Earlier this weekend I asked this question on Twitter:
Are we really that cold, that there is an acceptable percentage of people we're willing to allow to be sick, destitute, hopeless?
I posed it in response to Media Research Center VP Dan Gainor's comment to me about my revulsion at the standing ovation in the video above when Mike Pence practically spat the words "repeal Obamacare, lock, stock and barrel". The crowd went absolutely wild over that. Wild. This is a crowd, by the way, of self-proclaimed "values voters." What Gainor said was this:
We had a relatively small number of people w/o insurance. Crazy and power mad to get govt involved in health care for all
I realize that we all have different perspectives on health care, but frankly, his remark sounded so Dickensian that it was like a double slap after seeing the craven hordes in that video. Here is someone saying with complete clarity that it was perfectly all right for a certain percentage of our populace to live without dignity, to be denied access to health care. In the system we have, no insurance means no access unless one has a lot of money. 51 million people (at last count) do not have a lot of money. Only a very few have the means to go without health insurance and survive financially.
Dan Gainor aside, Mike Huckabee's comments at this same conference were equally mind-boggling. Here's what he said about the uninsured:
"It sounds so good, and it's such a warm message to say we're not gonna deny anyone from a preexisting condition," Huckabee explained at the Value Voters Summit today. "Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, "I'd like to buy some insurance for my house." He'd say, "Tell me about your house." "Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I'd like to insure it today." And he'll say "I'm sorry, but we can't insure it after it's already burned." Well, no preexisting conditions."
Permit me a short rant here from my own Christian perspective. Huckabee's remarks here are bald, naked hypocrisy couched in folksy non-logic. They also prove the utter lack of human values these 'values voters' hold and make a strong argument for why the health insurance paradigm is so flawed, even if it is what we've got.
A house is not a life. A house is a collection of wood and drywall and pipes and wires that's put together in a way that shelters the humans who live in it. A house is a thing, an inanimate object. It serves a purpose, a purpose which serves those who live in it. Insuring a house is insuring a thing.
Health is something entirely different. If one were to apply Huckabee's pure argument, there would be no life insurance market, because death is inevitable. No one is immortal. Everyone dies. Therefore, loss is an expected component of a life insurance policy and so there just shouldn't be such a thing. If loss is inevitable, then why bother to insure anyone?
Health "insurance" is really not insurance at all in the sense that Huckabee presents. It is a risk pool, one that benefits everyone who participates by allowing them to pay before the need arises to benefit from it. It isn't a hedge against fire or earthquakes or tornadoes or hurricanes, because each and every participant will need to use it at some point.
If Huckabee and the Values folks were true to their "values", they would heed the words of Jesus, who called his followers to share what they had with others, to feed the poor, care for widows and orphans, to look out for their neighbors as if they were their own. But instead, they rise in a frenzy of hate and bitterness and some other selfish driving force and call for their fellow citizens to be deprived of one of the most basic needs of mankind.
"Save the babies!", they cry. Bloated with righteous indignation over aborted babies, they agitate and cry for the children, the 'precious children', the future of our land, but nowhere do they acknowledge that saving the babies goes farther than shutting down Planned Parenthood. It means giving the babies access to health, and a home, and an education, and a start in life, or at least a toehold.
Here's a fact: Christians are no more likely to reach out and help those in need than non-Christians, despite the call of their God to do so. No. more. likely. Christians are as morally bankrupt as anyone else. Equally. Christians do not have any right to claim moral superiority or higher-minded values because it is not what anyone says, it is how we choose to live.
Right now, this minute, while millions of Christians across this country are sitting in church crying "Amen" to the preacher's diatribe, people are hungry, living in poverty, doing without. More people than ever are in need. Food banks across this nation have empty shelves. Children are living with their parents in the back seat of the family car, which may be the next thing they lose. Right now. This minute.
Right now, this minute, while millions of Christians across this country are sitting in church silently applauding their pastor's subtle condemnation of gays or the President or the stimulus or health care reform, someone is not receiving a cancer, diabetes or heart disease diagnosis because they have no money to go to the doctor and find out what it is that's causing their fatigue, breathing difficulties, or dizziness. Right now. This minute.
Right now, this minute, while millions of Christians across this country are sitting in church silently thanking God that there's a Mike Pence coming to save this nation from the black guy in the Oval Office with the weird name and the Kenyan father, other people are doing whatever they can to help the family living in their car, the undiagnosed sick patient, the hungry and the homeless. They don't call themselves "values voters." They call themselves human beings. Right now. This minute.
So to the Mike Pences, Mike Huckabees, Dan Gainors, and the rest of you who think it's perfectly righteous to stand in united opposition to "Obamacare" and deny your fellow citizens the right to access and pay for health care they need, I ask you which of these statements is more representative of your "values"?
"In God We Trust"
"In Wellpoint We Trust"
Finally, consider this: Mike Pence, that wild-eyed Obamacare-spitting dude in the video won the 2012 Presidential straw poll among these so-called values voters. That's the same Mike Pence whose highest contributors include Blue Cross/Blue Shield, banks and investment companies.
In oligarchs they trust. In Wellpoint they trust. In war they trust. In money they trust. In compassion and love, not so much.