Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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A Nation of Wolves and Sheep
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   03/20/2010)

We are becoming a nation of wolves and sheep. A nation, moreover, in which the shepherds routinely set the wolves on the sheep. You see it in every walk of life.

Doctors who charge outrageous fees for many procedures patients don't even need.

Insurance companies that lavish billions on CEOs and board members at the expense of the ailing and dying.

Pharmaceutical companies who get sweetheart deals from lawmakers, so they charge fellow Americans more than, say, Canadians.

But it's not just in the healthcare industry.

Despite reform banks are allowed to raise rates well into the 30 percent range for credit cards, and trick customers into paying all sorts of outrageous fees.

Coal peddlers are allowed to blow the tops off green mountains and dump the slag into the nearest stream.

Arms dealers sell Americans on the fatuous idea that a nation with enough guns to arm every man, woman and child will be made safer by allowing guns into parks and bars. Meanwhile, a river of guns flow South to Mexico.

Weapons sellers and politicians boost defense spending year after year (to about $750 billion this year, half the world's total), ensuring there'll always be a lobby for war.

As I say, we are become sheep led bleating from our homes to grim streets, indignity and, yes, even slaughter.

Might I suggest it's way time we the sheep grew fangs.

Might I suggest we start by supporting the healthcare reform bill.

Though it seems a modest plan to those who've taken the time to study systems of more progressive nations, don't kid yourself.

If this bill fails, the Obama presidency is all but lost as a tool for meaningful change, and Democrats will face a drubbing come November.

On the other hand, this could be the start of something big.

People acquainted with the concept of Tipping Points know that sometimes just one show of gumption is enough to turn the tide of history.

I wish this healthcare bill were a Cadillac limousine instead of a used Chevy. It's not a great bill. It'll leave the insurance company in charge of healthcare by and large.

Still, my advice to people who support a brighter future for our country is to support this bill. It places limits on abuse.

And if Democrats find themselves possessed of the gonads to pass healthcare reform, who knows, they might next find the courage to put an end to outrageous usury. They might find ways to fund higher education in ways that don't ruin families. They might find ways of keeping more people in their homes. Of fighting greenhouse gases. Ending mountaintop removal and building down defense spending.

So much depends on healthcare reform.

Every day momentum grows toward passage. Dennis Kucinich and others are lining up, and you should too, if you believe in equitable healthcare. Phone, email and fax your representatives, your senators, your cousin Myrtle and Uncle Darryl who suddenly have ceased to bring up those death panels. Maybe they've come to realize death panels have been convening for decades. They're composed of insurance executives and actuarial analysts who routinely drive the last nails into tens of thousands of coffins annually through tactics that should've long since become scandalous.

You know what I mean. By sandbagging just claims, by citing pre-existing condition, by trapping people into providing false information on deliberately confusing registration forms. I know people who shy away from going to doctors from fear of getting diagnosed with a condition that will disqualify them from future coverage.

Somewhere along the lines, the majority of Americans forgot how to be scandalized.

It's time we the sheep grew fangs and struck back against the wolves running our country into the ground.