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Wandering Around for Health Care Reform
This past Fall I was so concerned about the state of the health care reform debate I was utterly compelled to do something. There was a vote about to happen in the House so I got on the computer and made some signs. Mr. Attitude and I reviewed the selections and he helped me narrow down the selection to settle on a, shall we say, diplomatic sentiment. A friend we have can print on vinyl so we went over to print the sign and we all laughed at my death panel of grim reapers with the caption, "Insurance Claim Review Department = Death Panel." Man, that one was sweet, but Mr. Attitude said that was a bit too much. I relented but I wondered what kind of reaction I would meet up with if I used it.
The next day was a cold October Saturday and I decided I would be at South Park at Noon and my path would be from there to City Hall, stand there with my sign for about 15 minutes then walk back up. That day nobody said anything negative to me. I walked along and would say, "Important things are going on in Congress now. Support the public option." I could tell the folks that didn't agree with my sentiment. They would just look straight ahead, walk by fast and I let them be. So many people had positive comments, gave me thumbs up or engaged me in conversation or offered other words of encouragement. One guy on the porch at Free State said, "I like your sign, I agree with you." I smiled. I regret that I didn't ask him to join me and wondered if he would had I did asked.
There was one woman who said as we neared each other to cross paths, "Why don't we just wait and see?" She appeared to be referring to me though her family appeared to be pulling her away. I would have engaged in civil discourse. She appeared to be asserting herself in earnest. It seemed to me to be more appropriate at that moment to leave it alone though I wanted to say this: "Wait? Wait for what? Wait for the insurance companies to just completely run us over making metaphorical roadkill out of us. Insurers are after profits and don't care one iota about me or my family. It is not necessary to have insurance companies involved in the delivery of health care. It is not reasonable that public and private health care coverage is offered all over the globe but we in America can't accomplish it. That is nonsensical. That is what I believe." But I didn't get that chance. I did, though, have a great conversation with a gal at City Hall who was on her way to work at Affinitas as people honked and gave thumbs up in agreement. My message resonated with a whole lot of people and I'd occasionally mention my plan was to take that walk every Saturday at Noon until there was change and invited people to join me in the future. I stopped a Papa Keno's for a slice and felt good about what I had done. I still do. It was a good experience and I wondered if I would get folks to join me.
Alas that next Saturday the walk was not to be. As much as I prepared, wrapping myself up tight in a wool scarf covering my head, my hands in my favorite rabbit fur-lined gloves topped off in a double lined trench coat, I still caught something and fell sick. In recent history I've been plagued by upper respiratory infections. I quit smoking about a month before this event - and I say yay for me because I have not had one puff since September 6th - and though the respiratory issues seem more under control I was back then still susceptible and even now I have to be careful about exposure. I am pleased with myself that I am taking steps to reduce the expenses to maintain my health. In all honesty, though, I didn't quit for my health. I tried that so many times before resulting in abject failure. What did it this time was I finally got so p*ssed off about the price of smokes I just had it. Well, whatever works I wonder.
Two weeks after my first one-woman protest I grabbed my sign and went for it again. The weather was better and I wore my black leggings and sweater to match with this cool wrap my dad gave me in 1989 but that I still to this day love. With the fringy wrap I looked more the part of protester than middle class mom. This time my trek was fresh on the heels on an unpleasant annual benefits meeting at work in which we we told that our premiums were increasing by 15%, co-pays tripling in some cases, and on and on . . . Oh, yes, it was ugly. I was less benign in my verbal message this time. I'd say, "Have you had your annual benefits meeting at work yet? If it went like mine, support the public option." I wondered if people were felling what I was saying
People were still very supportive - one guy even went a step further even telling me I wasn't being radical enough! Yup, his benefits meeting sucked, too! - and some would walk and talk with me a bit on their way to wherever they were going. This time I did experience open hostility and negative comments. What was it this time, though? Sure my verbal message wasn't as soft but it was when my mouth was shut that I experienced the most hostility. What was it? I did look a bit hippy-ish in my fringed wrap. Could it be that? Was the opposition so mad that it wasn't going their way? I wondered what woudl make these people so very angry.
At the start of my trek a guy honked and gave me the thumbs down. Hey, I knew someone was bound to do it, but some of the things people were saying were so out there it was sometimes comical. While I did have a great conversation with a cyclist at City Hall and lots of honks and thumbs up in support, at the time I was standing there alone at least three cars passed where some man said to me, "Obama doesn't love you!" What? Where does that come from? The idiocy of this comment nearly left me speechless but each time I put on my redneck voice to respond, "Aw, he duz to-o-o-o-o." What the hell? What's love got to do with it? One of the "love guys" even said to me, "Yew, look sto-o-o-o-pid standin' thar." Why would I care what such a hateful person thinks? I wondered how does one get to that kind of a hateful place.
On my walk some guy seething in his affluence got really hostile with me barking how Obama's "effed" everything up. It is amazing to me that after the train wreck of an administration we just barely lived though, that guy clung to his delusion and completely transferred the failures of the last administration on to the present and the utter contempt was incredible. To see nothing wrong with the tax cuts for the wealthy and unbridgled spending from Bush and thing nothing of if and to be so angry . . . . Now? Oh, I guess we should have just go ahead and trust the GOP to fix something they can't admit they had a hand in breaking from their push for deregulation to their inaction in stop the train from going off the tracks? Yeah, right, they are all for deregulation NOW. Or are they? McConnell's comments last night make me think not. Still, I wonder what GOP deregulation legislation will look like.
Theirs is the argument that private industry will solve everything. Theirs is the argument that responsible people have health insurance and therefore no problems so if your experience is different you must be irresponsible. Those who cling to such ideals are as out of touch as Marie Antoinette when she said of the starving French peasants, "Let them eat cake." I have to admit that I used to think that responsible people made sure they had health insurance coverage for their family. When I was a single parent you couldn't get just self and child coverage back then. I paid huge premiums for family coverage for just us two to make sure that in case something happened we were covered and we rarely were sick. When the tide changed and I saw that people couldn't even get in to see a doctor without insurance coverage and there being virtually no clinics to treat people teetering somewhere between poverty and middle class, my mind changed. The anger of the right seems borne of selfishness, greed and worry that someone else will get something they didn't have to pay or work. Attaching "Free Health Care" to the debate when that isn't the case at all. I wondered how so many in our society could be so callous and hostile toward others yet still assert themselves as Christian.
It is wrong that millions of Americans' only access to heath care are hospital emergency rooms. It is wrong that peoples health insurance costs are second only to their mortgage. It is wrong that if you have one family member with a medical issue requiring management the premiums and co-pay costs are likely to exceed their grocery budget soon if not already. It is wrong that insurance corporations operate to profit at the expense of the health of the American people.
And that I don't have to wonder about, I know.Ge