I didn’t even really get what the Twitter trending topic of dc912 was until the end of today. I suppose part of me realized what it was, but part of me was just unwilling to believe that thousands of people would descend on the capitol of the US to decry the establishment of a government health care system for the country. Why we, the richest and most powerful country in the world don’t already have one has been mind blowing to me for years.
You see, I grew up without health care. My family had “too much” income to qualify for the free health care and not enough income or the blessed qualifications to get our own policy. My father worked as a glass blower in a studio that thought itself above offering health care to the employees. My mother worked as a part time teacher at a community college who, while offering a fantastic package for their full time workers, gave nothing to the part time staff, saving no end of money. I grew up ahead of my time, not being scuttled to the doctor every time I sneezed and having to “walk off” twisted ankles and the like. I suppose growing up this way is one of the reasons I can pop a blister or for that matter, trim my own nails.
As the years passed, my brother and I were lucky. A couple of cuts that needed stitches here and there, but no serious problems. My parents paid for everything out of their own pocket. Some 25 years ago it was still costly, but somewhat possible to pay your way. I doubt the scar that was 16 stitches on my arm would cost less than $2,500 to be dealt with today which is two months of rent for me in San Francisco and nearly half a year for others in the state.
Sadly, it was my father who finally got burnt by the lack of insurance. For years he had suffered digestion problems that the doctors we could afford to go to would label as Irritable bowel syndrome. As it turns out he had Carcinoid syndrome which is a particularly nasty thing as is slowly grows benign tumors mostly around your digestive system. The tumors don’t kill you though as in the more common cancers. What kills you is slowly having your crucial organs being unable to function with most often the liver first to go.
Over about five years, I watched my father slowly waste away. You know how gaunt Steve Jobs looks these days? Well, picture a man about 185cm (6’1″) and 100kg (220 lbs) who was incredibly strong losing all his muscle and dropping to about 2/3 his original body weight because every time he ate he was unable to digest the food and was literally starving to death. I’d visit every couple of months and each first impression of him scared the hell out of me as he declined in health, but I couldn’t let him see it because he pressed on, never complaining about his body as it crumbled upon him. A stronger person, I’ve never known.
It does turn out that there is a cure to carcinoid. It’s a once a month injection that costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $4000. That was nearly twice as much as my father made in a month and while he tried desperately to qualify for Medical (our medical system in California for the poor) the condition worsened until one day, while seated and gently carving a new piece of art, he had a fatal heart attack that ended his five year battle with a disease. My father, a happy and satisfied man; an American living a rural Californian community free of toxins, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, only drinking socially, and exercising regularly, died from a completely curable disease at the age of 60 in the United States of America simply because he wasn’t able to afford the treatment or even be granted the ability to know earlier in life that he had this curable condition.
This happened six years ago and I bring it up not to tug on heartstrings, but to prove a point that America is letting itself die. It is unconstitutional not to have a national health care system in place. It is wasteful monetarily not to have this system and eventually replace all the redundant systems we currently have for the old, poor, military, and government workers. It is also wasteful as we pay for all those who seek primary care in our emergency rooms or overworked clinics.
To all those who marched in Washington DC, I can’t be angry or even frustrated with them. Anyone who puts a Hitler mustache on a picture Obama is so easily led astray that you can’t be mad at someone like that. The same goes for all those in this Tea Party group who oppose a national health care system. They’re unable to truly understand how this system will not only save the country money, but will also personally save them or someone they care about some day as more and more of us are without any form of insurance.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we should most definitely pay for a government system. It should not and cannot be a free system. People misunderstand this about the systems in Europe; they aren’t free. People pay for them through deductions from their paychecks. And if you have no paycheck and are poor, then you don’t pay, but obviously you still get access to health care because it is a fundamental human right that was written in to the constitution of this country over 200 years before this became an issue. That’s how important it is.
I have suffered my own personal losses, worked to get past them, and voted in those who are working to make a system such as this possible. I have done what I can as a citizen and now can only wait to see how the pieces may fall. My only concern in all this is for our collective memory of this period in history. How will we remember this? I can only ask in that once the votes are counted and if it fails, we have a monument be erected to all the politicians and how they voted. Something permanent beyond a file in a public record stored away and out of sight.
We need to remember all the No’s of the 111th Congress and all the Joe Wilsons out there. Their stupidity must be remembered and their names become part of our common vernacular for “fool” or “crook” as they are cursed by the 99% of us at the “bottom” who will lie dying in the street, smirking one last smirk, and remembering how great America once was, just before we lost that chance to stop an inevitable decline if we are left helpless to heal the citizens our nation.
Write to and call your national senators and representatives. Tell them they will not serve another term if they vote No and stop national health care.