DYING POOR AND EARLY IN AMERICA
Hello Canada and Mexico. You seem to be forever hanging out in the shadow of whatever self-proclaimed “greatness” the colossus that separates your borders can conjure up. But here is your chance and now is the time, together or separately, to leap out from the shadows of national self-doubt that seem to bind you to America. America is about to dump 24 million people off the rolls of those presently with access to meaningful healthcare. This is your moment to shine, don’t let it pass.
Please, flood the airwaves in Trumplandia with your proclamations that everyone, EVERYONE, has access to healthcare in your countries. Yes, with a combined population of around 160 million people, all of them have access to meaningful healthcare – rich, poor, black, white, brown, yellow, gay, straight, sick and healthy.
This is what moral, decent, and inclusive societies do for each other. Meanwhile, after America elected the “Make America Great Again” team, the first major domestic policy initiative advanced for the benefit of those who chose this path to greatness promises to drastically REDUCE the number of citizens with access to meaningful healthcare.** Contrast this with Mexico, where in less than a decade, by 2012 Mexico had achieved universal access to healthcare by ADDING fifty-six million people to its government-funded healthcare rolls.***
To be completely clear, the new “improved” healthcare “access” plan in the US is a policy initiative drafted, proposed, and supported by the Republican Party that controls the US Congress and fully supported by Trump and his acolytes. To drive this point home, a bunch of rich, white, Christian, Republican Congressmen and Trump himself, each of whom has access to premium healthcare coverage mostly paid for by taxpayers, have been front and center trying to sell the nation their morally bankrupt plan for the rest of us.
It seems that these geniuses have figured out that removing lots of people from the ranks of those who now have access to meaningful healthcare in America will cost a lot less than actually providing access to that care. They are correct. If you want to reduce your costs in just about anything, get rid of things that cost money – BMW too expensive to drive, get rid of it, Armani suit too expensive to clean, get rid of it. The formula works just as well with people – if providing access to healthcare for all is too expensive, just get rid of those too poor or too sick to pay their own way.
This vision of America shaped by Trump and his Christian Republican buddies no longer even pretends to envision a humane society. They spend more time worrying about the health of their dogs and the caliber of their firearms than they do those human beings in our society who need help to care for themselves.
Those curious about how this came to pass need look no further than conservative doctrine that glorifies individual liberty at the expense of collective conscience and collective responsibility, fully aided and abetted in America by right-wing Christian dogma that preaches Christian virtue without ever demanding that virtuous thought translate into virtuous action. Without caring much about what Jesus would think about all this, I do wonder what Jesus would do were he around. Perhaps more important, I wonder when caring Christians will separate themselves from the pack and demand more from their brethren than false prophecy.
Nowhere is this notion of the glorification of the individual at the expense of a collective conscience more pronounced than in whatever passes for debate in America about access to meaningful healthcare for all. As early as 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 25, recognized access to meaningful healthcare as a basic human right.**** Believe it or not, the UN Committee that drafted the UDHR was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and the America of then voted for adoption of the UDHR and supported its adoption by other nations.
Unfortunately, the America of now long ago forgot what it meant to speak to international morality from a foundation grounded in national achievement and moral aspiration. That America of the past is the same nation that embraced the vision of a world free of disease and hunger and in which advancing medical care would add meaning to the unalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the US Declaration of Independence.
Today, protection of those supposedly “unalienable” rights is in the hands of venal scum, mostly self-declared Christians, who would turn their backs on 24 million sick and needy citizens and tout it as an accomplishment. Church services with these folks must overflow with good cheer knowing that each of them will pay a little less so that others may suffer a little more.
I choose no church and a much different message – if it costs more, pay it, if it spares pain and suffering from others in our communities, do it, and if only one sick child is saved, it will have been worth the expense and effort.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25:
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.