Cambrian: Opinion

Talking trash, health care and yellow hair

Glen Lantrip
Glen Lantrip

An interesting trend I have witnessed on “trash day” in our community that might appear petty, and a smidgen picky, is nevertheless hard for me to figure. I will highlight that first in this epistle.

Secondly, some Cambria residents are expressing misgivings with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare. Frankly I don’t get why Ryan would advocate tearing apart a program that helps close to 60 million Americans stay healthy — including me.

And thirdly, I know the man with yellow hair who wears ties from China won the presidential election through the Electoral College — even though he lost the popular vote by about 3 million votes. But his ongoing behavior is crude and childish, unbecoming of a president-elect, and his temperament is cruelly caustic. I can’t comprehend how he expects to lead our country.

A handle on trash

Let’s say Monday is the day when the big white diesel garbage trucks pick up trash, recycled material and green trimmings in your neck of the woods. An hour before the noisy trucks arrive, get out and walk the streets in your neighborhood — and count the number of trash containers with the handles facing the street.

There is no doubt that handles facing the street are a teeny bit easier for the workers to quickly grasp when emptying those containers. On a recent Monday I surveyed my neighborhood, and out of 34 receptacles, more than half had the handles facing toward the curb.

Realistically, how much extra effort does it take for the workers to grab the handle and swing the bucket around so it can be dumped into the truck? And yet, if that minute bit of grace shown by residents helps these men — whose work environment reeks of rotting organic materials that contain potentially dangerous micro-organisms — in any small way, why not turn the handles out?

Reactions to Ryancare

I have two things in common with House Speaker Paul Ryan: (a) we’re both Packers fans; and (b) he lives in Janesville, Wisconsin, where I resided after leaving my parents’ house at the age of 18.

Meanwhile, if Ryan has his way, Medicare would end as we know it, and while it’s not clear what it would look like, privatizing will likely lead to some form of voucher system, or tax break; and according to the Los Angeles Times: “An ever larger share of health care costs would land on seniors’ shoulders.”

Medicare recipient Glen Lantrip is the proprietor of Country Collectibles & Antiques in the East Village, and is opposed to any changes in Medicare. “I’ve been paying into it since I retired at age of 62, and I’m now 82,” Lantrip explained last week in his store.

“I don’t need a tax break,” he said. Making Medicare private “is not helping us. I possibly have another 10 years. I’ve had heart surgery and back surgery.”

He hasn’t used Medicare in six or seven years, but when he needs it, he expects it will be available to him as it has been in the past.

Longtime Cambria resident and Medicare recipient Allison Duncan doesn’t mince words when it comes to Ryan privatizing Medicare: “Don’t fix it if it’s not broke,” she said on a cloudy day on the back patio at Las Cambritas last week. She is a year or so away from signing up for Social Security, so she pays for Medicare out of her own pocket.

“I got my flu shot for free,” she noted, because she enrolled in Medicare. As to privatizing Medicare, Duncan trusts the federal government to be “more even-handed across the board than corporate America.

“I would rather keep big business out of it,” she emphasized, figuring that if the program goes private, banks and other entities would profit at the expense of older Americans. “It’s not supposed to make a profit — it’s to help people get the medical care they need.”

Greg Stone, attending a birthday gathering for a fellow Slabtown Roller bicycle rider at the 927 Beer Company on Thursday, Jan. 12, said, “I don’t really know what privatization means. I just assume it’s not what I would want to risk my retirement on.”

Stone, who receives Medicare benefits and wears a cap that reads, “Team Medicare,” doesn’t believe it’s meanness on Ryan’s part. “I think there’s a whole contingent in Congress that thinks like those in the 19th century, that there should be nullification and the states should be responsible for these things.

“We know there are many states that won’t provide these benefits. If this idea of nullification were in place, we wouldn’t have anything. We wouldn’t have a highway system, we wouldn’t have controlled airways, or drug administration or control.”

What Ryan is really thinking, Stone said he believes, is, “Let the states do what they want to do, which means some states will do nothing,” and older people will be left out in the cold.

Fake news fraternity

Donald Trump, who essentially invented “fake news” by leading a malicious, mean-spirited, racist campaign asserting President Barack Obama was not born in America, now attacks CNN’s reporting as “fake news.”

Mind you, CNN reported that the story of Trump’s alleged indecent behavior in Russia was not verified. But because U.S. intelligence services are investigating both the story and the portly man’s links to Russia, it is newsworthy. If his behavior last week in his first news conference in six months — and his adolescent addiction to small-minded tweeting — foreshadows how this thin-skinned individual intends to conduct himself as chief executive, Lord help us all. Bob Dylan said it years ago: “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

Freelance journalist and Cambria resident John FitzRandolph’s column appears biweekly and is special to The Cambrian. Email him at