Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Working Poor, Blue Collar Artist Guide to Life (in Tough Times)

That's the title of my new book. Don't steal it.

Do Not Steal - stealing does not help, even in tough times.

Say Yes! to everything everyone offers.

Is taking food from a dumpster stealing? Nope. Taking anything thrown away by someone else is just fine.

And do accept, gracefully, everything anyone wants to give you.

Organic produce a friend got from the dumpster behind the really expensive natural foods store? YES!

Old furniture an acquaintance wants to get rid of? YES!

Free samples from every single vendor at the NW Womens' Show? YES!

Charity care from any doctor or hospital that will see you? YES!

In good times, these tactics may not be necessary - you may want to buy your own produce, not clutter your garage and bathroom with lots of stuff. You may actually have real health insurance.

But in tough times? That old chair might bring $5 at your summer garage sale. Or a lot more, if you dust it off, do a little research, and realize it's a collectible. Every free sample means one less trip to the drugstore, and a slightly bruised organic apple is just as tasty and nutritious as the ones still in the store.

And health care should be a right, not a privilege, in a country as wealthy as ours. So go take it. Stealing may be appropriate in this particular situation. Some would say that insurance companies and ridiculously laden bureacratic operations have stolen the ability of the working poor to access the care they need to stay alive. In this, the wealthiest country in the entire world. A country where hedge fund managers live in 30,000 square foot homes and find ways to dodge taxes. And politicians, even the good ones, talk and talk and talk and achieve next to nothing.

No one will change things for us, so we'd better do it for ourselves. So go ahead, storm the doctors' offices and hospitals and demand the care you need.

Sometimes it feels good to be ahead of the curve. We have been blue collar artists, and -consequently - among the working poor all of our lives. We know how to do this.

Maybe we will prosper. We will certainly survive.

- Inspired by news of 45,000 people cut from WA State's Basic Health. 45,000 poor people who, like us, will have no health insurance. Also inspired by the thrift and wisdom of friends.


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