Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Feel Better Already. Sort Of.

Playing in the background: "Top Chef." Tom Colliccio looks like a vulture (still).

Well, kids, I'm sure that my 100 million closest friends and I are writing blog posts about the President's Big Speech just about now. The only thing worse than being an unappreciated blogger is being not-even-unique. But hey, it's my bandwidth and I'll yack about health care reform if I want. Besides, just wait. I'm about to clear up one of the Big Mysteries of the Buddhist Bible Belt. That should be worth stickin' around for.

In case there's any doubt about where I stand on this issue, uh, there should not be. I'm completely in favor of scrapping the entire system and bringing in something like NHS in the UK, but being as that's too radical for most of my fellow Americans, I'm fine with the plan the President first proposed. Reasons: one of my best friends, Tammy, hasn't been able to afford health insurance for about the last seven years. Nother reason: I've also been on COBRA three times in the last ten years, and it's like totally shocking how much it's gone up in price in that time. Most recent quote: $502 a month, of which the government's paying most. First time: A mere $192. Hands up who thinks that's a pretty darn outrageous price increase for roughly the same care (in fact I think it's gotten worse) in that short a time period. Yep. Third reason: Joan, who works for the City and should have Really Good Insurance (that's what they say about government employees, overpaid lazy bureaucrats that they are - they're supposed to have great benefits) needs two sleep studies, and our out of pocket cost for each one is $400. That's almost like not having insurance at all, at least in the effect it's having (she's had one and the next one is, hopefully, going to happen at the end of the month).

Having said all that, I need to convey to y'all (including Sen. John Cornyn, who keeps sending me emails - dude, I read yours, read mine, okay?) how completely serious I am about some bill getting passed. Pres. Obama said that leaving things the way they are, is not acceptable. How not acceptable is it? Well, to me it's so unacceptable that I'm gonna leak one of the longstanding secrets of this blog (told you I'd get back to that eventually.)

Back in, oh, September of last year (!) I wrote a post called, "I Suck At Taking My Own Advice." I alluded to a Big Relationship Issue where Joan and I did not see eye to eye, momentous along the lines of whether or not to have a kid (though it wasn't about that, thank goodness.) Here's what that was all about: Joan has talked on and off about wanting to leave the country. Not just on vacation, mind you, but packing up the cats and the - well, not much else, really - and Going To Live Elsewhere. Yeah, she has a destination in mind, but we don't want to alert that country's immigration department just yet, so I can't say where.

The problem? Well, I like it here. Not here in Texas per se (though I do like it here in Texas, probably more than anywhere else I've lived) but the States generally. I know this statement gets overused to the point of ridiculous, and for all the wrong reasons, but I'm a patriot. A flag-wavin' freedom-lovin' Fourth of July fireworks-watchin' loyal American. Yes, this country has been through its times of being particularly messed up, and yes, we've done some Really Stupid Things. But hey. I'm an American. Americans are my people. I love them. And it's hard to imagine bailing on them, especially when things are tough and they need me the most.

Let's face it, there are only two possible outcomes to this discussion, and somebody's gonna be unhappy no matter what happens. As a Buddhist, I try not to be too attached to anything, including ideologies, countries and concepts. So I should be able to Let Go of my point of view a little easier. Hah! One's religious preference may or may not have any effect on one's general stubbornness. And as I believe I mentioned in September 2008, I suck at taking my own advice.

The conversation flared up from time to time, most notably during particularly stupid moves by the Bush Administration, and reached a fever pitch just before Wall Street imploded. Then Obama became President and we started thinking Maybe It Would All Be Okay. Then through most of August, people (including mah fellow Texans) started yackin' about death panels and care rationing and how much it would suck for the urban poor to be able to, I dunno, take their kids to the doctor. Yep, we were back to the same discussion again. And, as I believe I mentioned in September 2008 - oh wait, I mentioned that already.

So I'm gonna come out of the closet here, so to speak, and say that much to my amazement, I'm on the boat now. If we, the Americans, tear ourselves to shreds to the point where we can't pass some kind of health care reform, I will flop over to the side of unattachment and go with my sweetie elsewhere. Not because I don't love this country -- I do; I'm crazy about it, in fact. Because I can't support it with my tax dollars anymore if an issue this basic, already postponed for the last 60-odd years by companies, individuals and politicians who are more interested in what's in it for them, gets skewered on a partisan stake when there's so much to lose. Like, you know, people's lives. And before y'all start emailing me about don't-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-ass-on-the-way-out, let me just say, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

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