Roma Contrarian

First impressions matter. When the camera finally pans up from the luscious opening visual of water on stone, more water on stone, even more water on stone; my imagination stirs at the wondrous places it might lift us up to. That Roma opens in an urban carport is a bit disappointing. We are in a compact yet airy house, upper class though not grandiose, somewhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn. A somnolent place to be sure, where shade is more precious than light. As the camera pans the carefully arranged interior, immediately I feel cheated. Not by the detail, which is precise; nor the pace, which is leisurely. Rather, by the color. Or lack thereof.

Is there any place where color is more integral to its fabric and energy than Mexico City? Rio perhaps, Cartagena, Mumbai, Barcelona, maybe even Miami: cities banded across lower latitudes where orange and red, turquoise and green punctuate the sharp edges of bright sun and deep shadow. But Roma strips Mexico City of color. As if Bergman shifted his diffuse Scandinavian gloom 40 degrees to the South.

Roma and I get off to a bad start. Then things deteriorate. The first time the father wedges the Ford into the carport, okay. The second iteration; we’ve seen this before. Then the mother wedges between two trucks. Finally, when I’ve spent more time than I care to in that carport, she bangs the heck out of it one more time. The metaphor is beaten beyond meaning or humor. Ditto the dog poop. Ditto, ditto, ditto the airplanes flying overhead, directly above the focus of our attention at every plot turn. The plane flies between the extended arms of the fake army leader. It flies above our downtrodden heroine’s final climb to the roof. In pursuit of what noble deed? To hang the laundry.


Clearly I have missed the point of this important movie. So, after the final credits, I indulge in reviews after the fact, podcasts that dissect Roma’s marvels and mystery. It’s about class conflict (by the end of the film, love has been expressed to the maid, but she’s still the maid). It’s a memory film about Director Cuaron’s youth (And? So?) It’s magic realism. Actually, Roma is anything but magical realism. Despite an earthquake, with terrible special effects; a wild fire, with even worse effects; and a student protest that spills into a furniture store, there’s nothing magic in this movie’s realism. The distilled black and white images polish privilege to a silky luster, but they don’t even hint how that privilege might—or even should—change. Magic realism bursts with the color of imagination. This movie is grounded in a reality rut.


Still, it’s easy to see why Roma is a movie for our times.

The film possesses the dramatic arc of a #MeToo darling. The men are all cardboard villains, the women complex, fully human, yet ultimately heroic. The sunset tableau on the beach, all strength and unity, includes only women and children. We are long overdue films with fully fleshed female characters. Can that only be achieved by making the men simpleton cruel? Are our screens too small to breath life into a full range of characters?

The brilliant light of that same tableau also washes away the skin tones that define who is the maid and who is the mistress. Roma may be set among Brown people to our South, thus triggering all manner of reaction identity politics north of the Rio Grande. Yet the film is not about immigration or Northbound striving. It’s about social hierarchy, rooted in race. The maid is smaller, darker, more indigenous than the people she works for. Which makes me wonder: would Roma enjoy the same critical acclaim if it were set a few degrees further north? If the maid’s skin were a shade darker, her boss’s a shade lighter? If instead of Brown and Browner, they were actually Black and White? Consider a Roma set in the Mississippi delta, down the road, perhaps from last year’s richer, deeper, more nuanced Netflix Oscar nominee, Mudbound. Would we still applaud this sweet, though obtuse maid, and her erratic employer if they represented stereotypes closer to home?

If ‘Best Picture of the Year’ is the film that most represents our times, perhaps Roma deserves to win that award. Narrow in scope, incidental in plat, it reflects our times only too well. The characters are affected by big events (violence, natural disaster) without any attempt, or even inclination, to affect them. If so inclined, everyone left milling about the house at movie’s end can claim victimhood.

The forces that created the world of Roma (i.e. men) are all gone. Those remaining have no plan for how to maintain, or better yet improve, the terrible things that men have wrought. We’re inclined to a positive outcome: after all, the maid is climbing; and there’s that plane; and just about anybody could do better managing the world than men have done. Yet in truth, the women and children have no Plan A, B, or C for what might happen next.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like movies that are bigger than life, that inspire me to transcend man’s malicious nature (as in Mudbound) or celebrate triumph over adversity (The Florida Project) or maybe simply bubble over in shared ecstasy (Bohemian Rhapsody). But we don’t live in an era of enlightened perspective, or hope, or euphoria. And so we celebrate Roma, a monochromatic vision of the most colorful city on earth; a solitary woman who, at the end of the film, is still the maid.


