Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Health Care andTown Hall Meetings

I post this as I watch President Obama on C-SPAN, speaking live at the Portsmouth, N.H. town hall meeting, not far from where I live. I don't see anything scary about what he's saying; it's the rancor over his proposal for nationwide health care reform that frightens me.

I missed the hoo-rah taking place when he arrived at Portsmouth High School for this meeting. According to the always-looking-for-trouble media, they expected a three ring circus of the perpetually pissed off with an added element of crazy. I will be curious to see the before and after behaviour of the people waiting outside when this is finished.

President Obama rightly points out the people screaming and yelling about how to pay for nationwide helth care reform are the same ones who agreed to the nationwide Medicare prescription bill which has contributed heavily to the current deficit. That bill passed both houses of Congress during the Bush administration with the full backing of the pharmaceuticals who continue to post tremendous profits without having to compete, on a pricing level, with their neighbors to the north.

I'm relieved to see, for the most part, respectful people asking informed questions. President Obama is answering those questions in specific detail while, at the same time, reminding the audience not to succumb to scare tactics rampantly being manipulated by those in opposition.

I respect each person's right to their opinion but it should be informed. His final questioner says Obama speaks from a "bully pulpit". He then goes on to ask a reasonable question, "Why does Congress enjoy a better health care plan than the average guy?" Personally, I think he divebombed his effectiveness by prefacing the question with an insult.

I despised the Bush Administration and all they stood for. However, had I attended a town hall meeting with President Bush as speaker, I would have addressed him with respect. I respect the office whether or not I like the man. People need to remember this.

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Jon Stewart pokes fun at the polarization of the populace highlighted by the media and spurred on, most likely, by special interest groups financed by major corporations with a stake in all of this. Maybe he's right when he says people need to be reminded to "Quit makin' things up!" Sarah Palin would be the perfect person to put that across.


Baino said...

Cali it's such a can of worms. Especially for Americans who have never had a truly socialised welfare system. And from what I gather, the very word 'socialised' puts terror into the hearts of many. Our system isn't perfect and our tax base is high but everyone here has access to free health. If you want to be treated better, faster, have your own doctor, then you join a health plan but theres a choice. And I acgree re bullying questioners. This is the President, arguably the most powerful man in the world and there is no need to be disrespectful just because you didn't vote for him. I don't envy the task he has putting forward his new plan.

ellen abbott said...

I'm just appalled at all the hate speech out there. How can anyone in this day and age not understand how terribly unjust our health care system is? And the outright selfishness of the haves makes me sick.

Ruth said...

There is so much that is twisted in this whole picture - it makes me crazy! We should have known that things would get ugly eventually after the campaign of the right leading to the election.

And why can't we regulate the pharmas like the rest of the world???? Oh, then we'd be socialist.

Isn't it a form of "tax" when I have to pay an arm and a leg at my employer for health care? Don't these people feel that pinch? They've made an enemy out of the wrong entity.

Present and Accounted For said...

You do realize that our President's "townhall' was filled with handpicked questioners and no questions were a surprise to him. What I find disturbing is people being called mobsters for exersising their right to free speech. Unless of course they use it to parrot the Messiah

California Girl said...

Baino: always good to hear the opinions from those in other countries who see U.S. from a different perspective.

EA: It's the frenzied lacking in logic approach I dislike. We should all use restraint when posing questions and demonstrating our opposition to things. The Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs and Bill O'Reillys of the world foster so much negativity. I have to laugh when I hear the right wing media say that the media is slanted to the left. There are so few tv & radio programs with liberal bias it's a joke. I ought to know. I've worked in the media for 30+ yrs.

Ruth: I only know that when I left California in 1997, my family's monthly health insurance premium, self-insured through Blue Cross, was $400 per month. If I were to lose my job now and pay my COBRA, it would be $1300 per month. If I had to self-insure the family, it would be closer to $2000 per month. Who has that kind of money? I'll take a government backed program any day.

