Catechism     No. 421  |  July 2014     Study     Faith 101     Life     The Church     A Preacher's Confession     Sisters     Politics     Keeping It Real     Zion     Donate

I don’t pretend to know any more about the health care mess than the people yelling, but I do know something about the people waiting. It’s reasonable to assume the people waiting are in much greater pain than the people yelling. Whichever of the two you are, I think there should be a consensus that there is an egregious lack of compassion, most especially by the religious right who are so anxious to revoke affordably-priced health care for the poor and underserved. Rationalize it all day if yu want, I don't understand that kind of "Christianity."

When You're Broke,

the first thing you lose is your dignity. Everything you thought you were, everything you valued about yourself, all gone. You lose it with the first phone call to a relative or friend asking for a bailout. Now, if these people are kind, they won’t make a sport of it, a yes or no will do. Either way the cut is deep, the loss nearly unbearable. It is both difficult to describe and nearly impossible to share with anyone because most anyone you might feel such safety as to share your pain with will surely be on the list of people you’ll be reaching out to for help. So you suffer in silence as little pieces of yourself get stripped away. It is a kind of violence, this emptying of your soul.

Most politicians have absolutely no concept of actual poverty, and most poor folk don't tend to run for office. We have, therefore, this circus of legislators struggling to decide what to do based on polls, data, and sampling models rather than on real-life experience. Their approach to the poor is largely conceptual, an intellectual exercise. Of course, their first priority is always their own jobs which is certainly why the nation's founding fathers set up so political a system. People govern out of self-interest. The key to passing effective or helpful legislation is to aptly demonstrate, for the politician, what's in it for him.

A week and a half ago I broke my foot. Well, thank God, I thought I broke my foot—I actually bruised a tendon or had a case of tendonitis. I’m guessing because I didn’t go see a doctor. I couldn’t walk and was in enormous pain. Simply moving around the house was a major effort and several times I almost passed out from the pain of simply trying to get downstairs to the kitchen. I didn’t go see a doctor because, for me, going to see the doctor is a big financial decision. The doctor would want to take x-rays. X-rays cost. Pain meds cost. Crutches, casts. I knew, if my foot didn’t start to feel better in a few days, I’d end up in the emergency room and billed for more than a thousand dollars. I don’t have a thousand dollars. So I endured the pain and sweated it out and, bless God, the foot got better.

This is what it’s like to be uninsured. I’m sitting home in agony, incapable of even moving around my house, and I can’t afford to see a doctor. Meanwhile, I’m watching these insane health care town hall meetings with these screaming people drowning out the Congressman or woman who’d come to engage them. Most any idiot could see the phenomena—the over-the-top shouting and lack of civility—was orchestrated. Fear and ignorance are Republican trademarks. They’re very good at profiting from both. It’s no accident that not one, not two, but a dozen or more of these town hall debates turned into shouting matches, where no shouting had ever taken place before.

There seems to be two groups of people: those doing the yelling and those doing the waiting. I was waiting. Waiting to see if my foot would get any better or if my credit would be ruined (emergency rooms wreck your credit with the quickness, setting collection agencies on you almost immediately. If you’re broke, you end up in the E.R. and it’s a foregone conclusion that your credit will be wrecked by that same ER that perhaps saved your life). The people doing the yelling seem, at least on TV, to be white folk. The people doing the waiting tend to be black and Latino and other minorities. Certainly millions of whites as well are waiting, like the poor woman suffering two degenerative autoimmune diseases who was heckled—heckled—in her wheelchair last week. But, at my distance from this debate, it all seems metaphoric.

The likely truth is that the people doing the yelling all have health insurance. I’ve yet to meet or even to see on TV an uninsured anti-ACA activist. Conversely, those who are doing the waiting are almost all uninsured. The uninsured people are dealing with reality: no doctor will treat them unless or until they are literally dying. The insured folks, on the other hand, are living a fantasy. The don’t think the plight of the uninsured could ever happen to them. The people doing the yelling, painting the president’s face, can’t imagine ever being in that situation and likely regard the uninsured poor as lazy or somehow sinful, yes sinful, as haughty people blaspheming God by invoking His Name in their selfishness and evil, typically suspect the problems of the poor to be the consequences of sin: we brought this on ourselves, therefore we are getting what we deserve.

What the insured don’t understand, in their haughty self-righteousness, is that they can be dropped from their insurance carriers at any time and for any reason. Millions of these people discovered that the hard way when the George W. Bush Great Recession cost them their jobs. Plunk! They suddenly went from full coverage to no coverage, finding Cobra or other insurance alternatives astronomically high and having to choose between insurance payments and mortgage payments. This is the insanity of the over-heated anti-ACA/Obama crowd: their bald ignorance that there really is no “them” and “us.” We’re all at risk.

No. 421  |  July 2014   Study   Faith 101   Life   The Church   A Preacher's Confession   Sisters   POLITICS   Keeping It Real   Zion   Donate