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In the Auto Zone

My recipe for a happy life includes: giving no credence to Breaking News in the moment; being curious of all things natural, technical, and human; and finding humor, rather than fear, in the many things I do not understand. Therefore, I find a spark of joy, several times a week, riding my bicycle through the Auto Zone parking lot.

I don’t need to ride my bike through the Auto Zone parking lot to get to the gym. I could stay on the bike path or ride the street, But cutting through the parking lot is much more fun. A quick trip to a foreign land for a guy with limited mechanical ability who doesn’t even own a car.

The Auto Zone parking lot is so much more than a place to leave your car while you purchase windshield wipers and motor oil. It’s the place to install your new windshield wipers and replace your motor oil, preferably with other Auto Zone groupies giving advice, perhaps even lending a hand. The guys who work at Auto Zone—they are all guys—spend a lot of time in the parking lot; popping hoods, checking belts, fiddling filters. I have no idea if this hands-on assistance is included in the purchase price of Auto Zone’s wares (a cyclist has no reason to ever go inside) but I am inclined to think the place offers good value: parts plus replacement.

There are also the guys—they are always guys—who simply hang around the lot because their car is cool. Cool can mean souped to the max, though it can also mean a vintage relic with such potential to trigger restoration fantasy.

Men loitering in the Auto Zone parking lot pay no heed to a guy on a bicycle; I invisible here. Which is fine, because it enables me to observe them directly. To try to fathom how representatives of the same species, of the same country and state, of the same race and gender, can be so different.

I enjoy the action of the Auto Zone parking lot immensely. Still, I thank god I’m not one of these guys with a lumbering machine to tend. I am confident that they thank their own god not to be me. Perhaps I offer them some amusement. Hopefully, as much as they provide me.


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A Soft Landing: Social Insurance

This is the twelfth essay in the series, A Soft Landing, which explores how we might achieve a more just, equitable society without violent revolution.

As this series evolves, I ricochet between launching test balloons for specific ideas (new Constitution, Universal Service, Universal Basic Income) and advocating for general changes to our social, economic, or political systems (Impact taxes, immigration reform). This essay, the last for a while though probably not the last ever, explores how a concept so boring—insurance—might be appropriated as an approach to achieving greater equity.

The underlying purpose of insurance is simple: pool resources in order to address tragedies that could, in theory, happen to many though, in fact, they will only happen to a few. The bigger the pool of insured, the cheaper an individual’s coverage, because risk is spread wide. Almost all of us insure our homes against fire because, although the chance of our house burning down is small, a fire would be a major personal catastrophe. Since so many of us purchase home insurance, the annual cost is reasonable. This is less true, say, of travel insurance, which is relatively expensive for what it covers because only a small proportion of travelers purchase it. Similarly, many more of us have medical insurance than dental insurance, since a major medical event is more devastating than most dental problems.


Although insurance is a proven way to pool collective risk, like so many aspects of our society, it’s been contorted by our profit hungry system. Insurance has a bad rap; often deserved. Two main reasons. First, the ratio between insurance premiums and distributions to disaster victims often exceeds the mere cost of administration: insurance companies make giant profits. Second, those same companies habitually deny claims. According to the US Department of Labor, about 1 in 7 health insurance claims in the US are denied. The reasons may be simple as misfiled forms, misunderstood scope of coverage, or network provider restrictions. But the result is that many of us—most of us—feel misused by an overly complex system that seems to work better for the insurers than the insured.

I am fast approaching the demographic most fixated on insurance: senior citizen. Many of my friends are already there. I tend to drift off in bemused reverie whenever conversations detour into opinions about ‘Part B’ and “Prescription Drug Plans.’ When the time comes, I’ll assemble appropriate coverage, though I doubt I’ll make an avocation out of the medical labyrinth.

Within Medicare’ single payer approach, not all plans and all people are treated equally; for those ineligible for Medicare, the United States is an even more unfair place. Add the potential of needing a nursing home, or memory care to your future, and the prevailing attitude is: I don’t have enough money, or enough coverage. Therefore, I must look out for myself.

