Dear Mrs. Clinton: Yes, I am a child of the Great Recession

This is a letter to Mrs. Clinton, in response to the leaked text of a conference call with her campaign donors. Since I’m responding line by line, first here’s what Mrs. Clinton had to say:

Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future. I met with a group of young black millennials today and you know one of the young women said, “You know, none of us feel that we have the job that we should have gotten out of college. And we don’t believe the job market is going to give us much of a chance.” So that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so if you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing. So I think we should all be really understanding of that and should try to do the best we can not to be, you know, a wet blanket on idealism. We want people to be idealistic. We want them to set big goals. But to take what we can achieve now and try to present them as bigger goals.


Dear Mrs. Clinton,

I am a child of the Great Recession, but I am now an adult. I am not living in my parents’ basement but I’ve needed their help. I got a prestigious education but could not find a job where I could earn enough to support myself in the most modest of lifestyles. Now I’ve been passed over and yes, there isn’t much of a future available for the likes of me.

I’m not new to politics, though. I’ve been immersed in politics all my life. Yes, the Great Recession certainly transformed my politics: in a period of mere months it changed me from a libertarian-leaning Christian Conservative to the anarcho-socialist who would vote for Bernie Sanders seven and a half years later.

You know what? Despite being a naturally ambitious individual, I’d be content with being a barista – if it payed my rent and basic healthcare and grocery bill. But I can’t be content when the greater part an entire generation can’t be financially independent no matter how hard and cleverly they work their butts off every day. So really, opportunity to rise in the ranks, to better ourselves and be a part of the American Dream would merely be the icing on the cake, and we’re willing to compromise and live without it, as long as we win access to our basic human rights, as defined in our own Declaration of Independence, the document wherein our nation defined the basis from which States gain legitimacy. That’s the mindset affecting our politics.

So you’re almost right, Mrs. Clinton, but you’re also incredibly wrong. A political revolution isn’t merely ‘appealing’, and we don’t have the luxury of wanting a way for us to gain ‘opportunity’. For us a political revolution is compelling, as we look for a way to maintain our survival, and as we act out of compassion for the survival of our peers. I agree with you that all you boomers should be understanding, but unless you understand that this is about survival, not opportunity, that this is about compassion, not entitlement and selfishness, and that this is necessity, not appeal or desire, that understanding has not been reached.

You call it idealism. I call it recognizing the needs of today’s world. You say you want us to set big goals. But we’ve set only the most minimal goals to eek out the basic survival of ourselves and our peers. You say that our goals cannot be achieved now. Let’s say that’s true. That would mean that many more of our peers are going to drop off Facebook, one by one, as they are taken by curable and treatable illnesses but are without health insurance, as they can’t afford housing and end up on the streets. That a great number of the rest of us are going to have our hopes crushed further year by year as we work harder than your generation has ever done but still can’t afford to start a family, with our futures appearing to be being middle aged and living with our parents, childless, in dead end jobs and crossing our fingers that we don’t get sick let we be the next of our peers to drop off Facebook and out of life itself. It means watching the life expectancy for Americans drop, the median standard of living for American drop, let alone the American Dream all but vanish.

Mrs. Clinton, If you truly understood our situation, you would not find what you define as the achievable, tolerable. You could not help but rail against it just as Bernie Sanders did. Some political experts define what is achievable more progressively than you do, and, Mrs Clinton, we need you to look at what those experts propose and to put your considerable intelligence towards bending political reality to make those proposals concrete. We need you to be willing to go to bat for us. It’s not enough for you to make sure you’re not a wet blanket on our hopes and dreams. We need you as an ally in our fight to stay human.

Yes, I’m a child of the Great Recession and I’ve lived, metaphorically, in my parent’s basement, and I am neither insulted that you recognize that nor believe it should be considered insulting. It’s recognizing reality and I thank you for that. Please also recognize the reality that the largest generational voting block in America needs you to achieve more than you believe you can achieve. Please find a way to to do more, because we need more from our leaders than you currently offer. Like I said, I’m not new to politics, and watching the religious right for the last twenty years, I know that huge, ambitious goals can be politically achievable, when you believe they’re possible and go to bat for them. Please don’t just present your goals as big, but find a way to make the achievable big enough.

three popular children’s books that shouldn’t be read to children

There are three popular children’s books I found traumatizing as a kid even though my parents loved them and read to me despite my protests. While I couldn’t put words to my objections at the time, as an adult I can see that they send negative messages to children and have sold so many copies merely because of the positively feelings they give parents – not by popularity with children.
 
