Ignorance Is No Longer Bliss

Dont be a pill, dude.
Don't be a pill.

Living in Italy, I don’t get the opportunity to watch American television much. I don’t even have Sky, which would enable me to watch hundreds of channels. Until a week or two ago, I lived a quiet life with four–count ’em!–channels: one in black & white, three in color and MTV (which doesn’t count because it’s all reality shows), and most of them owned by Berlusconi. So one might say I was living in the woods.

Now, after a week in the US watching faith channels and Fox News, I’ve finally seen something interesting.Today I watched the entirety of President Obama’s townhall speech on the healthcare (or health insurance) reform bill. I had seen the Obama-with-greasepaint-mustache posters, the swastikas, and I’ve even written about Obama-bashing here. I hadn’t been following this healthcare business closely because, well, I live in Europe. That happens. Anyway, it’s unavoidable now, so when I actually listened to Obama field questions from the public I was surprised at the elegance of his vision.

I know such praise will draw hellfire from the usual quarters, but this was my gut instinct. Here’s how it appears to me, an American who has set foot in this country for the first time since Barack Obama took oath in January, and whose approval rating is supposedly falling like hail fire over Egypt.

Let me briefly preface these observations by stating that I have never taken much of an interest in such debates; nevertheless, I’ve held numerous jobs in the United States, and never have I had a healthcare plan (except for a brief period when I was a member of the auto workers’ union, but don’t ask me how that happened). In Italy I am for the first time a beneficiary of “universal health care.” It is not a dream plan, but I can see a doctor when I need to. What Obama proposed sounds better than what I have in Italy, which is better than what many Americans have in America. Something is wrong in that equation.

Of course, I understand that there is a lot of fine-tuning to be done. Nothing is exactly as it appears, and there may be huge difficulties in funding such a program. And people will probably always fall through the cracks. But let me write what I heard Obama say, and not the pundits:

1. All Americans are entitled to healthcare. No exceptions.

2. If you like your existing healthcare program, you may keep it. The government will not force you to switch to theirs.

3. Wasted money–billions and billions of dollars–will be rerouted in order to finance such a program. These are dollars presently being squandered subsidizing insurance companies, not enriching care for their patients.

4. Everyone will be able to choose the healthcare plan they feel is best. Prices will most likely go down due to a public option.

5. The elderly will not be murdered wholesale by a shadow euthanasia plan.

None of this is highbrow stuff. I did not go and look anything up afterward. Let’s make believe I was an average Joey Bag-o’-Doughnuts in attendance. This is what I would’ve taken away from the encounter.

So the question remains: what is so explosive about all this? Why shouldn’t all Americans have health insurance? It sounds like a dumb question, but I can’t seem to get a straight answer so far.

17 thoughts on “Ignorance Is No Longer Bliss

  1. And Obama’s principles sound great, but there is absolutely no indication of how it will be paid for, or how people will continue to maintain their current plans if a)the government plans undercut existing private insurance, b)their own doctors are not the ones who are allowed by law to actually make decisions on their care (would you like page numbers in the bill?).

    Pipe dreams are lovely, but they have no actual place in any of the bills being cooked up by Congress.

  2. I had similar feelings following my just completed US visit. Health insurance reform will happen, because the majority of Americans want it done this year and we are more afraid of inaction than the threats and wild doomsday scenarios being served up by knowing or unknowing protectors of the big business status quo. Let the people judge in 2010 and 2012. Bring the votes. Was going into Iraq a lesser gamble? I don’t think so. Have the American people learned some lessons from that previous big money orchestrated propaganda campaign that fooled so many? I do hope so.

  3. Apparently the liberal Washington Times dug this up in Pelosi’s defense. I’ve also seen pictures of Obama with a Hitler/Chaplin moustache. I believe it was the former being referenced. I’ve heard the word Nazi applied to Obama plenty of times.

    I don’t think Obama has been up-front about costs. I don’t think he ever should have made the promise that reform would be deficit-neutral because it implies that all the increased coverage would be paid for by reduced costs, and I just don’t see how that’s going to happen. With nearly 50 million in need of insurance there will need to be increased spending.

    And if by undercutting private insurance you mean cutting into their profits, that probably is going to happen—but, I’ll stop there. I really don’t have time to get into this. I’ll just say that I would hope covering everyone would be a common goal.

  4. Here are the pictures of people carrying swastikas. The point is that everyone needs to take a step back, perhaps even read the provisions and stop listening to ANYTHING Sarah Palin says is in the bill. This mass hysteria being fomented by the very people who have the most to lose if there is reform–rich insurance execs and politicians who have received massive donations to fight healthcare reform. Rick Scott calls his organization, Conservatives for PATIENTS’ rights. What a joke! When did he ever care about patients? When his hospital system, HCA/Columbia was systematically defrauding Medicare?

  5. I got the sarcasm, friend. 😉

    You’ll note that the woman was holding a swastika with a slash through it, as I said — as in “down with this swastika.” Now, you may think that that is over the top, but it’s a very different thing than groups holding up swastikas, I’m sure you’ll agree.

      1. You watch it in Italy, and rant about those wacky right-wingers. Forgetting that your dearly beloved cousins fall into that group. 😉

  6. Not sure where else to put this so:

    This is regarding your poll. I’d just like to note that it’s nothing to do with opinion, as to whether a person remains Jewish even after they convert to another faith.

    Halacha, Jewish religious law, is the only thing that determines Jewish identity.

    And the issue is very clear indeed, and always has been. The Tanakh tells us that a Jew who adopts ANY other faith, is an EX Jew. An Apostate.

    Now this does not – as in Islam – necessitate nor involve negativity towards this ex Jew. Not at all. But it’s just a statement of fact: a Jew who becomes a Christian = a CHRISTIAN

    Just as a Jew who becomes a Muslim = a MUSLIM

    As for Atheism:

    Rabbis and Halacha are very clear on this too. Atheism doesn’t involve embracing ANOTHER, CONFLICTING, FAITH.

    An Atheist Jew, is simply a non practising Jew.

    Simple as that.

    Or, if the person prefers not to identity as Jewish, then the Atheist is, well, an Atheist, who was born into Judaism but has now left.

    But according to halacha, the Atheist is still part of the Jewish family whereas the ex Jew turned Christian, or ex Jew turned Muslim, is not.

    Historically, Jews that converted to other faiths, and then later wished to return to Judaism, had to formally *convert* back to Judaism.

    I’m slightly concerned that your poll gives the impression that popular opinion can determine who is and is not Jewish.

    It can’t.

    Also, as I’m sure you know, there is a specific Christian Evangelical movement, whose members were never Jews to START with, yet who pose fraudulently as ‘messianic jews’ and who knowingly LIE and MISrepresent Judaism and Jews. This group provokes a lot of conflict between Jews and Christians.

    Here is more info on this:

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Tabatha. I created the poll in order to collect opinions, not because I believe such a poll can decide issues of identity once and for all. But many people have opinions that don’t conform to standards (halakhic or otherwise), and the question is uncomfortable enough to make asking it worthwhile.

  7. But surely the question is only ‘uncomfortable’ because there are some people who wish to dishonour both Judaism and Christianity by claiming to belong to both – when clearly that would be a theological contradiction?

  8. How did they challenge my claims? How are we going to extend health insurance (require it, in fact), make it better, and yet reduce cost? No one has yet explained that. And when my older relatives in Canada wait months for relatively simple tests, it’s not hard to see exactly how government-controlled systems control costs.

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