Wednesday, March 3, 2010

why i hate my state and my country

i've thought about this for a long time, and it's really hard for me to say what i have to say today.

once again, this post is triggered by something cecily wrote a few days ago, about her family and her trials with medical coverage for herself and her family.

i am in her place, only one better.

i, and my kids, are uninsured. first, my kids:

my kids periodically receive medicaid. they are approved for medicaid under their mom's eligibility for a three month stretch. then their eligibility is up and they have to reapply. however, the processing time is so long that they generally go about three months before they're recertified, during which time, they're not covered.

there have been other paperwork snafus too, of course, this being a poorly-run outsourced bureaucracy. like, for example, when they mysteriously determined that my kids were covered both by CHIP and medicaid at the same time. of course, you can only have one at a time, and this is perfectly reasonable. so their perfectly reasonable response was to cancel both at once.

now, it is possible (sometimes) to get medicaid to pay outstanding balances that are less than three months old at the time of certification, but in practice, this only works for emergency room visits. i have yet to meet a doctor that will see you for free, hoping that someday you might get medicaid to pay them.

so, if my kids get ear infections, or my daughter who has lazy eye needs a checkup appointment with her opthamologist ... too bad. you're fucked. i also can not afford medical care of any sort for ian, who, while nearing his 8th birthday, still uses diapers and shows no interest in using a toilet. schools have given us a variety of diagnoses, but none of them are from an actual medical doctor, and they are frequently conflicting anyway.

and it's not just me. it's also the insured who live in fear of getting sick. and, if you'll read, sometimes it kills them. media is rife with stories about people who had insurance and still lost everything they own. reputable studies that aren't funded by the insurance lobby tell us that over half of all bankruptcies in the united states are caused by medical debt, and two thirds of those people had insurance. what's more, the number of medical bankruptcies sampled by the study rose by nearly 50% in just six years.

i've talked at length about my own health issues and my own lack of coverage. i am uninsurable on the private market, so even if i had the money, i literally could not buy coverage at any price. i have two hopes: full-time employment at an employer that happens to offer benefits in the worst labor market since the great depression, or some sort of comprehensive health care reform that will cover me. as i wrote in september, my hope that any sort of health care reform will cover me is zero.

and i write this as i'm getting sick again. i wrote about my bronchitis, which i finally kicked thanks to some wildly expensive drugs i could not afford, but i'm spiking a rising temperature. job #1 in the morning, now just hours away, is to get into the student medical clinic, hopefully wednesday. i have a field trip this weekend and a plethora of work to do, and so i can ill afford this.

but all of that is well-worn and much commented-upon. and that isn't really why i hate my country and my state, and our elected leaders.

the reason i hate my country and my state are because of our unrelenting hostility to improving the situation. fully 45 years after the passage of the first civil rights act, we remain a nation of homophobic christian bigots who have lost, in the name of "capitalism" and "the free market," the idea of communal good that sustained human populations for thousands of years.

fully half of our nation votes for candidates who obstruct meaningful change at every opportunity, not because they are taking any principled stand or offering an alternative, but because it's more profitable for their political score-keeping or campaign coffers. in texas, this will eventually change because the demographics are inexorable as the state becomes more and more latino (because we know how welcome immigrants, or children of illegal immigrants, are in the republican party).

i live in a country where the police facilitate illegal abortion clinic harassment. i live in a country where a fair segment of the population thinks shooting doctors is good public policy or justified by their religion.

i live in a state where the sale of sex toys can land you in prison. yes, it's true that the 5th circuit overturned that law, but it's also true that courts are still enforcing this law.

i live in a state that enforces morality in law. it's illegal for a car dealership to be open on consecutive weekend days in texas, in addition to the dildo stupidity and alcohol insanity. public opposition to the opening of new hooter's franchises can tie up their liquor licenses for years in pointless litigation.

i live in a state where the governor, the second-longest-serving governor in the nation, and the longest-serving in texas history, believes that texas can leave the union if it wants. i recall that we fought a war over that, and the folks who thought they could leave ... lost.

