Other Words

I woke up this morning fully prepared to devote the day to writing my novel, something I truly enjoy doing. I was not, however, expecting this (though I really should have):

Our President vetoed a bill designed to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, to poor children, to be paid for by a $0.61 tax increase on every pack of cigarettes.

Let’s break that down.

We have, on the one hand, poor, sick children. Let’s say that together one more time: “poor—sick—children.” We have, on the other hand, cigarette smokers. “Cig-ar-ette smokers.” In other words, this bill would have somehow been able to channel all the time and money put towards the production, sale, and consumption of cigarettes (one of the biggest health care threats facing anyone in the world), producing healthier children with a better standard of living. So of course the President vetoed it.

It is true that the bill would expand SCHIP to children who are not, under the strict legal definition of the term, impoverished. However, as Dr. Michael Zweig noted in his 2004 book, What’s Class Got to Do with It: American Society in the Twenty-First Century, “While in any given year 12 to 15 percent of the population is poor, over a ten-year period 40 percent experience poverty in at least one year because most poor people cycle in and out of poverty; they don’t stay poor for long periods. Poverty is something that happens to the working class, not some marginal ‘other’ on the fringes of society.” But, remember, he only received a doctorate in political economics and labor economics from the University of Michigan and founded The Center for Study of Working Class Life at SUNY in Stony Brook—so, really, what’s he know?

President Bush naturally fears this bill as evidence of a creeping socialized health care, and he’s right to do so. We need only go as far as Europe to witness the near apocalyptic ramifications of this socialist plague. Look, for instance, at the strength of the euro and the rampant, anarchistic violence that plagues the entire continent. Tremble as you witness longer wait times before seeing a doctor, due to a needs-based queue practice (that is, people whose need is most urgent, that is, whose symptoms are most severe, that is, who have a greater risk of serious injury or death—they see a doctor first). One is hard pressed to even call it civilization.

It’s funny (or mind-numbingly depressing) that the “longer waiting times” objection is the most common objection I’ve heard whenever I talk about socialized (that is, universal) health care. The problem, as they see it, is that socialized health care helps everyone. It is much better (that is—in other words—more morally sound) to prevent people from even getting in line, so that the rich people can see the doctor first (or at all).

Do I sound bitter? Well, let me clarify: I am bitter. And it is absolutely no consolation the way people (and I mean that in only the most biological of definitions) are defending the President’s decision. There are, naturally, many arguments that are being made but they all seem to breakdown to a foundation of this:

Republicans oppose any and all forms of socialized health care,
The SCHIP expansion is a step closer to socialized health care,
Therefore, Republicans will oppose the SCHIP expansion.

In other words. Republicans don’t like this bill because that’s what Republicans do. Nevermind that the bill actually addresses a gross (and I mean that as both flagrant and grotesque) failure of our current health care system; nevermind that it will actually decrease the amount of money the average American contributes to poor—sick!—children’s health care (since the only time these children receive any medical care is when they show up in the Emergency Room, which, under the provisions of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, cannot refuse treatment to anyone based on their inability to pay (moral duty, it seems, was not enough) and is, therefore, federally funded (In other words, under the current health care system of the United States of America, the government (via taxes) already pays more for uninsured health care than it would under the new SCHIP bill)). Republicans + Socialized Health Care = “Boo, hiss!”

Quick aside: The above reference to the biological definition of “people” is an example of an ad hominem attack. It is a logical fallacy and considered by most philosophers to be a last resort. In other words, a proponent of one side of an argument, having no response to another’s, resorts to an unjustified attack on that person instead of any actual argument. I’d like to clarify: I did not engage in an ad hominem attack as a last resort, not having any response to the President’s reasoning behind his veto or to Republicans’ reasoning behind their support of him. It was, in fact, an emotional response—my emotional response to what I perceive as moral and ethical ineptitude.

Republicans, of course, have their own proposal for how best to fix this actual, real world problem, never daring to stoop so low as to appeal to an ad hominem:

*reference not found*

In other words, it would appear that the Republican pro-life stance only extends as far as the womb. Once children are out, they have to earn their own keep.

And so, here we are. Stuck once again with a two-party form of government in which both sides rest on knee-jerk reactions to the other, based on polarized talking points, unwilling to engage each other in any sort of meaningful dialogue. But it’s better this way, isn’t it? We don’t want to build bridges and meet on common ground, actually improving our country. Because that’s not how our Founding Fathers set this country up. And since they shat gold and bled wine, we shouldn’t do anything to change that.

Some other words come to mind—other words to say to our President and the people who support him on this. These words would be easy for both sides of the issue to understand, too, since most of them are only three or four letters long.

How I love American politics.


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