Thursday, March 29, 2012

An Uninsured Woman Opposes The Insurance Mandate

I won't try predicting how the Supreme Court will rule on the individual mandate of Obamacare, because in modern America, pretending "what the constitution says" has any bearing on "what the laws actually are anymore" is a fool's game. (If the constitution actually mattered, then the fourth amendment would preclude those freedom fingerbangs which the kiddie-diddling rapists of the TSA routinely inflict on female mass-transit passengers.)

But I will say this: I am someone who would, theoretically, see an immediate personal benefit if the Supremes pass the individual mandate, yet I still oppose it.

Ever since my partner lost his job, I have been sans health insurance. (Well, actually, I bought a so-called short-term emergency insurance policy, but it's largely useless. The insurance I have now is the kind where, instead of selling my soul to pay for medical care, I'd only have to sell 20 percent of my soul, after paying a $5,000 deductible every six months, and then the insurance company will pay 80 percent of the costs beyond that. This will prove useful if I get an injury or illness costing "only" $50,000 or $100,000 to treat -- I could manage 20 percent of that without bankruptcy -- but if I come down with something really expensive, my medical insurance will leave me just as bankrupt as someone with no insurance at all.)

I lack decent health insurance. I can't afford decent health insurance. If the government offered a subsidized insurance policy WITHOUT my becoming a single mother first, I'd sign up in a heartbeat. And I still hope the individual mandate is struck down.

If the mandate passes, then for the first time in American history, everybody who lives here will have the legal obligation to pay money to the CEO of a private company with excellent political connections, no matter what. The simple fact "you exist" will be all it takes to incur this obligation. That's not true for any prior tax -- you personally are not obligated to pay income tax unless you have an income above a certain level. You personally do not owe property tax unless you own property. Every other tax or fine has that "unless" clause -- you do not owe tax X unless you do activity Y first. But what is the "unless" clause for the individual mandate? "Unless you ... exist? live? Draw breath?"

The American healthcare system is broken and needs fixing, but I still oppose the unconstitutional idea "I am required by law to give money to the CEO of a private company with cushy political connections." Even worse: I don't think the individual-mandate proponents truly understand (or care) how punitive and downright cruel America's legal system is. Because if they understood or cared, they would NOT be so eager to give that system yet ANOTHER excuse to prosecute people.

Consider the hundreds of thousands of inmates who are beaten and raped in American prisons after being convicted of nonviolent drug or prostitution charges -- and remember that, in theory, those inmates were locked in cages for their own good, to protect them from the life-destroying scourge of being a drug user or prostitute. TSA molests or irradiates American travelers for their own good. And the "give money to a corporate CEO under penalty of law" insurance mandate is for our own good.

I'm sure the federal bureaucracy charged with enforcing compliance will act with all the humanity and compassion that has made the American government so beloved throughout the world these past ten years and more, right? The compassion and humanity of the DEA and the TSA and the remote-control drone operators who use Afghan infants for target practice ... yes, of course, the American government has proven itself so utterly trustworthy in wielding power, why NOT give it even more power? Why not give it more excuses to punish Americans under the law? After all, it's for our own good.

No, hell no, I don't trust that at all. I don't trust anything that gives the government a justification to hand still more Americans over to the nonexistent mercies of our "justice" system. I lack insurance, I need insurance, and I still say I am NOT acting against my best interests when I oppose the bill; I'm putting my long-term interests over my short-term. If Americans can be forced to give money to private companies that will set an appalling precedent, and I'm not willing to sell out future generations no matter how much I'd benefit now for doing so.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Morocco Needs Santorum

Here is the heartbreaking story of Amina Filali, a Moroccan girl who was raped at age 15, forced to marry her rapist at age 16, and committed suicide soon thereafter.

Poor girl. If only she could've listened to the wisdom of Rick Santorum! Then she would understand that being raped is a gift from God. (Well, actually, Santorum said babies made via rape are gifts from God. But, seeing as how Filali would've been forced to continue having sex with her rapist, one of those glorious Godly gift-babies was bound to come along eventually.)

