Sign Watching With Rebecca

Astute readers will notice that I haven’t done an update on my progress through the House healthcare bill this week. You’re correct, I haven’t. Several factors well beyond my control have kept me from being as diligent in my reading as I would like. For instance, the holiday weekend, my husband’s new PS3, and Kathy Griffin’s new book “Official Book Club Selection”. See? Totally out of my control. However my friends, do not despair because I have something way more fun than that for you. I attended an event featuring my Congressman, Scott Murphy.

Due to my own laziness, the morning of the event I sat on our sofa zoning out watching my husband play a new game on his Playstation 3, so in the end we rushed out the door with me skipping breakfast. (A big deal for anyone who knows me.) But I was determined to be an active participant in my government. Feh, who am I kidding? I went hoping to see someone get hit with a chair.

Much to my displeasure, everyone behaved rather well, and there were no chairs. There was the occasional yell back and forth, but that was pretty much it. My husband wouldn’t let me work my way into the crowd and say inappropriate things to provoke a brawl, which is probably for the best since we don’t own a video camera. On the other hand, we do own a digital camera, and the signs there were worth coming out for.

Here’s Congressman Murphy. He maintained his cool throughout the event. It seemed to me that he, in fact, has read the 1018 page bill. With him was the whole thing printed out, dog-eared, with visible notes written on it. He occasionally discussed things I had read and we both seemed to have read it the same way. Of course, his job was made easier by him stating up front that he wouldn’t vote for that bill the way it was now. This pleased the people who hate it with a white hot passion for its public option and advanced care planning, and it also pleased the progressives who want to hear about single payer universal healthcare and hate the bill with a white hot passion for its wussy notion of a public option. People are neat, aren’t they?

Speaking of people, I think political sign watching is going to be my new hobby. Way more fun than bird watching! The awesome thing about it is that if you want a picture of a sign and can’t get a good shot, you can just ask to take a picture of it; they assume you agree with the message on the poster board. This was made more fun by me wearing my “I’d Rather Be Fighting the Man” t-shirt. A sentiment that works well for most political philosophies these days. I rock.

First up is, “Where’s Tort Reform”. For those of you unfamiliar with tort and the tort reform debate, I’ll direct your attention to Justinian Lane’s website. Although his post is obviously from one side of the debate, it does a good job of defining tort. A thing I heard several times at this event, but had not heard on television anywhere, were people feeling the need to reform how malpractice lawsuits work. They feel the huge expense doctors pay into malpractice insurance causes doctors to pass the expense onto their patients.

Many Americans are fearful of a government run healthcare program. Next are a couple of pretty common sentiments, on television and apparently on a local level. “U Think Healthcare is Expensive Now….Wait Till It’s Free” and “Vote No! Public Healthcare”. Nothing really new there. The media has done an excellent job of digging up dirt on every country that has a single payer system. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a perfect healthcare system. America certainly doesn’t have one, and as far as I can tell no other country does either. It really comes down to how do we make sure that every working American gets the healthcare that they need, without breaking the bank, or collectively hosing everyone?

This segues nicely into the next sign. The bottom is cut off, but it reads “Bombs or Bandaids? What Would Jesus Buy?” I’m a big fan of this sign. It was obviously quickly handwritten, which says to me, this is this woman’s immediate gut reaction to the healthcare debate. I also like it because it addresses the healthcare debate in a way that I rarely hear, which is as a moral issue. Some people, this woman for example, feel that as a fairly wealthy, moral nation, it’s our obligation to make sure that our citizens receive healthcare. I suspect this is how so many countries ended up with a single payer system of some type or another. They went; well, it’s impossible to have a perfect healthcare system. The least we can do is try to make sure that everyone has access to what we can offer. I could be wrong about that, for some reason the heads of state from Afghanistan, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the United Kingdom don’t consult me on these matters. (And yes folks, all those countries listed have some sort of publicly sponsored universal healthcare system.)

This next sign just perplexed me. “Unlike ACORN We’re Not Paid Stooges”. I’m going to be honest here; I don’t get what she was going for with this one. You may remember that ACORN is the community activist organization that has had a few different scandals, primarily from their mass voter registration drives and penchant for giving tax advice to pimps. I don’t know what she was trying to say, but the bold red ink and big block letters tell me that she really means it. I found the mention of ACORN a fun addition to the muddled political atmosphere at the event. Thank you ACORN lady!

I have saved the best for last. This final sign was THE sign at the event for me. Its horrible fear mongering was only topped by the glaringly obvious lack of understanding of the healthcare bill. This kind of crazy is the stuff I LIVE for! “Government Healthcare. A Lethal Injection. Seniors First. Baby Boomers Next.” Sweet mother it was a beautiful sight. And I had to stalk her to get the photo. She was a nimble lady, weaving around the crowd. The payoff of this photo was worth the effort. Now if you read The Magical Buffet, then you read my last Colbert Healthcare Challenge article where I posted the exact text of the advanced healthcare planning section of the bill. No where in it does it imply any sort of death panel or the administering of lethal injections. In fact, thorough advanced care planning, gives you more control over your death, not less. The idea of death panels and lethal injections also alludes to the concerns over “rationing of care”. This is the idea that the government will determine how your doctors will treat your health issues, etc. I have no doubt that a single payer system will involve some of that, not to the extent of the government killing you when you become too expensive (Although that does sound like an awesome sci-fi book or movie. It’s probably already been done.). On the other hand, I’ve had my assorted health insurance companies throughout the years restrict me from taking certain medications and not cover types of treatment. Remember, no healthcare system is perfect.

So what did I learn? For starters, Congressman Murphy can be one savvy mother (hush your mouth!) when he needs to be. Good for him! More importantly, I learned that we’re all a bunch of irrational individuals, being pulled by the media, our personal sense of ethics, fear of the unknown, and more. That no one can bring themselves to admit the truth, which is there is no answer to the healthcare debate. That dazzling ignorance that we all possess, myself included, is what makes Americans such a heartwarming, frightening, and contrary bunch. I think that’s just fantastic.