Monday, July 12, 2010

A sign of the times

A few days ago I saw a bus on the streets of Albuquerque bearing a large sign that read “Abortion is an Obama Nation.” Being a fan of country music, I enjoy clever plays on words and puns, so I had to admire the play on the word abomination. On the other hand, I am also a fan of accuracy, and I prefer information to distortion. Whatever one may think of the morality of abortion, there is no truth whatsoever to the claim, implied on the sign on the bus, that President Obama is promoting or facilitating abortion. It is not true that the health care bill passed this past winter is going to enable tax-payer dollars to pay for abortions. That claim is another of the many examples of shameless emotional manipulation that has taken the place of rational political debate in the United States.

But what if the new health care bill did provide funds for women seeking legal abortions? Would that be any reason to oppose the bill? It is in the nature of health insurance policies of all kinds that people who require medical attention and who have insurance policies can have legal medical procedures at least partially paid for through their insurance plans. This means that careful drivers help pay for the medical procedures needed by those who are injured in accidents caused by careless drivers. It means that non-smokers pay for the illness acquired by smokers, that thin people for for diseases acquired by obese people, that joggers and people who routinely work out at the gym pay for the illnesses of couch potatoes, that vegetarians pay for medicare care of meat eaters, and that pacifists help pay for people who are wounded as a result of participating in wars they have volunteered to fight. That is how insurance works. It ceases to work as soon as some policyholders refuse to allow their premiums to pay for medical care needed by other people with different lifestyles, political views or social values.

Public health insurance, such as Medicare, does not and cannot allow non-smoking teetotaling contributors to opt out of the plan because their contributions are paying for smokers and those who have used alcohol. Public health insurance schemes work just like all other health insurance schemes in this respect. Those who opt to be covered for medicare care they may need someday cannot elect which other people can receive medical care, nor can they determine the circumstances under which other subscribers will be covered.

The fact that it has come to be seen as a legitimate issue that some insurance policies may cover medical procedures that some policyholders do not approve of is one of the many signs of the decline of skill in thinking clearly. This decline has reached epidemic proportions. Clear thinking is hardly encouraged by anyone in the commercial world, because people who think clearly do not buy products they do not need or really want, and when people stop buying what they do not need, many an unnecessary business enterprise suffers.

Clear thinking is also not encouraged by politicians of any major party, since clear-thinking people are unlikely to support politicians who are mostly funded by commercial enterprises that encourage policies that serve the interests only of the stockholders who invest in businesses and neglect the interests of consumers, workers, the environment and people in general. Sloppy thinking is essential to the maintaining the status quo in American commercial and political life. And so slogans replace discussion; implications replace evidence; and deception replaces information.

Just about everything in contemporary American has become an abomination. The United States is a country in steep decline. There are some of us who are still waiting for the Obama nation that the Democratic party promised us during the election season of 2008, but to hope for a liberal or progressive government is to hope against all evidence. Sadly, the Obama nation has proven to be more of the same old abomination we came to expect under the leadership of Presidents Reagan, Bush pére, Clinton and Bush fils.

At least we still have country music filled with clever wordplay to amuse us as we slip steadily into the abominations of mediocrity.


Anonymous said...

Agreed that Pres. Obama did not do anything--or did very minimal-- to remove the policy abominations of the Bush era.
Your remark:
"The fact that it has come to be seen as a legitimate issue that some insurance policies may cover medical procedures that some policyholders do not approve of is one of the many signs of the decline of skill in thinking clearly."

This abominable "refusal principle" has taken over the Idaho legislature to the extent that they passed this year a measure that allows pharmacists to not fill scrips for meds that their personal religious values disapprove.

Worse--the new law also allows doctors to not follow, for personal religious reasons, the prescriptions of end of life patients on their end of life treatment. So our living will in this state might be subject to denial because we got the wrong MD on our case.