Sunday, September 13, 2009

Giving One

I've been reading about the demonstration yesterday, and trying to think about what I want to say about Dick Armey (it looks like the demonstration was somewhere between 60,000 and 75,000), and was poking around at Metafilter when I realized: man, I don't give one. The interests and arguments of the FreedomWorks demonstrators sound a little bit like this to me, or something like this:
(from Cake Wrecks)

Where opponents of the public option are concerned, these protesters are neither the most numerous (rank-and-file Republicans) nor the most committed (the insurance industry) nor the most authoritative (perhaps the AMA, although they only represent about 15% of practicing doctors). But I don't even really give one about them, either -- at the heart of it, their own interests (power, profit, and profit, respectively) drive their objections.

After the coffee runs out and my rancor subsides, basically all I really give one about is the people who will be affected by public option reform. Consider:

-- We currently guarantee universal health care to all Americans by making it illegal to turn away ill patients from emergency rooms. We know and accept that it is wrong for a person who is sick or dying to be refused treatment. However, we make that guarantee in the most inefficient, expensive, and dehumanizing way possible. We know that we are morally responsible for the health of our fellow Americans -- I'd like to see even a committed tea-partier withhold antibiotics from someone with an infected wound -- but we refuse to care for them.

-- Our society provides guaranteed health care to our congressmen, but not our cab drivers; to our child molesters, but not our children. If you are schizophrenic and stab a stranger on the street, you will be locked up and given medical care which can vastly improve your condition. If you are schizophrenic and do not stab a stranger on the street, if you manage to hold down a job, then you will be left alone with the torments of your treatable illness.

-- The reason we do all this? The profit of the few. The health insurance industry employs about 400,000 people nationwide, a FIFTH as many people as are uninsured in Los Angeles County RIGHT NOW. Insurance companies provide no service; they heal no wounds; they are a financial artifact intended to share risk among large pools of people, and they should not be allowed to keep 30 cents out of every dollar we give them.

So call your senator, find an event, or make your voice heard. There's no mechanism in the Constitution or in Congress that will make sure that we do what's right: people have to make that happen.

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