No caveats, no conditions, no strings. Everyone. Health care is and should be treated as a fundamental right. Instead, certain individuals and groups in my poor, confused country are trying to make the opposite argument. They're doing it through the use of scare tactics, gross distortions, and blatant lies. And all the while, they're willfully stirring up fearful, ignorant masses and egging them on toward massive public disruptions and even violence, making meaningful debate about this incredibly crucial issue almost impossible.
It's fucking despicable.
The most vocally anti-health care reform Republicans have decided that their own political ambition and desire to see Obama taken down a peg or two trumps the well-being of their fellow Americans. That's the cold, hard truth of the matter. Petty backstabbing and one-upsmanship has taken precedence over honest discussion and work toward bettering the health care situation for their country.
How we've allowed this to happen is beyond me. There's plenty of blame to go around: Democrats too spineless to stand up for what's right or make clear what's really in the bill, politicians too willing to sacrifice work for the great good in the name of ambition, everyday folk too susceptible to the bald-faced lies and fear mongering, a media too ready to spend more time covering nonsense than issues and events that really matter.
The underlying issues are even more complicated. It's fairly obvious that questions of race and class insecurity permeate much of this debate. Selfishness, ignorance, pride, arrogance, and greed play their part, too.
But I want to scream at the top of my lungs that the health and well-being of our fellow citizens should always trump that sort of shit. Always. And how anyone can allow themselves to be distracted from that fact...I spend more time shaking my head these days than not.
- Upwards of 47 million Americans do not have health insurance.
- 8.6 million of those are children.
- The United States has the second worse infant mortality rate in the developed world.
- Prescription drug prices are some of the highest of any industrialized nation.
- More than 60% of bankruptcies in this country are caused by medical bills. (Sidenote: I have personal experience with this, and it's a major sore spot to this day - bankruptcy due to the care of a dying family member, or any other medical situation, should never happen)
- Yet more startling statistics here.
The numbers are not good. The personal stories of those effected are even worse. So it should be glaringly obvious to most everyone that serious reform of the health care system needs to be undertaken right now if we're to avoid an even more massive economic and social meltdown.
And yet, we see these angry, sometimes disturbed, shouting, bizarre-sign-wielding protesters crashing town hall meetings and hijacking the national debate. Some have come up with their own reasons for hating the health care bill, many have swallowed the various ridiculous assertions coming out of the GOP. Almost all of the accusations are easily proved false.
- A "death panel" that decides whether you're too old or enfeebled to get care? Not so much.
- Abortions will be taxpayer subsidized! Crock of shite.
- We'll go to a UK-style system of socialized health care where old/disabled people will be denied care! Um...that's a big 'no' - and the UK is miffed at the accusations.
- Illegal immigrants will be given free health care! Not quite (though they should).
None of this is to say that the current bill is perfect - single fucking payer, anyone? - but it's a sight better than what we've got now and at least a starting point from which to do better. We won't get anywhere good, however, if the current reliance on irrational screaming matches and totally untrue statements from opposing lawmakers continues.
We need to decide, as a nation, what's more important: Meaningful debate about and changes made to our health care system so that no one has to go bankrupt because of needed medical care, or selfish and misplaced pride with a side of sensationalism?
The choice we make will have long-lasting repercussions, and probably change everything.