Pride & Ignorance

The latest Republican attack on Obama’s health care push is calling a mandate a "tax on the middle class." The attack cites the Congressional Budget Office release,something to the effect of a mandate costing the middle class 15% of their income; a ridiculously high number probably assembled from various worse-case scenarios and ignoring current coverage numbers.

Is there a shift now from the Republicans towards attempting to kill the bill outright now that it appears a public option has no chance of passing? If so,I think it’s safe to assume this was The Plan all along: a two-stage effort to motivate public opinion using the typical fear-triggers of socialism and hysteria,then move back to a moderate position to gather support to finish it off…

The question ought to be posed to Americans. You can eliminate any mandate and leave the uninsured out of any kind of preventative health care,but are you willing to give hospitals the right to deny all uninsured from emergency room care?

People fail to understand nor care who pays for the uninsured when they do end up in the hospital. A willful deciet to pretend our problems don’t exist.

These are the fundamental principles of debating the uninsured in health care reform. You can’t have it both ways. You must understand the underlying costs and the economic realities of how health care in America functions today. You cannot simply ignore the uninsured,turn a blind eye to the problems they face and take comfort in being ignorant. You are paying for the uninsured in your premiums and deductables. You pay for them through your taxes. You will continue to pay for them through the increasingly heavy toll health care takes on our country’s economy. And for all that money you will continue to spend,_you_ will not be healthier,live longer,or have more access to the innovative technology this country touts itself on. Healthier people live in countries with ill-labeled "socialist" health care systems,with fewer infant fatality rates. We could do better.

America does have the most advanced health care system,capable of healing the most severe – and costly – health problems. The problem is that we confuse our great American progress without defining our measure of success. Americans measure the success of our country in terms of the most profitable and most advanced elements. We take pride in the achievements of our countrymen and speak of our collective global power. A growing number of us are living further and further away from what we envision the greatness of America to be.

This health care debate is not about your definition of success. Americans need to stop defending selfish pride and start looking at their family and friends,their neighbors,and start asking themselves how this greatest of nations on Earth should treat its citizens. It’s time to turn off the hysterical televangelists,put down the socialist protest sign,stop yelling over each other. The uninsured exist. They pay taxes,the have health problems and struggle to find a reasonable voice in their country.

How are you going to sovle this? If you don’t understand how the uninsured affect your premiums,demand an explaination. That’s what news should be doing. Right now,they’re covering the incoherent outbursts of the extremes,echoing back and amplifying the banal rhetoric of the politicians and industry lobbyists. Your representatives should be explaining the direct advantages and consequences of the health care bill. Instead,we have vague connections and appeals to our prejiduces and emotions.

Republicans who have aligned themselves in the past with a Christan component ought to pick up the Bible itself again,read the New Testament,and ask themselves if Jesus preached a message to rewarded your self-determination,lower taxes and unregulated markets,or if sacrificing equal rights is worth denying the sick in the eyes of the Lord.

War

What is it to understand a war? The brutal history of the last century of conflict hides itself in cold documentary. The price of the millions who’ve died,fighting,civilians,cultures and families. The personal connections to a generation now gone,leaving us without intimate tales of heroism and fear. Stories that hit us in the gut and heart,make us bleed and soaked in mythic moral ambiguity. We have Glen Beck and outrage. Strength over all.

We aimlessly utilize our massive armed resources,capable of complete and unquestionable decimation,then get lost finding reason. We leave women and children struggling to survive while the world watches the middle east drown in savageness. Our priorities are war. Efficient destruction. Remote pinpoint death. Our failure is to bring meaning,to define success,and leave a wake of moral emptiness. We create new generations of terrorists. We are blind,disconnected,and callous towards those living with our God-like War Machine and its unmeasurable reach. We demand those people acknowledge our distant rightiousness. We discard any criticism. Defer to our obvious moral superiority. Those who don’t agree can’t be helped. We barely notice the massive undercurrent of renewed vows of hatred,promises to climb up our ivory tower and make us hear,once again,the consequences of our moraly justified actions.

Americans,isolated in our beautiful country and idyllic freedom,easily cast aside foreign advice. Our pride is our most glaring weakness as our strengths so numerous and recognized.

We take pride in our military,our patriotism and nationalism. We take pride in our uniqueness,in everything that makes us separate and different from old Europe. We truly embody the cowboy spirit. The lone hero. The individualism. The self-determination.

But I don’t want this to devolve into an argument about how we argue. We have to search for a deeper reasoning about each other,rather than rallying pawns around those simplistic and irrational ideals. We have to learn something from each other in this debate,or we will all pay.

There is no reasonable definition of success in war. Immediate objectives are achieved and positions are taken,held,advanced; but the momentum of violence spreads out from the impact in all directions. It is as easy to say we succeeded in Iraq as to say we have failed. Imagine a debate in which the entire concept of winning was absent; then consider what we accomplished in the Middle East and what the consequences of those accomplishments were. Things that are so easily labelled with Victory soon fade into complex chain reactions of violence and power,energy policy and humanitarianism,vibrating directly into the hearts of people in places like Iran.

Iran may be the pivot point upon which we find meaning in our wars in the Middle East. It provides a counter-point to our own zealous ego,a polar metric with which to measure our impact. Many Americans view Iran as two: the freedom-seeking youth and the terrorism-sponsoring old,a simplistic and meaningless account of our isolated pride. Iran will become,if it is not considered so already,the sole superpower in the Middle East with the ability to legitimately counter Isreal. And while Americans hold fast to our view of our "enlightened ally",we build up the foundations of disillusioned arab extremism. We are,after all,in their back yard,giving vast resources and condoning a bitter neighbor. Without our veil of righteousness,our motives must stand on understanding the end of our means. Our job as aggressors is not simply to justify them,but to bring a better alternative.

Our purpose on the anniversary of 9/11 will always be to prevent the blind massacre of civilians in any country for any self-proclaimed cause. We must hold ourselves to a higher moral imperative and seek the universal justice our religions,morals,and constitutions demand. The world cannot afford another holy war waged by doomsday citizen-soldiers who give up knowledge for unspoken righteousness.

September is the last of days of summer,when each night gets a little cooler than the last,and we grasp at the last few degrees of heat before the cold sets in. It’s 7:00pm at Thief Wine bar and outside is quickly growing dark. The cool smell of nostalgia mixes intimately with the blustery snow in the annual cycle of life,death,and rebirth. That time of football and politics. The dusty funk when the furnace kicks on for that first time. Throughout which I tend to the chaotic mess in my basement cave,blaring music and news at any hour,hell-bent on finding some meaning to the amount of suffering we all induce on this little planet.

tools of the trade.