Monday, August 31, 2009

National Illness

I’m not sure what to conclude regarding the current state public discourse in this country has recently sunk to. I am talking about the unruly ranting going on at some town hall meetings conducted by US senators and congressmen in their home districts. Here many have been assailed with angry mob-mentality down and dirty mud slinging. Some claim that these demonstrations are planned and staged by entities opposed to change. I am not so sure – I think Americans over the recent decade have generally lost any sense of what is acceptable and appropriate behavior. We’ve completely lost our manners, as if it is now our Constitutional right to act boorish.

Most ludicrous among these demonstrations is the assertion that the Obama Administration is leading the country into fascism. Excuse me?! It was the Bush Administration that introduced warrant less wire-tapping, extraordinary rendition, “enhanced” interrogation techniques, disregard for the rule of law and contempt for the Constitution. As only he can, Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” took on these fascism nut jobs saying: “It was an election and you lost – it’s supposed to taste like a "sh*t taco”.

However some of the blame for the breakdown of discourse can be laid at the feet of President Obama. How many of us actually know what the medical reform package he is proposing actually looks like? I don’t have a clue – I certainly can’t talk about it with friends or opponents for that matter, I just don’t know what the plan is. The one thing I do know is that the thing most people fear more than change is uncertainty. We have this in spades at this moment and its the Democrats and the President who are responsible for the very unclear lack of message at this point.

But there is enough stupidity going around to continue fueling this debate through the next presidential election. Scanning the letters to the editor of my local paper, I am AMAZED at how many people don’t recognize Medicare as a single-payer government medial program. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”, one moron wrote. Clearly many more are ambivalent because their employers are picking up the costs (for now) of their medical coverage… so it’s simply not on their radar. If an issue doesn’t hit an American directly in their face, it’s not an issue. Who cares if your neighbor doesn’t have medical insurance coverage!

From a personal perspective myself, I was hoping for some relief for the $1,200 each month that comes out of my meager retirement in medical insurance premiums – roughly a third of my income. I have already given up hope of any reform happening in my lifetime; or at least, by the time I reach Medicare age. It apparently doesn’t seem to trouble the local Republican small business people that me, and thousands others like me, have $1,200 less to spend in local stores and restaurants. I watch the “for lease” signs pop up in the window fronts downtown and shrug my shoulders.

I have been told that one of the measures of intelligence is the ability to make mental connections to related ideas in order to understand the bigger picture. It’s why very bright minds are working on understanding the unifying theory of cosmology with String Theory – uniting the infinitely large with the infinitesimally small. Or on a more practical scale, how would our economy benefit if consumers didn’t rely on bankruptcy to deal with overwhelming medical bills.

Americans say they love innovation, the spirit of inventiveness. Then apply that to the medical insurance debacle. All the other civilized industrial countries have figured it out, why don’t we just peek at the test questions of the county sitting next to us and claim we came up with the answer?


Charlie said...

"How many of us actually know what the medical reform package he is proposing actually looks like?"

I believe this is the core of the problem and has doomed any kind of reform. How can anyone make an informed decision without the information?

Opponents of Obama are using his lack of details to attack him and spread disinformation amongst the Great Unwashed. I suspect the facism thing came from hate radio—Limbaugh, Hannity, and the others of their ilk. With a large audience of the unemployable and under 30 I.Q. crowd, it hasn't taken long to create dissension.

Obama is also in a face-off with the people who really run the country: the lobbies. The banking lobby already got to him, but now he is attempting to out duel the insurance companies, the AMA, the hospital association, the drug makers ... I know their power from experience, having once been an auditor in Washington for the General Accounting Office (GAO).

In the meantime, little or nothing else is getting done in Washington, except to spend money that doesn't exist. Your health premium, however, is real money coming out of your real pocket ...

Robert the Skeptic said...

Charile: Indeed, I agree that financial interests have their hands in the pockets of both parties. Until campaign finance law is significantly changed, nothing else will.

kara said...

you can't reason with these people even WITH information. what needs to happen is that the bill needs to pass and when people start utilizing the healthcare, they'll not only appreciate it, i'm sure they'll take it for granted.

memories like goldfish.

Robert the Skeptic said...

You know kind of medical plan gold fish have when they get sick... flush!