the fair'st spread.
hey so let's start talking about politics again. since it's time. to think about who we want to be our next president. our next congresswoman. our next senator. and our next water reclamation agent. etc. etc.
i want to start with a story about wendell. cuz i think your reaction to this story tells you what side of the aisle you *should* sit on. re healthcare, at least.
wendell became a paraplegic in a car accident about half-a-decade ago. he rides around in a wheelchair now. he was riding by middle brow just the other day, in fact. trying to hurry toward the bus stop so as not to miss the buss. when he mistakenly ran his wheelchair into a giant crack in the asphalt. (no! a crack in the asphalt?! in chicago?!?!) ... needless to say, the result was heartbreaking. wendell tipped straight over. and landed on his face. his glasses snapped right in half, the glass shattering and digging into his skin. blood was all over his face. everywhere. polly ran out immediately to help him. (she's tends to watch with immense sadness as people run off their legs to catch a bus.) she picked him back up. put him in his wheel chair. collected his glasses and asked another bystander to call 911. she then ran back inside bungalow and got some towels and water. and helped wendell clean off his head/face. and make do with whatever remained of his glasses. and waited with him for the ambulance to come. the ambulance, though, couldn't take him anywhere. he couldn't see. he had enormous cuts all over his face. huge gashes that were bleeding profusely. and they couldn't take him. why not? he refused. and why did he refuse? "insurance," he said. so instead, the paramedics told this man who could no longer see, who was still profusely bleeding from his head, who needed two arms to move his wheelchair and a third arm to hold the blood-soaked towels on his head, to get home safely.
should wendell have laid there on the street, bleeding out? should polly, a private citizen, have brought him inside and cared for him in our brewpub with our first aid kit and other supplies she purchased from walgreens? should the ambulance have come and given him some gauze pads and said "be careful getting on the bus" and drove off? or should the ambulance have taken him to the hospital, cleaned and dressed and stitched his wounds where necessary, and sent him with a case worker to help get him home and a new pair of glasses?
the latter is the only just prescription. really: if that was your mom, how would you want her treated? would you want her to have to rely on help from a private citizen? or should we all, as private citizens, chip in micro-pennies to make sure your sweet ma gets taken care of properly? again, the latter. if this is european, call me péter forever.
so then... if you agree with that much. if you agree that public institutions are better placed to help people in wendell's situation. how do you not agree with medicare for all? or some other universal healthcare policy?
to wit: obamacare is a mess. it's done lots of good. but it's nuts that as a small business owner, i'm on the individual market with tons of other really sick people and older people. and you know how insurance markets work? if not, here's how: i'm in a group. and i get to buy insurance coverage as part of that group. the price and terms, that is, are determined by the whole group. and there's a bunch of really sick low-wage earners in this group with me. and so insurance companies have to charge my group more money. because so many people in my group cost lots of money to take care of. but me? i'm healthy. i hardly ever go to the doctor. so, by paying for insurance as part of this group, i'm spending more than i otherwise would if i purchased insurance on my own. in effect, i'm subsidizing all those sick people in my group. making it cheaper for them to buy insurance.
now, i'm still in the start-up phase of this small business. i hardly have a penny to my name. i service my insurance bill. credit card bills. rent. student loans. and pay for just about nothing else. i eat one cookie and a couple pieces of cold pizza everyday. so that our company stays healthy enough to continue to employ 40+ people. and so that i can make a long-term career out of this game.
oh! and yeah! and i'm also covering the hospital bills of low-wage, chronically sick people.
wait. what?!?!?! why me? of all people? someone like me, or my sister who works as a server at bungalow and a freelancer elsewhere. why are we the ones tasked with paying for a throat graft on a 50-year-old low-wage earner in kankakee?
just to be clear, ronald reagan agreed that wendell should not have been left on his own after that fall. but once you decide that that's the only ethical result, what next?
first, we must find a way to pay for wendell's treatment. for years, republicans refused to allow single-payer healthcare to pass, which means we all paid for wendell's treatment on the back end. because uninsured folks like him would go to ER and get really bad health results and end up on medicaid. or else they'd go to the ER and get good health results, but the insurance companies would raise prices on every group to spread out the cost of his ER visit. in 2008, democrats finally tried to fix this with obamacare. republicans still refused to allow single-payer healthcare see the light of day, though. and democrats were too cowardly to push for it. or even, mind you, to push for a public option. obamacare was great in that it got us much closer to universal healthcare. but by requiring everyone to buy insurance, the cost of treating the older and sicker people who couldn't get insurance for the previous 20-30 years fell to a smaller segment of the population. who makes up that smaller segment? young people fresh out of college with no money. trying to start a career. save for house. etc. and small business owners and freelancers. trying to produce something in the world. that's who is subsidizing your sickly cousin. but shouldn't it be you instead? or shouldn't it be all of us? shouldn't we all pay micropennies to care for our brethren? rather than some small segment paying so much for healthcare that they can't afford to heat their home in the winter?
that's the basic choice. i say tax rich people a bit more. and care for everyone like we're all human. do you say "keep taxes low and hope that employers take their winnings and raise wages and wage-earners then budget sufficiently for health care and keep hospital regulations low so hospitals can compete with each other to provide the best service at the best price which will drive healthcare prices lower or at least keep them sustainable"?
do you say that?
hmmm. i hope not. cuz you'd sound like an idiot. who's about to celebrate the bicentennial.
the fair'st spread.