Citizen Zombie

I guess the occasion of casting my absentee election ballot has inspired a political post. I’m not sure when my interest in politics first started, but I was raised in a conservative, evangelical household and suppose I have continued many of these beliefs for myself. I have always held a relatively optimistic view of America and her place in the world. I think the U.S. does have a truly unique history; however, it seems like lately this bright future is growing dimmer.

At one point, I think American ingenuity, grit, independence, and hard work were the character traits held in high esteem, but it seems like these have lately given way to comfort, conformity, and dependence on the government. In the past, I believe farms, factories, small business, and entrepreneurs were the engines driving the American economy. Now, consumer spending, government jobs, and government handouts seem to be the order of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely in favor of helping someone get back on their feet after losing their job, etc…, however, I do not believe long-term dependence on the government is healthy.

I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to pickup my old copy of 1984 recently, but I can’t help but realize some similarities between the book and American society today. The concept of the government being a cradle to grave caretaker is one similarity. Between Medicaid, WIC, welfare, food stamps, Medicare, and Social Security, the government allows an awful lot of assistance throughout one’s lifetime. Also, I think the concept of independence has been minimized as the government steadily creeps into more and more aspects of it’s citizens lives with healthcare, taxes, EPA, TSA, etc… While government is a necessary evil, I think the size and scope of federal government regulation has ballooned significantly.

I’m not sure why I have been recalling my high school reading list books recently, but Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand also appear to be relevant to this topic. I believe she emigrated from the Communist Soviet Union and her writing is a reflection of the Communist system of government she experienced. As I recall, she upholds the values of independence and ingenuity in the face of overwhelming bureaucracy. I vaguely recall reading about her specific philosophy… I think it was objectivism or something similar. Anyway, another example of someone warning others about the dangers of communism and its principles.

For these reasons, I am hesitant to embrace politicians when they promote further government growth. I’m not sure the government should be dictating how businesses pay their employees or that everyone is required to have health insurance for that matter. What’s the old saying, the government should deliver the mail, defend the country from foreign enemies, and that’s about it.

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New Orleans

After taking a little break, I think I am ready to write some more blog posts. When writing and blogging becomes a chore instead of an enjoyable activity, I think a break is probably necessary.

After discovering I required twenty live continuing medical education credits to renew my medical license, I scramble to find a CME course in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was hesitant to make the drive with the recent flooding in the state, but luckily, New Orleans was not affected. One of my co-workers actually warned me that the city is below sea level, so that did nothing to assuage my fears.

Anyway, I was definitely in for a surprise on my first trip to the Big Easy. Just as luck would have it, I arrived on the same night as an Alice Cooper concert. With valet parking costing forty-six dollars, I chose the slightly cheaper parking garage option. This decision was not without consequences as my hotel was on Bourbon Street. I soon realized that walking down Bourbon Street carrying two suitcases marked me as a naïve tourist, and I was approached by multiple opportunists looking to make a quick buck. I quickly reverted to behaviors of avoiding eye contact, walking briskly, and avoiding anyone suspicious. Fortunately, after navigating my way through the crowds, I managed to find my hotel.

I do wish I would have taken some pictures during my stay, but I always felt like someone was watching me and might like to have my camera/phone for themselves. The mere fact that I escaped New Orleans without bodily harm or venereal disease is probably a small miracle. In fact, after discussing the city’s history of flooding cemeteries and yellow fever epidemic, one tour guide went so far as to caution the tour group not sit on the curb.

Experiencing the French Quarter inspired me to read a little more about the city. While there, I purchased a walking tour guide to New Orleans. This book gave some good insight into the architecture and history of the city. I was soon spotting the wrought iron balcony fixtures and historical buildings that make the French Quarter so unique.

Another book I read soon after this trip was Five Days at Memorial. Basically, this book details the events that happened at a flooded New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina. With limited evacuation options, doctors are forced to make tough decisions regarding patients who are clinging to life in a hospital without electricity. The story mainly revolves around one physician who administers large amounts of morphine and essentially helps end these patients lives when it looks as if they will not be rescued. The subsequent investigation details the sequence of events during that chaotic period when helicopter evaluations were scarce and patients were struggling.

Overall, my first trip to New Orleans was definitely memorable. The Cajun food, history, and music were all great.