Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, Senator McConnell

$8.8 billion. $125 per person.

Wow! I see what you mean about tightening our belts at home. We sure have our priorities straight, huh?

Superficial bragging rights for those who feel love based on the amount spent on unnecessary, commercialized tokens of love? Yeah, baby! Tax dollars to assure cardiac care for all Americans? We’re shooting (pun intended since this suggestion comes from your side) for unf'ingconstitutional.

Warms my heart, how about yours?

I heard those numbers and thought about the Valentine’s days of my life. As a child, my parents took me to the store and helped me choose a package of cards that I would give to my friends. That was my gift from them – participation, encouragement, enjoyment, and pocket change. And that was plenty for me.

On VD eve, I enjoyed gluing hearts and glitter to a shoebox in which classmates would deliver my Valentines. The most thoughtful part of the process was deciding which of my classmates would receive the twenty or so Valentines I had to give. I carefully reviewed the list. The people who were nice to everyone were first and got the biggest ones. The decisions got tougher later. Raymond spit paper wads in my hair and tripped everyone who walked down the aisle beside his desk so I could scratch his name off the list. Dennis flicked his cartridge pen at me and laughed when he splattered ink on my new dress. Forget him. Melissa was mean to everyone. She was an easy no.

I thought about character, theirs, and consequently my own. Had I treated anyone so poorly that people would scratch my name off their lists? I didn’t think so but it was still exciting to see those cards in my box. That made every Valentine I came home with at the end of the day meaningful. So I thought, at least.

By the time my children were in school, the rules had changed. Each student was to bring a Valentine for every child in the class. They meant nothing because of that, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. And, by then, many parents were buying gifts for their children – boxes of heart candies, beanie babies, Barbie dolls, stuffed animals . . . It became another  competition for parents. The same people who would have filed for divorce if their husbands failed to send the required dozen red roses to work also bragged about what they had spent on their children for VD.

As an adult, I was not interested in Valentine’s Day. I have to admit, though, that I did appreciate the husband who brought me a tin of throat lozenges and a hand-made card the Valentine’s Day I was in bed with pharyngitis.

I cannot produce accurate poll numbers, names, or positive party affiliations. Well, I could produce names but that wouldn’t be nice. I can, with a fair amount of certainty, assure you that the women who ranted, cried, threatened no sex for a year if not divorce if their demands were not met (sound familiar?) on the days leading up to VD, were not liberals. Nor were the ones who did no work on VD because they were so busy watching the florist deliveries to make sure no one received anything more elaborate than what they got.

It would be absurd to deny that there are personality differences between conservatives and liberals, or that these differences don’t show themselves in circumstances and occasions that aren’t normally considered political. I’m glad Valentine’s Day came so soon after your letter referencing ‘living within our means’ so this particular difference would occur me. There will be exceptions on both sides, but my experience has been that a typical liberal feels love for, and loved by, the person who helps others, shares with the world, or makes a difference - not when someone charges a dozen roses and dinner in a crowded chain restaurant. Liberals don’t need assigned days, commercially prescribed ways, crowds of friends saying it’s cool, or anyone’s approval in order to show or feel love. (Actually, we’re used to having conservatives make fun of us for loving others, and trying to imply that when we campaign to help others –including them—we are really trying to get everything for ourselves.)

The next time you try to address living within means, I suggest you start with leading by example. Spend what you have – every cent in America, buying things made in America. Or, do you only mean that for others and not yourself and other hoarders? See, nothing trickles if it’s hoarder (and it especially won’t trickle over here if it’s hoarded in another country). Please, don’t assume (incorrectly again) that you are speaking only to conservatives when you include statements about trying to live within our means. Some of us (probably some conservatives, too, but they must not mind your insults) have successfully survived within our means for years and resent you for not doing the same.

Since you used tightening the belt and living within our means as a comparison to national economy, I would like to explain how I prioritized and managed to do this. Hopefully, it will influence, or guilt-trip control the demands you and your party make now that President Obama caved to your hostage-taking exercise in bullying. I did not spend what most people do on Valentines or holiday gifts for my children and I never spent what I didn’t already have. That left us with plenty to help others. I kept a rotary telephone so long that kids had to ask how to use it and only gave it up then because the phone company forced me to change. I’m still using furniture that belonged to my great-grandparents. I have a fat television and a car that makes people point and laugh, because not replacing what works leaves us able to help others.

I have what I need and like what I have.

When things got tight in my home, I cancelled the monitoring service for the security system, not my daughter’s music lessons or dance classes. And no one in my family would ever have thought to demand a higher allowance for herself knowing that it would mean I could not afford to take her sister to the doctor.

If I were going to go into debt, it would be to start a business, or to keep someone alive.

If you need more (I know you’ve heard from many already) real life examples of people who have and/or do live within their means and still can’t make it in this society where hoarders are sitting on money that could create jobs, please ask.

Hope you receive the heart I want you to have today.


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