At the moment, it is clear that the big U.S.ian political issue is health care. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about it – and one of the most bizarre arguments that I’ve heard in a long time is the idea that human beings have to earn their right to go to a doctor when they’re sick.
We have a weird system, in which we expect a person to have a job – or at least be dependent on a person with a job – in order to go to a doctor. As a result, we have this completely bizarre idea that one “earns” health care – as though this is somehow a measure of a person’s worth or status. As a reward for being gainfully employed (or the dependent of someone gainfully employed), you get to go to a doctor. Perhaps you’ll even get to go to a good doctor with excellent facilities if you work for a big enough company to have good benefits. If you’re very, very lucky, perhaps you’ll even be able to go to a dentist or an optician.
Of course, this idea conveniently looks past all the people that work in low paid, thankless and important jobs with no benefits, who are often working much harder and for less money than us office monkeys, who are busy “earning” our health care. It looks past small business owners and people who work for companies with under 500 employees, who frequently can’t afford to have decent health care plans. It looks past people who are too sick to work that have slipped through the cracks of our systems – well, they haven’t “earned” their health care. Clearly they don’t deserve medical attention.
People, we have gone seriously, seriously wrong when money is more important than helping a human being — any human being — get adequate medical care. Not being affiliated with a religious group, my morals are of course incredibly suspect by the majority of the population (goodness knows I could never be President), but even I can tell you that this is fundamentally wrong. I am quite frankly amazed that this concept is even up for discussion. I admit to being particularly appalled in listening to religious conservatives talk about the value of a human life in terms of money because this seems so contrary to what I would think their values should be. What happened to community and compassion? What *would* Jesus do? Would he say, “Oh, sorry, you don’t have insurance, so I can’t help you”?
Personally, I would much prefer that my tax money go to helping people (“illegal” and legal) go to the doctor on my dime than have one more penny go towards building more bombs and weapons, invading more countries and killing more civilians. Ethically and morally, this is a simple decision for me – killing people is bad and saving lives is good. Our military budget is exponentially larger than any other country’s — how much more fruitfully could we reallocate this money? Why aren’t the people protesting our tax money going towards weapons of war? Why does giving it to financial institutions get people in the streets, but not the continued and growing military budget?
How on earth did we come to let money dictate our morality?
Stand up people. Dream with me.