Friday, September 04, 2009
Obama's Speech to Students
Obama is the leader of this country, homegrown like my vegetables, and elected by a clear majority. He is not a foreign power or running for office. A lot of kids look up to him, as they should. As I did to Eisenhower and Kennedy when I was growing up. I didn't know about the President's politics, I just knew he was an important guy and if he took time out to talk to us, that was special. Heck, when the towers fell on 911 Bush was in a classroom talking to kids. Nobody insisted on reviewing his words in advance.
And to those worried about a socialist agenda, guess what? You already live in a country with socialized fire departments, roadways, police departments, medicare, educational systems and we are protected by a socialized military. Socialized means society chips in to pay for common programs that benefit citizens and that are chosen by our elected representatives. It is the antithesis of being dominated by a culture of personality, which would be a dictatorship.
The only human services function that is NOT socialized in this country is medical care and that is sinking us both as individuals and corporations, which are struggling to compete in a world economy where the USA stands alone insisting that large companies bear the burden of health care expenses.
I can't imagine in my childhood being asked to support Kennedy or Eisenhower and people objecting. Supporting the president means to support the country. People need stop all this hate speak and suspicion before a lot of people get hurt.
You know that poem that begins: First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me." attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)?
I have not spoken up about all the hate email I've been copied on since Obama's inauguration. The whackjobs who call themselves birthers. I've not spoken about health care, as I have been one of those left out in the current system. I didn't say anything about the outrageous lies perpetuated by the media. I've not spoken about the mean-spiritedness and media's over coverage of the violent, ignorant few. And I meant to write about Obama's speech, but it took a conversation with Kelly and reading her blog to realize how upsetting all this hate talk and suspicion is.
So, let's start here. Here is a true health care story, not dramatic except to me. I am self-employed and too young for medicare and old enough that insurers don't want anything to do with me. I currently have a $5000 deductible for which I pay $4000 per annum. I have a pre-existing condition (who doesn't) so most companies legally can turn me down. Kaiser has one month of the year, mandated by the state, (unpublished, unadvertised, you have to know someone inside the company to find out that it is October, and that person will swear you to secrecy because they could lose their job if they tell) during which they would sign me up with the pre-existing condition, for better coverage (not great, but better) -- the price tag on that is $16,000 per year. My current coverage does not pay for mammograms or any other tests and I pay an amount for prescriptions and tests that is four times (4) what insured people pay since I do not qualify for the "insurance negotiated amount" until I satisfy my deductible. If I fall ill, Kaiser can cancel me at any time.
I know from when my mom was deathly ill, under insured, and almost but not quite broke at 61, that in order to qualify for medicaid, you have to have no resources for a period of three months before you can apply. Longer until it kicks in. That means if I ever got seriously ill, after I sold my house and all possessions, there would be a three month period before I would qualify for any assistance. This is the kind of thing that would keep me up every night if I thought about it, so I don't. I pay my premiums, eat healthy, exercise, and hope for the best.
And for me, the best would be a public option. For those who oppose or feel threatened by that, I say, what part of option do you not understand? We already pay for the very poor to get healthcare through taxes, it is just the middle class under-insured and uninsured who are vulnerable. Public option would mean that people like me who are willing and able to pay would be paying into the system.
As far as I'm concerned, Medicare is guilty of age discrimination. Fine for those over 65, but what about those who are 50+. Why can't we buy into medicare? That's what public option means to me, any of us being able to buy into medicare. As an option.
So, maybe the controversy over the Obama speech has a good side. Maybe it will motivate more people like me who have been trundling along, shaking our heads, to say something. So, there. I'm saying something. And the something is, ENOUGH.
Enough with the hate. We are all in this together. And kids, listen to your president. Stay in school. The previous generation is leaving you a big mess to clean up. You need all the skills you can garner.