On teaching poor people not to be poor

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently said, in one of the strangest remarks made in an insanely strange politically season that expanding medicaid to the uninsured would deprive them of the chance to have access to the American dream. I am not kidding…. he really said that.

I have a friend whose daughter recently died from lack of adequate medical care. She didnt have insurance. A trivial medical problem spiralled out of control and she needlessly and tragically died. I would love to have Governor Walker tell me what part of the American dream that is. Studies show that as many as 900 people may die in Tennessee from lack of insurance and resulting lack of access to medical care. Is that too part of the American dream?

So far 2 hospitals have closed in Tennessee. Several more are either scheduled or in danger of being scheduled to close. All are in small towns or rural areas. It is becoming dangerous to live in rural districts rather you have insurance or not. I wonder what part of the American dream Governor Walker thinks that is?

I could go on and on. Governor Walkers apologetics, his flimsy attempt to justify keeping poor people from getting insurance because in some kind of twisted ideological way it is “good for them” is repulsive and disgusting to any decent person. It is one thing to deny people the services they need, but then to tell them you are doing it because it is “good for them” or in some way builds their character is hypocrisy of the rankest sort.

There is a widespread prejudice that poor people ask for much more than they deserve, that they brought their situation on themselves and if they just tried harder things would be okay. There is no recognition that many of the people in the coverage gap work one or more jobs, that they are decent people coping with extraordinary circumstances and are simply victims of a system where the gap between the haves and have nots is getting bigger and bigger. Their poverty is seen as a judgement on their character and if the truth be known are seen as being disposable people who cost more than they are worth.

In Tennessee they talk about the poor needing “skin in the game” to appreciate health insurance. Anybody worrying about skin has never known what it is like to try to survive illness without treatment because you can’t pay for help. They have never known what it is like to depend on the emergency room for all medical care. They have never known what is like to go to work no matter how sick because you have no benefits. They have never known what it is like to pray that minor ailments are not the beginning of major problems. They have never known what it is like to know that it doesn’t matter what kind of medication is prescribed because they can’t afford to buy it. They have never known what it is like to pray you never need surgery because you can never pay for it. They have never known what it is like to know you will probably die earlier than you should. And they have never known what is like to know that the state of Tennessee and the people elected to serve you are as dangerous as any sickness you will face.

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