3. Love You Foreverloveyou
 
Synopsis: A book about a son who grows up and a mother who ages. Throughout their lives they communicate their love for each other by saying, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as you’re living my baby(or, mother) you’ll be.”
 
Why this book sucks for a kid:
 
When the kid becomes a teenager he acts ungrateful to his mother and ignores her, while trashing the house, be she still loves him. Since the book is putting the kid listening into the place of the kid in the book, it sounds like the parent reading the book is saying you’re going to be ungrateful someday but I’ll love you anyway – feels condescending and perhaps even somewhat accusatory.
 
Then the mom gets old and hunched over and the kid finally says this saying to her. My mother always choked up when she read this bit. I was traumatized by the idea that my mom was going to become this feeble, hunched over old woman, and the book did not address the possibility of these feelings.
 
Why parents love it:
 
Perhaps it was subconscious on the part of the author, but this book helps adults cope with their fears of aging and of being ignored by their children as they get older.
 
Assessment:
 
The book addresses issues parents deal with, not issues children deal with. However, it is adults who generally buy the books for this age range, not children, so writing your book for the enjoyment of adults is smart business sense and it makes sense that the books that do, sell the most copies.
 
Recommendation:
 
Don’t buy this book to read to your children. Buy this book to put in the drawer of your bedside table and read when you are feeling ignored by your kids or are worried about a wrinkle you saw in the mirror.
 
2. The Giving Treegiving
 
Synopsis: A nice tree loves a boy. So he give the boy his apples, his shade, his branches, and then eventually his trunk. Now he’s a stump. The boy returns as an old man, and the tree says, ‘I have nothing left to give you.’ But the old man say, ‘I need a place to sit and rest’ and sits on his trunk.
 
Why this book sucks for a kid:
 
Maybe this book send the message to some kids that their parents will give them everything, and thus is comforting. But the message I, and I am guessing many others, got, is that our parents are currently giving us everything, to the point of destroying themselves. I didn’t want my parents to be chopped down until they were a tiny stump. The kid in the book was very selfish and never gave anything back. I didn’t like the implication that I was like that. I was sensitive (I believed) to the feelings of other people and wouldn’t take something even if they wanted to give it to me, if I could see it would be to their own detriment. I also didn’t want my mom to become a stump, so the metaphorical image of it traumatized me.
 
Why parents love it: They feel touched by thinking about how selflessly sacrificial they are to their kids? They feel good thinking about what amazing parents they are to their thankless children? They want to passive-aggressively communicate to their children that their children are selfish and thankless and should ask for less?
 
Assessment: The entire plot of this book is co-dependence.
 
Recommendation:
 
If you associate yourself with this tree, learn some self-care and go to therapy for co-dependency. Your kids need you to work through those issues so you can be a better parent to them and help them develop into psychologically balanced children.
 
1. The Runaway Bunnyrunaway
 
Synopsis: A baby bunny plans to run away. The mother bunny describes how she will find and catch the baby bunny and bring it home, no matter how cleverly the baby runs away. Finally, the baby bunny gives up and doesn’t run away.
 
Why this book sucks for a kid:
 
While the illustrations are beautiful and fascinating, this entire book is about how the baby bunny lacks autonomy and is powerless to gain it. She is not free to make her own choices or do what she thinks she needs to do to improve her life. The moral of this book is to give up and stop trying.
 
I knew that I couldn’t escape the abuse and neglect, as a kid. I knew that if I ran away, even as a teenager, the police would bring me back home. That trying to escape was useless. That feeling was terrible. But even as a little kid before the abuse got serious, this book gave me terrible feelings of being controlled and powerless, even though I couldn’t explain them. It bothered me that my mother liked the story so much. I enjoyed looking at the pictures, but that was it.
 
Why parents love this book:
 
Perhaps they want to remind their kids not to try running away. Perhaps they confuse being controlling with love, so the mother bunny’s controlling behavior is misunderstood as extremely loving behavior. Maybe they feel good about themselves thinking about how far they are willing to go for their kid. Or maybe they just love the pictures.
 
