labor, smears, fixes: why #HCR matters to me

20090922: added embed of Paul Hipp's YouTube video.

Listening to the on-going brouhaha over health care reform, I realize that I'm forced to admit that I'm more liberal than I think am. A meme I encountered on Facebook had a supporting role in forcing this realization.

You see, I think of my political views as moderate to conservative since I do occasionally agree with the likes of Scalia; and I'm a proponent of a "classical education" albeit without an integration of the Christian worldview.

But I guess in the final analysis, there's no escaping my working class background -- one of social constructs where neither of my parents had a college degree and I knew that my mom was a member of the union the I.B.E.W. (And, later in life I got a thrill learning that I.A.T.S.E. is the union I'd join if I continue to work in theatre.) My dad was a laborer whose own mother worked as the hired help for a family whose daughter attended an equally exclusive but less academic private school as the one I attended but couldn't affford even with financial aid.

My mom grew up in a racialized world of the South. Also, I have a much older brother who served in Vietnam and was very involved with the Civil Rights movement. I have a very strong memory of this brother and our mom who'd had him as a teen discussing the merits of armed conflict in South Africa. So I heard stories and political talk forged by sleights that family survived. And even where it was embellished, there's also truth there.

I think health insurance is worthy of being a right and not a privilege. I write that from the safety of middle class privilege and our family is still just a paycheck or two -- my partner's alone, not ours combined -- from financial despair. So for me, it's not a big deal for health insurance to be a mandate. If that means moving towards socialism so be it. But perhaps socialism isn't so antithetical to capitalism, or the mythic US way of life. (Clearly, we can attribute some of the implied resistance on these matters relates to the fact that people don't even understand the words being batted about. Cf., The New York Times (NYT) editors's aggregation "What ‘Socialism’ Means to the Masses".)

In this day and age, I think we need to move beyond narrow definitions and strict lines. People fail to realize the extent to which they vote against their own best interests because their voting is an act based on the world they need to believe the US is, not the reality:

80% of the uninsured have full-time jobs. 62% of all bankruptcies in the US are because of unpaid medical bills. 75% of those actually have health insurance. Enough is enough, time for reform. If you agree, please post this as your status for the next 24 hours.
I read these stats in a high school friend's Facebook status, and I re-posted them; she got them on Facebook from her Massachusett's state rep Kate Hogan who serves the 3rd Middlesex District. Hopefully, we're all mature enough to admit that when statistics get elevated (or demoted) to bite size portions in the blogosphere, we basically have PR spin via numbers. So we have a collective responsibility to question what's behind the data. However, in this instance quibbling over the specifics...fails to erase what I find to be a sad sad state for such a rich democratic nation even if tweaked:
80% of the uninsured come from families with full-time or part-time workers. Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical.... Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three-quarters had health insurance.

Which is not to say that Obama has all the answers. Or Bauchus. No one has the best magic beans in their basket. But the status quo isn't sufficient either. Anything approximating a real solution restores dignity to being sick in the US. Or, as Paul Hipp's song and video put it, is there any glory in being #37?

Today and yesterday, too many who needed and wanted medically necessary treatments failed to get that which should be more readily available. Yes, it will cost -- as do all things that over the long term has some benefits we need (e.g., compulsory education -- and, we still are fumbling there largely because can't admit there's not one answer for every child or every locale; similarly, for any progress, public school students remain at the mercy of policy wonks with 19th century mindsets living in the rarefied air of the ol' plantation's main residence, aka the big house—"a term connoting not so much the physical size of the house as the power and authority it represented.")[1]

Must we write off another portion of society because we can't be bothered to care how easy it is to fall. Remember vouchers hasn't been much of an answer to the public education problem. The solution needs to be one that either we all have or if choice is involved it's has to be useful menu and one that any one of us wouldn't object to if we had to use that plan.

So rather than argue with those with sketchy half-truths, perhaps we all need to go find a good book that speaks some truths to some fictions. One candidate is The Healing of America by The Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid; of it, NYT review said:

The Healing of America blends subjective and objective into a seamless indictment of our own disastrous system, an eloquent rebuttal against the arguments used to defend it, and appealing alternatives for fixing it.

Whichever side is declared the victor, I still have a fantasy where social networks get more folks thinking critically. How's that for a pessimist trying to be optimistic?

[1] Encyclopedia of Alabama, August 2009 Plantation Architecture in Alabama - Last accessed on the 20th of September 2009

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