When Alex and I were living in that socialized Heart of Darkness (and cheese and wine) known as France, I couldn't help but notice a few differences between French and American health care. The thing that really stuck out was how, well, free it is in France. After Alex was hospitalized for 6 days, diagnosed with asthma and prescribed a whole pharmacy worth of medicine, the bill added up to something like five Euro ($7.37 USD). All the rest of it was on the state's tab. There we were, two foreigners working in the public school system, and we were entitled to health care that many consider the best in the galaxy, all for the price of a couple croissants.
Now here's where the conservative will raise a finger in objection: It's not free! Do you know how much people in Europe pay in taxes?
Yes, and I answer: so what? We paid taxes when we lived there. We were happy to. And now I want to know: what the hell is this big objection to paying taxes anyway? Because it seems like every argument made by a conservative about any issue nowadays is all about not wanting to pay taxes. Well, almost any issue, because then again, I don't remember hearing too much bitching about the tax money it would cost to obliterate two Middle Eastern countries and tens of thousands of Middle Eastern lives. So, what gives? Billions to take lives is OK, but billions to save lives isn't? That is something I'll never understand.
Really, I don't have anything very eloquent or sophisticated to say about all this, but I will throw out a few gut reactions. People want to know whether the health care reform is going to come out of their paychecks. Uh, yeah. But then doesn't the money we fork over to insurance companies to usually not pay for our medical expenses come out of our paychecks? Just like Alex's $60 monthly asthma medication that our insurance doesn't cover comes out of our paycheck? What the fuck is the difference? Oh yeah. The government can't be trusted with our money.
But seriously, let's talk taxes for a second longer. I want to know what's wrong with chipping in to make the country a better place to live? To improve schools? To maintain infrastructure. To assure that everyone has basic medical coverage? We've seen what privatization and deregulation did for us. It's bad policy, because too many corporate executives are greedy, ravening fuckheads.
Anyhow, here's three things I noticed during two years abroad:
1) The public schools in France are good, and get this: school lunches are nutritious. Not a tater tot to be found.
2) The roads in France are impeccable. During one two-week period when we had a car I couldn't help marveling at how smooth and well maintained the highway system was. In contrast, the relatively short stretch of I-77 that connects Cleveland to Akron has been like a demilitarized zone since the days when Cleveland last won a major championship.
3) The healthcare system put ours to absolute and utter shame.
Well, I have no confidence that this healthcare bill is going to amount to anything, even if it does pass, but I would like to know where the McBoners stand. So please take a moment to answer the poll question to your right.