ANOTHER LOSS


The following three commentators won today:  “I want my money going to fight North Korea, not to pay for somebody else’s knee.”

Joe Walsh’s tweet: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care.” Well, Mr. Walsh, I don’t want to pay for yours, either, but I recognize that any of us can be that somebody else, and a malignant cell, blood clot, virus, drunk driver, nut with a gun, bad choice in deciding to fix a roof, can make any of us easily a million dollar consumer of health care.

A hiking friend of mine won, the guy who couldn’t see why his taxes should go to pay for somebody else’s health care.  I liked him a lot until I heard that.  He carries too much weight.  Yes, I may end up using more medical resources than he, but insurance actuaries would rather insure me than him.

America’s greatness in no small part comes from our willingness as a nation to contribute to the collective good.  That means we pay taxes for a lot of things that never benefit us. I learned young that most of the land, parks, and other places in the West were paid for by people in the East who never saw them.  A trillion dollars in 20 years—yes, a trillion, and that would be a one followed by 12 zeros, with a “net” after it—went from my once home New York State to the federal government over the past 20 years.  Most of the red states in the Deep South got a net infusion of money from the government that so many of them despise.  This is either hypocrisy or ignorance.  Knowing the South, and I have walked across Tennessee, yes—walked, I suspect it is both.  The highest percentages of people with pre-existing conditions are in southern red states.  They have high percentages of teen pregnancy and gun violence, too.

I shouldn’t have to pay for the levees in New Orleans, when they are doomed to fail because of ocean rise, subsidence, and the Atchafalaya River. I would not have rebuilt the city after Katrina.  I no longer wish to pay for sand to be trucked in to East Coast beaches, and rebuilding in the same places after another hurricane, ocean rise, storms, bad building, and because nature reshapes beaches.  I am tired of paying for defense that goes on offense and causes worse problems than we started.  I didn’t think the Iraq war was right and my judgment was correct.  And yes, I don’t like paying for health care for people who smoke, use drugs, drink too much, don’t wear helmets when they should, eat too much meat, and are obese.

You know what?  I get a lot back from this country, even though I gave a lot to this country in time and taxes, and until now, I haven’t been keeping score. Now I am.  Conservative commentators who don’t want to pay for people’s health care have no problem driving on roads and crossing bridges in their state that I helped pay for.  Or laud the firing of cruise missiles that I also helped pay for.  Or send their children to good universities that I helped fund.  I have no kids, but I gladly pay to support education, because an educated population is a lot better than an uneducated one, as we have learned in spades these past 18 months.  The Republicans put together a crappy bill, rammed it through the House without hearings or CBO knowledge, not because the country was in dire straits because of health care issues (mostly their fault, since if they had worked to make the ACA better, it would have not been a problem), but because they wanted some legislative victory to go home to.  I hope they enjoy their town halls.

I’d wish the lot of them to be thrown out of office next year, but that won’t happen, because people have short memories, those who don’t get health care will be told it was Obama’s fault, and while the Democrats are great at asking for money, they aren’t so great when it comes to running good campaigns.  When I have given, all I heard was another email:  Give. They mean well, but let’s face it, we have this guy in office for at least four years, and the other night the news media started discussing his “first term,” so it’s likely to be eight.  The Democrats will blow it again in 2020, I’m sure.  True, the president might become incapacitated, but Pence is after him, and he believes that going to church would cure pre-existing conditions.  How he would deal with pregnancy, a pre-existing condition, and abortion, isn’t clear. Paul Ryan is after Pence.  I’m not going to be politically active for another 8 years, not after dealing with Nixon for 6, Reagan for 8 and Bush 43 for another 8.

I’m almost in the David Brooks camp about how the president is really a 3-4 on the worry meter, not the 11 so many of us peg him at.  But Brooks isn’t looking at the big picture: climate change, which neither he nor I will live to see wreak its full havoc, the educational system, and the results of our misadventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and probably Syria and North Korea before this is all over.  Oh, we are marching, and the Democrats are running better than expected for open Congressional seats, but they are still losing.  The Democrats are really good at losing, and almost getting there isn’t a victory or even a message.  It is another loss.  “Wars aren’t won by evacuations,” as Churchill said after Dunkirk.  Ask the average American high school senior who Churchill was and why Dunkirk mattered, and you’d get a dumb stare.  Half the country can’t find the Ukraine within 1500 miles on a map of the world.  A significant number can’t find north, which these days might be useful in the US.

I am wondering at what point the American public is going to look at how the Republicans rammed through a bill that is going to make health care unaffordable, therefore inaccessible, for millions, clobber hospitals, who have to care for sick people who can’t pay, all in the name of a tax break to the wealthy.  There was no hurry to do this, other than to make the president look good, a president all of their other candidates last year tried to stop.  Now, they are embracing him, which means they own everything that happens to the country.  Everything. The Republicans complain of government overreach, yet they reach right into a woman’s life all the time, telling her what she cannot do.  They say people should be free to choose their doctor and health care, when the average person doesn’t have a clue how their body is put together and doesn’t have the money to pay for just one ED visit. I’m a physician, and when I moved to another city, I had no way to know who was a good doctor. The data are so bad that 19 years after I left practice, I was still given a 5-star rating online.  We’re not talking about Consumer Reports for Toyotas or Leafs, but medical care.  People need care, care that doesn’t bankrupt them.  I could ask that the care be better, but that’s next.

What’s unfortunate is that many of those who voted for this Congress and this president are going to be very hurt by what has happened, and they are not even aware of it.  Nor will most change their vote the next election.  But if 1% of them switched, which is the percentage Nicholas Kristof found, there might be hope.

1% to fight the 1%.

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2 Responses to “ANOTHER LOSS”

  1. sally Says:

    I feel that at least some of America’s current woes can be attributed to the poor standard of education for the masses. When I lived in the US, the level of ignorance by many in rural areas never failed to amaze me. Some had never never ventured beyond their own state lines and knew nothing about the world at large. I could go on but I won’t. It’s too depressing.

  2. Mike Says:

    Without question. The public educational system is slowly being dismantled in the name of choice. Teacher pay is low, and the free-for-alls in classrooms where I substituted were discouraging. Education is said to be important, but we don’t fund it and really don’t believe it in the final analysis.

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