Hearts, Minds, and Health Care

This Timothy Burke post on the current political moment deserves better than to be buried in the Links Dump. He's beginning to despair because it looks like "there are many things which could happen which would improve the lives of many Americans which are not going to happen and perhaps cannot happen."

Take health care, for example. I can read and parse and think about the proposed legislation that actually exists and see it without hyperbole, as an okay if scattered series of modest initiatives. Whatever. I think I have a fairly good handle on the underlying cultural and social infrastructure of the debate over health care. Like many of the "controversies" of our moment, it is both less and more than it appears, and in either case, pretty well intractable and hopeless for anyone who isn't jumping into the fray as an enthusiastic combatant. Also whatever. I can Monday-morning quarterback as well as any other chattering-class person and complain about the uninspired tactical blundering of Democratic leaders and the obstructionism, untainted by consistent principled objections, of Republicans. But again: whatever.

When I think of my own health care and slip the leash of my intellectualizing, some different thoughts come to mind. I have a decent HMO plan. I'm guaranteed to have it while I have my job, at least until or unless I'm not guaranteed to have it because the provider unilaterally renegotiates the terms of its deal with workplaces that it sells plans to. My job is as secure as you could hope for in early 21st Century America. I'm not rich, I'm comfortable. If I need medicine or surgery, I'm not likely to go broke. If I develop a pre-existing condition, my continued coverage is guaranteed by my employer.

On the other hand, remember those commercials back during the Clinton Administration, "Harry and Louise"? Remember all the horrible things they said would happen if we changed our system? They mostly did happen. Here I'm not talking the grand scale, I'm talking my own intimate experience of health care.

I'm a bit younger than he is, so I don't have quite the same experience of a change in the culture of modern medicine-- things have always been pretty bad, in my experience-- but the current details are pretty much the same, and not in a good way.

I'm not feeling quite as fatalistic about the current political culture, probably because I didn't have quite the same expectation of great things. I am pretty burned out on most major political issues, though, and I'm not all that happy with the state of blogdom. Honestly, if I didn't have the book to promote, I probably would've gone on hiatus a month or so ago. It's a battle to keep the petty frustrations of the moment from exploding (and not an entirely successful one), and I will probably have to ramp down my blog activity in the next few weeks, just to keep myself sane.

Sorry for the bummer post. I'll try to knock together some more cheerful stuff for later.

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