And so each of us angles to get the right-fit insurance; we scramble to accumulate maximum retirement resources. This is exactly where the powers of economic ‘expansion’ and consumption want us to be: forever worried to purchase more protection against every perceived calamity. This perspective that leads to only one conclusion: I will never have enough.

I cannot save enough money or buy enough insurance to protect me from every misery that could potentially befall me. And yet, since every malady will not befall every person, collectively we have enough to care and comfort us all. Actually, we have more than enough. If only we start to view our assets in a different light. If we pool our resources and share our risk.

Sounds simple. Will be darned difficult to do. Because it requires a sea change in attitude and behavior. It requires that we put trust in a collaborative endeavor rather than personal accounts; that we pay premiums, however defined, rather than private deposits; that we believe we’ll receive the benefits we need, if and when we need them. It requires that everyone honor the intent of the system: that the insured do not abuse; that the insurers do not gouge. It requires that those of us fortunate enough to age easily not grouse about benefits we did not receive; rather that we be grateful that we never suffered the need.

My example focuses on sharing risk in advancing age; my metaphor is insurance. But the concept can be extrapolated to virtually every aspect of our lives. The hallmark of a healthy society is not how it promotes personal gain, how it pits neighbor against neighbor in a zero-sum game that worships winners and castigates losers. The hallmark of a healthy society lies in appreciating that our optimal capabilities are derived from leaning into each other, supporting each other, teaching, housing, feeding, healing each other. An equitable society acknowledges and celebrates individual ability and achievement, and then channels those attributes to benefit everyone. Consider it social insurance.



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Suicide Walk to the Sea

In 1978, the closing shot of Coming Home is Bruce Dern, as Marine Captain Bob Hyde, hanging his uniform on a lifeguard stand and walking into the Pacific Ocean at a funereal stride. He has lost the war, lost his wife, lost his purpose. He retreats, head high towards death, rather than remain in a world whose values have skewed from his truth: the right of might.





Fifty years later, the closing shot of Beatriz at Dinner is Selma Hayek, in the same jeans and shirt she’s worn the entire film, striding into that same Pacific Ocean after dinner with six 21st century money chasers, the high priests of our current morality. The camera shifts up. We look down upon the sea swirl until Ms. Hayek disappears, then we follow her path beneath the bubbly surface and emerge, at last, into the tranquil mangrove that our heroine has been paddling intermittently, in dream and in memory, throughout her last, suffocating day in Southern California.




When Bruce Dern walks into the sea, I feel sorry for the man of principle, yet I’m relieved for our society that his wrong-headed scruples have been discarded. When Selma Hayek walks into the sea, I am glad that she has found eternal peace, yet devastated that such peace can only come through terminating the reality of life on this earth.

Beatriz is a healer, a seer, a person in touch with every living thing. She makes her living laying her hands, and her spirit, on cancer patients. A low-paid calling, to be sure, that she supplements with hands-on work for wealthy clients, whose liberal inclinations demand they invite Beatriz to stay for dinner after her old car breaks down, yet whose privilege does not extend to Beatriz actually questioning their values. Values that encompass only what can be touched, claimed, and purchased. Values that do not recognize the concept of ‘enough.’

I wonder whether the makers of Beatriz at Dinner had Coming Home in mind when they chose to end the film with Ms. Hayek’s walk into the sea. For me, the connection was immediate, and profoundly tragic. When Bruce Dern disappears, we lament a good man out of step with his time yet we celebrate time moving away from authority, toward tolerance, empathy, and understanding. When Ms. Hayek vanishes beneath the waves, she takes that empathy and understanding with her. We are left with nothing but hollow greed.

Fifty years forward, if another character in another film walks into the sea, what beliefs will he wash away? What morals will she leave behind? That will depend on what values we nourish between now and then.

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A Soft Landing: Economic Links

This is the eleventh essay in the series, A Soft Landing, which explores how we might achieve a more just, equitable society without violent revolution.

Of all the reasons given for the run-up to the Great Recession of 2008, few note an economic saddle point that flipped trajectory. In 2006, Maryland edged out New Jersey as the state with the highest median household income.

