I’m a wreck.
Doctor told me so yesterday. I went in for a check up. And to have my blood pressure looked at. And my bad back. And my ulcer. And my cold.
Came out with a prescription for a third medication, appointments for an X-ray and blood work, a consult with a GI who will probably order some tests, and a referral for physical therapy.
About the cold, I’m just going to have to suff.
Needless to say, I left there feeling mighty sorry for myself.
It wasn’t until I was on my way home that I started thinking about what I hadn’t had to think about while I was promising the doctor I would do all the things he wanted me to do, including coming back in two weeks for a follow-up.
That I can do all these things.
I will have the prescription filled, get the X-ray, have blood drawn, see the GI, undergo whatever tests he orders, and sign-up for PT because I can.
Our insurance will cover it all.
Just about all of it. We have co-pays, but they’re not too big. And all of it is pre-approved by the insurance company.
Not only that, but because of where we live, I was able to get appointments right away---I could have had the X-ray done across the hall, right then and there, no waiting, but I didn’t have time, so I’m going back Thursday morning, when I will also have the blood work and see the GI.
I’m a lucky guy.
But what if I wasn’t?
What if we didn’t have as good insurance or any insurance?
What if I wasn’t lucky? What would I do if I had to pay for all this out of my own pocket?
What do people with bad backs, high blood pressure, ulcers, and colds, just to name a few minor examples of the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to and that can wreck you and your life, and who don’t have insurance do?
They don’t go to the doctor, if they can help it. They live with the backaches and the headaches and the heartburn. They pop aspirin and chew Rolaids all day. They try to ignore it and hope it goes away or at least doesn’t get any worse. They keep going as best they can until they can’t go on anymore, until their back seizes and lays them out on the floor or they learn the ulcer isn’t an ulcer it’s you know what or their heart bursts or a blood vessel pops and they drop dead from a heart attack or a stroke.
And then at their wake some Republican friend looks down into their coffin and says, “Your own fault, pal.”
“You should have planned better. You should have made smarter decisions. You should have managed your money more wisely. You should have taken better care of yourself, and don’t give me any crap about genetics. You should have lived your life the way I lived mine. You should have arranged things so that you were as lucky as I’ve been.”
Well, no they don’t.
At least not that very last bit.
You’d never hear one say, “I’ve been lucky.”
They haven’t been lucky.
They’ve been deserving.
They’ve deserved everything they have because they’ve earned it.
They earned having the parents they had. They earned being born in the richest, freest country in the world. They earned having no genetic predispositions to high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, schizophrenia, cancer. They earned not being hit by a bus when they were in grade school. They earned having a roommate in college who was able to explain general relativity or Hamlet to them the night before that midterm. They earned not having the plus sign turn blue. They earned that the company they went to work for didn’t go belly up when the market crashed or let them go in the round of mass layoffs that followed. They earned having children who didn’t get deathly sick or have disabilities or develop emotional problems or drug habits that required them to take their focus off their jobs, take time off work, and cause their bosses to say, “We feel your pain, but we can’t afford to carry you anymore if you’re not here to pull your weight. Here’s your hat, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Make sure you give your cell phone to security. And, no, we don’t have any idea what you’re going to do about insurance now and we don’t care and we don’t have to care and anyway you should have planned better. You should have saved more. You should have worked harder. You should have been luck…You should have deserved not to have what’s happened to you happen to you.”
They deserve it. They earned it. You? You didn’t. If you had, you’d have it. QED. And what you didn’t earn and don’t deserve, you don’t get. Simple as that. You suff.
I don’t understand this. How can anyone think like this? When someone’s in trouble, you help them. You don’t ask them if they deserve to be helped.
“I’d like to give you a lift, pal. But let me ask you. Before you set out on this trip, did you have the oil checked? Did you top off the fluids? And how come you’re driving a beater like that anyway?”
“Hold on! I’ll get a ladder! But before I do, I got to know. How’d the fire start? Were you smoking in bed? Did you leave something on the stove? Did you let the kids play with matches? How many smoke alarms do you have? Where do you keep the fire extinguishers?”
But this is the essence of Paul Ryan’s budget, the Republican budget, Mitt Romney’s “marvelous” budget, isn’t it? It’s the guiding ethos of Romney’s campaign. If you don’t have it it’s because you didn’t earn it, so you don’t deserve it. And if you don’t deserve it, you don’t get it.
So you’d better start doing more to deserve it.
It’s government based on the ant’s reply to the grasshopper, with the sneering assumption that they’re all ants and everybody else is a grasshopper.
It’s the model for a society based on the idea that if your car breaks down, you start walking, no matter if you’re old and sick and can’t walk or if you have a baby in the car you can’t leave alone, because you should have had AAA.
A society in which you should have your own private fire department, just in case.
It’s a plan for a country where there’s no such thing as lucky. Just deserving and undeserving. And if you’re one of the undeserving?