Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean?

Introductory Note:

First let me apologize for the personal tone of this article. I typically try to focus on issues and solutions and not on my own personal reflections. This past week, among other things, I have been working with a group of parents from the school where our 8th grade children are about to graduate. We are working to create a video that captures the 8th grade class’ experience from kindergarten to graduation. In essence, to marvel at the growth and maturation of these modern examples of humans as they move from cute cuddly yet blissfully ignorant small animals, into wonderful, intelligent motivated, caring examples of the best of humanity. And, to wonder at this progression as it prepares them for the next steps of their own lives and time on the planet and builds them to be the shepherds of America’s ideals and dreams. To assemble this video the committee have collected from each parent pictures of their children from birth through each stage of their Catholic life at the school. Many have provided pictures of birth, baptism, kindergarten, first through eighth grade, first communion, confirmation and number of other life pictures. As I have begun to edit this video and reviewed the pictures of each of these kids from birth through the 8th grade it has both inspired me and raised questions as to what they will have to face as they take over responsibility for America sometime in the next 20 years.


Faced every day with the continual revelations and problems coming to light, as President Obama’s administrations strives to expand the national “Givernment’s” perpetual generosity of OPM (other people’s money), I have had a hard time trying to select a topic to write about. This difficulty has not been a result of a dearth of vital problems, a recent lack of political duplicitousness, or the realization that all of the sudden the American economy is now well and functioning. On the contrary there is not a dearth but a plethora of issues that are rising to the surface like the fetid, curdled and infected cream our parents and grandparents may have found on their front stoop when the milk man left their daily delivery shortly after everyone went to work on a hot summer day. The issue at the moment is too much information.

We are inundated with media stimulus relating to Obamacare and the negative impacts we are seeing as a result of this legislation. The continual news on Obamacare is so decidedly negative that the main stream media, so long spinning to the benefits of the law, is beginning to now readily report these negative issues. It seems they have grown so tired of reporting the positive spin, in the face of the overwhelming evidence, that even the more ideologically motivated reporters have decided it’s not in their own self-interest to keep hauling the president’s polluted water. Sure there is still a spin machine in the press, but it’s no longer doing the unfettered bidding of this president’s administration. The MSM has gotten so bad at keeping the desired message for the president flowing, he has had to convert his old campaign machine into an organization, called Organizing for America (OFA)—or as I think it should be named Obama For Federal Administered Liberalism (OFFAL)—to continue the incipient spread of what the now departed Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf referred to as “Bovine Scatology!”

Ad Hominum Ad Nauseum

Enter Paul Ryan and his attempt at a balanced budget. Now once again there is a personal target and the latest “Ad Hominum Ad Nauseum” program of personal media attacks can begin. Once again the argument shifts from the fiscal issues on which budgets are based, to how Ryan, and his ilk, wants to starve Grandma. That is, if he can’t figure out how to hasten her earlier demise by eliminating access to free healthcare. If you want reform to any entitlements based on fiscal concern, you’re either a racist, a bigot or, an unfeeling greedy pawn of the even more unfeeling and greedy super-rich in America. The alternative to admission of the problem and seeking a solution, is to deny the problem and, of course in that role we have the President and none other than Nancy Pelosi. Ms. Pelosi, I am convinced, is really the result of an Obama time travel experiment gone wrong, where the genetically modified spawn of Neville Chamberlin was transplanted frozen from the loins of Eva Braun, just before her bad experience in the bunker, to Baltimore, MD where her in utero programming proceeded to override her Catholic education and gave us what we have today. This in conjunction with the fact that there appears to be a recorded series of ridiculous platitudes that were implanted in her brain and have now become stuck on a random loop. I am sure that at first, the President felt this technological triumph of time-traveling, transcriptase transmutations was nothing less than his missing link, but perhaps now as the MSM starts to get a clue he may live to regret her biogenic support.

Not Sustainable

Continually lost in the media and the debate are the underlying issues that were the reason that Ryan created this budget in the first place. For some on the right they are angry that Ryan has included in this budget the call for the repeal of Obamacare as it once again has invited the personal vilifications, and I think they believe is a fruitless pursuit. Whether or not the entire law is repeal-able, or whether certain parts of the law should be repealed is really no longer even the issue. Realistically, while I was looking at the pictures of these 8th graders I came to realize that the extent of the systemic issues I have been seeing in healthcare are perhaps even more problematic than I have understood. The opinion expressed by the president, Ms. Pelosi and a few others aside, most, on both sides the aisle, agree that our economy is not sustainable. None of the entitlement programs are sustainable. The revenue sources are not sustainable. The continuation of the monetary policy of the past 70 years is not sustainable. The path of real GDP growth is not sustainable. Our educational system is not sustainable, nor contributing well to the nation’s sustainability. The continual increase in the expectation from healthcare to provide us a life experience where we do not suffer any loss of the same quality of life we had as 18-20 year olds, even as we push our average lifespans from the mid-50s, to early 60s years of age, we had in the 1960s, on towards the middle 80s years of age we have today is not sustainable. And as I looked at the magical growth of these kids I realized this list of where most agree on the items that are not sustainable goes on and on. Yet we are doing nothing to fix the problems. We are doing almost anything to focus our efforts and energy on anything other than the problems themselves, often focused on demands for more things that we expect others should give to us or do for us.

If one reads the news carefully you will see numerous reports, like the one from Charles Blahaus, a Medicare Trustee, advising that the promises by the Federal government are simply not sustainable and that the money will just not be there. The president brought together a blue ribbon panel a few years ago to study these problems and they came back with a bleak report of non-sustainability. The report was so far from what the president wanted to hear that he shut down the commission, ignored the report and their recommendations and continued to push in the opposite direction. One is left to ask, why? Perhaps it’s simply that the findings of the commission are so anathema to the inbred ideological framework that they simply cannot fathom any world needing to exist under these conditions.


