Friday, March 26, 2010

In which we talk politics

Ooh that title will make you shudder, and maybe haunt me for years to come.

But I've been wondering.

Part of that is the health care overhaul bill. Like 49% of Americans, I am pleased it passed. While I know it isn't perfect, and while I know I will probably end up paying more money into the "system" without reaping obvious personal benefits, I still feel that some things are worth paying for. Health care is one of those things. To me, it's about the people. The sister, for example, who will no longer be denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition. She will no longer have to choose between keeping her current insurance protections or living with her husband in another state as he begins a top ranked grad program. People like that, facing decisions like that, will still have to make difficult decisions, but not with the added worry about what might happen to their strained finances in a medical emergency.

Anyway, I see the core of the bill as about helping people. So why is there so much hate in response to it? Why are people mad enough to fling bricks through windows? I do not understand. And I wonder, where did these people go to kindergarten? My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Campbell, wouldn't have stood for that kind of behavior.

Another thing that makes me wonder is an article I read recently about grad students having children. Grad students who have children have few legal protections. For example, the family and medical leave act does not apply to them, so if they can't make it back within a few days of giving birth, technically the school can throw them out, cut off their health insurance, and leave them stranded.

I had a child in grad school, but my advisor and department were very willing to help me out. I was fully funded my last quarter of grad school -- the one in which the due date landed -- even without teaching duties. They scheduled my defense several weeks in advance of my due date. My advisor moved our one on one meetings to later in the mornings when I was feeling pukey. (My spell checker says that pukey is not a word, but I'm sticking with it.)

Why aren't all grad students who have children so lucky? Shouldn't there be a safety net for students who get pregnant but are willing and eager to continue their degrees? And let's be completely realistic. Fathers are vital in families as well. Shouldn't male students get some time to bond with a new family as well as female? Doesn't that just seem like common sense?

But read the comments on that news article, and you will feel sick to your stomach from all the brick hurling. Mrs Campbell would not have stood for that. No sir.

Many commenters say that this smacks of just another liberal entitlement program. The students chose to have children, so should suffer the consequences. Drop out. Lose insurance. Housing. Visas. The liberals are out to get us.

Wait wait wait wait wait! I thought it was the conservatives who favored families? And these students aren't asking to be held to any weaker standards. They still have that dissertation to write. Exams to pass. Work work work to complete. Along with a newborn. Let's be realistic. These family students are going to be working a whole lot harder than their traditional counterparts. All they want is enough time to recoup so they can continue to put in that work. How is that entitlement?

The most interesting comment was from a woman who wrote of her experience of unexpectedly becoming pregnant while a student, and her struggles to finish inside a system that expected unexpected pregnancies to be aborted. There, my friends, is where the pro-choice-ers' arguments run into moral trouble. An honest choice includes honoring a woman's choice to carry a child to term -- responsibly. And not steamrolling her into an abortion.

Now wait a second, you are asking yourself. This started out sounding like such a liberal blog post, and now it has morphed into pro-life sentiments.

That's my point. I refuse the labels "liberal" or "conservative". "Pro-choice" and "pro-life". Many of the people who wear those labels, I don't like them. Mrs Campbell doesn't like them. And I'm tired of watching them throw bricks through people's windows.

I favor the politics of listening, of flexibility. Of giving people the benefit of the doubt and a helping hand. And I hope for the same from you in return.


Tiffany said...

Amen, amen, and then amen again. Thank you for writing much of what I haven't been able to put into words. Your kindergarten teacher was right.

Lisa, Skye & little MC said...

I second your thoughts! Like my mother who worked all these be as a mother (the hardest job there is) but was denied insurance because of her RA! I could go on and on with examples, but let's face care is a human right not a consumer right

Thora said...

It's nice to hear someone for greater insurance distribution who pays taxes. As someone who needs insurance, but who is also a student (and one of those pesky, irresponsible students you spoke of, having children while (Avram is) still in Grad school), it's a difficult thing to balance. And I feel like somehow my opinion doesn't mean as much - I've never shouldered a tax burden yet. I admit, I loved England where I did not have to worry about insurance at all. Of course, I understand that if I lived in England permanently, I'd be eventually paying a lot of taxes and whatnot, but I still liked knowing that whatever else happened, we would not have any medical, financial catastrophes. Unfortunately, I do not see America actually making a final step to that sort of medical system - I think we'll forever waffle around the mid-range health care we have currently.

Letterpress said...

Note to Thora:
Jessica is right. It's not about who makes the money. It's about doing what's right. I pay a lot of taxes and have for a lot of years, (and yes, I'm for the bill that just passed), but the whole idea is about doing what's right. Our society is not stuck in the 70s (as are the tea partiers--and I refuse to capitalize that). Health care is a need, now. We all know it. And that need is not going to go away, just because some people refuse to grow up and realize that this isn't the 1970s.

I have a daughter who has a pre-existing condition. She needs health care. So do her children. So does the student in my class who's daughter had pneumonia last week for the third time and they have no health insurance.

Don't apologize, Thora. There are many of us who recognize (as J. points out) that the right thing to do is to provide health care.

And maybe someday, we'll have enough courage to add on a few more taxes to get that single-payer system we need. Maybe. I can only hope.

Soul-Fusion said...

I'm impressed with your ability to lay this all out so concisely and evenly. I whole heartedly agree. I pay far more taxes than I prefer and I realize government programs often get bogged down in beurocracy but to me that means we need to focus on tweaking the problems, not doing away the entire idea. The thing is, if everyone had equal access to health care, they may catch problems earlier on and save money in the long run. I feel I've read studies on this but I have no references. This is just my really long way of agreeing with you.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. And I have anecdotes to back me up too that I will spare you.

I completely understand the rage. My childrens' future has just suffered a piano dropping on it too. I'm not throwing bricks, though. I'm going to vote like most of the rest of us.

Can we talk about yogurt again?