Today while at lunch I had a short encounter with some people who were petitioning to repeal the heath care bill. Below is pretty much how the encounter went.
I went into a Ralph's to get some batteries, but the long line at checkout made me think twice about it. As I was leaving, I was approached by an older woman holding a clipboard. She looked to be in her late 50s or early 60s. I could tell however she was from out of town by the way she was dressed, as I was in a somewhat affluent area and she looked like she should slinging beers in some hick-ass biker bar in the middle of the desert somewhere. If I had to guess I would say she's from a more working class area of Ventrua or Oxnard. Most people don't really know that the outlying cities and suburbs around Los Angeles are as full of rednecks as any Southern State.
There was a younger man with her, who dressed in similar manner to how I would have ten years ago if I were jock douchebag. He was scruffy and had a large snake tattoo that covered the underside of his forearm from the elbow to his hand. It was one of those cheap tattoos, the kind you get in prison. He was around that age where one finally decides to (or is forced to) stop fucking around and get a real job, but does not yet have a clue as to how to actually go about that. He looked like he could be this lady's son. By the way they were dressed and how they carried themselves I would say they were one generation away from trailer trash. Ventura county has a lot of that also.
She approached and asked me politely if I were a registered voter. She had a slight southern accent, the kind that people get when they grow up in some shitkicker town in the middle of nowhere and that never really goes away even though they moved to the big city twenty years ago. As I walked towards my car the lady kept with me. She asked if I would like to sign a petition to repeal the health care bill. This is when the encounter got interesting.
Old Lady: "Would you like to sign a petition to repeal Obamacare?"
Me: "Well, you see, my grandmother has muscular dystrophy - "
Old Lady: "Ohhh! I'm sorry!" (touches my arm)"If you sign here we can give her some information-"
Me: "Yeah well she's never had insurance -"
Old Lady: (flipping pages on her clipboard) "Well this will make is so she doesn't have to get insurance she doesn't want."
Me: "No I mean her entire life, no one would sell her insurance. She never had coverage until she got Medicare."
Old Lady: "I see."
Me: "So this law will stop that kind of denial of coverage, so that's why I support it. Sorry."
Old Lady: "Well see the problem is you're forced to buy insurance you don't want! You don't get to choose your doctor!"
Me: "What? Since when?"
She flipped open the clipboard to a page that had some talking points conveniently highlighted in yellow.
Old Lady: "Obamacare will force people to buy insurance they don't want! I mean, I'm 62, I need a job! I can't afford to pay $400 a month for insurance!"
"You have a job, bitch." I thought to myself, unless she's doing this shit for free. Keep in mind, she's 62 so she'll qualify for medicare in three years anyway. In the meantime she wants to pass a law that prevents the rest of us from getting coverage, just so she can save a few bucks in the short term. Thanks a fucking lot lady.
Me: "Well they make allowances for that."
Old Lady: "No they don't, if you don't pay it you get fined!"
Me: "No in the bill, they have assistance for people with lower incomes."
Old Lady: "But you don't get to choose your own doctor!"
Me: "That has nothing to do with it, it doesn't force you into a specific plan, it sets up an exchange."
Old Lady: "What?"
Me: "It sets up an exchange, so you can choose which plan one you want, it doesn't force you to buy anything."
Old Lady: "But if you don't buy it you get fined."
Me: "The fine comes out of your taxes, correct?"
A glazed look came over her face. It was pretty obvious at this point that this old lady really didn't know what was in the health care bill, didn't know about the exchange or how it worked, and didn't even really know what the "fine" was all about, how much it was, or if it came out of your taxes or what. I like to call this the "Ignorance horizon," that is the point at which, when talking to conservatives in real life, they become incapable of carrying on the conversation because they do not have any memorized talking points to respond with. This happens much more quickly in real life than say on the internet, where they can simply go back to Freedomwerks or Glennbeck.com or whatever backwards-ass idiotic misleading propaganda site they get their bullshit from and look up how to respond. In a real life conversation there ain't no internet, and most people when they cross the Ignorance Horizon will either clam up, change the subject, or start making up stupid bullshit in order to save face.
True to form, the old lady decided to change the subject.
Old Lady: "Well, whether you support this or not, you're a registered voter, correct?"
Old Lady: "Are you registered for an absentee ballot?"
Old Lady: "It's so they send the ballot and information to your house."
Every election I hear of different stories of various dirty tricks pulled by either party in order to knock people off the voting rolls. For instance, in 2008 it was found that a bunch of college kids who thought they were signing a petition to legalize weed were in fact being registered Republican without their knowledge, and as a consequence when the election rolled around they were unable to vote in the primaries. Although I had no reason to suspect any dubious motives on the behalf of this highly motivated (but dreadfully uninformed) petitioner, there is always a chance she was merely a unwitting tool in a grander scheme. I decided not to chance it.
Me: "Nah I just go down and vote."
Old Lady: "Well if you sign up here we can send this information to your house and you can discuss it with your grandmother-"
Me: "Why would she want to vote against the health care law? She's never had coverage in her life."
Old Lady: "Well they'll send the ballot to your house. You have to do it through the mail."
Me: "No thank you."
I can tell she was disappointed, I bet she probably was paid depending on how many people she registered. Well I hope she makes her quota or whatever for her sake. The thing is, this is the kind of person that the health care bill will unequivocally help. As an unemployed person she would get essentially free health care, as anyone who makes less than 133% of the federal poverty line can be enrolled in an expanded Medicare program. There are subsidies for people who make up to four times the federal poverty line (about $44,000 a year, which includes me) so that no one has to spend more than 10% of their income on insurance premiums. The fine this lady is so afraid of comes to $695 a person (or maxes out at $2085 per family) so that even if you do not decide to buy insurance it still costs less than the price of the insurance itself. To top it all off all this shit isn't even going to happen for another four years.
So why, exactly, do people want to repeal this law, even before it comes into effect? What the fuck are people so afraid of? I can tell you what the conservatives are afraid of: That when this law does come into effect and people do start buying insurance and they can't get denied or kicked off when they get sick, they're afraid people will like it.
I simply do not understand how exactly anyone thinks it's a good idea to pay a bill to a company for years and years, and then when the time comes that you actually need to utilize the service you've been paying for, they suddenly turn around and drop you like a bad habit. How exactly is that "fair?" How is that "the best system in the world?" Why exactly would anyone want to go back to that? The story there with my grandmother is true shit - she hasn't been able to walk for fifty years. And the entire time she's had this disease she had never ever had health insurance. Not becasue they could not afford it, but because NO ONE WOULD SELL IT TO HER. My grandfather refused to buy it for the rest of the family if they wouldn't cover my grandmother, so he told them all to go fuck themselves, and for decades they all did without. She never got coverage until she turned 65, and suddenly was eligible for medicare. A good example of Uncle Sam stepping in when the private sector was unwilling.
And seriously, if it's good enough for her, then why not for the rest of us? Why should I even bother paying a private company to provide something the government can and already does provide for millions of people? Why do I not have the choice, if I want to, to enroll in a government plan and just have the price of the premiums come out of my taxes? Seems like it would make things a hell of a lot easier if the cost of all this shit just came out of my taxes automatically instead of me just having to pay a bill every month wouldn't you say? I already pay for medicare, do I not?
That I think is the final reason why I support "Obamacare," because after a few years of it people may be ready to take the next step, into a European style single payer system - you know, like how every single other industrialized nation on the face of the Earth has. Even fucking Mexico has better coverage than we do. Isn't it time we, as a country, finally took responsibility for the well being of our people? I know the conservatives won't like that, because conservatives never take responsibility for anything.
Seriously people, what the fuck.