KENNEDY: So many reasons to be thankful

Sheila Suess Kennedy
November 30, 2013
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Sheila Suess KennedyThanksgiving is my family’s favorite holiday, not just because it is the one time of the year when all the far-flung relatives assemble, but also because it is an opportunity to consider how incredibly fortunate we are.

We have Thanksgiving at our house, and before I let anyone eat, I insist that we go around the table and have everyone acknowledge what he or she is most grateful for. (Granted, my kids have taken to calling me “the gratitude Nazi,” but I persevere … )

It isn’t just a matter of counting our blessings; it’s an exercise in recognizing them.

Anyone who reads columns and blogs (including mine) or listens regularly to pundits of any and all political persuasions is well aware of all the problems Americans face and our seeming inability to agree on solutions, and to take our blessings for granted.

So—in the spirit of the Sam Cooke lyrics—I want to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative,” here goes: (I’ll leave out the “gooey” stuff about my long-suffering spouse, talented kids and absolutely perfect, wonderful grandchildren.)

• As my grandmother always said, “If you have your health, you have what’s really important.” So I’m grateful for my family’s good health, and good health insurance. (I’m especially grateful that I’m not one of the 300,000-plus Hoosiers who will continue to be uninsured because Indiana won’t expand Medicaid.)

• I’m grateful for public education at all levels. There are many people around the world who don’t have access to schooling of any sort, whose lack of basic literacy reduces their ability to live fully realized lives. We spend a lot of time beating up on our own schools and teachers, and many of those criticisms are justified, but on Thanksgiving, we might stop to realize how profoundly our lives have been changed by the availability of public education and the devotion of those who have made the nation’s schools their life’s work.

• I’m grateful for Google! In fact, I can’t remember how I lived without the ability to find the answer to virtually any question, from how to cook a turkey to the gross national product of Timbuktu. The Internet has changed our lives more dramatically than we can really grasp, and some of those changes have been troubling, but the benefits far outweigh the social costs of this new communication medium.

• I’m grateful that I was born at a time when the women’s movement changed social expectations, allowing those of us with ambitions beyond the kitchen to realize those ambitions. (And I’m very grateful for birth control, which made that women’s movement possible.)

• I’m grateful to live in a country with democratic institutions and a Constitution that protects the civil liberties of everyone, even the people with whom I disagree. I’m also grateful for the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations that make government abide by its own rules.

• I’m grateful for government. All of us would have very different personal and economic lives without police and firefighters, the Federal Aviation Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and all the other agencies that keep us safe. They aren’t perfect, but they’re more important than we often like to admit.

Thanksgiving is a time to recognize the profound gift bestowed by our social infrastructure, and the extent to which that infrastructure makes our own lives and accomplishments possible.

Of course, we’re all grateful for turkey.•


Kennedy is a professor of law and public policy at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. She blogs regularly at www.sheilakennedy.net. She can be reached at skennedy@ibj.com. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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  1. The deductible is entirely paid by the POWER account. No one ever has to contribute more than $25/month into the POWER account and it is often less. The only cost not paid out of the POWER account is the ER copay ($8-25) for non-emergent use of the ER. And under HIP 2.0, if a member calls the toll-free, 24 hour nurse line, and the nurse tells them to go to the ER, the copay is waived. It's also waived if the member is admitted to the hospital. Honestly, although it is certainly not "free" - I think Indiana has created a decent plan for the currently uninsured. Also consider that if a member obtains preventive care, she can lower her monthly contribution for the next year. Non-profits may pay up to 75% of the contribution on behalf of the member, and the member's employer may pay up to 50% of the contribution.

  2. I wonder if the governor could multi-task and talk to CMS about helping Indiana get our state based exchange going so Hoosiers don't lose subsidy if the court decision holds. One option I've seen is for states to contract with healthcare.gov. Or maybe Indiana isn't really interested in healthcare insurance coverage for Hoosiers.

  3. So, how much did either of YOU contribute? HGH Thank you Mr. Ozdemir for your investments in this city and your contribution to the arts.

  4. So heres brilliant planning for you...build a $30 M sports complex with tax dollars, yet send all the hotel tax revenue to Carmel and Fishers. Westfield will unlikely never see a payback but the hotel "centers" of Carmel and Fishers will get rich. Lousy strategy Andy Cook!

  5. AlanB, this is how it works...A corporate welfare queen makes a tiny contribution to the arts and gets tons of positive media from outlets like the IBJ. In turn, they are more easily to get their 10s of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (ironically from the same people who are against welfare for humans).