By my friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies
I had a pretty lengthy rant going on Local Edge Radio the other day. I started with the arrogance and mean-spiritedness of Justice Antonin Scalia, making light of the Affordable Care Act, complaining it was too long to read and saying it was OK to let people die.
It was NOT OK to let my son die, or any other American whose life could be saved by appropriate medical treatment. A study released this week placed the United States 19th out of 19 industrialized nations in health care outcomes. Dead last (pun intended). It also estimated 101,000 Americans die each year because they lack access to appropriate treatment.
Someone commented to me that we can’t afford to treat everyone — just look at all the problems the Euro-nations are having.
Well, first of all, the economic mess comes from the power of Wall Street and the big banks to do whatever they please, rob the economy blind, take us to the brink of world economic disaster and suffer no punishment for it. Secondly, every one of those countries pays far, far less than we do for health care because it costs far, far less to care for people before they become critically ill. It costs far, far less to treat mental illnesses in a clinic than it does in a jail, which is where some 60 percent of people with chronic and persistent mental illnesses get treatment nowadays.
And we’re just talking about the financial cost, not the human cost of allowing people to suffer needlessly.
Regulation is important, not just for health insurance companies, but for banks, Wall Street, utilities — every industry. Without it, you get economic meltdown as the 1 percent steals ever more from the working class.
Without regulation, there is less safety in the workplace — the reason my son has had third-degree burns three times where he works.
The Right would have us believe government can do nothing right. They point to schools, which have been defunded at historic rates. When schools were funded, American children had the best education system in the world. That hasn’t been true since the 1980s. In fact, we have been slipping badly.
Now they’re defunding highways and transportation, claiming that the market will build and maintain roads where they’re needed. Yes I have heard that claim many times; I’m not making it up.
But you still can turn on your tap and get water. You still have libraries and police and fire departments you can call when you need them — at least until the Right privatizes them or eliminates them entirely by defunding them. Already, we’re seeing concerted efforts to reduce their power to negotiate and reduce their salaries and benefits.
Workers’ salaries aren’t keeping pace with inflation. In every city in the country, it takes more than twice the minimum wage to pay for even the most basic needs (housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, child care). Those basic needs do not include cable TV, any meals out, including McDonald’s, or Internet service.
Why do you suppose that’s true? Well, we’ve villified the American worker and killed the unions.
This sustained attack on working Americans has reduced our salaries and increased our debt — it hearkens back to the Guilded Age when factories put people up in company-owned housing and paid them in company scrip which could only be spent at the company store. Prices at the store were high enough to keep workers in debt so they couldn’t leave.
If you think that’s not where we’re headed, think again.
And now they attack women, forcing us to have transvaginal sonograms — against our and our doctors’ wills — before we can have a perfectly legal surgical procedure. They call us whores because we want to be the ones to decide when and if we will bear children, as though we can’t be trusted to control our own bodies.
I lived through the changing of those laws. I thought we had changed attitudes too, but apparently, we weren’t as successful as we thought.
We are engaged in endless wars, killing and maiming our soldiers while asking nothing of any of the rest of us. The military-industrial complex is making billions off of these wars while soldiers and their families suffer with not enough pay and not enough care, not to mention the misery we inflict on the populations of people we attack. But if we demand an end to war, we’re told we’re not supporting the troops. That’s bullshit, pure and simple.
I’m tired of the attacks on the American people and I’m furious about the lies they perpetrate on us.
The Affordable Care Act will not result in rationed care; that’s being done already by Big Insurance. It will not mean people over 75 will be refused treatment for cancer, not like my 30-year-old son was refused care because he didn’t have insurance. These things are deliberate lies.
You bet I’m angry.