For decades, New Jersey and Connecticut vied for the number one and two spots: small states with wealthy suburban populations snug to New York City. So much money was concentrated on the isle of Manhattan; it leached across its rivers. To be sure, the money was not equitably distributed—consider Camden, New Jersey and Bridgeport, Connecticut—but Wall Street’s wealth flowed direct to its immediate surrounds.

Yet in 2006, at the apex of unprecedented speculation in housing and technology, during a so-called conservative presidency, households in Maryland eclipsed their metro New York counterparts. And they’ve never looked back.

Today, Maryland still has the highest median household income in our nation; the District of Columbia is second. The three wealthiest counties in the United States ring the Beltway. Follow the money in 21st century America, and it leads direct to Washington, DC.

I am old enough to recall stories of the Depression and World War II. My mother recounted how her uncle lost his job, so his family moved in with hers: seven children, four adults, three bedrooms, and one bathroom. Not in a Lower Side tenement, rather in the leafy town of Lyndhurst. My father recalled eating oatmeal for every meal, though given his flair in story telling, it might have been laced with whiskey. Nevertheless, I grew up on tales of hardship faced, sacrifices made, character formed; that developed the grit of fighter pilots, Navy seamen, candy stripers, and Rosie Riveters, all of whom blossomed from my family.

In 2019, more than a decade beyond own generation’s economic crisis, do we offer similar stories of burdens shared? Very few. The Great Recession of 2008, it turns out, was not a time to come together. Rather, it was a time for each of us to put his head down and beat out the other guy. Our president did not extol the virtues of shared sacrifice; he told us to go shopping. We did not sign up for a war that most of us believed in; we outsourced the longest (undeclared) war in our history to private contractors.

Humans are not good at heeding the lessons of history; Americans are particularly faulty in that trait. Hearing our parents’ stories does not imprint the same lessons as living them. The vast majority of us alive today have not faced the challenges that drew people together during the Depression and in World War II. Many of us have faced no real hardship at all, while those who have bear the additional weight of struggling alone, cheek-by-jowl against those succeeding. We are a society of haves and have-nots, uncomfortable with arbitrary luck or fate, trapped in the Puritanical belief that the have-nots are somehow insufficient, and therefore deserving of their fate.

How can we enlarge our shared experience? How can we value what each person brings to this life? Ideally, we would appreciate each other simply because we exist. We would celebrate our commonalities, and yet value our differences even more, since it is our cumulative talents that expand human potential. Unfortunately, the chasm between our mutual disrespect and that utopian mindset is too great for even these idealistic essays. And so, since our only shared value seems to be the almighty buck, we are going to have to start there. Money.

In order to illustrate in concrete terms our societal interconnections, we need to link each of our contributions in direct ways. That begins with compensation. First, establish living wages (which will happen anyway once Universal Basic Income frees people from mundane work that can be easily automated). Next, link the compensation within a company or institution. (Remember when Ben & Jerry’s had a 12:1 compensation ratio among everyone who worked there, CEO to janitor? That was a cool idea.) Then, link compensation across products and services. (This will require tricky regulatory vs. free enterprise balance, but we can better distribute the value-add in every step of food production, manufacturing, transportation, delivery…). Finally, a critical step is to link compensation between the public and private sectors. Let all boats rise and fall on the same tides.

Which brings me back to Maryland, the state with the per-capita highest number of Federal employees, ousting New Jersey as the state with the highest median household income. During The Great Recession, when many Americans faced lower paychecks (including me), many government workers did not share the shrink. Maryland’s affluence provides one symbolic measure of a government less and less concerned with serving its people, more and more concerned with serving itself. The lack of public initiative during the last recession, of New Deals that might bring us together instead of bailing out indulgent bankers, contributes to the ever-increasing disdain so many Americans harbor against our public sector.

I am a big fan of government, even big government. By definition: democracy is inefficient; giving everyone a voice is messy; only government is charged with the welfare of all of our citizens. Yet I want a government that serves all of us, one that looks out from the Beltway, across our nation, rather than tunnel gazing within the marble corridors of our capital city.

Therefore, let’s link compensation between the public and private sectors. Let’s make their health contingent upon each other. I don’t know what the specifics should look like. The connection must be broad—after all, one of the public sector’s responsibilities is to regulate the private sector—but I am confident that we can do it. If we want to.

