Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Health Care. You've been Warned.


No doubt everyone who comes here has already been over to Bless Our Hearts and read my mother's post about the health care debate, and the comments that followed. Some of the people who commented are new to her blog, and felt the need to tell her how wrong and backward she is. I of course, wanted to jump in, eyes blazing, and pick apart each comment one by one. It is the daughter in me, the badger, but I realize that her blog is not mine to defend. She does a fine job of that already. Luckily, I have my own.
This is not a democracy. This is not a newspaper. This is Roll Up The Rugs, and these are my thoughts and feelings. If you don't like them, be happy that you are free to write your own damn blog.
I'm not for communism. Okay, sure, in high school I entertained the notion that it seemed like a good idea, but since then I have seen that it is a good ideal and not a very good idea at all. It doesn't work, it never has, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with public health care. I don't know why people keep bringing it up.
I happen to like capitalism. I like the American Dream. I like that I can work for my money and buy whatever the hell I like with it. I like that, if I wanted to, I could take classes and work hard and get a job that allows me to climb a ladder and get to the top and make a bunch of money and eventually own a house in Paris and St. Tropez and go to the Isle of Capri and not worry about breaking my leg and being able to afford to go to the doctor. I like that I have that option, but the fact is that we can't all do that.
I'm not saying that we don't all have the potential to do that, I'm saying that in order for this country to run, we absolutely can't all do that. It wouldn't work. It's fine and well to say that we are all free to make our own money and take care of ourselves, but really, we can't.
Do we like our restaurants? Our grocery stores? Do we like to buy meat, purchase clothes, find new music to listen to? Do we like to have clean toilets wherever we go? Do we like to be able to walk down the street without stepping over dead dogs? Do we like to have someone else get an armpit full of hot oil as they pull the oil filters from our cars every few months so we don't have to? Do we like the service desk at Target? Do we like to stop at well-stocked gas stations when we are on long road trips? Do we like our lives, our clean and comfortable lives in this country? If so, we better be pretty damn thankful that a huge amount of people are willing to work in low paying jobs to make this lifestyle actually happen.
Poor people are not necessarily lazy, they are just poor. People, real, living breathing people pick the vegetables, slaughter the meat, cook the food, clean the restrooms, sweep the parking lots, paint the houses, stock the shelves, iron and steam the clothes (that come from Paris, that come from India, that come from Mexico), change the oil, deliver the goods. Human beings write the music that inspires, that makes our hearts open. They paint the pictures that make us think, or catch our breath, or break our hearts. They take the photographs. They self educate so that they can give us information about the toys we want to buy, they fix our phones and our computers. They write the books. People do everything that must be done in order for having money to mean anything at all.
And most of these people do so without health insurance.
Whenever I hear someone say that they don't want to pay for someone else's health care because those other people have the same opportunities as everybody else, and that it is their own fault that they haven't made more of themselves in this free country, I get confused. The ones among us that are privileged enough to have the jobs that provide the money that pay for health insurance should be pissing themselves with joy that there are so many people willing to do all the things that they do not want to do. Personally, I like being a waitress. People like being served. Do you like being served by a sick waitress? Do you want your butcher to come to work with the flu? 
That's really what it comes down to for me. I'm not even going to get into the fact that emergency care costs all of us more in the end than preventative, and so we end up paying for it anyway. I'm not even going to bring that up. (ha.) What I am going to say is this: If you like your capitalistic lifestyle, you must accept that you are able to have it because of the hard work of people who have less than you. In order to continue living the way we do, we must take care of those who provide the goods and services that keep us happy and content. This is not communism. This is simply what it takes to let the rich enjoy their riches.
Now go enjoy your filet mignon, tip your waitress, and shut the fuck up. 

40 comments:

downtown guy said...

This is almost exactly what I was thinking about this morning. It is all well and good to say, "Work your way up if you don't like not having health insurance," but that completely ignores the fact that there still has to be a giant mass of people at the bottom making sure shit gets done. That's just the facts, Jack.

So anyway, now I don't have to write that blog post, because you already did it for me.

