Shame on us

I was rowing yesterday.  Not on Lake Casitas.  In the house on the rowing machine in front of the TV.  It’s a chore that’s made bearable when there’s something good on the screen.  Like news that’s actually news or a movie that I haven’t seen three or four hundred times.

I often wonder why people keep paying the cable companies outrageous fees for the privilege of seeing the same flick run over and over and over again.  And then I remember that I’m one of those fools.

Luckily, I stumbled on The Girl in the Cafe.  A 2005 made-for-TV movie starring one of my favorite actors, Bill Nighy.  Not a household name, but an actor whose versatility is extraordinary.  Whether as the vicious, overpowering chief vampire in Underworld or, as an introverted, somewhat pathetic bureaucrat in The Girl in the Cafe, Nighy tends to steal the screen whenever he appears.

In Cafe, Nighy is a third level bean-counter attending a G8 conference in Iceland.  As a result of a chance encounter, he is accompanied by a young woman, played by Kelly Macdonald, whose background is a bit hazy.  At the conference, the G8 wrestles with the tragedy that afflicts millions of African children who die needlessly from malnutrition.  The conferees agree that something must be done. But they are reluctant to negatively impact their own economies by providing financial aid to the suffering masses.

It’s the apolitical Macdonald who Nighy squired to the conference, who gives us a lesson in humanity and saves the day.  She interrupts and quietly disagrees with a dinner speech by the British prime minister.  As part of her lesson, given at a table laden with delicacies, she snaps her fingers every three seconds.  Every three seconds someone in the world dies of malnutrition.  Every three seconds.

At the end of the movie and before the credits roll, a Nelson Mandela quote flashes on the screen…Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.

It seemed an appropriate quote for what’s going on in the great health care debate.  Nearly 50 million people without coverage and a lot more that are under-insured.  Alongside the rest of us.  Us with Medicare, Companion Care and Who Gives a Care.

To compound and abet the selfishness, misinformation is a co-conspirator.  For example, Paul Krugman’s column in the NY Times highlights what the Party-of-No propaganda has accomplished…

At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.”

We hate the idea of government-run health care…oh, except Medicare.  People like me and the other bozo from South Carolina love it.  You’d have to rip it from our cold dead hands.  But mention “government option” and alarms go off.  It’ll be just like the Post Office. You’ll be found comatose in the dead letter file.

Or…It’ll be the end of private insurance.  You know, the kind that denies care, cancels you retroactively, increases your premium twice a year, and spends more than the government does administering similar programs.

But all that pales when one out of seven of your neighbors have no, zero, nada coverage.  We agonize over whether we can afford it.  Can we afford to roll those 50 million in with the rest of us?  Wait, you say.  It’s too expensive.  I’ll have to pay higher taxes.  And the biggest objection of all…My own care will be compromised.  It’ll be rationed.  I’ll have to wait in line.  I’ll die.  Woe is me.  Leave me alone.  I’m happy.  This, in a country where eight of ten people call themselves  religious.

Maybe we’re not the great generation that Mandela spoke of.  If so, shame on us.


6 Responses to “Shame on us”

  1. 1 sidney cohn July 31, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Very good Fredila. Now send it to your buddies in Congress. I’m sure you have their contact numbers. So what if they don’t read it; it might make you feel better.


  2. 2 Harry Levin July 31, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I fully agree that affordable health care should be available to all citizens It’s hard to question your dialog since it’s so well written,but I have a few questions I would like to see answered. What are the circumstances Of those 50 million? Those truly down and out should have have access to medical attention. I have no compassion for people that have chosen to buy a $50,000 ski boat rather than pay into their health protection. I also feel that health care dollars paid by U.S. citizens should go to the benefits of citizens.
    I think some of the reluctance to Obama’s medical reform bill is because of these issues.
    One man’s opinion.


  3. 3 Shelly Griffen July 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Fred, Thanks for writing this. I will go out on a limb and say that there are those of us in your community who look like everyone else and are eeking by. Yes we have a car to drive and are making the payments on our mortgages. And we have made decisions which make it impossible for us to have health coverage. So we don’t. But are those decisions wrong? Staying home to raise our children instead of having someone else do that for us while we work for insurance. And working locally, so we don’t have to commute and further kill the earth that we would so love for our children to get the chance to enjoy as we have. These are difficult decisions and because of them we go without health insurance. I hope and pray that that will change soon. So it is not always a $50,000 ski boat that comes between a family and health insurance.



  4. 4 Mark August 1, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I aggree Shelly.
    As a single dad struggling to provide for my one child (yes one child only is my statement of committing to concerns for our environment)a few years ago I left the world of the self employed and signed up for that corporate job of golden opportunity. This new position came with a 401K, paid vacations and health insurance for both me and my son. The job required that I commute over 2 hours per day. I had to leave my young boy off at daycare before it got light in the morning and barely managed to pick him up from that facility before closing time in the evening. We scarcely saw each other, and I realized that I was entrusting his upbringing to underpaid daycare workers that really didn’t care about their job nor my child for that matter.
    My duties of employment required that I apply hundreds of gallons of agricultural chemicals every day.
    I began to get ill a few months into this new job. Upon seeking the medical treatment I was promised, the insurance company denied coverage because I hadn’t been with the company long enough. So I quit and went back to work for my self, my son and I were able to spend time together again, my physical and mental health improved. Ahh, but catch 22; I have no 401K, no health insurance, and can scarcely afford time off for that coveted American tradition known as a family vacation.
    Then WHAMMY! Cancer took over my body and my life. I repeatedly get denied when I apply for a health insurance policy due to my pre-existing condition. I do pay monthly for my son’s insurance policy. But in the eyes of some I am considered to be an irresponsible flake, a drain on society.
    My only recourse for the care that may save my life is State Medical, and for this coverage I am thankful. This state run system is inefficient at best, and it has been a nightmare to avoid falling between its cracks, and get the necessary treatment in time and stay a step ahead of my deteriorating condition.
    Aint that America? Land of the free, and the home of the brave.
    It angers the hell out of me when people insinuate that my situation is of my own making. I tried playing the corporate game only to get the corporate screw, and folks, that is America.


  5. 5 Bernadette Panama February 4, 2010 at 1:36 am

    There is evidently a lot for me to discover outside of my books. Thanks for the great read,


  6. 6 Babyrina July 30, 2010 at 6:01 am

    great research bro


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