[politics] Obamacare and open enrollment windows
One thing I haven’t seen discussed in the enrollment figures for ACA (or if it has been, I missed it), is the ludicrous mismatch between the ACA enrollment period and the open enrollment windows in most corporate insurance plans, including COBRA participants.
I’m terminally ill with advanced metastatic colon cancer, and expect to pass away by next summer unless I get very lucky with a clinical trial. Over the past five and half years, my insurance carrier has covered over $1.3 million in medical billing, most of it at a 25% contract discount rate, to keep me alive. In other words, they’re in for close to a million bucks on my already. The rest of my life will cost somewhere between $50,000 and $250,000 more, at an educated guess.
So you can imagine my keen interest in the ACA rules, specifically the elimination of lifetime spending caps which came along just in time to keep me from having to pay for my treatments out of pocket. A spending level you may rest assured I could not possibly meet on my resources. Likewise the elimination of restrictions on pre-existing conditions, which in my situation is obviously an enormous issue as well. Other family members on my coverage have pre-existing conditions also, so this problem exists for me long after my impending death.
I’m on COBRA now, as part of my exit from the workforce on Long Term Disability. COBRA is pretty pricey for me. I was very interested in ACA plans in my home state of Oregon, through the Cover Oregon program. But in order to retain my COBRA coverage, I had to respond during an open enrollment window in early November, which just ended. Meanwhile, in Oregon the ACA plans are not fully configured or priced, so I had no way to evaluate whether my replacement coverage through Cover Oregon would meet my very substantial end-of-life healthcare needs, let alone the more ordinary needs of my dependents.
I suspect there are tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands or more, people like me nationwide either trapped in expensive COBRA plans or in substandard employer-sponsored plans, who would have loved a shot at ACA enrollment. Had the law brought the enrollment window forward to Q4-2013 instead of Q1-2014, we could have done an apples-to-apples comparison and shopped accordingly, in conformance with good conservative free market principles. But the timing of the ACA means anyone with a mandatory open enrollment window in this last quarter of 2013 had to give the ACA a pass for 2014.
That right there would have made a huge difference in the Obamacare enrollment figures.
I’m pretty sure this is the kind of oversight you get when the people who write the rules never have to live by them. But it’s a very damaging one from a policy perspective, and a very annoying one from a personal perspective.
Don’t even get me started on how the disability system works, btw. It’s literally a racket, protected by law, that steals from people in their hour of greatest need.
For my own part, I’m just happy the lifetime spending caps are gone. There is no conservative plan for healthcare that involves anything for me other than “go ahead and die already”, so even though I cannot enroll in an ACA plan, I remain a strong supporter on a purely personal level as well as in line with my long held liberal-progressive principles.
Posted: 7:52 am Mon November 18 2013 | Comments(3) |
[culture|politics] Solutions designed by people who never have to use them
Lisa Costello and I were talking (again) recently about the concept of solutions designed by people who never have to use them. My favorite example for elucidating this concept is what happened to me when my former Day Jobbe employer was acquired by a much larger entity about five or six years ago.
I was being oriented on the new expense reporting system. This was a Web-based Oracle application, and had all the usual features of any expense reporting system. But it also required a great deal of input for accountability. Division code, project code, etc. This without even respect to whether or not an expense was client billable. There were weird lacunae in the feature set that didn’t correspond to how anyone traveling on an expense account actually spends money. And so forth. The result was a horribly clumsy and slow expense reporting system which to my long time analyst’s eye had clearly been designed to meet the requirements of the Legal department with respect to liability and discovery defense. It was a total pain in the ass that absolutely prioritized corporate risk management above functionality.
I finally said to the trainer, “Do any of the senior executives of the company ever have to use this system?” They looked embarrassed and said, “No, they all have admins to do it for them.” My response was, “If our CEO ever has file an expense report himself, we’ll have a new system the next day.”
Life is full of systems like that. Airline check-in processes, for example, are obviously designed to optimize for cost-of-labor, explicitly at the expense of efficiency, usability or the customer experience. Likewise most call centers and help desks. And likewise the entire apparatus of disability management in this country.
