Ballon sends right message to Sen. Brown
I really admire Michael Ballon. His stewardship of the Castle Street Café has been extraordinary. The place has been the center of Great Barrington society for quite some time now. Not only is the man a thorough culinary professional but he’s a personal study in courage.
I’ve never had a bad meal there and a lot of local musicians have been given a showcase that they would not otherwise have had. Other restaurants and chefs come and go but not Castle Street.
When Ballon believes something, he says it — even if he is wrong, as he was about the construction of the Triplex theaters in Great Barrington. When he’s wrong, he has the courage to admit it.
Ballon has had a major bout with melanoma cancer of the mouth. He has beaten the odds, managing his own case and seeing the best and the brightest in the New York and Boston medical communities. I’ve never seen him in a state of panic.
Here is a man who has shown tremendous courage against tremendous odds but now he is fit to be tied about the Republican plans to privatize and change the hugely successful Medicare program. He recently sat down to pen a letter to U.S. Sen. Scott Brown about the Republican plans to mess with a program that he has been paying into his whole working life.
Obviously, Brown, who clearly would like to be considered for a spot on the 2012 presidential ticket, is up against it. If he doesn’t go along with his fellow Republicans in privatizing Medicare, he can’t get the nomination. If he does, he alienates a lot of people in Massachusetts who love the program and who have been contributing for years, expecting to be covered by its benefits.
I want you to read his letter and consider its wisdom. What in the world could these people be thinking as they try to destroy one of the most successful and important programs in the history of this country? Does their greed know no bounds? We destroy the programs that help our people while cutting taxes for the very rich and pouring money into weapons of mass destruction so that the people who run our military industrial complex can get even richer. The move to destroy one of the best programs in American history makes no programmatic sense and it certainly makes no political sense. One wonders whether these people will ever learn from their past mistakes.
Here is Michael’s letter to Scott Brown, one of the most popular politicians in Massachusetts (why? I don’t know):
“April 16, 2011
“Dear Senator Brown,
“I urge you to reject the House budget proposed by Congressman Ryan. I am 54 years old, and have worked my entire life — starting in 8th grade — to help pay for college, and continuing through today. Surviving cancer treatment for five years was financially devastating, even with insurance. I count on Medicare to be there for me when I am 65. I don’t want vouchers that will buy me expensive, lousy insurance.
“Congressman Ryan’s proposals would only exacerbate the growing divide in this country between the working middle class and poor and the obscenely rich and privileged by continuing the Bush tax cuts, which transfers enormous wealth to the very few at the top.
“The General Electric Company is both the largest employer, and the largest polluter, in Berkshire County, and they paid no taxes at all on $14 billion in profits. Before you slash my benefits, how about collecting some taxes from them?
“A modest proposal: Before Congress diminishes Medicare and Social Security benefits and coverage for the vanishing middle class, let’s abolish all health care coverage and pensions for members of Congress. As a chef, I know that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
“– Michael Ballon.”
Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 4/23/11