23 March 2010

Another Dispatch from the Pinko Commie Front

So, the health care bill. I agree, it's not perfect and it doesn't address all the issues I would like it to*. But I think it's a start.

Not all that long ago, I got really sick. (I haven't mentioned it here before - among other reasons, I've been recuperating rather than blogging about recuperating.) I was really sick. I spent a lot of time in hospitals while people worked to save my life.

Without health insurance, these would have been my options:
1. Death
2. Treatment - at the cost of $40,000 of debt

This is why I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, right? Which part of having to go $40,000 in debt in order to save your own life constitutes liberty or the pursuit of happiness? And I didn't even have something complicated and expensive like cancer!

Although I was lucky enough to have health insurance when I got sick, not everyone is as lucky as me. And it *is* luck. I had no input into being born white, which is a huge privilege - and that's just for starters. I've had lots of other privilege in my life, and I agree with Luke that "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required". Dave and I are solidly middle class - ostensibly the demographic getting "screwed" by this bill, and we both agree that we are HAPPY to have to pay a little bit more in our taxes so that fewer people have to decide between life and crippling debt.

For the record? When I was sick? If I'd had to make that choice? I would have chosen to die. I'm not saying that's what everyone would or should choose, but it would have been my choice. I was pretty motherfucking sick and I felt pretty motherfucking bad. So if you read this blog, you probably know me. Know that without health insurance, you would not be reading this right now, because I would be dead.

Thousands of Americans have to make non-hypothetical versions of my choice, and they not only have blog readers, they have friends and families and people who love them - but who aren't in a position to spot them $40,000. Just pause for a second, and let that idea sink in.

* I am most unhappy about the rabidly oppressive Stupak provisions, and second-most unhappy that the issue of the cost of health care hasn't been directly addressed. But my friend Jodi, an economist, wrote a great post about the way the bill works from an economic point of view, and she's a lot smarter than me more coherent than me on the issue.

I used to work for an insurance company, and at this job I learned that, in Massachusetts at least, no driver, no matter how risky, could be denied automobile insurance. If a driver is rejected from insurers via the traditional channels, he can get insurance via a secondary pool that all of the insurers have to contribute to. These premiums are higher than in most other cases, but at least there is an insurance option for people who want to operate a car. This seems to work pretty well, so why not have the same for health insurance?

In a way, that’s pretty much what we are ending up with. (For the record, it costs about twice as much to insure me as it costs to insure my car. This ratio is lower than it probably should be because I am a bad driver.) Insurance exchanges are being set up to serve customers who cannot get insurance from private companies directly. People are even being treated better than my car since they are getting subsidized if they have an income such that regular health insurance is “unaffordable.” (I hate that word, since it really has no good meaning, but you get my point.) And yes, this works in some fashion as a transfer from the more wealthy to the less wealthy, since it has to be paid for somehow and we have a progressive income tax. (See below for more on this point and deficit neutrality.)

Go read the whole thing, though; it's worth it. Plus there are cartoons!

14 March 2010

Weekend at Bernie's

The cat we call "Pig-Bear" got up onto the kitchen counter, using the dishwasher as a springboard and ate enough food for three cats. I called and called and she didn't show so I thought maybe she had just exploded somewhere, like at the bottom of the stairs where I wouldn't have heard the bang.

So I shut the dishwasher and refilled the bowl on the counter for the three who AREN'T too fat to jump up there, and she shuffled out from somewhere as soon as she heard the ping of nuggets bouncing off stainless. I have never seen such a guilty-looking cat.


04 March 2010

Babies really do say "Wah!"

So, I recently had the privilege of spending time with my sister and her new baby. (3-4 days old! We are both baby novices so it was actually really fun trying to figure out what the baby wanted and why she was crying. Fun, and also loud. That's the great thing about being an aunt, though - I could just be all, "hey, I'm heading out to meet a friend for drinks" and leave for a while, and then come back drunk after the baby was in bed.) Anyway - newborns are amazing, which is not something I had ever noticed before. It's like they have some kind of magical power so that you can just hold one and stare for hours and not get bored. Sort of like taking drugs, but with more control over the experience. And more barf and poop.

Anyway! I took about a thousand photos (really only about 300) and here are some of my sister, the baby, the baby-daddy (who is not only really handsome - way to go, Sue! - but is also an excellent baby-whisperer) and the baby-daddy's two kids (who are freaking adorable. I got to bake pink cupcakes with the little girl - she is 4 and a half and her brother is 2 and a half. I love kids at that age, they're so much fun to do stuff with. Plus they can talk, so they can tell you what's wrong. And the occasional melt-down is par for the course.)

So, pictures, now that you've gotten the cast of characters.

How sweet is that little mouth?

The baby whisperer ...

to the rescue!
(Seriously. She cries and he immediately flips her upside down or does some other kind of baby gymnastics and she calms down instantly.)

The kids are soooo into the baby, it's really sweet (when they aren't poking out her eyes by accident):

Everyone gathered around the baby for a worship session.

All her little outfits are too big since she's still an infant.

This is my favorite photo, out of all 300: