A Thanksgiving Message From Bill Black

Bill Black has done extraordinary work as a whisteblower and voice of conscience on financial fraud. I found this blog post of his a heartening reminder of “things to be thankful for” this holiday season:

I am personally thankful to the scientists that developed treatments for pneumonia and the doctors and nurses that provided the treatments. I suffered from pneumonia three times in my youth and had I been born a decade earlier I would have died as a child. I am grateful to my teachers, who recognized and cultivated a love of learning in their students. I am grateful to Social Security, which made it possible for our family to avoid economic disaster when my father died of a second heart attack when he was 41. (The moderately successful governmental effort against cigarettes came too late to save him.) The Social Security survivors’ benefits prevented my mother (and we three kids) from losing the home and allowed me to go on to college and post-graduate education.

Today, all the things Black (and I) are thankful for are under assault. A failing public health and pharma research infrastructure is giving new and dangerous microbes a foothold in our hospitals. States are laying off teachers as society allocates ever more of its resources to other, “more valuable” ends. And Social Security is dismissed as a “milk cow with 310 million tits” by President Obama’s Deficit Commission Co-Chair, who apparently wants blood this Spring.

But all these trends have generated reactions from those who care deeply about educational opportunity, concern for the sick, and respect for the aged. Patriotic pride in programs like Social Security or Medicare may seem outdated in an era of cosmopolitan, globalizing capitalism. But Black’s advocacy of programs like these (and lifelong fight against the frauds that undermine a government capable of funding them) is an inspired message for a day of gratitude. As he states, “I am grateful to the Ancients, who faced a vastly crueler world and recognized that the key was for each of us to try to repair it, and whose advice has led generations to make those repairs rather than accepting cruelty, greed, exploitation, and indifference as the natural state.”

PS: More “New Deal 2.0” Thanksgiving here.

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