Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Health Care, Tea Bags and Non Sequiturs


I've been listening to some of the discussion about the health care summit that will happen in Washington tomorrow and frankly don't have high hopes. Legislators from both sides of the aisle insist that they represent the views of their constituents; the Dems insisting the health care is wanted, while the GOP insists that their constituents oppose the health care legislation. Both sides probably speak at least partial truth, but little has been said about how the voters have arrived at the views they currently hold.

It's little wonder that people are confused about health care legislation, with people on both sides trying to spin the information to make their assertions sound better. And with thousands of pages of legislation, and proposals it's inevitable that some things will be unintentionally misinterpreted. The most reprehensible activity has been from people who intentionally lied to misrepresent the facts, creating fear and mistrust where no real problems existed.

While supporters of the Democrats have done some of this, most of the blame lays at the door of the Republican supporters. Those of us whose memory extends back more than a year may remember that Republicans boasted that they would prevent any health care bills from passing just so they could call the Obama Administration ineffective and some of them stated before anything was even written that, no matter what the legislation said, they would characterize it as a government take-over of health care. They've been committing premeditated obfuscation.

Death committees, mandatory abortions, giant bureaucracies, elimination of Medicare and the like became part of the mythology spread by pundits and tea parties, until large numbers of people, including some who would benefit most from the legislation, became convinced that the opposite was true. Tea party organizers, some of them white supremacists or militant theocracy advocates, were far more interested in sewing distrust and discontent with the Obama Administration than in advocating for the benefit of anyone.

The fact is, there are tens of millions of Americans without health insurance or who have to buy it for themselves (according to an AP article, 50 million uninsured and 27 million self-insured) and they're not all deadbeats or illegal aliens. Many are self-employed or working in jobs like construction where benefits are rarely provided. Others are among the many previously financially secure people who have lost their jobs as a result of the recession. Some of them are convinced that as bad as their situation is, they would be even worse if health care legislation passed.

The time has come for those of us with health insurance to let our personal desires take a back seat and start making the health care stuff be about helping those who are in a bad situation right now. We shouldn't let people who would rather be working and children who have no control of their situation die, just because it might also benefit a welfare queen, or because it might increase the popularity of a politician you dislike.

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