Sandra Fluke Was Not A Fluke: A Secular Crisis of Faith

If I were religious, I'd say I've been undergoing a "crisis of faith" these past couple weeks. But as a rationalist/secular humanist, I can't think of any ready-made phrases to express my mood although there are initials for it: WTF?

Given the major problems facing America today -- our decaying infrastructure, growing rates of poverty, eroding civil liberties and descent into totalitarianism -- how the hell did the majority of the political right wing get the idea "Y'know what's really wrong with the USA? Too many women have too much access to contraception!"

A couple weeks ago, a woman named Sandra Fluke went before Congress to discuss health insurance coverage. Fluke mentioned a friend of hers who'd lost an ovary to an ovarian cyst, because she could not afford the hormone pills necessary to treat the cyst in its early phases, and her health insurance wouldn't pay for it because the woman's employer, who paid part of her health-insurance premiums, cited religious objections to fixing problems with women's reproductive systems.

This inspired Rush Limbaugh to spend three days calling Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute," which did not surprise me at all; I remember when Limbaugh criticized the policies of then-president Bill Clinton by holding up a photo of Clinton's daughter (who at the time was going through her gawky-adolescent ugly phase) and calling her "the official White House dog."

So, no, I don't expect reasoned commentary from someone who, as a middle-aged man, made no distinction between political commentary and insulting pre-teen girls. Limbaugh's rant didn't surprise me at all. Here's what did surprise me: when I'd go on Facebook, or visit various political blogs and forums I'm prone to frequent, all run by people I'd considered political allies of a sort (mainly self-described libertarians who claim to share my mantra "Social liberal and fiscal conservative"), I saw to my dismay how many "libertarians" favor Limbaugh's view of ovarian-cyst treatment over Fluke's.

I saw countless photos of Fluke's face with captions suggesting she wants taxpayers to buy her silk sheets, Barry White albums and vibrating dildos; captions suggesting that only whores want or need healthy reproductive systems. I saw self-described libertarians who view women's hormone pills the same way callous drug warriors view pain medicine for the dying: if there's even the theoretical possibility a drug or medical treatment can be used solely for fun -- a painkiller that can also get you high, a hormone-balancing treatment that can also let you have sex without fear of pregnancy -- then let's pretend these treatments are only used for fun, and furthermore that only irresponsible criminal loser-types would ever use those treatments. Only hopeless-loser potheads would ever use marijuana, only trashy-filth meth whores would ever buy decongestants, and only promiscuous sluts would ever take hormone pills, right?

Fun fact: based on my mother's own medical history -- she's banned for life from donating blood, because once upon a time she needed cancer-of-the-ladyparts surgery -- I'd guess I have a better-than-average chance of one day needing the same type of medical treatments Fluke discussed. If this happens, I'd certainly want my medical insurance company to cover it (assuming I actually had medical insurance at the time, but that's another matter). So, would I then see my photo plastered over the internets, with captions suggesting I'm just a freeloading slut demanding subsidized sex toys?

I posted variations of that question to the people who posted or re-posted sundry Sandra Fluke slurs on their blogs and Facebook pages, but thus far, none have had the balls to give me a direct answer.

I also read various respected libertarianish blogs -- no names mentioned, no links provided, they'd be largely interchangeable anyway -- blogs and comment threads attempting to be dispassionate, when they explained how Fluke wasn't necessarily a "slut" for talking about her friend's ovarian cyst, but was surely a whiny demander of free stuff because women who want their health insurance companies to pay for health problems involving their gender-specific body parts are just a buncha goddamn socialist Commies, or something.

