politics

entitlement

I don’t claim to have all the answers.

This doesn’t mean I’m confused. I know what I believe in, and what direction I want our country to work towards.

I spent an hour outside my congressman’s office this morning. He wasn’t there. It is just a satellite office, so he’s rarely there, but the whole office is closed for the time being. The other protesters and I gathered on the sidewalk. We had a few signs. We don’t want healthcare to become even more expensive and difficult to obtain for the majority of Americans.

Plenty of people honked, waved, smiled. Other frowned, gave the thumbs down. A few yelled incoherent things.

A Swedish woman stopped her car to talk with us. Her opinion: you must earn a paycheck and pay into the system. And that system needs to take care of families when they need it. Sounds both entirely Republican and entirely Socialist at the same time. And it makes sense. Everyone should pay; everyone should receive, when needed.

“My mother told me, never depend on the government, or a man,” the Swedish woman concluded, and drove off to work.

I love pragmatism. Everyone, if not down to the person then at least down to the family, will need healthcare at some point. It is bad for society if an illness destroys that family’s ability to go to work, pay their bills, etc. Maybe you believe that if you work hard enough, it won’t happen to you. Maybe you believe that if you earn enough money, you will be safe. How much is enough? Chemo might wipe out your savings in just a few months. Then what?

Above all, I think I’m pragmatic. Given that maybe half of health issues could be avoided through better lifestyle choices, preventative care (i.e. doctor checkups) is a much better use of public funds than denying healthcare until there is a dire emergency. Given that maybe the other half of health issues are beyond a person’s control (accidents, hereditary, no one knows why), it makes no sense to blame people for getting sick.

Our current system, which hinges on the idea that sickness is the fault of the sick person and is motivated by profit, not better health outcomes, is broke AF. There is so much anger in the air. People don’t want “their” tax dollars to pay for “other people’s” bad choices – as if the bubbles we think we live in are real, and that the needs of the vulnerable don’t matter so long as we personally stay strong.

City hall is across the street from a public high school. A sixteen or seventeen year old white boy, driving what looked like a hand-me-down white BMW, screamed obscenities at us while recording a video on his iPhone as he turned the corner.

You have to wonder – what is he so angry about? Has he ever worked? Does he have health insurance? Has he ever been sick, or been close to someone facing a serious illness?

He’s so young. He hasn’t had time to accumulate any life experience outside of his family and immediate community, most likely. So why does he feel such a sense of entitlement?  And rage?

I don’t know. But I’m not confused. I know plenty of angry white men are used to getting their way simply by yelling the loudest – too bad the rest of us aren’t playing that game anymore.

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