January 18, 2012

"The willingness to share makes one free"

"At the heart of my politics has always been the value of community, the belief that we are not merely individuals struggling in isolation from each other, but members of a community who depend on each other, who benefit from each other's help, who owe obligations to each other. From that everything stems: solidarity, social justice, equality, freedom."  ~Tony Blair

Another must-read piece from Charlie Pierce, about his nightmare of navigating the health-insurance maze to receive medication for a chronic illness. It ends this way.

I mention all of this because, tomorrow night, the five remaining Republican candidates will get up on stage and they will promise to repeal even the tepid, insurance-friendly reform of the way we do health-care in this country. Willard Romney will do this even though the tepid, insurance-friendly reform is one he virtually invented. They will have nothing to replace it. They will argue for "market-based" solutions. The above — that is a "market-based solution." And, by the way, this is the kind of thing that zombie-eyed granny starver Paul Ryan wants to put elderly people through in place of Medicare. Phone trees. Automated voices. Hours of their dwindling lives on hold, waiting for purportedly live persons who won't be able to help them. And zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan is considered by people in my business to be a serious thinker on these matters.

Every single one of these Republicans will make the argument that, because of the entire morning I spent dealing with the preposterous way we do health-care in this country, that I am a "freer" person than are the people in Canada, or New Zealand, or Germany, or Finland. That I had to spend an entire morning mired in bureaucratic absurdity means I have retained my "freedom" as an American.

I work for the Veterans Administration. For all its shortcomings, people who need care can damn well get it. People who need medication can get it. I see it every day. It is "socialist medicine," probably not at its finest, but it bloody well works.

Republicans want to deny this or any other health-care reforms to Americans, and throw them to the insurance-company sharks, all in the name of profit and "market solutions."

President Obama's Affordable Care Act is not in the realm of VA care, and certainly not comparable to Canadian or European health care, but I'll take it. And if further down the line we can get rid of for-profit health care altogether and institute Medicare for all or VA-style health care for all, so much the better.

It is high time we grew up as a country, put aside our selfish, immature Wild West "bootstrap" mentality, and realize that we are indeed our brothers' and sisters' keepers. As Kris Kristofferson so eloquently stated, "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."

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