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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

from ray -- something to ponder in the PA 'burbs

Contributor Ray McInnis in the Great Northwest sends some insights about the race in PA for those of us on the outside looking in...

Take it away Ray!

Folks, my google reader brought this piece (pasted below in the gray-shaded area, along with photos and a map) up on my screen this morning.

*** (Note from JQ - this didn't copy into my blog format, so follow the links)

If you are like me, the gist of the piece makes you ponder.

(I am following PA affairs, because in two weeks, we will witness an historic primary in Penn. Since I don’t know PA very well – have been there twice (once to an academic conference in down town Philly, another time on a car-trip from upstate NY to Cincinnati: we stayed over night at the idyllic town, University Park.)

This piece reveals hardship in the suburbs in PA, yes, but – as the writer, Maria Panaritis, says, “it’s duplicated across the nation”.

Here in the Pacific Northwwest, along Puget Sound, a belt of suburbs stretches up I5 from Olympia to just south of Mount Vernon, about 120 miles. (Overall, the population is around 2,000,000, I think. The geography of Puget Sound is what makes WA a “Blue State” – East of the Cascades, in land area much larger, is “Red State”, but vote-wise, is always out voted by the larger, more liberal population west of the Cascades.) While I know only a few families living in the area, the experience of my son and daughter are indicative, I think.

My son – he lives in Seattle near the University -- finally got an ideal job – in computer programming – on the water in Seattle, while my daughter commutes 30 miles each way from a little town outside MV to Bellingham everyday.

My son feels very fortunate that, finally, he can commute daily via Seattle bus to his office> No more frantic daily trips over Lake Washington’s floating bridge to Microsoft at Kirkland, etc.

My daughter’s story is more complicated – her husband just retired after 20 years in the Coast Guard and is now studying for a second career in “Emergency Management”, which he says – rightly I think – merely extends what he did in the CG.

As well as working fulltime as supervisor in a Head Start program, my daughter is in night school at WWU, getting an Master’s in Education.

However, enough personal stuff.

Reading the piece below is revealing.

Why -- if his health insurance is $9000 per year -- is the young man voting for McCain? McCain is going to give him more of the same.

(OK, I know that resolving the health crisis in America will not be a piece of cake. Health care eats up an estimated 20% of the American economy, and at best Obama or Hillary’s plan will be a patchwork job.

But the difference is “commitment”. The two Dems are committed to finding a solution; McCain is “throwing it in the pot”, because he knows “health care’s time has come”.)

A bigger issue, though, is the price of gas. The couple’s gas budget is $3,600 a year. For sure, gas prices are not going down. A drumbeat – daily – pounds into your brain that everyday when you drive. Why? You’re leaving a “carbon imprint”, doing your part to prolong “global warming”, which, some say, the future of civilization pivots on.

Is this really true? We don’t know, but – nonetheless – this thought is always there – weighing on peoples’ consciences, just something else to worry about, certainly – with the worry -- not helping you maintain personal health.

Again, with the price of gas where it is, why is the young man going for McCain. The best McCain promises is Bush III, and as we know, a better friend of a petroleum-based economy than Bush is hard to find!

(Here's the link Ray is referring to from

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