(Hey, go look at my photo blog and comment or some shit.)

downtown guy said...

I forgot to click the subscribe button. So now I am.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

OOOOOHHHH, great post, May!

Well said. I'm with you.

Love,

SB

Tiff said...

that was freakin' awesome.

Ms. Moon said...

May. Good God. You said it all. And so very, very well. I am just gobsmacked. I don't think I've ever used that word before but suddenly I must.
I sure do love you.

May said...

DTG- What? Oh, I'm sorry, I was just over at I've Had Dreams Like That (http://dreamslikethat.blogspot.com/) leaving comments. I didn't hear you stop by.
But seriously, I've been thinking about this a lot. There should be a rich people island where only rich people can live. Then we can film it like a reality show and watch them die.

SB- Thanks Baby! I need to head over to Sarcastic Bastard, too. I've been working a lot and neglecting my blog reading/ commenting. I love you!

Tiff- YOU"RE freaking awesome! Thank you.

Mama- I love the word "gobsmacked". Thank you for reminding me of it. I was gobsmacked when I read your post, and then again in a different way when I read all your comments. Forget gobsmacked, some people need to get bitch slapped. I sure do love you, too.

downtown guy said...

I saw that, and I have replied to all your comments! Ha!

Remember Gilligan's Island? Even there, the rich people needed the workers.

May said...

Of course I remember Gilligan's Island! On Rich People Island-The Reality Series, there would be no Gilligans, only Howells. Ha-Ha!

downtown guy said...

Oh, no, Lovey!

Magnum said...

I like the idea of universal health care for a selfish reason:
I'm tired of going to the emergency room after cutting/breaking/dismembering some part of my body only to wait in line behind 4 "got a headaches", 2 "am I pregnants?", 5 "mumble mumbles", and 1 "it hurts when I get drunk".

Ms. Moon said...

Magnum- Well quit cutting, breaking and dismembering parts of your body and let the ER take care of the people who really need their help!

Sandra said...

I can see the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. I agree with you completely.

Steph said...

This arguement only holds up if you give a crap about people. Afterall, there's always someone else who can clean toilets if the housekeeper dies of pneumonia.

Kori said...

Well said!

Laura said...

Wow came over from your mother's blog and so glad I did! Well said and exactly how I feel!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, my God. That is just awesome. I had planned on starting this day without saying another word about this mess, but now I think I'm quoting you everywhere. Bravo!

honeyluna said...

Wow, thank you for that great explanation, because I totally understand everything now! Okay, maybe not everything (because if that was the case I think I could be helping the President), but you said all of that so simply and smartly, and that's perfect for a simple person like myself.

adrienne said...

'Now go enjoy your filet mignon, tip your waitress, and shut the fuck up.'

that's my favorite part.

i always do think it's strange when people say that they worked for their wealth and others are free to do the same; there are enough resources for everyone on the planet, but not for everyone to have 2 houses, several cars, several acres, several vacations, etc.

and very very few people, if any are truly 'self-made'. people get a leg up; born into comfortable families, or have some incredible teacher along the way who took special interest, or something that gave them a chance that we can't all have.

miss alaineus said...

i love this! i am an occasional reader over at your mom's joint.

can i post a link to this in my blog?
don't let the name fool you- i was in a mood and it stuck...

xxalainaxx

http://abaleman666-boysaremean.blogspot.com/

Magnum said...

how come your mama heckles me over here too? That's it, my feelins is hurt; I'm going to the ER.

rachelbk said...

I love the realistic, no-nonsense attitude of your whole darn family!

SJ said...

Amen!

Petit fleur said...

You go May! I have heard that in many parts of Europe, it does not matter what you do or your payscale, everyone gets 3 weeks of paid vacation time, and health care. So you can work and live a meager life, but still ENJOY it.

I'm not sure, but I think they have rich people over there too. *smile.

Great post May. I fucking love you!

May said...

Wow! I go to work and come back to all this. These comments are my riches.

