This has been a year filled with upheaval.
This is the year I took a really good look around me at wider society and realized that, though I was considered a flaming liberal in my younger years, I am now – without having changed many fundamental views at all – considered a conservative, a racist, a white nationalist, homophobe, transphobic, Islamophobe, alt right, …. whatever else people on the other end of the spectrum think is a pejorative.
So let’s look at a few of these. First: racist. Since thanks to my mother I have some NA in me (not enough for a quantum, but the point is it’s there), and my mother was married to a NA, I’m pretty sure we can ditch this right now. But let’s go further – my family also has some Jewish ancestry thanks to a torrid love story that ended with a Catholic marriage, only to be followed some years later by a Catholic excommunication and a splitting of the family into Protestant and Catholic camps. I have never put down any race for anything. I do recognize there are widely differing cultural elements in different peoples, some of which I admire and some of which I find abhorrent – including in my own cultural group, Midwest white lower middle class. I’m pretty sure that makes me observant, not racist.
Conservative. Funny how time works. This may be the only thing where my views have evolved, largely because I went into the work force and actually had to provide for myself and my children. I used to be very much like the California style liberals – medical care is a human right, food is a human right, water is a human right, sewer service is a human right, housing is a human right. Well, not so much. Because taxes are a thing. And because there are FAR too many moochers out there.
Now I feel differently in a few ways:
1. First, clean water. Well, having water that isn’t going to kill you is a good thing to have. And that has been largely taken care of across our country via sanitation systems which include water treatment plants. The thing is, our taxes only pay a portion of that. You as a consumer still need to have some skin in the game and pay a service fee. The idea behind that being that a portion of the service fees don’t go to pay for anything now, but go into a fund for future needs for the community. Yes, I realize that has not happened in many cases. But we’re not talking about how it is (in places like Flint for example) we’re talking about how it should be (and mostly works, in places like Missoula for example). If you don’t pay your fees, your water will be shut off, eventually. This is not difficult to understand, one would think. But though assistance plans are available, and though people are informed on ways to conserve water, they continue to waste prodigious amounts of water and to default and, instead of taking responsibility for their non payment, they scream about water being a human right when what they *actually* mean is that CLEAN water, treated by the cities they live in, should be available to them for free regardless of the actual cost of providing said water. And regardless of the agreements they signed when they hooked up to the city water service.
2. Sewer. This operates on much the same principle as clean water does. The ability to wash your dishes, your body, your clothing, your floors, and use a toilet to flush your waste, and have all that effluent simply run down a drain for someone else to handle is an AMAZING thing. We happen to have a septic system, but we have lived in cities as well. This is an expensive service to provide, mainly because the risks to the population if not done correctly are huge, and the liability involved is also huge. I don’t know if you are aware, but workers are at huge risk of getting Hepatitis C – for instance – from raw sewage. It’s a nasty, dirty job, and the pay needs to be very good to compensate those who are willing to get the education and training to keep the rest of us safe. It’s not in fact a human right. It’s a privilege of living in modern society. Yes, I’m aware that there have been night soil workers in the past. But it was still very primitive and people often got sick due to the primitive nature of the system and the fact that raw sewage was often dumped directly into the river system from which people got their water.
The U.N. says the right to clean water and sewage is a human right. They do not however provide any funding to assure said rights, and their declarations have no force of law. So, until they pony up the money to all those people in Detroit and elsewhere to pay their bills and keep them in clean water and sewage, I will continue to ignore the U.N. It’s quite easy to pontificate on a subject about which you have no financial responsibility.
For both of these essential services I was blissfully ignorant of the science and technology involved. When I was small I never considered it, and when I was of the age to begin considering it, we had a well and a septic system so it remained a relative non issue. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned how it all works. That’s when I realized how very expensive it is to provide water and sewer service, and how important the payments are in providing – and continuing to provide – these services.
3. Medical care. This one is a hot button for many people, me included. I think we as a society have a responsibility to provide basic medical services to CHILDREN. If we take care of our children, they will grow up to be as healthy as they can be, and are more likely to become productive citizens if they are as healthy as they can be. Getting regular visits to catch things like a lazy eye, or hip dysplasia, early, will prevent complications and permanent disability later.
For adults….not so much. People who do not have to pay anything for their medical care are much more likely to over use the system by increasing ER visits than those who either have commercial insurance or are on Medicare, or no insurance at all. Some patients cite the copays they must pay at their primary care office as a reason for going to the ER, because they don’t have one if they go there. Here is the original study abstract if you’d like to read it, the one that confirms what every EMS and ER worker already knew.
This is a huge issue. If people have no financial skin in the game they have no financial incentive – or any other incentive, really, to follow medical provider advice or instructions, no matter how carefully the provider tries to involve them in their care plan. They will consistently take the easiest, and the cheapest, way out. Which in America involves the ER, because they don’t have to pay.
Oh, you say, but people on Medicaid are sicker….? And….let’s go back to the statement about having financial skin in the game. In AZ for instance, there is a $4 copay for office visits. Almost ZERO patients pay this, because they know they don’t have to. They also don’t have to pay the copay for their medications. If a provider writes a prescription for Tylenol, Medicaid (AHCCCS in AZ) pays for it. But there’s a price attached for the rest of us, the taxpayers, a very heavy price. Generic tylenol costs about $2.99 for a bottle. If you pay cash. If the taxpayers pay for it, the cost goes up to approximately $34.99 per bottle.
