Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack is asking strangers online to pay medical bills he and his wife have incurred.  The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which Mack founded, is paying some of them.  Mack is LDS;  I was surprised that the Church wasn’t passing the hat.

I actually wish Mr. Mack good health, hoping he gets coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which he was ardently against.  I guess that makes me a liberal, whom Mr. Mack detests, because I think part of my job as a citizen is to help other citizens.  If my taxes support people on Medicare, for which Mr. Mack will be eligible in two years, assuming the program isn’t gutted by his fellow Libertarians and Republicans, then so be it.  Medicare is a good program.  It helps the elderly.  Some in Congress think that is a free ride.  Well, all Americans get a free ride, be they Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, or Mike Smith.  My college education was subsidized, I get more from SSI than I paid in, and I can access for free things the government requires be open source.  Oh, I had to give a couple of years of my life to the military, but that is national service and something people used to do.  Ted and Mitch did not serve. Besides, I got paid for it.  The idea that successful folks are self-made, without help, guys like Jack Welch for example, is pure baloney.  We all benefit from being Americans and from what our government does.  Research that improves medical care is tax supported, roads, infrastructure, the National Weather Service and Hurricane Center, the Coast Guard, plows during snowstorms, FEMA, all benefit us.

Passing the hat was once helpful when medicine couldn’t do much, or if somebody’s barn burned down.  It doesn’t cut it today, when a house is lost, a child has leukemia, or if you are 62, like Mr. Mack, and have had a heart attack.  After passing the hat a few times, there isn’t much money; people can’t chip in that every time there is another needy soul.  That is sort of why we have the Affordable Care Act, which covers people for whom the hat isn’t large enough to hold say $10,000, which isn’t much for a hospital stay.  Most of us don’t have that kind of money lying around.  Jack Welch does.  He got about $400 million when he retired from GE, after cutting 100K jobs and research.  He’s on his third wife, by the way, but at 79, his time has passed.  He won’t be around to see what his denial of climate change has done.

Back to Mack.  He supported Cliven Bundy, the rancher who refused to pay for grazing his cattle on public (that’s my and your) land at $1.35 per animal per month eating an average of 780 pounds of foliage, and got away with it, because to have thrown him off would have been akin to the attack at Waco in 1993.  Mack got the Supreme Court to weaken the Brady Gun Bill, and he ran for a Congressional seat, getting 11,000 votes in the primary.  That’s about 10,950 more votes than I would have gotten had I run in a primary in Arizona.  I got 50 votes in the last election I ran for, Secretary of the Arizona Medical Association, which I lost.  I wasn’t too popular in the medical community.  I told the truth.

I wish Mr. Mack good health, because ill health sucks.  I haven’t had a heart attack, but I have been very ill, and it isn’t fun.  Mack doesn’t deserve it.  Nobody does.  He deserves to have insurance, and when I supported the ACA, I hoped that all uninsured would be covered.  Many of those I may not have liked, but they deserved coverage.  Frankly, single payer, like Medicare, would have been simpler, but it was never put on the table, which to this liberal is unfathomable.

Some would say that wishing good health on somebody who supports views you detest is Christian.  Or LDS.  Well, I’m neither, and I can’t stand the latter, which has probably made a bigger mess of Arizona than other single group I can name, since their influence has packed the legislature and certainly helped Jeff Flake, a nondescript House member, win a Senate seat over Richard Carmona, a Vietnam Veteran and former Surgeon General.

My feeling about Mack is not dissimilar to that towards a woman who posted on Facebook “we ought to use the guns we have to shoot liberals.”  I pointed out that I was a liberal, a veteran, probably paid more taxes than she and her husband made, and volunteered in my community.  She apologized, one of the few I have ever received in my life, saying she and her husband had fallen on hard times when he lost his job and got sick.  The only thing they really wanted, aside from being out of debt, was to be able to hunt deer for meat they needed, without people’s deliberately scaring off the deer. I felt a little badly being right with my financial assessment. It was a cheap shot.

I’ve been a Life Member of the Sierra Club since 1983, but I wished her well, both with hunting and with her husband’s problems. I don’t believe in hunting, but hunting for food, when one needs to eat, and has no other choice, is not a sin.  They’ve been dealt bad cards, and while we can’t help everybody live great lives, we ought to help people get off the floor.  That’s what this liberal believes.

Many things I support help people, and my liking them is not a precondition.  It is not my place to judge whether only nice people get help; every citizen deserves to have affordable medical care and education.  They don’t deserve a free ride through life, but education is essential to our success as a country, and medical care costs are one of the biggest reasons people become bankrupt.

Don’t get me wrong.  I worked hard to get what I got.  In high school, I studied when other kids partied.  Did the same in college.  Worked damn hard in medical school and post-graduate, often being on call every other night. Served two years in the Navy on a ship, so I started my medical practice when I was 31, after many had been making good money for a decade.  I didn’t go abroad in high school or college.  Would have been drafted.  I’ve done a lot in my life, I worked hard to get it, but I got a huge amount of help along the way, without which I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.  I’m grateful.

It’s time to give back.  Way past time, so others may get the same shot at success I’ve had.  But I won’t donate to Mr. Mack.  He deserves medical insurance, and I’ll vote for that.

Maybe Jack Welch will help out.  Or his second wife.

She had a good pre-nup.  Does my heart good.


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