On Memorial Day, I was driving southbound on Highway 101 when I had a seizure. All things considered, I was fortunate; I have a safe car, and an off-duty patrol officer saw me and shepherded me off the highway. I stopped on an embankment under an overpass, and he helped me calm down and turn off the car while we waited for the Santa Maria Fire Department. The firefighters extracted me safely from the car (which was on quite a tilt) and took me to Marion Regional Medical Facility. The seizure was localized, caused by a brain tumor, not epilepsy, so half my brain was functioning. I would like to thank this off-duty officer and good samaritan; I was able to see my children again because of him. Thank you, sir.

This man’s kindness saved me from immediate danger, but the help I received next came from health-care providers. I am a 71-year-old woman, retired from the public school system, and the good insurance I have through Medicare Medical Supplement gave me affordable access to quality medical treatment. I hope everyone reading will consider the value of quality health care.

I am nothing special, just a person fortunate to have had a good job that was part of a union. But, this frightening moment in my life, and the kindness and care I was shown as a result, has made clear to me not only how fortunate I am, but also how unjust it is that so many people go without the same basic care. The hardworking people who replace and repair things around my house deserve more. The people who maintain our cars and serve our meals at restaurants deserve more.

One man does not need to make $25 million while his workers make $25,000 with no health benefits. Douglas McMillon, CEO of WalMart, comes to mind. The pay disparity for Steve Ells, Chipotle’s executive chairman and former CEO, is more egregious: $25 million to $19,000. To these individuals, I say: I don’t know you. You may do great things with that money, but a thousand times more than the hardworking people who help me shop at your store? These are people with the same dreams and hopes for their families as you no doubt have. Do you get better medical treatment with $25 million? With so many million dollars, why can’t you pay your employees more? Why can’t you pay your fair share of taxes?

My family was just a regular family, but because in the ‘60s, workers’ salaries compared to CEO salary was 20 to 1, we were able to get ahead, buy a house, afford insurance, go to college, and pay taxes gladly because of what the taxes did for our community.

My thanks again to everyone who helped me on Memorial Day. I hope everyone will think about the urgency of fair pay in the corporate world and saving the voice of the workers who, after all, are our community. Support a government that supports you. It doesn’t do any good to keep supporting this inequality. This is America: We were born with equality in our DNA.


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