MICHEL MARTIN, host:
Finally, so we are officially in recession around the world, which means we are officially poorer than we were at this time than last year and the year before. And so now, we not only have to figure out how to pay our bills and save for college and retirement with a lot less money, we also have to put up with people telling us how this is actually good for us.
Can I just tell you? This would be hilarious if it weren't so annoying. Just last week, there was an op-ed in the Washington Post by one of President Bush's former speech writers telling us that maybe now people will get back to basics like cooking their own food and raising their own kids instead of outsourcing such. You're kidding me, right?
Here's a newsflash: cooking for people and baby-sitting are jobs - respectable jobs, and some people actually like doing those jobs, and people with money can pay people to do those jobs, and people without money cannot.
Now, I will agree that there were aspects of the boom years that were pretty sickening. It was strange to pick up newspapers and have rich people's habits in your face all the time, like we were all supposed to care about their private jet shares, their ridiculous weddings, and how they were busy tearing down perfectly good houses to build humongous new ones that could barely fit on the old sites. There were times when you could really start to feel there were something wrong with you if you didn't want a $60,000 car with spinning rims or to pay $5,000 for a new refrigerator when an excellent one, with an ice water dispenser, no less, costs half that much.
But you know what was true during all those boom times and what is true now? That tens of millions of people still didn't have basic health insurance, but the gap between the people at the top of the pay scale and the bottom was getting wider and wider, and that millions of people were having trouble meeting basic needs even though they were working more and more hours; that too many schools were not doing their job and too many kids weren't learning. And it was never a secret. This country was failing to meet basic needs for too many people, even as a few were getting bigger and bigger houses and more and more stuff.
So please, no lectures about how we all need our comeuppance. Let's put the people who did wrong in jail, and can the rest of us just please have some health insurance?
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MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.