August 31st, 2009


Background on Health Care

Here is a thoughtful article about the history of health care in America in recent decades:

Michael Winship | Even Camelot Needed Health Care
Michael Winship, Truthout: "The first time I ever heard the dreaded phrase 'socialized medicine' was during John F. Kennedy's presidency, when the GOP fought his administration's attempts at health care reform. And during his own, all too brief presidential campaign in 1968, when Bobby Kennedy told audiences that decent medical care should not be a luxury of the rich, he quoted Aristotle: 'If we believe men have any personal rights at all, then they must have an absolute moral right to such a measure of good health as society can provide.'"

This Week on Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews...

This week's posts over on Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews were:

Book Review: Light Years Ahead
Notable Comments from August 2009
Author News: “Seven Peaches Sells Out”
Discussion: Friday Favorites 8-28-09
Promoting Science Fiction Poetry
Author News: The Aztec Eagle
Book Review: “The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Blind Characters”

I especially call people's attention to that last entry, The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Blind Characters. Discussions about vision impairment and other handicaps have come up on this blog before; I know I have some audience members with such challenges, and some writers with characters in the same boat. The book is very good, written by a blind woman who also works with accessibility materials. This comes from Holly Lisle's "33 Mistakes" series of reference books for writers, written by various experts; there's a link to the HollyShop in the left sidebar of Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews if you want to browse the rest of them.

How the American Health Care System Destroys Families

I'm not exaggerating. This disturbing trend is described in an article -- how the health care system drives people to divorce when they don't want to do that. Now, I had heard somewhat about this before, but there's a new and tremendously ugly twist:

After you divorce someone, the government can seize YOUR assets for FIVE YEARS to pay your ex-spouse's medical bills.

This is because they know that people sometimes divorce to avoid paying medical bills they can't afford. So for those of you who want to avoid situations in which the government can take your money against your will to pay for someone else's medical bills: that is already happening. This clearly demonstrates, in a "by their deeds you shall know them" way, that America does not really have "family values" but in fact values money above all else; the society is happy to destroy families and individual lives to get at money it thinks it deserves to take away from people. I am most vehemently against this abomination of a law, so if anyone has links to a protest against it, please let me know.

Until Medical Bills Do Us Part
Critics fret that health care reform would undermine American family values, not least by convening somber death panels to wheel away Grandma as if she were Old Yeller.</span></span>
But peel away the emotions and fearmongering, and in fact it is the existing system that unnecessarily takes lives and breaks apart families.

Also worth noting is the number of preventable deaths caused by flaws in the current health care system: about 18,000 per year. The official death toll of the 9/11/2001 attack was 2,993 and America went absolutely bear-sark as a result. But we quietly murder about 9 times that many of our own citizens every year. I consider it murder because those deaths are preventable and are deliberately caused by the choices of other persons. So, about every half an hour someone dies because in America, you only have a right to life if you have the money to pay for it.

America today is an ugly country. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it were a safe and healthy place for everyone to live. I wish it supported family life for real, instead of lying that it supports family values while engaging in multiple acts that tear apart families of various kinds.

Health Care Reform: What Are You Doing?

A thread on another post led to this exchange with bearleyport:

bearleyport I don't think it's about the real cost and benefits of health care. It's about who deserves to be treated. We're immersed in a culture that confuses wealth with virtue and poverty (or victimization) with vice.

ysabetwordsmith I believe that everyone deserves to have the health care that they need. I believe that wealth is a very foolish way to assess the value of a human being.

bearleyport What are we going to do about it?

So far, I have done these things in attempt to improve this situation:

  • gritted my teeth and decided that things have gotten so bad I have to tackle this topic personally and directly, although it is a topic I hate and would greatly prefer to leave to people who are more fluent with it

  • talked with my doctor (who favors a single-payer system, and says his colleagues do likewise)

  • sought, read, and collected a wide range of resources regarding American (and foreign) health care from a variety of perspectives

  • shared the best resources, via links, with my audience

  • reviewed Howard Dean's book about health care reform

  • launched a number of discussions about health care, mainly here but also over on <i>Gaiatribe</i> and occasionally in person

  • tried to cultivate a relatively open, sane, logical, and benign forum for such discussions, despite the fact that it's a contentious issue and people feel very strongly about it -- with mixed success

  • sent dozens of letters to assorted representatives exhorting them to take various actions to improve America's health care system so that our citizens do not suffer and die needlessly; there are 5 just on the current screen of my profile

  • given up hope that I'm going to be able to set this aside any time soon, and added the category "Health Care" to my Causes on

  • articulated my moral, practical, and other reasons for why health reform is crucial

  • searched for common ground as people argue different points and perspectives, with special attention to problems that will need to be fixed and areas of agreement that could be expanded

  • generally encouraged other folks to become active on this issue before the damage becomes irreparable

What have you done, or are doing, about this? Links to your posts about it elsewhere, or to things you've done that other people may want to join, are welcome.

Thoughts About Handguns

I found this interesting post by someone who found that increased exposure to handguns strengthened their position against such things. It is thoughtful rather than rantish, something I always like to encourage. It is also based on actual rather than theoretical experience; everyone is entitled to their informed opinion, so exploration of issues is also to be encouraged.

I myself support the right to bear arms; there are contexts in which that is absolutely useful.