Recommendation: Buy books that empower your kids, not tell them not even to try to do something they want to do.
 
I’m sure there are some people out there who loved these books as kids. I’d love to hear why you like them and what you thought (and think) about the issues I’ve raised here.

Parental rights or parental roles?

Parents cannot be unrestricted in the choice they make for and about their dependents because, contrary to one popular belief system, 18 years old is not a magical age when a person suddenly goes from complete incompetence to being able to make mature decisions. If it were, parents would be unnecessary: as soon as a children are potty trained we could put them each in a cell with a toilet, internet equipped computer, and hatch to push in food, then open the door when they hit 18 and out would walk out a well-developed, contributing citizen. There is a whole realm of social interactions and increasing responsibilities a child needs to develop into a mature adult, and parents exist to provide access to those opportunities and provide appropriate guidance and encouragement to their children as they wrestle with those opportunities. If a person hits 18 and is no more prepared for the world than if they had grown up in the aforementioned cell, then if the word ‘parent’ means anything more than ‘the person with the legal right to exploit this other person’s labor’, they were bad parents, in the sense that they have failed at being anything more than a jailer.

It’s time for our medical community to focus on catching women’s cardiology up to men’s.*

Did you know that cardiological disease is the leading cause of death of women and “the lifetime risk of heart failure is approximately 15 % for women and 11 % for men”? Neither did I until I read the introduction to Aug 2015’s issue of “Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy”.

I got turned onto this topic via “Moving Into the Future With New Dimensions and Strategies: A Vision for 2020 for Women’s Health Research”, a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Office of Research on Women’s Health. Did you know that research on cardiovascular anatomy, physiology, health, and medicine has to this point been done almost exclusively using male animal models and humans? And it turns out that the cardiovascular system is actually very different in women versus men. ‘Cardiology’ as we know it in hospitals, clinics, and medical schools is really Male Cardiology.

There is also a well researched lay article on women’s cardiology, titled “Is Medicine’s Gender Bias Killing Young Women?” published in the Pacific Standard this March.

I’m still reeling from learning these things. I knew gender equality still had a long way to go, but I didn’t realize it had quite this far.

*Per racial issues – There has also been a lack of research when it comes non-white human males in cardiology and other areas of health. The problem is compounded in the case of black women. So it’s really time for our medical community to focus on catching up women’s and minority cardiology. It feels seriously problematic that the majority of research continues to be focused on the white male model.

What you take for granted about Actual School

I think people who go to schools take these things for granted:

  • Observing multiple adult role models
  • Observing different peer personalities, behaviors, and interrelationships
  • Moving freely among peers in a school hallway and/or playground and/or cafeteria at least once per day
  • If you’re noticeably sick, there’s a school nurse that will probably end up evaluating you
  • Some level of opportunity for physical activity

I went to kindergarten and first grade at a local good public school and was bullied in first grade, so I was excited about home ‘school’ at first. Incidentally, the school also had a plan for addressing my educational and social issues, that I believe would have actually done so, in a developmentally appropriate way.

All the things that I’ve listed above I would have gotten in even ‘bad’ public schools but didn’t get in home ‘school’. Each of these things listed above would have made a huge difference in my development. Some parents may provide these things to children they’ve taken out of school, but it’s something you can’t take for granted once a kid has been taken out of school.

Other things that you can take for granted in school but not home ‘schools’:

  • Meals for children who don’t get enough at home
  • Some level of discussion about the human body – how it should function, what healthy bodies are like, healthy things to do to care for your body
  • Someone notices if you disappear for weeks
  • Someone notices if you’re locked in a cage or closet 24/7/365 because then you don’t show up at school
  • Someone notices if you way half the weight you’re supposed to at your age, or if you’re half the height you’re supposed to be
  • Someone notices if you can’t talk or can’t read

People who talk about how they went to a ‘bad’ school take these things so much for granted that they don’t realize that while a ‘bad’ school might be abusive, violent, have bullying – a bad home ‘school’ can have all of the same, plus some very significant (lack of) things that amplify the effects of abuse. If you think all parents who remove their kids from school provide these things you take for granted in schools, you can be disabused of that inaccurate assumption by these stories.

When you think about home ‘schools’, please remember these facts to supplement the photos of happy children filling out workbooks at the kitchen table.