THE DRESDEN FILES Reading Challenge

My Blog List

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The House of Representatives just passed the Health-Care bill 219 – 212. Now, I’m waiting to hear if the latest ReThug and RePub nonsense stops it (The voice vote on the motion to recommit just failed). I did live long enough to see it – again. I’d have given long odds against that happening during the rest of my lifetime, too. This has led me to do some serious soul-searching, both about my country and myself.

Right before our sitting President was sworn in, I wrote a column about the changing climate of our political discourse entitled “I DID LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE IT, AFTER ALL”. I’m a child of the civil-right era, was deeply involved in the struggle, and am deeply idealistic as well. Matter of fact, I’ve still got the scars that I got from being bitten by Bull Connors’ dogs. I’ll carry them to my dying day. My ideals, well . . . until lately, not so much.

We all are, at one time or another, so completely overwhelmed by the sheer scope of most of the problems that we face in our daily lives that we lose sight of other, equally important considerations. We get so involved in earning a living and raising a family that most social injustices tend to get pushed from the front burner to the back burner and then completely off the stove of our consciousness. We forget that there are people out there that, while they might not count on us specifically to help them, ARE counting on us collectively to help make their lives better, or at least more bearable, than they are able to do. We don’t look at the panhandlers on the street corner, for example, in any way except to be exasperated by them, or silently congratulate ourselves that we are not them, that we are not as they are – and to take for granted the “fact” that, in our lives, such a thing could never, ever happen to us.

We let our idealism be blunted by the minutiae of our daily lives. Sad, but true. I’m guilty of that myself, or I used to be, at any rate. I’m not, any longer. Indifference to the problems that folks face, and ignoring their plight, is something that none of us can afford to indulge ourselves with, any longer. The best example of this is what’s being debated right now in the House of Representatives. I’m referring, of course, to the health care bill, about which there has been so much debate and so many lies – and so much passion on both sides.

The passage of President Obama’s health care reform will make a huge difference in the live of tens of millions of people, myself included. The subsidies will make insurance affordable to millions of families who could not pay the unsubsidized rate. More importantly, by prohibiting insurers from discriminating against people with serious health conditions (again, including me), those who are currently covered will have real insurance for the first time. People will no longer have to worry that a serious illness will cause them to lose their job and then their insurance. This is real progress; unfortunately, the bill does little to change the fact that health care in the United States is ridiculously expensive and, while –not if - current trends continue, health care costs can only grow more unaffordable through time, and probably a very short time at best. While a lot of the issues on controlling costs are complicated, some are very simple. What is needed most is to bring the price of drugs, medical equipment, and medical supplies down to their competitive market price.

Under the current system, patent monopolies allow drug companies and the manufacturing of medical equipment and supplies to charge prices that are often several thousand percent above the free market price. In the case of prescription drugs, the vast majority of drugs could be sold profitably as generics for just a few dollars per prescription, if there were no patent protection. Instead, these drugs can and DO sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars per prescription. This is something that needs addressing, first and foremost. We are also, for the foreseeable future, going to be stuck with an insurance industry that will likely be more profitable and powerful than ever. The multi-millionaire wimps who run the insurance companies were terrified by the prospect of having to compete with a government-run plan. I mean, goodness – COMPETITION! They’d have to CUT COSTS (the administrative waste in the private sector plans alone is equivalent to a tax of around $100 billion a year on our health). They’d have to take SMALLER BONUSES (or maybe – GASP – NO bonuses), and actually be COMPETITIVE in the open marketplace, and not count on their protected, monopolistic status to, basically and actually, get away with murder. So, people will not be able to buy into a Medicare-type public plan – or at least, not yet. That will come, believe me.

And this, gangers, is where we have to reactive our idealism and get out and fight for expansion of this bill. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s only a baby step. We’ve got to be willing to be just as vocal and just as loud. We’ve got to be willing to step up and speak out – a lot. We’ve got to get beyond our own short-sightedness and our absorptions with our own lives, and we’ve got to be willing to do this on our own time, and without first thinking “and I’m going to be paid for this, how?” or, “What’s in it for me?”

There are a number of things that I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see. The biggest one, of course, has been the election of a black man to the highest office in the land. This health-care debate and the winning of it has been the second-biggest thing. It’s wonderful for me to rediscover my idealism, in the person of a man that’s never wavered from his stated goal. It’s wonderful, too, that Ted Kennedy’s final wish has been granted.

I DID live long enough to see it, after all. What a blessing.

No comments:

Post a Comment