Happenings and non-happenings at I-House.

I love break. I always feel so free and ready to do a bajillion things. But I never feel guilty for spending all my time playing video games or writing instead, because it’s break. 🙂

Today was a pretty extraordinary day. Right now I’m enjoying a cold beer and a delightful meal that I cooked myself from very delicious ingredients: a multiplicity of cheese ravioli and sun-dried tomato chicken sausage in a leek, butter, and basil sauce. Garnished with some crunchy almonds and tada–it’s pretty dern near gourmet and I made it meh-self. Sometimes it’s just delightful to splurge on decadent ingredients and make yourself a decadent meal. Especially during break.

I’m sitting out in the I-House courtyard. It’s unseasonably warm, the fountain is on, and a delicate wind stirs the air. It’s prime writing material, but I feel happier just basking in it right now. The only thing keeping me from being out here 24/7 is the 11pm closure. Sigh. I wonder if I can argue on the basis of community building that this space should be open until 1am like all rentable I-House spaces…. I don’t think that would fly with my boss, but hey. It’s always worth a try for a beautiful, inspiring, calming space. 🙂

This morning, with about two days notice, Mitt Romney gave a speech on economic policy here in I-House. It was more or less what I expected from the republican fore-runner, a lot of talk about how bad big, useless government is, how we should get back to state government and local government, and how social security and medicare are robbing us blind. I agreed with a lot of what he said that was wrong with the country. Too many useless bureaucrats, too many regulations on small businesses, too many weird tax set ups. Unfortunately, I vehemently oppose all of his solutions to those accurately described problems, and I’d probably throw in a lot more problems to boot: a culture of greed, a culture of self-obsession, a culture of backward thinking… the list goes on.

He took questions from the audience in the form of little written cards that were passed out and then passed back at the beginning of the program. Sadly, it was a pretty scripted, serious event and so it wasn’t possible for us to ask him questions like a town-hall meeting. I wrote down a question about what his economic policy might do for young adults. As it turns out, that was the second question chosen. He answered by saying that “all young people should be Republicans, and I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to be” because, well, “republicans want to get rid of the huge debt creator of social security and medicare, and drastically reorder how these thinks work, so that the burden of the debt won’t be on your generation!”

Now I’ve got a lot of problems with that statement.

1. Without social security and medicare, my brother and I would be solely responsible for our parents in their old age, something that is absolutely terrifying and impossible for people who have never held a full time job, never been given a chance for saving, let alone our own retirement, let alone the retirement of our now bankrupt parents! We need social security now more than ever because we can’t bail them out!

2. The burden of the social security debt and medicare debt is NOT on our generation. It is on the baby boomer generation. The debt is real, and present, and THERE, right now: the debt IS on your generation and your generation won’t fix it. I think he thinks he has a fix, and perhaps for this specific problem, in this specific box, with this specific goal as an outcome, sure this is a “fix”. But in the process of fixing it his way, he will cause catestrophic failure, I think, for people like me who are incapable of supporting their parents.

3. I asked about crippling STUDENT debt, not crippling national debt. This is about my personal debt. If you feel the need to use stories about people in personal situations, like the family that couldn’t build their home because of the EPA, or the business owners who can’t get off the ground because of regulations, than you have got to listen to my personal story too. A promise that education could set me free to do what ever I wanted–and then twenty, thirty, forty thousand dollars later, with no jobs in sight… that is the story of so many, many more Americans than you would like to admit.

So, that’s my beef with the answer to that question. I agree with a lot of the diagnosis, I detest a lot of the solutions. I agree that government and money must be more local, but it must be more personable and that will never come from a person as detached from the on-the-ground struggles of current Americans as this man.

But here I am, relaxing in the courtyard, just amazed that I now lead a life where Mitt Romney walks through my kitchen, I write questions that get asked of him, and I take a bus to downtown Chicago to “replace my sandals”, and then end up standing underneath the El tracks and just staring, listening, delighting in the roar of machine as it settles and unsettles the hundred year old iron platforms.

Trains, politics, and fountains. A worthwhile day, I suppose. ^.~

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