Present: I honestly don't know if they were "handpicked" and neither do you. That is an accusation hurled by the opposition that is "parrot"ed about. I respect your right to your opinion, however, and I appreciate your commenting on my post. I wish to hear everyone's viewpoints.

Ima Wizer said...

Thank you for this post.......there are those who are respectful because they have true empathy regardless of their political views and then there are those who are just spoilin' for a fight whatever the topic may be....I think the latter applies to most of these people attending town hall meetings...they are unwilling to listen and have already made their minds up. It's shocking. And after what the Bush regime did to this country! You'd think people would realize this.

Minka said...

You say you like comments by people who see you from a different perspective? What I say IS from my perspective, at the same time it's about the image the Americans show the rest of the world through one of its most powerful industries - movies and TV shows.

And I agree with Baino - everything resembling anything social... seems to terrify you guys (some of you?) while we have always felt free to see a doctor whenever we had a problem, we never heard of anyone paying for surgery until we saw that on TV and so on. Not that I want to rub your nose in it. I just wish everyone could get the medical attention they need. And I guess "social" doesn't mean what many people think (WHAT on earth DO they think it means?)

But yes, things are changing here, too, in a waay that you can pay for things and cut lines, get tests and treatment sooner if you pay for it, stuff like that.

California Girl said...

Minka: good point about perception of the U.S. coming from our movies and tv shows. They are incredibly influential, not always in a good way (that another debate/discussion altogether!). But, I don't think they are representative of Middle America as much as they are representative of the auteurs, movie making folk, Hollywood types who create them.

When you say "social", do you mean "socialism"? That is certainly a scary word for alot of Americans who fail to realize we have many "socialist" programs in place. Those best known include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. What is funny to me is the same people screaming about health care reform at town hall meetings would not want their social security done away with nor Medicare or Medicaid.

Minka said...

When I put it that way, I meant to say that when hearing "social" many people are probably afraid that the word might end with "ism" - guessing and exaggerating, I know.

I wouldn't go back to socialism - time brings changes and it's only natural. But it was exactly what made us feel so secure. And the health system was just great - everyone was taken care of. And I mean regular check ups, vaccinations, maternity care, surgery, dental - whatever you can think of. People say here sometimes, that the west could copy the health system when we are actually copying theirs (yours). I'm not sure why the tax increase should be such a problem. We pay our health insurance all the time, our employers pay for it also and yes, that costs money. But then, no employer has to pay extra and no individual either. So from this point of view it shuld be taxes instead of all sorts of insurance policies.But of course, no company would offer "full dental" with the job. It sounds ridiculous to me. And I don't want to be mean. Of course you have full dental(but it can take more tim,e to fix your teeth than you might want - this has changed for the worse) - you are employed! And because of it, the same goes for your kids - with all the education and prevention of tooth decay and all the braces. And of course the woman can stay at home for a year when she has a baby (or longer if something goes wrong) with a 70 or 80% of her salary - I'm not sure.
And of course you can make it work in another way when you lose your job. I'm not sure how it works, but it can be done. You have to pay something, I guess, but not an arm and a leg.

I don't want to be smart here, or mean, but things can't be THAT complicated if they work here (Slovenia). And we're not even supposed to be a terribly rich country. Not poor either.

I think general health care could prevent many higher costs in other "socialist" programs that you have.

About the picture of you on our TV screens - I could write a post or two about it, but you might not find it as funny as we sometimes do and I don't want to offend. It's us, anyway, who watch the shows.

California Girl said...

Wonderful response Minka. You have a perspective everyone should read. As for writing a post about the U.S. as perceived through your tv screen, write it! if you aren't provoking someone, you're not getting through.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Minka! And you, too, California Girl. I'm appalled at the mess and the strident bizarreness (rigid ideology) of both sides.


I've heard a lot of people say that the resistance is a form of racism. What do you think? I'm not sure.

California Girl said...

Reya, et.al: What I think is now contained in my follow up post today: http://womenofcertainage.blogspot.com/2009/08/anger-and-angst-in-america.html

lakeviewer said...

I came in from Reya's blog, concerned about the health care reform and how the conversation is evolving.


by Cole Scott