In Which I Do The Dangerous Thing…

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

…and disagree with my wife.  (Which I do, you know.  On a regular basis.  I assure you, we’re not connected with a web of neural impulses.)
Let’s have Ron Paul, that ever-happy Libertarian who even Fox doesn’t want to acknowledge, talking about what happens when a thirty-year-old man gets sick:

Watching this video-meme spread across my Facebook, what I saw was this:
“The Tea party is okay with the poor dying in the street…”
“He said that the uninsured who get sick should die because they made a choice to be uninsured….”
“Screw ’em if they’re too poor to have insurance.” (That would be my wife.)
Except, you know, that’s not what he was asked, or even how he responded.  What was asked was this:
“Lemme ask you this hypothetical question: a healthy, thirty-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, ‘You know what? I’m not gonna spend $200 or $300 a month on health insurance cause I’m healthy, I don’t need it.’  But something terrible happens, and all of a sudden, he needs it.”
That is not a poor person.  That’s a person who could clearly afford insurance, and chose to spend his money on something else.  (Before you growl, “He chose to spend his money on peanut butter to feed his starving children!” note the “makes a good living” in the question’s supposition.)  And that’s someone who’s made a dumb fucking decision, and now it’s going to bite him in the ass.
That’s a much tougher judgment call.  I mean, what are we rewarding then?  Yes, it’s compassionate to save this doofus who went, “Well, I’m never gonna die, so I’m not going to bother to plan ahead” – but what about all the other people who actually have put in their insurance to, you know, do the right thing?
You can hate me, but in this tremendously loaded question – which assumes that we know the state of America’s insurance, and that we have a mysteriously well-off man who decides to fritter away his cash on other investments to save money – we should seriously consider letting him die.  Dude, if a guy knows the hammer could fall and lives his life as if everyone around him should catch him when he trips, then why should anyone be responsible?  Why don’t we all just lose our damn minds and pay zero until hey, it’s cancer time?
This isn’t like, say, the housing market, where banks and scummy middle-men lied to poor people and told them that hey, this house will cost you $400 a month forever, don’t read the contract, trust me.  (And don’t fucking tell me that they weren’t lied to; my wife’s a bankruptcy lawyer, cleaning this shit up.  These uneducated people were fed lines of bullshit until their back teeth squeaked.)
This is America, where there isn’t a single person over the age of twenty who doesn’t know how expensive medical bills can get and how badly we fuck over sick, poor people.  You have no excuse.  If you can purchase insurance, and you decide to slide by without, well, maybe letting you collapse into your own stupidity is going to clean up the gene pool a little.
But that question is also bullshit.
Because the healthy thirty-year-old who can but doesn’t is pretty goddamned rare.  This is a softball question, because he should have asked uglier questions like:

  • Let’s say a healthy thirty-year-old guy has cheap insurance at his workplace, and gets dreadfully sick.  The insurance company says his condition is pre-existing, though there’s no real evidence for that, and decides to do the insurance company shuffle of “Let’s deny claims until he dies.”  What laws do you suggest to fix this problem?
  • Let’s say a healthy thirty-year-old woman contracts AIDS through an act of rape.  She now has a pre-existing condition, and no insurance company will cover her, trapping her in a job that can now abuse her as they see fit because her life literally depends on their good will.  What do you suggest she does? No, seriously.
  • Let’s say a healthy thirty-year-old man wants to start up a competitive start-up, but finds that he can’t get good workers because the insurance costs for small businesses are too expensive and don’t cover enough.  Given that this issue is stifling technological innovation, who do you choose to side with – the insurance companies or small business?

The problem, of course, is that if we go with the dreaded S-word and acknowledge that maybe health care should be a fundamental right – not for moral reasons, but because it’s something that’s ultimately good for business, stripping our GNP of this useless health care boondoggle we’ve been sold – then suddenly we have to get honest about “Who should be allowed to die?” and stop pretending that it’s just the unworthy who suffer.
As it is, the Tea Party’s shouting, “YES!” not because they want everyone to die – but because the answer to this narrow, tilted question is self-evident to them. You’ve set it up so that a short-sighted idiot is finally falling to the consequences of his poor decisions.
Ask them better questions – ones more complex, closer to the truth on the ground, a lot harder to answer. The problem with this is not that the Tea Party wants people to die, but rather that we ask questions that makes it seem like the uninsured and the sick are just lazy bums, and we let them get away with this bullshit illusion.
Don’t play to their fantasies.  As a health care professional, Mr. Paul, you should know better.  And I believe you do know better.

2 Comments

  1. lisagems
    Sep 14, 2011

    Thank you. I’ve been having problems with the web response to this video, because while the audience response is pretty appalling, it is also not surprising, mob mentality and all. And like you said, what is being said about the video is not what happened. This was a softball question that didn’t even begin to address the real problems and even it was ducked by every single respondent, including Paul.
    We, the not-so-right-winged-and-ultraconservative, have begun to be a bit knee-jerk in our reactions and are not responding to the real, underlying problems. We need to focus more on real issues and not create drama. There is plenty of real drama to go around, stop manufacturing it and pull from the actual issues.
    And for crying out loud, dig a little deeper.

  2. Gobo Fraggle
    Sep 14, 2011

    Ever consider moving to New Hampshire? You’d get to ask questions like this. (In fact, New Hampshirians really enjoy going to handshaking/baby kissing appearances and throwing hardballs like this when they aren’t expecting it).

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