Magnum- Mom is right. There is no emergency room for whiners. Sorry, you shall be mocked. But seriously, you have a point. I would hate to have to wait behind a snotty nose when I'm bleeding out my eyes, and that's exactly what happens when people can't go to a family doctor.

Sandra- Thank you so much! comparing me to Mama is high praise and always welcome. Thank you for stopping by.

Steph- You are absolutely right. Luckily, I believe we actually elected a President who does care about people. Maybe that's the change we've been looking for. People have been numbers long enough.

Kori- Thanks, Sweetie!

Laura- Thank you for your sweet comment and for coming by. I always get good people coming over here when Mama gives me a shout-out.

Elizabeth- I said the same thing the other day and then I read Mama's post. It's good to have people around to remind us to speak up. As for quoting me, I'm just honored. Thank you.

HoneyLuna- Darling, being simple is the hardest thing there is. You are simply wonderful, and you should be helping the President. How's school going?

Adrienne- I completely concur. I think sometimes people take their blessings for granted, which is a dangerous and sad thing. And I often think about how we have more than enough to go around, but some people get more than their share. It's not even that I think that we should all have equal amounts of everything, I just see so much waste and excess. Does a child need an iphone? I saw one today, a little girl who got one for her seventh birthday. I don't begrudge that girl her iphone, it just strikes me as ridiculous.
Yeah, there are no self made people. We all have someone to thank. We are lucky we know this.

Miss Alaineus- You're probably over it by now, but link me if you want. You're making me blush over here.

Rachelbk- WE certainly think we're awesome. Thank you for agreeing. Welcome to the family.

SJ! Sister! I love you.

Petit Fleur- I've heard that too. Hmmm, however do they do it? I fucking love you too!

Mwa said...

Nail on the head. I'm sitting here, being all European, staring across the pond, wondering why so many people don't get this glaringly obvious point.

justme said...

Came here via your mama and just want to say RIGHT ON girl!

Steph said...

May, it's not the president I'm worried about not caring; it's the citizens.

juancho said...

If there are two things I truly love they are...

A. tipping my waitress
B. shutting the fuck up

and I had this thought...

People fear public health care-
Private Health Care is too expensive.
Recession continues.
Eventually 40% of country ends up on medicaid (for poor people), which is(hold your breath)public health care!

One way or another we are getting an expanded Public Option.

one more thing to share- boarding plane listening to lobbyist types yuck it up about "Obama will cave" almost pushed them en masse off the jet bridge, but thought of my dear sweet mother and resisted.

May said...

Mwa- Well said. I think people outside the US can see us a little more clearly. I was in Paris after we "elected" Bush #2 the first time and the Parisians were like "How can you let him steal the election like that? Why were you all so upset about Clinton cheating on his wife? How was that your business?" It made me want to say that I was Canadian.

Steph- Too true. I don't really get how we can be so callous about our fellow man.

Juancho- there should be more men like you. I think your dear, sweet mother would have condoned you pushing those men out onto the tarmac. You could've said you thought you saw a nail clipper peeking out of their carry-ons. A nail clipper and some kitchen matches! Oh wait, that's me....

Windy Days said...

Shut the Fuck up, indeed! You're a Good girl, May!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought (or few) but if you like and appreciate capitalism don't you wonder what would happen if insurance companies were actually allowed to compete? They could provide across state lines and costs would go down and then maybe you could buy your own healthcare based on your own needs. Most companies that pay for their employees' healthcare end up paying about 3.5 times the employee's salary for all the extras (401k, taxes, medical insurance.) So if your salary was $30,000 your employer is really paying $105,000! What if they said, "we will either spend that $105k for you and we'll pay for your healthcare OR, we'll take your taxes out of that and you can have the rest to buy your OWN healthcare." I'm just curious if you'd rather have that option or government healthcare? I don't know what's best, I honestly dont, it's too complex an issue for my small brain. Thanks for the thoughts!

downtown guy said...

Anonymous:

First of all, I want some cites on the those numbers. Second, we're not talking about people who make $30,000 a year on salary and have health insurance through their employers. We're talking about people who might make half that and have no insurance at all. No one is going to start paying a waitress or a dog groomer $105K. (Heck, companies aren't going to start paying their salary employees that, either, but that's neither here nor there.) What does your plan do for these folks? Nothing.