Once we acknowledge that both the private and public sectors have important roles in our nation, we can stop denigrating them or pitting them against each other. We can embrace the truth that our true potential lies in each fulfilling their role. It’s unfortunate, perhaps, that we have to start with economic links. But hopefully, one day, those links can transcend money, and we will appreciate what each of us brings to society simply because we are here, we matter, and whatever we contribute has value.

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Sorry: Not!

This morning, as I walked around Fresh Pond, a hoard of runners came upon me and cut me off as they turned left into the parking lot. “Sorry!” One of the women giggled.

On Tuesday, our habitually late yoga teacher arrived to class five minutes after noon. ”Sorry I’m late,” were her opening words.

Last week, a couple was walking their dog, off leash, along the bike path. I slowed to accommodate the wandering dog. “Sorry!” the wife mumbled.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘sorry’ as “feeling sorrow, regret, or penitence.” None of the micro-encounters described above included any sorrow or regret, and certainly no penitence. The runner didn’t want to break her stride crossing in front of me, even if it meant I had to break mine. The yoga teacher made no intention to begin future classes on time. The couple did not leash their meandering dog. Yet I believe that each of these women felt amelioration, maybe even forgiveness, by their words. After all, they apologized.

Once upon a time, the word ‘sorry’ meant, “I did something to inconvenience, perhaps even hurt you, and I will be more aware not to do it in the future.” These days it means, “I did something to inconvenience, perhaps even hurt you, but it’s okay because I am entitled, and if I toss a ‘sorry’ your way, my conscience is scrubbed clean.”

Men, of course, rarely say they are sorry. I used to think this was rude. Now, since almost everyone uses the word without a morsel of sincerity, perhaps men who inconvenience or hurt others are actually being more honest. They don’t fake apologize. They just do what they are going to do and if others get in the way, tough ‘nuggies.

I blame this sorry state of affairs on Parker Brothers, who popularized the British board game in the United States. No one is actually sorry when they send another player’s token back to start. Trilling the word, “Sorry!” only adds salt to the wound of setback, often made worse by the fact that, in a truly vicious game, a player can often select which opponent to abuse. It’s a game of conquest; so elementary to Western nature it hardly needs directions.

Which brings me to my own micro-crusade. I want to resuscitate the word ‘sorry’ to its original meaning, or at least give it enough heft to actually mean something.

Phase One: only say the word ‘sorry’ when I truly mean it and then change my behavior moving forward. This means I say the word less often, but actually think about how my actions affect others more.

Phase Two: When others throw a ‘sorry’ my way, stop and ask them what they mean. Do they actually regret what they did? Will they try to change their behavior moving forward? Capitalize on an unpleasant encounter to create a moment of connection.

Each of the three scenarios above—and there are so many more—concluded with me explaining to these women how they used the word incorrectly, imploring them to be more conscious of their actions, and only saying ‘sorry’ when they actually mean it. These conversations ran to ten even fifteen minutes—in my head. For of course I am too stymied in the moment to actually say anything out loud to these offenders.

Will I ever summon the courage to engage someone who tosses an insincere ‘sorry’ my way? That remains to be seen. In our uncivil word, entering into conversation with strangers is a dicey proposition, especially when the agenda is to inform and hopefully modify behavior. If I ever tried to do that: I might be sorry.

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A Soft Landing: Non-Profit, Goodbye

This is the tenth essay in the series, A Soft Landing, which explores how we might achieve a more just, equitable society without violent revolution.

Here is a non-obvious suggestion to make our society more just and equitable: eliminate non-profit status for any organization. Actually, let’s eliminate the entire notion of private non-profits altogether.

Our society currently operates under a triumvirate of economic sectors: for-profit, private non-profit, and public.

For-profit is easy to define: an organization that provides a good or service and sells it on the open market. For-profit companies are the fundamental component of capitalism. When they make a profit—revenue minus expenses—they pay taxes to the public coffers.

The public sector provides goods or services through governmental entities, usually at free or greatly reduced cost. These include providing services that are spread across the entire population, like the cost of legislative bodies, public education, and national defense; as well as those that provide a collective health and safety net, such as sanitary water systems, food stamps, and Medicaid. Public sector services are paid for by a variety of taxes, including those collected from for-profit organizations (see A Soft Landing: Impact Taxes).