I’ve said many times before that our disability system is onerous and punitive, designed with the primary assumption that anyone making a claim is attempting to defraud. It treats people accordingly, and requires all sorts of entirely pointless paperwork and compliance steps from people in their hour of deepest need and least capability. These systems were designed with profit margins, preservation of capital, and fraud management as primary priorities. They were not designed by anyone concerned with helping the poor or disabled, and they certainly were not designed by anyone who ever for a single moment thought they, themselves might fall under the rules being put in place.
So with the ACA. I’m not talking about the issues with healthcare.gov, which are a topic of their own, but the whole clumsy mess built to accomplish a social goal which could have been accomplished much more cheaply and simply through Medicare eligibility expansion. (Among other routes.) All those hundreds of Republican amendments to the law are there to gum up the works, punish sick people for being sick, and poor people for being poor. That’s not what conservatives call it, of course — they have plenty of high minded rhetoric about resource management and audit and reducing dependency — but those are just lies Republicans tell themselves so they can sleep at night in the false belief they are doing the right thing.
But whether you’re talking about the basic Heritage Foundation template of the ACA, the framework written by the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats, or the thousand little land mines planted by the GOP, none of those pieces were designed by people who ever expected to use the system personally.
And thus we have the hot mess ACA we have today. My old employer’s corporate expense reporting mess writ large across the landscape of American society. And for the same reasons. Because the nominal purpose of the project is badly misaligned with the priorities of the people who designed it.
None of the solutions I see to the problems with the disability system or the ACA will ever come to pass. Forcing Congressional Republicans to take themselves and their families solely to public clinics for year is impossible. Privilege protects its own. And asking for empathy is a fool’s errand with modern conservatives, who seem to view empathy as weakness, even a sinful betrayal of principle. At best, a foolish form of compromise.
So, yeah. Solutions designed by people who don’t use them dominate our lives in ways small and great. Enjoy…
Posted: 4:53 am Tue October 29 2013 | Comments(2) |
[politics] The shutdown, the ACA, the GOP, and you
So we apparently have a deal to defer the debt limit a month or two down the road and at least temporarily rescind the shutdown. And there was much rejoicing in the land.
I’m not sure what was accomplished here. The only thing that’s really changed is a sop to the Republicans about tighter enforcement of the ACA’s subsidy provisions. Since this represents a way of further pointlessly punishing the poor, ill and needy, it fits right in with the rest of the Republican party platform.
Meanwhile, I see absolutely no evidence that the Ted Cruz faction of the Senate GOP and the Tea Party faction in Congress aren’t going to play exactly the same hostage-taking games in the upcoming budget rounds and debt limit deadline as they just did. In fact, quite the opposite: they’re already threatening to do so.
What I’ve gleaned from the recent fracas is that there are no more ‘reasonable Republicans’. Senators McCain, Graham, etc. could have stopped Senator Cruz any time they wanted by not supporting him in procedural votes. The Tea Party caucus in the House is something like 20% of the total Republican delegation, yet the majority-within-a-majority was helpless to deter their unprecedented brinksmanship.
And these 20 percenters somehow imagine that the American people will rise up and back them, if they can only get their message out successfully. They don’t believe the polls showing Americans overwhelmingly opposing the shutdown and growing in their support of Obamacare, they don’t believe the media reports. It’s all a conspiracy to keep the truth away.
Remember how well that denial of media coverage and ‘unskewing’ of polls worked for the Romney campaign in 2012?
Neither does the House GOP.
They threw almost a million people out of work, did billions of dollars of damage to the economy, made the United States a worldwide laughingstock, all for a conservative temper tantrum about a law they don’t like, and apparently to preserve Speaker Boehner’s job.
And all of this mess for what? The successful implementation of a healthcare plan first proposed by far right think tank the Heritage Foundation? A healthcare plan first implemented by Republican governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and widely considered highly successful? A law negotiated in the House and Senate incorporating hundreds of Republican amendments to address conservative concerns, gutting the progressive heart of the bill in favor of driving revenue to private sector health insurance carriers?