May said...

Anon- Yeah, what DTG said. I appreciate the comment, but the people who get insurance through their jobs are not the uninsured. This whole health care situation is complicated, and I'm not sure how it's going to play out for people WITH insurance already, but that doesn't mean we throw up our hands and give up. We live in a wealthy nation, there is no excuse to not take care of our own.

Anonymous said...

I can’t thank you enough for the thoughtful responses (especially since this is my first time ever commenting on a blog!) Also, I absolutely agree that reform is needed to make health care more affordable to everyone. I will also try to address your responses the best that I am able, but I’m no expert on this.

Figure 3 in this piece http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm030808oth.cfm) shows the percentage of employer-provided health care costs as a percentage of salary, although the statistics are several years old.

First of all, and again, this is just a thought, why is it so necessary to have health insurance? Thomas Sowell, the Stanford economist, raises an interesting point in this column: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell091509.php3

Federal tax subsidies make employer-based health care beneficial to employers and employees, which is why people who aren’t employed are much worse off (no job, no health care and no tax breaks for buying personal health care.) But if Congress really wanted to make healthcare more affordable to people who don’t have jobs they could do this by getting rid of government controls that prohibit interstate commerce. In his speech Obama referred to a statistic that one insurance company controls 90% of the market in Alabama (that number was rebuked in this Wall Street Journal article by a professor at U.Penn's Wharton School http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574409501904118682.html). However for the sake of argument, if that were the case and if insurance companies in other states, California or Mississippi or Maine, were allowed to provide coverage in Alabama then the price would decrease and people would be able to afford it more easily, even if they were unemployed. Much like car insurance and home insurance that is accessible across state lines, companies would be forced to compete and people could find the best coverage for themselves.

Expanding competition is also discussed in this testimonial transcript from a fellow at the Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-mc-20090916.html

Hope these guys fill in some of the gaps to what I attempted to express earlier. Cheers!

May said...

Anonymous- So we agree that there needs to be healthcare reform.
I'm tickled that you chose my blog as the first one you comment on. Now tell the truth and fear no man- who are you? Information from an anonymous source is easily pushed aside, and I have a feeling I know you.

Ms. Moon said...

And what the fuck is up with this "crossing state lines" shit? What state has cheap health insurance? 'Cause maybe I'd move there.
Who ARE you, Anonymous? We need names. We need faces. Otherwise, we're not that impressed.

Ms. Moon said...

And as to why it's so important to have health insurance? Well, because if you actually own a home or a car or anything of value and you find yourself in the hospital for a week, you may discover that you owe so much money in health care costs that you will lose everything you own. Payments? Who can make payments that will ever pay off tens of thousands of dollars in health care? And if you are so unlucky as to be diagnosed with cancer or be in an accident which forces you to be in, oh, let's say the ICU for a month or in treatment for six months, you will never, ever have a debt-free moment in your life again, no matter how well they fix you up.
Is it so much to ask that we, in this country, can join the rest of the world in knowing that if we become ill we won't have to worry about losing everything we own?

downtown guy said...

Plus, again, we are talking about people who can not afford to get their teeth cleaned. I went almost 10 years without being to afford car insurance. I sweated and froze with strep fever for a winter week in a shack in Atlanta where I stuffed plastic bags in the cracks in the walls to keep the wind out, before I could get myself up to the free clinic for antibiotics. I was working full time in food service back then. I not only normally couldn't afford health care, I especially was fucked after a week of not working. No sick leave, ya get me? Now tell me what your ideas do for folks like that.

Anonymous said...

