Drawing Health Care Straws: Would You Rather be Lucky or Good?

My name is Kenley Young, and I just might kill health care reform.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a liberal, I support a public option, and I’m in love with Rachel Maddow, even though she won’t return my calls. If wanting universal health care for Americans is “socialist,” then Marx me down for it in red ink, comrade.

I’m not TRYING to kill the plan to fix health care.

Nevertheless, I’m part of the reason it might get drowned in the tub. Why?

Sadly, it’s because I’m a white, reasonably affluent male with a decent job, a strong support network, and parents who will never let me face serious illness (or even a cold) without financial support.

In other words, it’s because I’m feeling lucky, punk.

I don’t mean to sound glib. I wholeheartedly believe that our health care system is a sham. I find it repugnant, shameful and appalling that the greatest nation on the planet can’t (or won’t) provide all of its citizens--regardless of age, gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or pre-existing conditions--with the same quality, affordable care that I am lucky enough to enjoy. Even Canada covers all of its citizens, for Christ’s sakes, and they don’t even have the Internet up there. Oh, wait … yes they do. But still, no running water!

And yet, when it gets down to the nasty, difficult, nitty-gritty debate over reform, I find that my will to fight is flagging.

If it were a battle governed by normal rules of debate (like, you know, facts and stuff), I might fare better. I’m good at facts. And I’m not bad at honesty, diplomacy and conciliatory negotiation, either.

But I suck at scorched-earth politics. I don’t have the stomach for the venomous town-hall diatribes or for the morons who tote their guns along for the ride. I find it difficult to mount an effective defense against the emotionally retarded and intellectually bankrupt Glenn Becks of the world (he’s also sponsorship-bankrupt).

And I don’t know, folks. When I find myself in the position of actually wasting my breath on refuting the idea that members of my own Congress are planning to institute “death panels,” and that an idea like that would even make it out of committee, let alone into a bill …

I just don’t have the will to fight the good fight on this one. I’m feeling too lucky, punk.

Simply put, I’m a fat, happy, stupid lump, and I don’t have enough invested in the outcome. I’m part of the problem because I don’t have a dog in the fight.

Not yet.

But ask me again when I’m married and have three children. Or when I lose my job. Or when I’m diagnosed with cancer.

Will we have health care reform in this country in my lifetime? At the moment, the prognosis (that its co-pay didn’t cover) is grim.

But whether you support the latest push for reform or you oppose it, it’s helpful to approach the debate not by barking the loudest, but by trying to find common ground.

We can do so by getting those involved in the process--lawmakers, insurance companies, that crazy old dude who wants the government to keep its government hands off the government-run programs from which he’s benefiting--to answer the same set of questions:

First, is the health care system in the United States broken?

Secondly, does every American have the right to good, effective health care?

Third, do you accept Hawaii as a U.S. state?

These are fundamental, yes-or-no questions. If we can’t all arrive at the same answer to them, then there’s no point in carrying the exercise any further.

There’s only one correct answer for each question, of course. If you answered “no” to any of them, then you have failed the entrance exam, and no amount of name calling, backbiting, fear mongering or self-righteousness will earn you a seat at the table.

For those who answered “yes” to all of the above, the second step requires, at a minimum, that you ask yourself what kind of a country you want your children to live in. That question requires more thought, and you don’t have to answer right away. There are many possible answers to it, and there’s more than one way to arrive at a solution.

But for now, it’s also worth considering whether you’re feeling lucky--and whether you’d rather your health care to be good.

Original Facebook post: 8/18/2009

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