In other words, the Republicans were rising up against their own idea, implemented with their own advice and consent and thorough bipartisan negotiation, litigated before their own ideologically stacked Roberts Court, successfully implemented by a black Democrat.
Guess which part of that preceding paragraph is the real issue. As Senator McConnell flatly said in 2010, the GOP’s top legislative priority during Obama’s first term was to make him a one-term president. Not jobs. Not national security. Not the economy. No, their priority was limiting the success of a black Democrat.
Why would anyone think their priorities are different now? Allowing the ACA to succeed, no matter how deeply rooted it is in conservative ideals, brings political and historical credibility to President Obama.
And the GOP’s insistence that the shutdown was Obama’s fault because of his unreasonable refusal to negotiate doesn’t even rise to the level of the laugh test. To anyone outside the conservative epistemological bubble, the hostage taking-dynamic is overwhelmingly obvious. Your Liberal Media has seriously confused the issue by pretending that this is a both-sides-do-it issue.
The worst part is, the GOP has gone so crazy that they are imperiling the full faith and credit of the United States government in international finance. There may already be long term damage. And by the GOP’s own logic, any existing law they don’t like can be protested by the same measure. These idiots could shut down the government in an attempt to defund the Environmental Protection Agency, or dismantle Social Security. American conservatives have proven they will hold the entire country hostage over settled law. What’s to stop them from doing it again?
Bad enough that the party that wraps itself in the flag and the Constitution and angrily proclaims the supremacy of conservative patriotism destroyed our military reputation during the George W. Bush administration. Now they’re hell-bent on destroying our economic dominance of the world, with a side order of collapse of our world-leading educational and scientific establishments. Strange behavior for a party that insists on America First!
Like I said, I’ve given up on ‘reasonable Republicans.’ All the nice, humane, thoughtful conservatives I know in real life are people who vote for the party of hostage taking, of destroying the economy and America’s standing in the world, of the sheer, wall-eyed lunacy of Bachmann and Gohmert and DeMint and Cruz. Given that the crazies have taken over the party, after being invited into the tent these past years, anyone who votes Republican is part of the problem we have just seen on display.
The problem we will see come back with a vengeance in December, January and February as the new deadlines in the continuing resolution come to pass. Meanwhile, the sequester budget has become the new normal — a huge win for Republicans — while science is foundering and our international financial posture is collapsing.
All this from a bunch of patriots, who themselves are an ever-shrinking minority of American culture and politics. If the GOP can’t win, it’s clearly intent on taking the rest of us down with it.
And in a year, when the next round of Congressional elections is held, will anyone even remember this? No, most of Sarah Palin’s “real Americans” will be out voting against the party that put a black man in the White House. And given the Democrat’s temerity to win an election by the popular vote, on the merits of their positions, Obama and the rest of this country will pay and pay and pay for the angry conservative inability to accept that they have lost the culture and political wars.
Photos snurched from publicly available Internet sources, copyright their respective owners.
Posted: 6:55 am Thu October 17 2013 | Comments(2) |
[travel|politics] Crater Lake, Speaker Boehner and you
This weekend Lisa Costello and I took a trip to southern Oregon to celebrate her one year anniversary of moving to Portland. We planned it around a visit to Crater Lake National Park.
You can see how well that worked out:
The Federal government is shut down due to a delaying tactic by the House Republicans in a fight over something that isn’t even directly affected by the shutdown. Speaker of the House John Boehner could pass a ‘clean’ continuing resolution to restart the government any time he wished by bringing the measure to the floor of the house. Most Democrats and a fair number of Republicans would vote for it. In doing so, Congress would be doing its job, what each Representative and Senator was elected for. In doing so, Congress would be performing a legal duty that went on for decades as a trivially routine measure until conservatives politicized the process.
