Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Congressional Town Meeting

I went to Rep. Kind's town hall meeting on health care reform. Most of those attending were sincere people with valid concerns, but also a lot of wing nuts. The wing nuts stood at the back hooting and jeering. They looked like an assembly of town cranks. One randomly shouted "freedom!". Old ladies, Medicare eligible, with bouffant hairdo's shook their heads affirmatively as the cranks marched to the microphone, and told folks how they wanted the Government out of all health care. One old guy told me he had "given up" Medicare. He said he got Blue Cross for $100/mo. He was confused, obviously describing his Medicare Supplement policy, but he was nonetheless prideful about “kicking the government out”. Too many were like the lady who told Barney Frank at one of his town meetings that health care reform is a Nazi plot. See: He told her that addressing her was like arguing with the dining room table. That's how I felt about a lot of these nuts. One lady, apparently a clerk in a doctor’s office harangued the congressman about the ‘irresponsible” people who “won’t pay their bills”. She didn’t seem able or willing to consider for a moment that many self-employed and working poor might not be able to pay. A local veterinarian in what looked like a blue prison jump suit, said he wanted to get back to just the doctor and a patient, no insurance, no government. He said he works payment out with his patients and so should everyone. I believe, at least I hope, that his patients are animals. Sneering old men with sheaves of paper crumpled in their fists strode like Marshall Dillon to the mike and harangued Rep. Kind, who sat there smiling the same at critics and supporters. What was accomplished? I gained a whole new awareness of the power of the media to scare the wits out of folks with paid lies and distortions. I also saw in the young congressional aides standing about what looked like amused aloofness. For myself, I found very little that was funny in this American tragedy. Twenty two thousand unnecessary deaths a year for the uninsured is just not funny to me. Strangely, none of the opponents suggested alternative means of ending these unnecessary deaths. I don't think they considered these tragic deaths to be any of their business, and certainly not a moral responsibility.

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