Monday, June 15, 2009

You say you want a revolution?

I'm no international affairs major, but it looks like Iran is in trouble.

The bassist for the hit group "The Axis of Evil," Iran is always in the news here. They're pursuing nuclear weapons, which makes the U.S. angry and Israel very, very angry. It might be funding the insurgency in Iraq. Its president (not its leader) thinks the Holocaust is a fairy tale, which is a pretty good sign he's the ultimate panderer or completely insane.

Now he might have just stolen an election. Who knows? The numbers are fishy and many Iranians are taking to the streets.

It's easy to see images of burning cars and club-wielding police beating the shit out of anyone they happen to see and think, "That would never happen in America!"

Except it has. Just look at Vietnam or any time a sports teams wins a championship. We are lucky that our government is much more accepting of street protests than others. For that we should be thankful. (But they still have their moments, like Kent State.)

What runs through my mind looking at all the carnage on TV? I say good for them. They think an election was stolen by a crackpot president and his theocratic, Wizard of Oz boss the Ayatollah and they're pissed. They should be. And they should take to the streets. Americans only take to the streets these days when Denny's promises them breakfast for free or their sports team wins a trophy.

Despite Iran's reputation here for being an evil country, the citizens in its biggest cities are not all that different from the citizens in our biggest cities. They are more metropolitan and educated than most of their Mideast neighbors and they seek a thaw in the relationship in the West. They probably have HBO on their TVs and iPhones in their pockets.

Sure, they'll lose. And Mahmoud Ahnegnfggjkfohndoig will remain president, but at least the backward forces in that country are feeling the heat.

And speaking of backward forces, we have our own mini revolution brewing, sans the guns and fire. Health care reform is coming. Even the morons in Congress know Americans have had it and change is coming.

But it won't be easy and it may not be done right.

The facts are well known. More than 40 million Americans don't have health insurance. Around 60 percent of personal bankruptcies come from onerous medical bills. Even people with health insurance fear for the day they actually need to use it for a big procedure because the premiums and the co-pays would be huge. It's a swinging guillotine over the heads of just about every non-filthy rich, non silver-haired, pot-bellied politician in this country.

The debate now hinges on whether health care reform will include a public option, meaning the government getting into the health care business to compete with private insurers. A European style Single-payer (the dream of many liberals) will not happen. But even centrist Democrats and most Republicans oppose the public option.

Their idea of health care reform? "Can you private insurers, you hospitals, you pharmaceutical companies lower costs a little bit? Pweety Pweease?"

It will all hinge, like everything else in Washington today, on a few moderate Senators in the lovely United State Congress (sponsored by Pfizer). I hope they know that private insurers have had plenty of time to reign in costs, to make life-saving procedures affordable, to encourage people to get check-ups in order to avoid costly ER bills, but they haven't for the most part. If you work a part-time job, a job with no health plan or if you lose your job, then health insurance is a distant dream.

And yeah, we can come up with the money somehow. Anytime the Department of Defense asks for another $40 billion or a bank asks for $40 billion, we come up with the money. So I don't want to hear that excuse when it comes time to providing health care - a basic right no matter what Sean Hannity says - to our own citizens.
Not to get all weepy here, but this is about life and death. People die because our systems is so out of whack. They die every day. And if the government providing a cheaper option is the way to lower costs across the board, then so be it. The private companies won't do it by themselves. They tend not to give a shit about anything other than profit.

Force is needed because it should not be a bottom-line business, like Hollywood or Wall Street. Whether or not someone receives a necessary procedure should never come down to just numbers on a balance sheet. Again, this is life and death. Sometimes in America, we need a reminder that not everything should be about quarter-to-quarter growth and profit margins.

This is the most important domestic issue in the U.S. today. And a revolution is needed, maybe not in the form of lighting a car on fire, but in reminding our representatives in Washington that we put them there, not Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and that we can just as easily kick them out.

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