The reason I could not visit Crater Lake this week was the same reason that almost a million Federal workers have been furloughed, the reason education and science and health and safety services across this country have been suspended, the reason sick kids are being sent home from NIH to die. Because Speaker Boehner is afraid he’ll lose his job if he brings the continuing resolution to a floor vote. All this to try to stop a piece of settled law which was negotiated and compromised on extensively as a bill, passed on a bipartisan vote, signed by the president and litigated to the Supreme Court. All this to try to stop a social initiative which was overwhelming supported in the last election with Obama’s second term in office and the GOP losing the popular majority of votes for both the House and Senate.
In other words, by the rules of our same Constitution those conservatives so profess to love, a done deal. Legally and electorally, this question has been resolved.
One man with the power to comply with both the law and the stated will of the electorate by simply making Congress do what it should have been doing so all along will not do so, because he’s afraid to lose his job.
Speaker Boehner, why is your job worth the cost $300 million in shut down costs per day, and almost a million people out of work? You, sir, are a true profile in political courage. You, sir, are everything the modern Republican party has become on its way to being a permanent disgrace to American democracy.
Photo © 2013, Lisa Costello
This work by Lisa Costello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Posted: 8:23 am Sun October 06 2013 | Comments(2) |
[politics] In which a presumed conservative attempts to school me on Obamacare
A couple of days ago, a gentleman on Twitter of presumably conservative disposition decided to school me on my liberal misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act. It started when I made the following tweet, mocking someone whose unfortunate personal issues are expressing themselves painfully through a political lens.
This was about the same time I had made my post entitled “The government shutdown and the ACA and me” [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], which may influenced this gentleman’s response. He dug out an old tweet of mine from January and responded thusly:
With a follow up mocking my own supposed irrationality:
My response was:
The thing is, @AndyHDavis was and is flatly wrong on the plain face of the facts. The ACA did help me, effective about two years ago. He’s confusing the current healthcare exchange implementation process with the act as a whole.
Me, I’m wrong a lot too. Somedays I’m wrong about damned near everything. But if you’re going to argue politics with me, don’t get your talking points from FOX News. FOX News viewers are consistently the most misinformed segment of the public on damned near any topic you care to name. Most especially including Obamacare. Which is what happens when you privilege ideology over facts and data, as the entire Republican political, media and social establishment has been doing for the past two decades.
What I would say to @AndyHDavis as a followup, if I thought it would do any good at all to engage, is this:
“You were flatly wrong about the ACA and spending caps. Are you open to the possibility that you’re wrong about other aspects of the ACA?”
More generally, if you’re going to school me for being a stupid liberal moonbat, use actual facts from the real world, not noise from inside the conservative epistemological bubble.
Posted: 7:29 am Sat October 05 2013 | Comments(40) |
[politics|cancer] The government shutdown and the ACA and me
When you get right down to it, I have never seen a rational basis for the conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act. After all, the core of the ACA was a proposal originating from the Heritage Foundation, a deeply conservative think tank. The template for the ACA was a highly successful state-level implementation led by then-Republican governor and later GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The basic mechanism of the ACA is to swell the customer rolls of for-profit insurance companies competing on policy price and features, relying on the free market.
Why is this such a threat to American freedom? In all but name, the ACA is a conservative program implemented from conservative proposals rooted in conservative ideals.
And now the government shutdown. Which doesn’t even defund the ACA itself, just pretty much everything else. Are the Republicans so infuriated at the success of their own ideas that they must punish the entire country and economy. How does this make sense?
As for me personally, without the ACA I would be bankrupt or dead by now. Likely both. One of the first provisions of the ACA to come into effect was a ban on the lifetime spending caps most health insurance policies historically enforced. As a long-term cancer patient, I’m now about 25% over the spending cap my own insurance policy used to have. Without the ACA, my last year and more of treatment would have been completely uncovered. This would have required me to spend about $250,000 out of pocket, or go without treatment.
So opposition to the ACA is quite literally saying to me, “Go ahead and die already.”
As ericjamesstone said to me a while back, anecdote makes bad law. (That’s not a precise quote, but I believe that’s the sense of what he told me.) My death would just be an anecdote, not a policy point. But my life is kind of important to me.
And in all the angry conservative rhetoric about the ACA, I have never seen any proposals that would keep me personally alive.
