The United States citizenry is in steerage in the Titanic. The Affordable Care Act “replacement” bill (the amorphous one whose name and details keep changing) is an iceberg, and the only people getting a lifeboat from it are the .001%. The crew is actively blocking attempts to turn the ship away from the danger. Here we are, sitting in the hull, while the engineers and the company that built the ship are taking apart the ship as it’s sailing headlong into the ice. This the situation today. This is the situation in every single authoritarian country in the world. Wait. Did I just say the United States is an authoritarian country? Well, yes and no. On paper, we still have a republic. But all of its checks and balances just failed in a massive way, simultaneously, after two generations (forty years) of deliberate dismantlement. I remember the air traffic controller strikes in the 1980s. I remember the birth of HMOs and the idea that health care should be for profit. I remember Iran Contra. I remember the grass roots organization of Republican dominionists who plotted together in restaurants and convention centers to permanently keep “those people” out of power. They
View image | gettyimages.com Full disclosure: I’m strongly in favor of one source health care, preferably a simple expansion of Medicare with optional “gold” insurance add-ons but minimal copays even for the middle class and none at all for the poor. That said, the death of Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, Texas from Ebola is a perfect demonstration of why it is critical for public health that the remaining states that have not used the ACA (Obamacare) to expand Medicaid. Thomas Eric Duncan was turned away from the hospital with a high temperature (allegedly 103 degrees, according to his brother) because he didn’t have health insurance. This wasn’t an isolated incident, and this wasn’t a “hospital error” as some are trying to spin it now. It is policy at most hospitals, including public hospitals, not to admit people, even very ill people, unless they need immediate stabilization in order o survive. Because the hospital wrongly (but understandably) assumed Mr. Duncan had a bad cold, their actions were in line with common hospital practice throughout the United States. The US health system works very well for people who both have decent health insurance and either have no co-pays and deductibles or
(This is long, but don’t worry. I get to why the government shutdown is my fault). Around thirty years ago now, I first discovered the works of Ayn Rand. Like most people who read her stuff, I started with the Fountainhead, and then dizzy from what was to me a new set of ideas about the world, I gulped down all of the rest of her fiction as fast as I could find and get my hand on it. I’ve always been a junk food junkie. A day without chocolate is a day without happiness. A good vampire romance is always in order (a bad one will do in a pinch). Three pretty cheap cotton blouses are better (sometimes) than one high quality linen one. And at seventeen I was smarter than the average bear. I thought I was smarter than anyone I knew, but the truth is that I have several friends from that era that are probably smarter. When Ayn Rand served up Objectivism to me on a silver platter, I gulped it down. By the time I was twenty I had probably read Atlas Shrugged over a dozen times. Including the totally story killing epic speech towards
Other Peoples’ Tragedies Because this has been a truly terrible week for bad things happening to people I don’t know, I thought I’d share a couple of tips for coping with regional, national or world events that are a big deal but don’t necessarily affect you directly. Be sure they don’t actually affect you directly. Check on friends in the area through phone or text or Facebook or email to ensure they are okay. I have been in the unhappy positioning of discovering that a friend or acquaintance was affected by something that happened far enough away that I thought it wouldn’t affect me only to find myself mourning someone I cared about later. Honor those affected and those who are helping in a way that matters to you. Say a prayer, light a candle, send a donation to Red Cross, do something to delight someone — whatever it takes to help you feel like you have done something that helps. Sometimes, all I have in me is a quick moment of silence. On one memorable occasion (after Hurricane Katrina) I volunteered for the Red Cross for three weeks. Do what you can, and let the rest go. Turn off the news
I got sucked into a vortex last weekend where I spent nearly two full days knitting and watching TED talks (hence the lack of posts. Sorry about that). My nearly sixteen year old son, Overthinker, and his two best friends kept sneaking up behind me, watching for a bit, and moving on. My husband did the same. Finally they all asked variations of the same question: Who is this TED guy, anyhow, and why are you watching his videos? That’s a girl! I didn’t know TED was a girl. When did TED Turner start making YouTube videos? Do you remember when people used to tell you that Pink was a funny first name for that Floyd dude? That’s how I felt.
Climate Change: A Really Big Threat It has been said by many great thinkers over the centuries that the only sure way to get two long term enemies to stop fighting is to get them to unite to face a bigger threat. Perhaps that needs to be changed to say ‘face a greater tangible threat’. You see, the whole world is facing that threat right now. Climate change is, to quote Vice President Biden (out of context) a big fucking deal. We have entered the era of super storms. After that comes the age of polar melt, and then the death of the oceans, and then the planet.