Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2009 Issue

Commentary: On a Sunday Morning

Oasm

Democracy fails when citizens are passive



By Bruce McKinney

Let the Silent Majority be Heard

I have watched with fascination and regret as the America, to which I owe allegiance, has been exposed again as the captive of special interests and a coterie of bought-and-paid-for politicians who are determined to place the best interests of their handlers above the needs of the population they serve. As it is for so many Americans the cost and availability of health care is very important to me. Over the past 15 years the monthly cost of my family's healthcare coverage, in our case at Kaiser Permanente in California, has risen almost 500% even as co-pays have increased by three times. We are in a vicious inflationary cycle in medical care and the very people who most profit from it are using the money we spend to pay for lobbying to stop reform.

Most people watching television have seen the disruption of public meetings by those who oppose reform. I have no problem that they feel strongly although their behavior is too often objectionable. It is their right to object. I too have a right to express my opinion and I would like to do so as part of a national program of support. I know that I am not alone.

Somewhere in the national, state and local leaderships there are people capable of organizing a National Day of Support for health care reform. I want it, my family will need it and I believe all Americans will benefit whether or not they opt for it. By providing a Medicare-like choice, which is already providing efficient-lower cost coverage for senior citizens, private plans will be forced to compete with it. If their costs get out-of-line citizens will shift to the national plan. For providers, it is fear of this competition that causes them to fund the various hate groups and extremists that are over-powering legitimate supporters and opponents, so polarizing the discussion that America comes across as a nation of strange, gun-toting liberty-firsters. All that I ask is a chance to stand up for a few hours on an afternoon this fall to show my support for this needed national program. Opponents are standing up. Advocates who do not wish to yell or be yelled at should also have opportunities to stand with the like-minded to demonstrate their convictions.

I do not look for medicine to save me from myself. I believe it is my responsibility to control my weight and be periodically tested for those conditions my genes pre-dispose me. Neither do I expect to live an over-long life nor do I feel government has an obligation to keep me alive beyond my awareness and physical capability. Neither do I accept that I must be tethered to a private health care system that can say, should I want or need to move, that because I had cancer a dozen years ago, any new policy will view a reoccurrence as an exception to coverage. Although I rarely use my health care insurance for anything but aches, pains and check-ups I and millions of others are locked into inflexible programs. The government option will free me to move if I choose.

So give me the opportunity to stand up for a national option and I will stand up.

Let those that organize, organize. A million will appear upon the National Mall in Washington, a million more in Central Park in New York, a million in Grant Park in Chicago. Provide the places and perhaps a tee-shirt. In smaller parks in smaller communities as well Americans of like-mind can do the same. I and many others will be there. Then, for a few hours, whether our preferences prevail, we will make clear that the zealots disrupting the town-halls and the mincing politicians who support them are not the only people with a voice.

If then, on that chosen Sunday, millions of voices rise together to remember the words and sing the song We Shall Overcome I think we may because our political leaders will hear our voices and perhaps remember that it matters.

Organize!

Bruce McKinney

bmckinney@americanaexchange.com


Editor's Note: This commentary has drawn much comment, both pro and con. It can be found in our Letters to the Editor.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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