So this furious, unprecedented opposition to a piece of settled law — passed by Congress, signed by the president, litigated to the Supreme Court — that will benefit both me personally as well as tens of millions of other Americans, makes no sense to me either as a matter of policy or as a matter of my individual situation.
Does it make sense to you? Have you seen anywhere a fact-based explanation of why the ACA should be so vigorously opposed?
Posted: 6:53 am Thu October 03 2013 | Comments(53) |
[politics] More on why I am not a Republican
Most of this post will be familiar to long-time readers, but every now and then I am moved to address the topic again. I occasionally see references to myself through the various blog alert services that say things like, “I stopped by Jay Lake’s blog, where I learned that as a conservative I am immoral and evil. I’m not going to read him anymore.”
Sorry to hear that, but I call them like I see them.
I lived in Texas from age 18 to age 36. The first four years of that (1982-1986) I attended the University of Texas at Austin. The Young Republicans were a huge presence on campus, happy, youthful Reaganauts everywhere. And that weird fusion between conservative politics and Evangelical Christianity was already well along in Texas in those days. So over the years I heard over and over again how liberals were immoral, Democrats couldn’t be trusted, that anybody who supported progressive policy [x] was in league with the devil. It was a comforting, self-valorizing stream of rhetoric for Texas conservatives that didn’t have much grounding in fact, and for the most part brimmed with hypocrisy. And it made me very allergic to conservatism, even when my own political opinions were still pretty fluid. Such posturing and ad hominem attacks aren’t the kind of posture someone arguing from a position of strength needs to rely on.
It’s also the case that over the years, I’ve developed a strong sense of intellectual honesty and self-reflection. This is part of my atheism, part of my empirical outlook on life. I am certain that I fail at least as often as I succeed in upholding those values, but I return to them over and over again, as my personal touchstone.
In the years of and since the Reagan ascendancy, the Republican party, and many American conservatives, have lost their capacity for either intellectual honesty or self-reflection. At this point, in the 2010s, the GOP has transcended even the parody that people like me could see of what was happening in the 1980s. The stance against teaching critical thinking, for example, because it might undermine traditional values. That literally sounds like a joke, until you realize it’s the real thing, from the Texas Republican Party platform. Or the fact that no major Republican politician will admit to knowing the true age of the Earth, or speak up for the extremely solid science behind evolution. This is basic reality. Not debatable policy points like tax structure or immigration form. Not legitimate ideological or philosophical differences. This is the world as it is. Which the GOP will not admit to, for fear of losing voters from its cherished base.
But once you allow doublethink and deliberate intellectual dishonesty into your worldview, there are no more brakes. Climate change denial is built on the same pattern as evolution denial, but driven largely by funding from major Republican donors. Like evolution denial, these are knowing, self-conscious lies, deceits and rejections of reality being pursued for short-term political gain.
Almost without exception, the conservatives and Republicans I know personally are decent, humane people who honestly believe that they’re doing the right thing with their votes and their campaign donation dollars. But when you support a party whose political fortunes are based almost entirely on counterfactuals, from evolution denial to the idea that guns make society safer to abstinence-based sex education to supply side economics — all those and many more are cherished Republican stances that don’t meet even minimal tests of provability in the real world data — you support a party that is contributing aggressively to the decline of American competence, as well as the decline of our technological and political leadership worldwide. Republicans are actively working to make our children stupider, cripple our science and destroy our economy. Anyone not committed to the ideology can easily see that. And the self-same lack of intellectual honesty and self-awareness required to be a Republican in the first place makes it overwhelmingly difficult for those decent, humane people I call friends to see what their votes and dollars are actually doing to America and the world.
Do liberal-progressives get it right all the time? Hell no. And the Democratic Party is frankly full of shit on a lot of issues. The ‘Third Way’ Democrats have been Republicans in moderate suits for years. But at least liberal-progressives have some sense of intellectual honesty and a grasp of the real workings of the world. And we’re not working to undermine science, technology, education and culture in the name of continuing to generate enough angry white guys to keep our voter base motivated.