When I worked in the ER mothers would bring their children in for a cold, nothing more. When Tylenol was recommended, they would insist on a prescription. Why? Because they don’t have to pay for it. Many of these same patients have *very* expensive gold jewelry, the newest iPhone, designer purses, and perfect manicures. Yes, some of these patients *are* sicker. However in many cases it’s because they refuse to listen to advice to exercise, lose weight, and eat a healthier diet. That involves effort, and most are not willing to invest effort if there is a free option such as a pill. Even though a type II diabetic will likely end up in renal failure or losing extremities to amputation, most will continue to take metformin over making real changes to their health. And all the new medications developed? They are there because patients just won’t do what they need to do to take charge of their health. It’s just too hard to change. And there’s no financial incentive to do so, because they don’t bear the cost of their health care. We do, the working taxpayers. Even their transportation to and from medical appointments is free for them, courtesy of the taxpayer, here in AZ.
There is no cost involved in walking around the mall for a morning, if it’s too hot or cold outside, and there is no cost involved in walking around your neighborhood if it’s safe enough. There is no cost, when you have food stamps, in choosing healthier foods and fewer foods that come out of a box. And please don’t give me the BS line about they can’t afford it. I was on food stamps when I first divorced my ex-husband. I did not need to feed my children crap. I fed them mostly from the produce aisle just as I always had. Rice, beans – from the produce aisle. Tofu – from the produce aisle. Veggies and fruits – same. My crockpot was, and is, my friend. So is my pressure cooker.
I think the copays must be enforced. I think everyone should have some financial skin in the game, whatever their income. I think people need to be held accountable for their health decisions. How? I don’t know, other than financial accountability.
Homophobe. Nope, never have been. Don’t want to be homosexual, am not homosexual, not wired that way, but could care less if they want to get married. Go ahead, be my guest. The political ramifications of homosexuality in our modern society however….*F* that to be blunt. If you’re gay and you want a wedding cake, then don’t sue the Christian baker who doesn’t want to make it for you. Go to a baker who doesn’t give a shit. Ferchrissakes, buy a clue already. All you’re doing is creating an even more hostile environment for yourselves where you’re going to be less safe and more likely to be the target of hostilities in the long run. And you’re giving nut ball extremists Christians fuel for their Satanic agenda fantasies. As to access to medical care, I really don’t care if you’re gay or straight, bi or a sexual. If your sexual behavior makes you more at risk for certain things then that’s something we need to discuss, but other than that I honestly don’t care. Your sex life is your business.
Transphobe. Nope, see homophobe above. I think they are seriously mentally ill, but I also recognize that population genetics plays out on a much larger scale than many realize. I had a neighbor for 2 years who was transgender male to female. In that time I went from being sympathetic to pretty well fed up. No, you are not a special snowflake. No, your needs and wants do not trump mine. No, you are not entitled to special treatment. No, you do not deserve to get angry when people mistake you for a cross dressing man because you won’t get the laser treatments for your face, and you refuse to work on the feminine voice and physical behaviors. And most importantly, the world does not revolve around transgender issues, and not everything is related to transgender issues.
Islamophobe. Nope. Although I do have to say that the Golden Age of Islam was the product of Shia Islam, not Sunni. Shia valued ancient knowledge, both spiritual and practical, and were the keepers of this knowledge and in fact kept it alive by employing the peoples from the areas they conquered in teaching *them* this knowledge. They are the mystics of the religion of Islam. All of the radical Muslims in the world arise from Sunni Islam. Wahabists, ISIL, Daesh….all of them. They are now, and have from the start, persecuted the Shia. Their goal was, is, and shall always be, to wipe them from the face of the earth. Along with the rest of us who just won’t bend over and convert.
White nationalist. Nope. Please refer back to racist, and to islamophobe, and conservative. I care that two of my ancestral homelands on my mother’s side, Germany and France, have been turned into cesspools of terror and violence, and the countries are becoming unrecognizable as their unique identities they cultivated over thousands of years are being systematically destroyed. I care that my grandparents’ homeland, Ireland, is suffering the same fate. I care about preserving the cultures that I came from, about preserving the peoples that I came from, about making sure they continue to exist in the future, not becoming subsumed in the current hyper saturation of incoming (invading?) cultures that have no interest in assimilating whatsoever. I care that Sweden, my sons’ ancestral homeland via their great grandparents, has been turned into something completely unrecognizable. I don’t want to see the cultures and countries that produced my ancestors disappear completely, to become something unrecognizable as what they have been.
Alt-right. Still not quite sure what this is supposed to mean, even though I’ve read up on it. If it means I think people should take responsibility for their actions, to work for their stuff, to be good citizens, to fight corruption by getting involved in a responsible way, to raise their children to be the same, then I guess I am. Nazi? Meh. Hitler had some crazy ass ideas. He also had some good common sense ideas. Like anyone else. The too bad part is that the crazy ass ideas were so awful we can never explore the good ones, simply because he thought of them.
And BTW. Calling me any or all of these epithets will get you …. exactly nowhere. Because the power of these has been expended in the last year. I rather suspect I represent the backbone of America now, more or less.
The saddest part? Without changing most of my political viewpoints, I have gone from being a liberal in my youth to being called all of these things in my middle age. Because they political spectrum has shifted THAT FAR in 30 years.