i live in a nation where a fair number of people take seriously someone who wants to institute literacy tests as a requirement for voting. for my non-existent international readers, you will not know what most americans know: this is code for denying black people the right to vote. we have been down this road before.

a growing chorus of nutballs claims that christians are being increasingly persecuted in the united states. that's news to me. you'd think they'd hide their churches better if that were the case. yet this is at odds with political situations where churches regularly use liturgical justifications for denying marriage rights to gays and lesbians. where have i seen those justifications before?

i live in a place where an attempt to provide health care to every american is though of as socialist at best. yet here we see protests where people use images of the president with a hitler mustache. while it may be true that the pictures originated with the left-wing nutjobs, it's plenty obvious that the right-wing fringe has taken this up as well. (props to frank.)

this stands in stark contrast to documents like the universal declaration of human rights, which, with one side of its mouth, the united states regularly slaps such deserving nations as china, sudan, and north korea. the declaration was adopted in 1948, and yes, the united states signed on.

yet we can not bring ourselves as a nation to implement universal health care at even a basic level, a benefit to the populace that every other industrialized nation has managed. the more observant among you have already looked at the universal declaration of human rights and noted that article 25 says that every human has the right to health care. except, apparently, in the richest nation on earth.

we decry the proposal to make insurance companies pay for counseling about what to do during end-of-life care as a death panel. apparently the entire kerfuffle over the proposal, which would allow your doctor to bill the insurance company for the conversation, has morphed -- on the words of only sarah palin -- into a government plot that will pull the plug on grandma and kill handicapped children. get a goddamned grip.

i have a friend in australia that i love very much, and if the situation worked out, i might even try to persuade her to be my companion. but she says that she will not live in a third world country, and our health care system is why.

what's even more telling is that the same jesus-is-the-way religious nutcases are the same ones opposing health care reform, because it's their god-given right to keep all their money and woe betide anyone who tries to ask for some to make everyone's society a better place. i find it telling how they can selectively ignore what they claim is the inerrant word of god when it suits them:

genesis 4:9 cain and abel -- yes, i am my brother's keeper
luke 10:25-37 the good samaritan
luke 12:16-21 the rich fool
matthew 7 judge not, lest ye be judged.

they quote the 10th amendment to the constitution, saying that the federal government should stay out of health care on that basis. yet they ignore the preamble. if universal health care isn't "the general welfare," i don't know what is. (note that the site linked insists that this isn't the meaning the framers attached to the word welfare, but cites neither source nor alternative definition. i just picked it because it was first on google for the text i wanted.)

these are people who live in fear that their taxes might go up. yet our state governments are chronically under-funded, have billions of dollars of budget gaps, are cutting children's services, teachers, roads, schools, health care, everything in sight, to close the gaps.

yes, i will be pleased to give up half my income, if it means, in return, i get health care when i need it that won't bankrupt me, provided ... you get it too. that is what i want: health care for everyone. there is no reason i can accept that you should have good health care because of the luck of wealth or employment.

we have lost, in this country, a sense of shared duty, shared sacrifice, and shared community. we are so wrapped up in free enterprise and profit motive and all that adam smith shit that we have lost sight of the fact that we all need one another to survive. just like it takes it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a society to look after all its members.

i hate this.

i hate the bigotry, racism, and hypocrisy. i hate the accusation that i want something for nothing. no, i am happy to pay my share, if we all get something out.

i hate living in fear, for myself and my children. and i am tired of it.

if you will excuse me now, i need to go lay down and be sick with my fever, because that's the only health care option i have right now.


  1. A large number of people think a 2-class society is ideal: the elite and the serfs. As you pointed out, the closest thing to it was broken up 40-50 years ago. The people who want it think they will be part of the elite.

  2. @margalit linked here from twitter. As an absolute sympathizer with your positions stated here, I can only hope that today, after the passage of health care reform, measley though it might be, both your bronchitis is healed and your heart is a little lighter. The side of those who do indeed believe we have an obligation to each other has chalked up a victory.

  3. Boo-fucking-hoo. Man up and kill yourself if it's that bad.