In the end, I’m not a Republican because I have self-respect. I can’t vote for a party whose very basis is such continuous, profound and reflexive intellectual dishonesty. In a different political world, I might well be a conservative, but I can never be a Republican.
Posted: 5:05 am Mon May 13 2013 | Comments(46) |
[politics] A cranky email on guns, and a gracious reply
Last week while driving back from a lunch date with kenscholes, I heard Oregon state representative Dennis Richardson (R., 4th district) on OPB’s Think Out Loud. He was discussing gun laws in Oregon with host David Miller. Miller began asking Representative Richardson about 2013 HB 3006, a measure that invalidates federal firearm laws in State of Oregon. This bill is ridiculous on a number of levels, including being blatantly unconstitutional, and is very clearly intended to be red meat for Oregon’s rural conservative voters.
Richardson acted like he’d never heard of the bill, and seemed very taken aback by Miller’s questions. He sounded genuinely surprised at Miller’s description of the contents of the bill. The host finally stopped and asked Richardson if he was a sponsor of the bill. Richardson said he’d have to get back on that.
As it happens, Representative Richardson is manifestly a sponsor of HB 3006.
I found this profoundly irritating. From my perspective, this was a classic example of the persistent liberal-progressive question about most conservative political positions: Are they stupid or evil? Either Representative Richardson could not remember which bills he sponsored in the Oregon House, or he’s so intellectually dishonest that he would flat out lie about a bill that pertains to a current cause célèbre in American political life. Neither of those options seems consistent with being a competent, ethical representative.
So I wrote him a snotty email.
That night, I got back a very gracious reply. I don’t have permission to quote it here, so I will not, but suffice to say that Representative Richardson took the time to write me in some detail about how and why he had prepared for his interview with Think Out Loud, and that HB 3006 was not on the list of topics he’d been provided with in advance. He further observed he’d had no idea what HB 3006 was because the last time he’d seen the bill, it was in draft without a bill number.
Now, I can argue with a lot of Representative Richardson’s response. For example, how could he not realize that talking about gun control might well include an aggressively partisan and in-your-face bill he’d co-sponsored? But what I admire and respect about his response was that he ignored the graceless tone of my challenge to his on-the-air comments in favor of engaging on the substance of issue as he saw it.
Here’s an excerpt from my response to his response:
As for the topic at hand, yes, we’re probably not likely to agree. I understand and respect that gun ownership is a Constitutional right, but the Constitution has been wrong before. In its original form, the document enshrined both slavery and second-class citizenship for women through restriction of the franchise. Over the years of our republic, Americans have redefined what is right for us as a society through the framework of Constitutional amendments. For my own part, I don’t see how anyone of good conscience and moral awareness can support a right that costs 80 Americans their lives every single day, most of those deaths preventable or avoidable except for the widespread presence of firearms.
Think about this: 3,500 people died on 9-11. We have spent a trillion dollars and caused the deaths of 100,000s of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the years since then seeking to redress that wrong. Imagine what our society would be like today if instead we’d spent that trillion dollars at home on violence abatement?
Rather, Americans choose to accept 30,000 largely preventable deaths a year as part of the cost of a free society — a cost no other free society on Earth is willing to tolerate. I am extremely confident that history will eventually judge American gun culture very harshly indeed. For the sake of all those deaths every year, I would like to see us get on the right side of that history now, not a generation or two from now.
I doubt Representative Richardson and I will ever agree. Anyone who can sponsor a measure as extreme as HB 3006 is on the far side of lunacy from my perspective on sane social policy. But I appreciate his willingness to engage with me constructively. It’s given me pause for thought.
Posted: 5:45 am Mon February 25 2013 | Comments(6) |
[politics|religion] Where should the rules come from?
Yesterday on Facebook, a conservative friend said, I suspect part of the issue is that most writers and artists of the last 150 years working in the fantastic field have been (more or less) refugees from religion, of one sort or another. To them, a more perfect (or at least more fun) world is a world where god and church… are just not present. God and church mean rules and we work in genres inhabited (more or less) by people who hate rules. On their persons. On their choices. On their thoughts and ideas.
