. I wonder if there is a section of this report that suggests what to do if there is no plan.
I don’t think policy makers understand what’s brewing. Hospitals and jails and nursing homes are all bursting at the seams.
And we are not prepared.