“Michael. Row the boat ashore.”

My youngest niece is 4 years old. Within the past few days she came across 2 blue robin’s eggs in the backyard. Left unattended. On the ground. On territory belonging to her living ancestors, four generations older.

My 4-year old niece wanted to know, with her own developing sense of belonging, to whom those 2 blue eggs in the backyard belonged.

Her father expressed concern on the previous Sunday about the east coast of the United States, and the damage done by that off-shore oil rig, the Deepwater Horizon. In the area that his family lives, and where he grew up. A state that he left attended to by his mother and 3 sisters. And their families. On the east coast.

Coastlines. The suspicions of the inhabitants, with their sense of belonging. Of nomads, always in search of place. Crossing borders. With reckless abandon. Addressing those relationships. Of belonging. With new beginnings. Or at life’s end.

“Michael. Row the boat ashore.” The mystery of off-shore drilling, nearly one mile deep. Or of robin’s eggs.

Life was not fair. On shore. Just when they had the least income, old people had to go to the doctor the most. In Ireland, Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney was trying to sell to sell its state-owned health insurance company, VHI. But first she had to deal with issues of capital reserves. To attract new investors.

According to new data published today by the Central Statistics Office, women in Ireland had an average of 2.05 children in 2007, one-third of which were births outside of marriage in 2007. (The percentage of births outside of marriage was higher in my own country in 2007.) The estimated April 2007 population was 4,339,000, with 2,171,100 males and 2,167,900 females. This was the highest fertility rate in the European Union in 2007. The fertility rate in France was 1.98, while 1.92 in Britain.

Life was not fair. Over the draft and a government’s ability to send young men to their death. In war. As government attempted to increase its own power, on the back of the vulnerable young men. And about those robin’s eggs. Life was not fair. On the birth issues. As government attempted to increase its own power, on the back of the vulnerable young women, so the issue of fertility. An Irish woman born in the 1980s, Ann Enright wrote: “The wars we fought about contraception, abortion, divorce were not about virtue–or only incidentally so–it was about breeding. It was about maintaining stock. The nation faced a demographic shift towards the young. We could not believe that the nation had to overproduce just to keep still. ”

Maintaining stock. The Irish government is planning to sell its state-owned health insurance company, VHI. While the European Commission had initially set a date of September 1, 2009 to implement an adequate regulatory regime to oversee the state-owned health insurance company, Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney has set a new date to accrue the required capital reserves by of January 1, 2012. As previous deadlines have been missed, this is at least the fourth deadline set by the government. The Irish government faces court action by the European Commission for failing to implement an adequate regulatory commission to oversee the VHI that could require an investment of up to € 200 million. It was as if the SEC quit overseeing Wall Street.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said: “The scheme will be significant in scale and scope, reflecting the real additional cost of health care for older or sicker customers. While we prepare the legislation and engage in appropriate consultations, we will ensure that there is significant support of costs of claims for older people though the tax system.” According to the Irish Times, having expanded beyond the health insurance market, the state-owned health insurance company has benefited from having to meet solvency levels, with exemption to set aside reserves for a minimum guarantee fund, as established by two directives of the EU non-life insurance, from the general insurance supervisory commission.

Maintaining stock. The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, stated: “We are protecting older and sicker people from being loaded with premium increases or more expensive policies solely because of their age and medical history. There are very complex challenges involved in our health insurance market. It is important to deal with all the complexity on the basis of a clear objective and a determination to achieve it.”

Those robin’s eggs. And unconditional fertility. Or infertility. Affecting movement in the story. Affecting coastlines. In the lives of a woman, young and old. And in the lives of nomads. With all the human desire for stability. So were your relationships stable? Maintaining stock when you, with your hunger and desire to connect to someone, had the inner desire to belong. And to maintain. When life was not fair. And death was not fair.

What would happen to the boat when the proportion of elderly to the young, in the way of rowers, was out of balance –when the elderly were not required to row, and the boat quit moving? When a nation had to overproduce, to maintain.

The unattended robin’s eggs. The off-shore drilling. The damage done. With her own sense of belonging to a tribe…on territory belonging to someone, with a desire to connect and sharing the inner desire to belong, my 4-years old niece wanted to know, with this developing sense of belonging, to whom those 2 blue eggs in the backyard belonged.

The mystery about fertility. And stability in relationships. Until you were related to the entire world. And all of its problems.

Maintaining stock. The challenge of maintaining stock, with the past to pass on. The relationship of a woman with her body. Or a robin to the fertility issue. Affecting the collective world. Just another relationship affecting a woman. At the age of four. Addressing those relationships. With new beginnings. Or at life’s end.

Rummaging for God. But having to deal with issues of capital reserves. To attract new investors. In the birth and death issues.

I spent last weekend with about 20 high school classmates. On Saturday I had breakfast with three classmates, two of whom were patients dealing with leukemia. The news about the leukemia of one friend I had forgotten. The other was a doctor who, after dealing with life and death issue each day in his practice, had come face to face with own mortality two years ago. More than 4 out of 5 patients with his diagnosis were dead in 24 months. Instead he was having to deal with issues of capital reserves and medical bills over the past 24 months in excess of $2 million. He has been intimately involved each day with the birth and death issues of women on the east coast. Perhaps overcome as much with other people’s suffering after twenty-five years, this one-time close friendship –that distance more than time had eroded the relationship — seemed at first to have changed. I wondered if he had lost his sense of humor. I never saw him laugh that first day during the weekend, until telling stories about his kids. And it was too often true that nothing was ever funny in the world, except for our kids.

Rummaging for God. On issues of birth and death. And fertility. But having to deal with issues of capital reserves. To attract new investors. In the death as well as the birth issues. Yeah, a nation mostly had to overproduce.

The Irish government was expected to announce a new risk equalization scheme to operate in the health insurance market. In advance of the sale the Irish government announced “substantial” capital will be injected into the company’s reserves to meet the requirements of the European Union to continue operations.

“Michael. Row the boat ashore.” New risk equalization schemes. Ministers for Health and Children. Coastlines. “Michael. Row the boat ashore.” With all the concern over coastlines. And maintaining stock. Amidst risk equalization schemes.


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