digital interfaces

7 November 2009 10:08 AM (america | spain | health care | fascism)

I made some tomato and red pepper soup for lunch yesterday. Before I had a chance to eat it, the universe decided it still needed more red, and that I should try something stupid with a pocketknife. I sliced up my left forefinger and thumb pretty good.

This blog seems to be specializing in thoughts just before blood, so here it is: ah fuck, going to have to get stitches. I knew that in the first second.

Thankfully, there's a CAP (Centre d'Atenció Primària) in most neighborhoods, so after laying down on the couch to make sure I wouldn't faint, and grabbing chocolate from the cupboard, considering I hadn't yet eaten the soup, I walked the 10 minutes to the CAP, my hastily bandaged hand held high. People looked at me funny.

An hour and a half later, well, four stitches in the index finger, three on the thumb. But I'm ok.

* * *

I hear that some family of mine is going to these "tea party" protests. If you're not plugged into the States political scene, the deal is this: the Republican brand is broke, and everyone knows it. But there is so much anger at their base. So voila Republican anger without the Republican state trappings, a catchment of the neofascist tendencies in all of us, whipped up around a symbol: the idea that Obama is a foreign element, an outsider, not of us, coming to enslave us all.

One of my family writes, referring to the return of another from these "tea party" protests:

When you are released and your tracking anklet has been removed. . . what do you say we move to Montana and prepare for the movie Red Dawn? We don't have to paint Wolverine on the side of every Afghan or Obamian tank that we destroy, but we can live off the land, sleep under the stars and pee in overheated radiators. The enemy will be obvious out there. I remember Sesame Street. . . . which one does not look like the others. . . . got it. Always look for the red dot and the table cloth on the head.

This makes me so sad. And the thing that's really binding them together, even the less racist, is hatred of "Obamacare" -- the idea that one should be able to walk into a clinic, get treated well and kindly, and walk out, regardless of your employment status, without signing for anything, without paying anything, as I did yesterday, in this foreign land.

8 responses

  1. sharon says:

    i'm sorry about your injury. ian and i were just discussing tea parties this morning (and tea bagging, but that was just for fun). this post is a great reminder of what health care should look like. timely. even if you had to be a martyr and injure yourself to make a point.

    also, holycrap, that is so the opposite of what sesame street taught me. frowny.

  2. Alex says:

    Holy crap. They even get their West-Asian racial stereotypes mixed up.

    I used to be a Republican, but I left because of crap like that (and creationists). I won't join the Democrats because they are also infested with crazies (i.e. Hollywood-serving intellectual property fascists). What the US needs is a political rebellion against bullshit.

  3. wingo says:

    @sharon: Thanks for stopping by :-)

    @Alex: Yeah, the funny thing is that I'm down with the back-to-the-land, anti-government thing. I've lived in Montana (well, Whitefish; perhaps it doesn't count?), and I want to move somewhere rural and grow my own food. But without the know-nothingism, please.

    These people would probably be lovely neighbors, if you happen to be white. I honestly think that they are victims in their own way. (By way of explanation, not of excuse.)

  4. Jeff Walden says:

    I'm sorry, but your musings on Republicans are full of strawmen.

    The birther fringe thing is as much a part of the right as 9-11 trutherism is of the left -- that is to say, a negligible portion. Would you like a list of well-known right-wing commentaries making fun of birthers? It's pretty simple do so.

    Regarding Obamacare...well...tanstaafl. What gives a person a *right* to health care coverage no matter how much or little work they may do to earn it, no matter how many or few pleasures they might have to sacrifice to pay for it? Ultimately such a massive entitlement will be overpaid for by the haves and underpaid for by the have-nots. Why should anyone *deserve* anything they have not *earned* for themselves?

    Also: racism? C'mon, there are clear, substantial policy differences between small-government and big-government philosophies. There is absolutely no need to jump to a conclusion of racism to explain political divisions, not when the obvious conclusion is so eminently plausible (not to mention correct).

  5. wingo says:

    Hi Jeff. Thanks for stopping by.

    I believe that health care is a right, both morally and legally. Legally I refer to the UNDHR, article 25, to which the US is a signatory, but I don't really want to argue legalisms. Legalisms got us 3/5 people and Jim Crow, after all. It's simply that caring for one's neighbor is the right thing to do, regardless of their status.

