Who deserves health care?

07/29/2009

Healthy Mother Sick Child, Children's Hospital, Phnom Penh

The health care debate has rather fiercely seized my attentions as of late. I started writing some posts on more general identity issues, but this issue was distracting me too much to continue. I already addressed much of my personal stake and frustrations with the back and forth in this post.

It is frustrating that we can’t even begin to talk about the woeful quality of reproductive and identity medical services in the country due to some people’s anxious masculinity and desire to promote a second-class citizenry for all women. And it’s frustrating that we can’t even place on the table genuine universal healthcare because some people actually believed the 50s film strips and thus believe the word socialism has the ability to kill children and rape puppies.

And it is obvious that the vast majority of money and disparity between the elected officials and the views of the people who elect them is more because of the massive contributions from the insurance companies. And it is more than obvious that their protestations are due to the impending end of one sweet cash cow for the morally bankrupt.

So what apparently is this post about if it isn’t going to be about those issues?

It’s about two recent things I stumbled on that really brought into focus why it is so very hard to pass health care. I mean, it would seem easy considering even half of republicans support reform and there are few alive even with good health insurance who don’t have some health-related horror story that would only occur in America or some third-world hell hole. But it’s not and it’s very hard it seems to defeat obviously ignorant lies like the republicans using what we have now as some sort of nightmare worst-case situation of “Obama Care” (eg the rationing fear or the lines in the emergency room fear).

The first thing was this article via Pandagon. I would recommend reading the whole thing if you haven’t because it does an amazing job of distilling the conflict, but the most critical part I felt was this passage:

This image sends its message loud and clear: if everyone is allowed to have health care, that means that you’ll have to rub shoulders with everyone when you go to E.R. You’ll have to suffer the indignity of people you’d prefer to have scrubbing stuff for you getting called into the doctor’s office before you, simply because they got there first. The reason the word “socialism” is being flung around is not just because it has a bureaucratic ring to it, but because the base understands that the problem with socialism is that it assumes that everyone is equal. Never mind that health care reform is about living up to the promise of extending the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to everyone. Thomas Jefferson was probably a dirty socialist, too.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again—if you’re actually irritated by having to wait in E.R. for a couple of hours for care, then you should support universal health care. I realize that for the people that this “socialism” pitch is aimed at, it’s really hard for them to get past the fact that they’ll let just anyone into E.R., and they can’t take a moment to wonder what brings people there. But if you think about it, most of those people with pneumonia and other diseases that respond well to early treatment wouldn’t have to be in line, waiting for care because staying at home hoping wasn’t enough to make them well. Of course, this reality is sort of hard to see if you’re working yourself into a froth because a bunch of people you think are undeserving get served first because they got there first.

Now follow this link and listen to Bill Kristol, noted conservative pundit and the leader of the 1993 opposition that destroyed the health-care bill then, during his appearance on the Daily Show (the link points out the most relevant sections).

Now, aside from the intense ignorance on display in falling for the gotcha question, more importantly is how the usual euphemisms and lies fell apart in Kristol’s answer. In one screwup, he admitted that the government provides superior health care as Jon Stewart remarks, but more critically he also admitted what Amanda mentions above, that he believes that there should be better health care for some than others by virtue of their inherent “worthiness”.

And that’s a really big thing. For a large segment of the population, health care is being used as a piece of the Middle Class War. A way of showing you’re better than some other sod.

Certainly that has shown itself to be the case in many medical-related debates over the years. See the drug treatment debates where the more successful treatment regimens have been drastically underfunded because of conservative beliefs that it’s not worth it to “support” those morally-degenerate druggies and thus leaving them to the mercy of fate and unsuccessful abstinence regimens.

Abortion access has been under constant attack owing to people’s lack of comfort with female sexuality and the main scare story used by opponents is that “some slut will just use it instead of birth control”. The question never asked is how that same straw-woman would be thus more well-suited to parent and raise a child if they’re that mentally incompetent or troubled. Even birth control has been under attack because some slut might have lots of sex.

And certainly trans people have felt the weight of having to go through years of unnecessary steps because of how they “might regret it” despite very little evidence supporting that being a common occurrence.

It’s already been a very common occurrence that what is most successful, best for the people involved, and best for society in general has been overridden or ignored because of conservative anxiety that someone somewhere will “abuse it”. That someone “undeserving” will take advantage of something beneficial.

The most perfect distillation of that is welfare. Conservatives have been trashing it for years, often with the support of white people who have needed the support at one time or another because of successful racial motifs such as the “welfare queen” or the “illegal alien” who “undeservedly” get a hand up.

Over and over again, people have shown themselves willing to cut off their hands if they can be convinced it’ll keep one of “them” from being considered equal or just as worthy of happiness and life as they are.

And the health care debate really puts how far that goes into the sharpest focus, one that can’t be overstated:

They believe in a virtual death sentence for the undeserving.

They would rather the undeserving die than be treated as proper folk and will happily play into the hands of even richer cads like Bill Kristol who see them as undeserving too.

And if only to remove that nasty thought process from mainstream American thought, if only to say there is one barrier sexism, racism, classism shouldn’t cross at the very least, if only to untangle one end of the pernicious idea in America that worthiness and wealth are synonymous and thus deserving of “better” basic services than everyone else, then we must win.

Because it is critical to our humanity in no uncertain terms.

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