After awhile, it all started to sound like a thread on Stormfront discussing Obama's dismal record of war crimes, TSA molestation policies and similar problems -- yeah, guys, you have a couple legitimate complaints here, but quit pretending your hatred of Obama stems from your principled love of constitution and country. No: you hate the man because he is black, and the fact that he later went on to do things so odious you'd even criticize a white man for it is just a lucky coincidence.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows but some fellows I'd never bed, despite my being the sort of "prostitute" who believes women's medical insurance companies should cover women's medical problems. For example: no matter how bad TSA and NSA get under Obama, I'm still not hooking up with David Duke and the Stormfronters to fight them ... and it looks like I can't hook up with most "libertarians," either. At least not the ones who'd call me a prostitute for opposing any reproductive-organs exemption to medical coverage.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

1984: The TSA Prequel

The first time I read Orwell's 1984, I wished he'd written a prequel explaining how the hell postwar Britain and America turned into the dystopian nightmare of Oceania. Now, seeing what's happening to America these past ten years, I understand. There's a certain type of very frightened person who will make excuses for any government intrusion so long as it's done in the name of "safety." "So what if we are stripped naked before a flight? I bet you prudes keep your clothes on when you visit the doctor too, huh?" "So what if little six-year-old girls have their vulvae stroked by strangers before they get on any form of mass transit? How arrogant must you be, to insist that strangers keep their hands off your genitals?"

I'm guessing the telescreens in Orwell's world were installed after some horror story made headlines: "Evil man rapes and murders his children in his living room." Then the police and their apologists pointed out "This wouldn't have happened if only the cops could've seen what was going on inside that home! We need telescreens!"

Of course, civil libertarians like me spoke out against the telescreens, which inspired bootlicking authoritarian apologists to start sniping "Oh, I see. You don't care how many innocent children are raped and murdered, so long as you can sit on your couch picking your nose without an audience. You are so SELFISH. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide!"

I've seen, heard or read countless examples of pro-TSA apologists making arguments similar to the ones rapists use to justify their attacks: "If you don't mind getting naked in the doctor's office, you shouldn't mind getting naked anywhere. If a woman consents to having sex with one man, she's consented to having sex with any man, anywhere, anytime."

Nor do I understand the solipsism required to say "I personally don't mind having strangers look at or paw me in the name of 'safety'; ergo, NOBODY ELSE should mind it either." True fact: I paid for college by dancing in topless bars, starting at age 18. Yet even as an 18-year-old with typical teenaged self-centeredness, I knew better than to think "Since I do not mind going topless in front of a roomful of strangers, that means NO woman should mind it."

Seriously, TSA apologists: if you can't bring yourself to give a damn about the constitution or the basic human rights this country used to brag about, try to have at LEAST as much empathy, humanity, humility, common sense and common decency as an 18-year-old topless stripclub dancer.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Dear Mormons: Feel Free To Baptize My Future Atheist Corpse

So the Mormons – aka the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or something like that – have been generating controversy because they keep posthumously baptizing dead Jews and other non-Mormons, which (quite understandably) is enraging their non-Mormon surviving family members.

And yet … for all that my default response is usually “outrage” whenever facing the prospect “organized religion imposing where it’s not wanted,” I find it hard to fault what the Mormons are doing. In fact, I wish all proselytizing religions would follow their example: preach to the dead all you want, but leave the living alone. Most religions predict eternal damnation for anyone who dies outside the true faith; the Mormons are attempting to avoid this. If their theology is right then they’re doing a good thing, and if they’re wrong (that’s how I’m betting) it makes no difference either way.

Having said that: Mormons, you really need to shut the hell up about your little baptism games. Just quietly fill out whatever holy paperwork you figure gets souls out of Mormon purgatory and into Mormon paradise, and keep it to yourselves.

It’s like a sexual fantasy: if you (not “you” personally, of course you’d never think naughty thoughts) fantasize about doing things to or having things done to you by a neighbor or colleague, your private thoughts don’t harm that person in the slightest. But it would be appallingly inappropriate, and downright creepy, to actually tell that someone “You’re who I think about while I pleasure myself,” let alone issue press releases announcing “so-and-so is my primary whack fodder.”

And the same holds true regarding postmortem Mormons: nothing harmful about the baptism or the fantasy itself, but you desperately need to keep quiet about it.
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