    Taking my particular case, insignificant though it may be -- what if I were in the states, and without insurance? There would be an incentive for me to stay home maybe, thinking that maybe those cuts would heal. If things got bad, that could leave me with permanent damage. If we can agree that two people have the same right to life -- a fundamental ethical principle if there ever were one -- than perhaps we can also agree that they have same right to limbs. (Not to mention liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.)

    The worth of a finger does not depend on the market salary of the "owner" of that finger.

    Also, I prefer to be treated by someone who has an interest in me, and not an interest in my being just well enough to work for my employer, who is the one who's really paying the bills.

    One of the reasons I find living in a foreign country interesting is that occasionally words pop up in funny contexts. In the US we would say "petroleum extraction" or something, but in Spanish it's more common to say "exploitation", in its original economic sense: deriving excess value from the utilization of a resource. Why hire an employee? To exploit them. The poor are poor not because they don't work hard enough, but because they are exploited. You can't get rich without exploitation. So I don't buy the fairness-and-handouts argument.

    Anyway, not meaning to provoke a raging flamewar :) I actually don't have much of a problem with conservatives, but the Republican party is no longer the party of Eisenhower.

  6. Jeff Walden says:

    Caring for a neighbor may be the right thing to do, but that doesn't mean it's the government's job to do it. Also be careful how you apply "care"; sometimes what's needed isn't "care" in the sense of whatever help they immediately need but rather a treatment of the deeper symptoms. For example, someone with severe, persistent diarrhea will become dehydrated, but that doesn't mean the right response is to just to make the person drink water.

    In your second paragraph, I would point out that it is a right to the *pursuit* of happiness. The deprivation or absence of some particular form of happiness, if it is attributable to the actions or inactions of a person, is not a wrong.

    Employer-provided insurance was an accident in the United States brought about by ill-conceived changes to the tax code. The American system would be much better off in the long run if health insurance purchased outside of employment played on the same field as insurance provided by an employer -- precisely because it does increase concern for the patient by the doctor, and precisely because it does increase concern by the patient that he get the most efficient care he can find (that is, the least expensive care that providing what he wants).

    I don't understand "Why hire an employee? To exploit them." When a company hires me, it does so because it wants the value I can produce for it. When I accept employment there, I do so because I want the value they provide me in salary and non-tangible benefits. They have to want me, and I have to want them. It takes two to play the game. The system rewards the more skillful in such matters, but wouldn't we be happy that it encourages more productive behaviors?

    Eisenhower was easily thirty years after my time, so I can't really speak to him yet. There's always more to learn. :-) No flame war, just discussion and constructive criticism.

  7. Jeff Walden says:

    Er, "deeper illness" perhaps, "symptoms" was a bad choice of word there (although I'm sure my meaning was still reasonably clear).

  8. Roger Robbe says:

    Hey Andy! Been readin' yer log!

    I came across your blog quite by accident - I was researching streaming conferencing solutions, and I am across a post here that didn't help me too much, but I saw Wingo at the top of the page and knew it could only be one WINGO!!!

    Well, that's a bummer man, and it's always more of a bummer when it's family. I remember that I was with my pops for christmas dinner as a kid, and we were having a huge family dinner at my aunt's place. She owned a restaurant and earned most of her living on "senior night." Well, she went to Chicago with my uncle to visit some family, and she got lost and needed some directions. As she told the story at the dinner table, she explained how they asked a black man for directions - except she used "it" instead of "he." Like, "and we were scared of it, a little, but we asked it anyway. Sure enough, it knew where to go." And I remember my dad telling my aunt that it was a person, and my aunt saying "what you want me to say, Jigaboo?" And we left in the middle of dinner, straight away.

    I can sympathize with anti-government conservatives too. Some of my favorite films from the 60's and 70's, for example, run along those lines. But really, most of those people have little patience for nuance and want a whole lot of business, something that sounds real horrorshow to me.

    But also, that bit about "why hire an employee - to exploit them" rings a little bit too monochromatic to me. If you look at capitalism and what happens as it spreads, you see that the poor become less poor, people have less children, infant mortality is reduced, and people live longer. I think that kind rhetoric about exploitation has it's place, but I wouldn't use it as a general observation.

    As always, I think the primary problems with capitalism are the conflicts with sustainability and coercion - but poverty doesn't seem to me like one of the big problems with capitalism. At least not in the same conversation as employment in the West.

    Ice breaker! I'll be back at your blog con frecuencia.

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