The non-profit sector is squishier to define. These are private organizations that do not pay taxes. They provide basic goods and services that may not be offered by the public sector to people who cannot afford to purchase them from for-profit organizations. Non-profit organizations offer a huge array of services: healthcare, housing, supplemental education, scientific research. They are exempt from paying taxes because, in theory, they are motivated beyond the bottom line: prioritizing charitable goods and services over making a profit. Much non-profit revenue comes from charitable donations, and many of those can be deducted from the donor’s taxes.

There are three major problems with non-profit organizations as they exist today. First, they provide exorbitant tax shelters to the rich, who further increase their outsize influence in our nation in the name of philanthropy. Second, this in-between sector dilutes the effectiveness of both the for-profit and pubic sectors. Third, non-profits enjoy economic advantages without having to meet what ought to be fundamental to all social service programs: universal access.

From Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates, generations of super rich have docked their money in foundations to extend their influence and refashion their legacy. Rockefeller, Ford, and Getty’s foundations soften our perception of these capitalist cut-throats long after they’re gone, just as the Sackler family’s named places at Tufts, Harvard, and Yale, as well as the Metropolitan, Guggenheim, and Smithsonian Museums sugarcoat their role in the opioid crisis. If moguls want to spend their money in charitable ways, fine by me; even the richest men in America are allowed to indulge in reinvention. But that doesn’t mean our tax structure ought to enable it.

The second problem may be less narcissistic, but is even more corrosive. The American fixation on individual freedom is joined at the hip to our fantasy of minimal government. The more tasks and services advocates of less government can pawn off on non-profits, the fewer services the government has to actually provide. Similarly, non-profit facades enable for-profits to dodge social responsibility, all the while leaning into it. Have you seen a Whole Foods wall of ‘affiliated non-profits’: warm feeling without actually committing receipts from grocery cash registers.

Our government is the only institution tasked with providing services to all. When we shift social services to other providers, we dilute universal access. This is most true among faith-based organizations. In a country based on the separation of church and state, why are these organizations tax-exempt? They should not be.

Here’s my recipe to simplify. Every company, every organization, is either private or public. Private companies make products and services according to regulatory and marketplace rules; they pay taxes on profits. Public entities provide the universal services and infrastructure we, as a nation, agree that we need. Public entities also determine and provide social supports available to all.

If people want to engage in humane and charitable work like feeding the hungry, teaching the illiterate, and inoculating the ill, terrific. They are entitled to the satisfaction of lifting up their fellow man, but they should not be entitled to tax deductions. If a religious community wants to erect a church and hire a pastor to shepherd their flock, fine, but that should not exempt their property from taxes levied by a secular government. If Jeff Bezos wants to establish a foundation to cure the world of whatever ill he decides is most pressing, go for it, but don’t let him transfer Amazon’s profits out of our taxable pool to fund it.

Rather, tax all private profits and distribute them collectively, democratically, according to a consensus of the people over the preferences of the rich.

Eliminating non-profits will not be easy; they are entrenched in our economy and culture. Virtually everyone has a ‘favorite charity’ they support. We like to feel like we make a direct difference. The benevolent rush we get from writing our end-of-year charitable checks is much more satisfying than the April woe we feel in paying the IRS. We distrust our government to allocate tax revenues in the way we want.

And yet these are the very reasons why non-profits muddy our economic system. In a democracy, it is our responsibility to make sure the government allocates revenues according to our wishes. And if we get a rush in writing a charity check, that should be reward enough. No need to tag on a tax deduction.

The idea of a private non-profit is both inspiring and effective, yet non-profits simultaneously boost our noble intentions while indulging our baser instinct. Two days a week I volunteer at Mount Auburn Hospital, a gig I love. In 2015, President and CEO, Jeannette Clough received $6.5 million dollars in compensation to captain our 213-bed community hospital. For every $100 people in our community spent on healthcare at Mount Auburn, two bucks went directly into Jeanette’s pocket. I have never met Ms. Clough, and hope I never do; I would find it hard to be civil to such virtue-cloaked greed. Yet, I am confident that Ms. Clough’s feed at the non-profit trough is not a singular example.

Let’s get rid of such duplicity. Let’s abandon the inherent contradictions of state-subsidized private non-profits. Let’s make a strong private sector, economically efficient, to placate our competitive natures. Then, let’s support a strong public sector that mediates private excess and spreads our wealth equitably.



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