An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

I am not a soldier in your army, but I am out here working in your trenches. I am not carrying a gun in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I am carrying your message. I am a retired worker, an active environmentalist and a true-blue American. I am too old to be lied to by my government anymore, but too young to lose the hope that you might be able to change things. I am too realistic to expect miracles from you, but idealistic enough to always dream of a better world.

What else does my generation dream of, Mr. President? What do my fellow Baby Boomers and I picture when we close our eyes? We imagine a world in which we can afford our health insurance, our medications, and next week’s food prices. We wish that one-third of our pensions hadn’t been ripped from our hands. We hope that we can live long enough to earn the Social Security benefits we’ve paid into for so many years. We hope there still is a Social Security fund to sustain us before we die. We hope that 50 years from now our great grandchildren will not be burdened by this year’s Wall Street and Big 3 bailouts, and that the greedy bastards who got us into this mess will still be in prison for their crimes.

Old — not dead — and rarely silent

Old — not dead — and rarely silent

And we are angry. Angry that General Motors/GMAC received a $19.4 billion handout and that Chrysler/CF got its $5.5 billion. Mind you, neither corporate giant got so much as a suggestion from our Congress that they should improve gas mileage or produce electric cars. I’m sure they were planning to do both anyway — in 30 years, when our planet runs out of oil. Couldn’t someone in Congress have suggested a few incentives, or limits, or controls, or expectations, or maybe get down on their knees and beg “pretty please?”

Congress is taking money away from the rest of us, and from our next three generations, to give to an industry that has refused to improve emissions for the last 20 years, fought against passenger air bags, killed the electric car production lines, and refused to improve gas mileage standards. I say, let these dinosaurs die. You can bet that, two minutes after the gates of the Big 3 are closed, some hungry, innovative car company from India, or China, or Japan, will build a new plant down the road and begin manufacturing efficient, safe, and reasonably priced, electric vehicles.

We are angry because we were told that the price of food inflated because the price of gas was $4.00 a gallon. But now gas is $1.60, and the price of food is still going up. Damn, we hate being lied to. Worse yet, the food industry is reducing the sizes of the containers, while raising their prices. They not only lie to us, they think we are too stupid to see what they are doing.

And since I‘m on the subject of food, we are not fond of the fact that, through genetic modification, our foods no longer need to be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides —they are pesticides and herbicides. God knows we have to protect our farm yields. Big Ag takes great pride that a genetic engineer has predetermined our cancers, heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. Perhaps our heirs will save money when we die, when our bodies will self-cremate from all the petrochemicals we have digested.

Sir, I wish you the very best. I wouldn’t want your job, but I am elated you won this election. Wouldn’t it be great if Wall Street, the oil industry, the farm lobby, the steel industry, the military weapons industry, the U.S. Auto industry, the medical industry, the pharmaceutical companies, and the food industry, all left Washington, just pulled out and said, “We’re sorry, we screwed up. We promise we won’t put profits before people or the planet ever again. We won’t steal from our investors ever again. We won’t strip mine or clear cut or genetically alter crops or slaughter whales or shoot wolves from airplanes, or kill people, or test chemicals on animals or poison the air, the water, the soil; or deplete the ozone ever again. We promise.” Yeah, right. Dream on.

Mr. President, we know it’s only your second day in office. We know your tasks are mighty. But, you do have a Congress that should be supportive while you try to solve the financial crisis, launch your version of the New Deal, create 3 million new jobs, fight crony capitalism, and keep your country from going bankrupt. Please try to accomplish most of that in your first week in office.

Next week you have to improve the image of our country to the world, and then help bring peace and stability to Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, North and South Korea. And be sure to bring our troops home safely.

As you’re settling in, between phone calls, maybe you’ll get a chance to work on climate change; develop renewable energy; teach your citizens how to live sustainably; improve health care, education, women’s rights, child safety, the electrical grid, and our highway infrastructure; and fight crime, pollution, domestic violence, the spread of AIDS, home foreclosures, and terrorism. Should be no problem. You’re young and energetic.

You gave us a lot of hope during your campaign. Maybe you want a little of it back. But don’t worry, Mr. President, we will be patient, as long as we see a little progress every day. Just don’t tell us any fairy tales about weapons of mass destruction. We regret that you have so much to do, so soon. We regret that you have so many broken things to fix. We realize that dealing with the over-50 crowd isn’t one of your priorities. Just don’t forget we’re here, especially if you need some help. All you have to do is ask. We’re a pretty dependable work force, and we have a lot of wisdom to share. We may be old, but we’re not dead yet, and we won’t be silent.

Joe Hennager

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Post:

Uniting for a Greener and Safer World


2 Responses to “An Open Letter to President Obama”

  1. Karen on January 21st, 2009 1:40 pm

    Here! Here!

  2. James Floyd on January 24th, 2009 5:35 pm

    I am a retired veteran of World War II and I second every word you wrote here.