Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Enough is Enough

I generally try to keep calm about the rancor of political debates. I've grown accustomed to pundit blather that fuels ratings-focus "news" channels. But this week, we have hit a level of ridiculousness that I didn't quite think possible. And I'm done. I'm letting it all out.

The town hall meetings that are all the buzz right now are an atrocity. While I certainly think that our congresspeople have stopped doing anything to try and build a consensus among their constituents (which they should then take back to Washington), the people disrupting these meetings have pushed us into a theater of the absurd.

The thing is, see, the Constitution that many of these folks say they are defending was not just the product of someone sitting down and drafting it. In fact, the Constitution was the product of an extremely partisan battle among several groups. The only reason we have a Constitution is because this group found several compromises - each giving something for the benefit of the greater whole.

From what I can tell, compromise is gone. Even though the two different bills on healthcare being debated by respective congressional houses can still be edited and more, many people are saying no flat out. It's almost like you drive home one day in a car that has three tires underinflated, a cracked windshield and a dented passenger door. You contend you want a new car and the opposition simply yells "NO! THE CAR WE HAVE IS FINE! IT GOES WHERE WE NEED IT!"

Perhaps, you don't need a new car, but taking no action isn't going to benefit anyone. Yet, the disrupters say you don't need a new car. Period.

But let's say a wave of rational thought dumps over these folks... they still are either willfully ignorant and victims of misinformation. So... let's address the questions:

Healthcare reform could lead us down the road to socialism!

Lordy. This is like saying no one should get married because it could lead to divorce. And, again, we could spend some productive time together drafting legislation with checks and balances that heads off many of the concerns these folks have.

But we have the best healthcare system in the world!

Do we? Let's ask my brother-in-law who was born with a cleft palette and has needed several surgeries to repair his face and mouth. When he had his last, which was to realign his jaw and properly construct his upper lip and nose, the insurance company said, essentially, "no, his face is good enough." More than a few hours were used to change that view. Or, let's ask my sister-in-law who works full-time, but has to buy her own insurance because her employer doesn't provide it. Despite this, and working more hours than most, she has to pay $50 for a prescription I can get for $7. And she makes less money then me. And is younger so she is default healthier. Or let's ask my friend in Ohio who went to her primary care physician today, someone she's been to before, and still had to sit in a waiting room for an hour and fill our pages of paperwork she had filled out on previous visits.

We are the country that put a man on the moon. That won World War II. That invented powered flight. This healthcare system is as good as we can do?

Well, if we pass this bill, isn't the government going to take away my insurance?

Umm, no. Government insurance would be an available option, competing with private insurance firms.

Oh right. Like private firms will be able to compete with the government!

Well, FedEx and UPS seem to be doing just fine after years of competition with the government-run United States Postal Service. They're doing so well that the Postal Service has to buy advertising on TV to compete, in fact.

Well, that's one example. Find me another.

OK, how about three for starters:
  • Government loans for students and home buyers don't seem to have put the banks' loan divisions out of business. In fact, it's the government-run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that needed bailouts before the banks.
  • Amtrak, which receives federal funding, hasn't managed to put state-run transit lines out of business in areas like the Northeast. In fact, NJ Transit, SEPTA, the T and similar systems seem to be extremely crowded despite a government-run competitor.
  • Even thought our government runs a military (which also has a government-run healthcare plan!), it hasn't impeded private military contractors from raking in profits.
Well, won't the government force me to use some doctor they want me to use?

They might, especially since my private insurance company already does. Or is that big book of doctors I'm allowed to go to I got when I signed up produced for gaiety? If that's not forcing my hand, I don't know what is.

Well, then they'll ration healthcare! Telling me what procedures I'm allowed to have.

Again, just like my private health insurance provider. Anyone who ever got a letter saying that something wasn't covered because his primary care physician didn't refer him is hearing me loud and clear. Medical decisions have long been out of the doctors' hands.

Well, they'll probably start funding abortions with my tax dollars!

Umm, no. Not only is that not something that will be allowed or encouraged, but let's be honest. I don't know of any provider that covers this. I know a handful of people who had an abortion. They paid cash.

What about these "death panels?" They're going to kill off our senior citizens.

No, they won't. That is a scare tactic. One of the bills being debated covers recurring end-of-life planning meaning the creation of a living will. Normally, these are done with lawyers. No reason a doctor cannot offer counsel here. And why do you need one? Remember Terry Schiavo and that whole mess? If she had a living will, it wouldn't have been an issue. She would have stated her preferences and either be dead or still laying there today.

And the truth with all of this folks... if you don't sign up for the government plan, none of this really affects you. And if you don't like the bill, it's better to talk about your concerns in a rational way.

We are a country divided in thirds... democrats, republicans and indys. All of these groups need to find ways to compromise. And not just on healthcare. But the idea that everything is black and white isn't going to allow America to function in this century. If we cannot find solutions we can all walk away from content, we're doomed.


Robyn said...

Beautifully stated...thanks Jay!!

Cheryl said...

As always Jay, well stated. I wish people could stop screaming over each other and listen to rational arguments like the ones you just put forth. Sadly, it seems that both parties have given up any attempt at bipartisanship. For now, I'm just gonna remain really happy that I have good health care and that my cholesterol drugs are available in generic forms.

Life with Pog said...

Can't we all just get along? Sometimes I think we need to get rid of everyone in Washington and start over... not practical of course, but sometimes I think it couldn't hurt.

Jay said...

hitting the "refresh" button on Washington might not be bad. It would be better, I think, if the people who deliver news to the masses did more to build consensus than go for and us-against-the-world attitude.