May, alas, we don’t know each other beyond this conversation. I don’t facebook or twitter, I gave up AIM long ago, and I’m not a blogger, which is why I settled on the “anonymous” choice; I have no internet identity which is how I prefer it. However, I will tell you that I'm simply an American trying to figure this monster out like everyone else, I just have a tendency to be skeptical about anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth and Obama is no exception, especially knowing that his Director of Speechwriting [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Favreau_(speechwriter)] is a 28 year old kid, which makes me think, “what the heck does that guy know?!” Obviously the President is very well educated and intelligent and has surrounded himself with similar people but I think it’s my duty as a voter/constituent/citizen to question for myself and not blindly follow anyone, democrat or republican.

I’m also not trying to sway opinions one way or the other and I’m certainly not here to impress anyone. Like I mentioned before, I’m no expert, I simply like to ask “what about…” and “what if…” and y’all are so thoughtful, considerate, and thought-provoking that I can’t stay away. Ha! Anyway, I don’t watch the news much (although I have a soft spot for Jim Lehrer and Charles Krauthammer's segments on Bret Baier) so I read books and newspapers (the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) and check out research organizations (Cato Institute, Brookings Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Hudson Institute, etc). Reading these people who are wiser and more knowledgeable than I am has led me to the position that perhaps a bigger government program is not the most affordable or best solution. Although, this rationale is probably also supported by the fact that I work in a government agency and directly witness financial waste, incredibly slow processing for simple things, and overall inefficiency, to name a few complaints about bureaucracy.

As for “crossing state lines,” well, you can find the state with the cheapest health insurance but nowhere is it inherently inexpensive. This article (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/orl-bk-health-insurance-monopoly-052009,0,1410854.story) says that currently 2 companies have an oligopoly on the health insurance market in Florida and “A lack of competition is bankrupting working families and small businesses.” If you increase competition, indeed if you have “perfect competition” as the economists call it, not only within the state but by allowing companies in other states to provide insurance then prices will decrease because the prices are determined by the consumers and not the sellers. This model works in other industries, perhaps it could work for health care, especially since the demand for health care is so ubiquitous. Now, cost and price are two very different things. Downtown Guy mentioned getting teeth cleaned, the cost of this service would include the dentist’s/dental hygienist’s salary for the amount of time it takes to clean the teeth, the cost of the water, lights, toothpaste, brush, etc. used during that hour, but the price that one actually pays for that service is far greater than the cost because the insurance companies can charge those outrageous fees because there aren’t enough other companies to offer better deals. If there were 500 companies instead of 10 from which to choose wouldn’t the prices be lower? And if prices were lower then more people could afford it because a teeth cleaning would cost $25 instead of $90. Also, if there was more competition and insurance companies had to reduce prices then their profits ($500 billion dollars a year!) would also decrease. That’s a small portion of the argument to allow insurance sales across state lines, ya know ,interstate commerce.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the very poor, even with the newest health care plan drafted by Baucus the lowest income people could still pay up to 13% of their income toward government otherwise they'll pay a fine for not having health care! So you either still pay part of your salary for government health care or you pay the government a fine. Relating to my original post, perhaps those people, would prefer to buy their own health insurance? As Dick Morris (a former Clinton advisor) writes in the following piece, "The president claims that this coverage will be "affordable" for those now uninsured. But the guidelines in the bill indicate that a person making about $30,000 a year will have to pay approximately 8 percent of his income in premiums before the subsidies kick in -- $2,400 a year. Many of those now uninsured will find this expenditure both onerous and unnecessary in view of their current youth and good health."
(http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=33568)

As for the hypothetical, "why is health insurance so important?" Well, I absolutely believe it is, no one has the assurance of perfect health and insurance alleviates so much stress, worry and financial strain. However, many people who own homes worth tens of thousands of dollars have 30 year mortgages, which are paid in monthly payments and that debt certainly doesn't cripple them. How would insurance payments be any different (besides the intangibility of it)? Again, just a point for consideration.

(If you're interested in further reading this paper is a great, although lengthy and somewhat dry, resource: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13758.pdf)

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGNhZDA0OGI1Yzg5NWQxN2I1NTlmZDUzNjQ3ZGM3ZjA=

Anyway, I've taken up too much space and too much of y'all's time with my babble. Thank you all again for the enlightening dialogue, I've enjoyed my time here.

~Aletheia