On a Cold Day in Florida

The sun is shining but the temperature is only 39 degrees Fahrenheit – in Florida! Not the kind of weather to warm the heart of a Jamaican.

My thoughts turn to fellow-Jamaicans in the northern states and Canada, where the snow is knee deep, the roads are slithery and the wind knifes through their layers of clothing, chilling them to the bone. Been there, done that. Hated it. Really, really hated it.

My brother Bill and his wife, Faye, who live in London, Ontario, are among the lucky ones who can find the time and resources to holiday in Jamaica. I suppose they’re floating in the sea or perhaps having a Caribbean-style breakfast on a beach-front terrace as I write this. Enjoy, folks!

They paid up front for these golden years, Bill dodging bullets as a UN peacekeeper in the Canadian Army and freezing his toes as a door-to-door water-softener salesman, Faye facing the fury of outraged employers as a labor relations officer for the Ontario government.

I am among the lucky ones, too. Retired in Florida, where days like today are few and far between.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work, isn’t it? You pay your dues and collect your reward.

But in today’s America, there are politicians dedicated to seeing it doesn’t work that way in the future.

I fear for the working stiffs, who are shoveling the snow today and dreaming of retirement. They may not be able to retire after all because of politicians who are intent on sabotaging Social Security.

I grieve for the millions who aren’t paying into any retirement program because they have no jobs. Especially those whose unemployment benefits have not been extended. Their needs are far more immediate, far more urgent.

I can only imagine how it feels to look into the eyes of their hungry children, knowing there’s nothing they can do, nowhere to turn for help…

I cannot fathom how the fat cats in Congress can ignore the plight of these families, how they can continue to siphon more and more of the nation’s wealth to the richest of the rich, while more and more families sink into the quicksand of poverty.

The pundits call this wretched state of affairs “income inequality.” I call it highway robbery.

When I read about a monsignor in the Vatican who has been arrested for laundering money, the former governor of Virginia being charged with exchanging favors for lavish gifts, and that awful Chris Christie’s crass abuse of his power as governor of New Jersey, I lose hope for the world.

When I learn that America’s most prominent banks are paying massive fines for racketeering, I cringe in horror.

It seems that the most trusted institutions are riddled with corruption, that the pillars of society are looting the resources entrusted to them.

Meanwhile, millions of people whose lives they control shovel the snow, dreaming of a better tomorrow in spite of it all.

Click for more on the crusade to shred the safety net.

Click for an update on Chris Christie.

Click for more on Chris Christie.

Click for charges against Vatican monsignor.

Click for charges against former Virginia governor.