Perhaps, it is our own expectations and attitudes that are also not sustainable! Maybe we need to rethink who we are and what our own roles and responsibilities are for ourselves or we will face a much bigger demise than we realize. I used to think self-delusion was not endemic in society, that it was more of an individual, infrequent and relatively benign occurrence. As I have gotten older, and as I have focused so much time trying to understand the problems of our healthcare system, I have become more convinced it is self-delusion that is the primary cause for most of what we are facing. Reviewing our history, and its application to Healthcare’s evolution, has truly shed light on how the temporary decisions made many years ago—then made permanent, often for narrow or self-serving reasons, have continued to endure, causing more convoluted temporary decisions to be made to fix ever more complicated issues, that again have found political benefits causing these new temporary fixes to become permanent. This process seems to have repeated ad infinitum.

O’ Columbia

Our history impacts our current systems in often conflicting and unseen ways. Decisions made in the 1800s, in many areas unrelated to healthcare, continue to have major negative influences in the healthcare system we think we have today. And, our historical decisions do not just affect our healthcare system in this manner, they affect every part of what America is. Today, it is clear that America is no longer the shining city on the hill. The lyrics of a song popular during the Civil War, and considered a pseudo national anthem of the day, offers insight into what our ancestors felt was the promise of America.

O Columbia! the gem of the ocean,

The home of the brave and the free,

The shrine of each patriot’s devotion,

A world offers homage to thee;

Thy mandates make heroes assemble,

When Liberty’s form stands in view;

Thy banners make tyranny tremble,

When borne by the red, white, and blue,

When borne by the red, white, and blue,

When borne by the red, white, and blue,

Thy banners make tyranny tremble,

When borne by the red, white and blue.

When war wing’d its wide desolation,

And threaten’d the land to deform,

The ark then of freedom’s foundation,

Columbia rode safe thro’ the storm;

With her garlands of vict’ry around her,

When so proudly she bore her brave crew;

With her flag proudly waving before her,

The boast of the red, white and blue,

The boast of the red, white and blue,

The boast of the red, white, and blue,

With her flag proudly floating before her,

The boast of the red, white and blue.

The Union, the Union forever,

Our glorious nation’s sweet hymn,

May the wreaths it has won never wither,

Nor the stars of its glory grow dim,

May the service united ne’er sever,

But they to their colors prove true.

The Army and Navy forever,

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue,

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue,

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue,

The Army and Navy for ever,

Three cheers for the red, white and blue.

(There was also a slightly different third verse)

The star spangled banner bring hither,

O’er Columbia’s true sons let it wave;

May the wreaths they have won never wither,

Nor its stars cease to shine on the brave.

May thy service united ne’er sever,

But hold to the colors so true;

The Army and Navy forever,

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

The Army and Navy forever,

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue

It is times like these that I ask myself, “How can we get back to this belief in our nation that was endemic of that age?” I wonder how we, as a people, have become so jaded and self-absorbed that we no longer see the good that our nation does and can do. I wonder why it is that many Americans instead now see our own nation as an evil influence. How did we once have such a positive and patriotic fervent belief in America as an extension of ourselves through our own creativity, self-reliance, productivity and our generosity to others and the world; and today, arrive at the belief that America is merely someone, or something, who is there to provide whatever we desire to us, wherever we want, for free? How is it we once envisioned America’s government as the shining star leading the battle for personal freedoms and opposing tyranny only to see our own government become the main oppressor of America’s personal freedoms and liberties. How have we arrived at a place where one side of the media can argue that the Second Amendment must be subject to modern interpretations and restrictions and therefore must be limited while at the same time they argue the First Amendment cannot? I ask these questions and I can find few answers. The historical context of the decisions in healthcare give me guideposts to the mechanisms that have brought us to this place, but the complexities and the depth that these systemic infections have invaded our American body are so deep and intertwined I can find no simple and rapid path to health. I worry for these 8th Graders and I suspect that the task will fall to their children, and their children’s children to rebuild a failed nation once again.

Sadly, for me this is truly worrisome. At times like this I don’t often know where to start.

This entry was posted in General Comments and tagged , , , , by Thomas W. Loker. Bookmark the permalink.

About Thomas W. Loker

Meet the Author - Thomas Loker is a Startup Consultant and Advisor at SYDK.ORG, Angel Investor, Mentor and Advisor at Keiretsu Forum & Venture-Med and an established operations guy with serial successes with startups, transitional companies and turnaround situations. He has had a long career serving in the fields of science, technology and healthcare related industries. He is an active board member in both for-profit and not-for-profit companies. Tom has written numerous articles in the areas of healthcare, technology, politics and the economy. He is currently the principal author of Health Reform 2.0: Beyond partisan divide lies pragmatic solutions – a whitepaper focused on moving beyond the partisan rhetoric of the ACA (Obamacare) to a simple, efficient, effective, accessible and affordable healthcare system. He maintains a passion for serving the underserved and has founded, supported and worked in various companies to serve the most fragile among us. Because of his expertise on the business of healthcare, he was invited to conduct multiple congressional briefings on healthcare reform in Congress, meeting with more than 100 congressional representatives. He has been a guest on HuffPost Live to talk about health care issues, and is a frequent keynote speaker on the topic for many groups and events. Prior to his latest book, The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America: The untold backstory of where we've been, where we are, and why healthcare needs more reform, Tom published “Delusional Ravings of a Lunatic Mind”—a collection of essays on healthcare, politics and their interaction with the economy, available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and other bookstores. Tom's passion for Music is currently expressed by his role as VP Operations and General Manager of David Victor Presents. See www, to find out more. You can find Tom online at: Website: Blog: LinkedIn: Photography:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.