My take on New Year’s resolutions was formed watching Ordinary People when I was but a wee lad. In that movie, around New Year’s,
Elizabeth McGovern’s Dinah Manhoff’s character shares the resolution “Let’s agree to have a really good year” with one of her friends, and the next we hear about her, we learn she committed suicide. To me, that’s about what a resolution is worth.
If you think that’s a dark tale, I have an even darker one for you: I just returned from a trip to the Dakota heartland, where the real (read: old and white) Americans live. Since the politics of 2019 and most of 2020 will be dictated by them, and since anecdotes are the only way to really know what our mysterious overlords are thinking, here’s one:
The real American town where I grew up is 100 miles from anything else big. (By “big”, I mean over 5,000 in population, with shopping and healthcare services). For the past 75 years, my home town has had a nursing home. For the past 50 or so years, an even smaller town about 20 miles away has also had a nursing home. Together, they housed around 200 patients in facilities close to where those patients had lived for most of their lives. Nobody wants to go the nursing home, but they were both clean, well-run, and nearby.
Well, no more. One of these homes has closed, and the second is closing in the next month or two. The reasons are varied: Some shitty corporation from Jersey bought one of the homes and ran it into the ground; Medicaid reimbursement (applicable to 2/3 of patients in South Dakota) falls an average of $34/day short in paying the expenses of a patient at these small town facilities, and so on. The net of all this is that patients are being moved to homes at least 100 miles away, and in some cases much farther. Decent jobs (by area standards) at those homes are also leaving town.
The South Dakota state legislature is too busy making abortion punishable by drawing and quartering to do anything about this. The Federal delegation, all Republicans, aren’t going to do a god damned thing but shake their heads and sympathize. Everyone’s hands are tied because Tax Cut Jesus won’t let the evil government spend any more money on poors, even if they are old white poors who weren’t poor when they went into the nursing home, but all their money was spent as they lay in a moaning, incontinent fetal ball in the Alzheimer’s wing. Even though these poors might deserve something, the other poors could be brown and undeserving! And, as Tax Cut Jesus clearly said in John Thune’s copy of the bible, “Better that 100 deserving white poors be hauled hundreds of miles from their relatives to die alone, than one undeserving brown poor get a couple of bucks of government money.”
What’s interesting to me is that most of the people I spoke with – and these are old people, mind you, who might end up in the home very soon – had little hope. For a long list of complicated reasons, the home 20 miles away could possibly re-open since it was started by the community years ago. They recently had a successful $500K fundraiser to buy back the equipment in the home from the last management company, which is only step one of hundreds needed to start it up again. And even if they do start it up, the fundamental issue of Medicaid reimbursement not covering the home’s nut remains. You can’t expect to have a bake sale every couple of weeks to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to house the old in this county. That’s the government’s job, but out in Trumpland, any government intervention is by definition evil, so it ain’t gonna happen.
This is what it means to live in a true red state. As long as sluts can’t get abortions and taxes never go up, every other human misery is acceptable.