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Saying thanks
instead of no thanks

It might take a bit of dreaming, begat of turkey-borne tryptophan, to come up with things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We might even find ourselves being thankful more for what hasn’t happened than for what has.

A nauseating array of coughing and sneezing canceled classes this week at Centre. There’s no thankfulness there except among those who got extra vacation. Still, concern about our permanently present pandemic seems to be petering. And that, at least, is one thing to be thankful for.

As Centre has learned, among the biggest remaining COVID challenges is figuring out how to spend overly stimulating money the federal government deluged onto local governments.

There’s a deadline, and it’s not just the end of grant timelines. At some point, those of us who will pay for things that seemed free will start figuring out that these particular gift horses needed some long stares of fiscal, if not dental, examination.

Even as slight decreases in our food tax become visible on the horizon, we also see that inflation — which isn’t exactly unrelated to federal largess — is continuing to add to our grocery bills.

If you’re a government employee, it also will appear to be adding to your paycheck, pouring economic gasoline onto a flaming price spiral. But at least our currency hasn’t turned into Monopoly money yet — and for that, for a brief time, we can be thankful.

Body shops and rutting bucks can be thankful that the county’s deer population seems to be growing even faster than totals on grocery register tapes.

The seemingly ever-dwindling number of law enforcement officers hereabouts can be thankful for added job security because of the number accident reports they must complete.

Bondsmen should be thankful that the revolving door at the county jail has been thoroughly greased by weak bail laws and wheeler-dealer prosecutors and judges.

Until we see the bill, we all should be thankful that the shell game being played with immensely costly ambulance crews somehow has managed to always have a pea under an appropriate shell whenever there’s a true emergency amid transfers and stubbed-toe refusals to be transported. How long this Russian roulette can continue is anyone’s guess, but we can be thankful for dodging the bullet so far.

Rather than bemoan how some Marion officials tried to pull a fast one and hide that they wanted to circumvent voters’ rights and prudent debt limits, we need to be thankful for people like council member Ruth Herbel, former mayor Peggy Blackman, and petition circulator Darvin Markley.

They cared enough about the right to vote, which Americans have died to protect, that they are giving us a chance Dec. 20 to overturn an ill-advised ordinance surreptitiously written by debt lawyers to con more business out of overly trusting taxpayers.

We also can profess thanks that not every county road has been transformed into a washboard by too-fast graders and that not every ditch, which should preserve roads by directing water, haven’t become clogged with gravel, unattended weeds, and farmers’ crops, sneaking extra few feet of growing room.

Personally, my first full year back as a full-time Marion Countian has been less than a bell-ringer. This summer, my feline companion of 18 years succumbed, her remains now resting in a shallow grave. My 97-year-old mother has had the bad luck of three unrelated health problems, leaving me thankful only for her continued strength and will — though health care workers on whom she occasionally takes out her frustrations might disagree.

One thing I’ve learned throughout her medical situations and my own is that paper mill owners, letter carriers, developers of billing software, debt collectors, and anyone working in the humongous insurance and health care industry should be thankful for all the business they generate.

The worst aspects of universal health care —that you get the care that some bean-counter allows, no more and no less — have arrived even if the benefits of universal care remain absent.

Businesses and individuals are paying well into five digits annually for individual health premiums. If you see a medical provider, be prepared for a blizzard of bills and non-bill statements that seem designed mainly to create bureaucratic overhead.

Some of us can be thankful we didn’t lose our way in the blizzard. Others can hardly be thankful to have been snowed in by them and have landed in a small claims court that might as well be renamed medical billing court.

Oddly, I find myself quite thankful that the world’s biggest billionaire is making the world’s biggest blunders after purchasing one of the mainstays of global social media. Such companies avoid all regulation, secretly profit by algorithmically red-lining us into isolated cocoons, and end up creating or at least worsening unproductive schisms in our democracy.

If social media were to log off and vanish into the world’s ethernet, we most assuredly would have something to be thankful for. That is, of course, unless we’re among those so vain they think the world needs to know what we ate for lunch and our daily scores on insipid online games.

One thing editorial writers can be thankful for is that the vast majority of readers are not like the handful of demonic denizens who haunt selected social media backrooms.

Most people are like you — reading all of an editorial, not just a snippet — before taking something out of context and condemning it as the gravest insult ever meriting the gravest punishment ever, even if it really was a compliment not a criticism or was just a minor error.

Thankfully, only a few get their kicks out of being part of a “gotcha” crew, focusing their hate on anyone who dares challenge their preconceived, narrow-minded vision of the world. The more they play “gotcha,” the more they reveal their colors.

But, seriously, the one thing all of us can be thankful for is the time Thanksgiving allows for distant family members to be together. In my case, that means reinstating a long-standing tradition, interrupted by COVID, of son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids coming to Marion each Thanksgiving for family fun, fellowship, and feasting.

If all of us could count this type of blessing above all others, thankfulness might not end up having to be backhanded imaginings of a tryptophan dream.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Nov. 23, 2022

 

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