(No link, because I don’t want to accidentally create a dog pile.)
As it turns out, I somewhat mistook the context of my friend’s remark, but I still wanted to repost what I said, because I think it may have some value. Below is a synthesis of several comments of my own:
I think you’re oversimplifying terribly. I don’t know a single liberal or atheist who doesn’t believe firmly in the social contract, and the social contract requires rules. Frankly, from our point of view, it’s conservatives who have been abandoning the rules in working so hard over these past decades to void much of the social contract.
As an atheist myself, and definitely a proud refugee from religion, I write about religion all the time in my fiction. See my entire Mainspring series, as well as my Green series, as well as a large percentage of my short stories, as well as Death of a Starship, whose protagonist is an Orthodox priest, and my yet-unpublished Sunspin, one of whose key characters is also a Christian priest. Portrayed with loving care and as much internal honesty and morality as I can manage, not with liberal snark.
To oversimplify on my part, the fundamental disagreement you’re so casually alluding to isn’t over the question of rules vs. no rules, it’s over the source and meaning of the rules. I don’t think any single faith should be the source of societal rules. How would you as a conservative Christian feel about living in a society based on rules drawn from the Sharia, for example? That’s how I feel about living under Christian rules. Though in all fairness, the vast majority of the secular rules I favor and the Christian rules I presume you favor are in alignment.
In my personal case, I have a particular allergy to both Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, but I also work pretty hard to talk about religion fairly in my writing. I’m an atheist, but I’m not a fool, and religion is one of the defining human experiences/institutions.
Likewise, on the political front, the assertion that the US is a Christian nation is obvious religious fantasy when contrasted with the blackletter content of the Constitution as well as the writings of the Founders taken as a whole in context (as opposed to cherry picking ‘gotcha’ quotes). Nonetheless, it is an act of intellectual idiocy to deny that we are overwhelmingly a Christian nation in a cultural and historical sense. To me, freedom of religion means freedom from religion. That in turn is the single most important protection any particular religion or denomination or sect or individual faith-holder has in pursuit of their own religious freedoms.
To sum up, those of us who reject religion in our own lives are not the libertine1 anarchists of conservative fantasies. We’re just people who think there are better ways than arbitrary faith in revelation to organize society. Better for everyone, including faith holders.
1. Well, okay, I personally am something of a libertine, but that’s not the point here.
Posted: 6:39 am Thu January 17 2013 | Comments(8) |
[cancer|politics] The high cost of living, and conservative opposition to my doing so
I was reviewing my insurance carrier’s summary statement of benefits for Q4 of 2012 when I noted that my current course of chemotherapy costs them, after contract adjustments, about $25,000 per session, for a course of twelve treatments. That’s $300,000 right there. Not counting the costs of the port surgery last September, the liver resection coming up shortly, the related hospitalization, many sessions of medical imaging, and my ongoing pharmaceutical costs. All which collectively put this round of cancer well over $400,000 at the carrier’s cost. Closer to $600,000 in nominal cost.
Without the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) lifting the lifetime spending caps on health insurance, given the costs associated with my last three rounds of cancer, I would be running out of insurance somewhere in the middle of this session when I hit my carrier’s old $1,000,000 lifetime spending cap. That was the value of a human life before Obamacare.
If you’re a conservative who thinks Obamacare is some kind of socialist plot, at the moment that socialist plot is the only thing keeping me alive. In opposing Obamacare without an equally sensible and humane replacement of some kind, you’re telling me in so many words my life is worth less to you than your own political convictions or the profit margins of insurance companies. Given that most conservative opposition to Obamacare is based on blatant untruths that have achieved the status of cherished beliefs on the American Right, for example, Sarah Palin’s so-called “Death Panels”, you’re actually telling me my life is worth less to you than your own self-valorizing paranoid fantasies.
So until conservative America comes up with a better idea, it can fuck the fuck off. I wouldn’t wish the cancer hell I’m living on anyone, but people who oppose healthcare reform are wishing for me to be trapped in this hell until death.
Posted: 6:10 am Sat January 05 2013 | Comments(25) |
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