Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Liberals DO have backbones!

Despite my exploits as a blogger, I don't feel like I exude politics in my everyday life. But apparently I do.

Yesterday I consulted my doctor about my back, being that my wonderful friend sciatica is giving me trouble once again. He referred me to an X-ray lab to get some hot pictures of my backbone. After clearing all the ID hurdles (yes, the Ian McGibboney), an X-ray technician greeted me. She seemed about my age and was rocking the pink scrubs. We introduced ourselves and walked down the hallway, making chitchat. I felt ugly around her, clad as I was in my workout clothes and untamed hair, limping like I'd just ridden the entire Tour de France without a seat. Yay for self-consciousness.

When we got to the X-ray room, another technician met us, an older man. As she instructed me on how I should lie on the platform, he pipes up:

"You following the presidential race?"
"Yeah."
[Gesturing at woman] "Tell me, which candidate does she look like to you?"

It was then that I realized that she looked very much like Sarah Palin. A younger, smarter, prettier, pleasant-sounding Sarah Palin.

I laughed. "She does look like Sarah Palin," I replied. She laughed and rolled her eyes as if she'd heard this a hundred times already.

"But, ah, er, it's not a bad thing, you know, in terms of, uh, looks."

"In terms of looks, huh?" The man laughed. "But everything else..."

"I take it you're an Obama guy, huh?" she asked, as I attempted to hyper-analyze her tone of voice. I concluded she was either OK with this or, at worst, apathetic. I thought back to the Fox News blaring in the waiting room, and how I hoped that was someone else's idea.

"Oh yeah," I said, somewhat surprised that I was so confident about it to a complete stranger, especially one about to calibrate a giant radiation generator aimed at my lower torso. (Is it safe?)

"You know," the guy said, "Palin sounds OK, as long as she has the cue cards. And how about McCain pulling out of Michigan? Do they ever do that so early?"

"It happens in campaigns a lot, especially when they need to save money," I said. "He'll probably go back before it's over." He nodded as the two stepped behind a window to activate the bone camera.

"OK, hold your breath!" the woman called out. I did. Snap. OK, this is starting to hurt.

"Can I breathe now?" I rasped.

"Oh, yeah, you're fine now!" she replied.

"You keep forgetting to tell them when they can breathe!" I hear the guy say.

"I know! I'm bad," she laughed.

After she escorted me back to the front entrance, I took my X-rays in hand and headed for the pharmacy for some medication. Total cost for the afternoon: $20 for the doctor's visit, no charge for the X-rays and one cent shy of $27 for two bottles of pills. Medical insurance is awesome.

Once I got home and made the pain stop, it occurred to me that John McCain wants to end the tax incentive for businesses to provide medical benefits. He favors instead a tax credit for employees to buy their own insurance on the free market. Setting aside the obvious fact that the credit wouldn't cover this cost for most people, and that individuals actually pay less when going through an employer, this whole free-market thing is ridiculous. Personally, I find employer-sponsored health insurance to be a convenience, not to mention a safety net. If businesses no longer offered health benefits - and you know they'd go the way of pensions in many companies - that would leave a lot of people out in the cold. You can already buy health insurance on the open market, so why deprive employees of what is probably the simplest and cheapest option out there?

Of all the planks in the 2008 GOP platform, this one makes me the angriest. It smacks of the heartless, profit-at-all-cost mentality that has wrecked this economy and the morale of millions of American workers. I've gone years at a time without medical insurance, and I sure didn't see that as some sort of virtue. Insurance allows us to be more proactive in our health care, which ultimately saves costs and lives because we don't have to wait until a crisis brews to consult a professional. I, for one, appreciate such a perk, and can't understand why so many conservatives see this as such an evil idea. I guess they'd rather use taxpayer money to fund their self-sufficient wars and businesses that are thriving under this deregulated free market.

A McCain-Palin presidency would kick far too many people off the path to affordable health insurance. And that could conceivably render me unable to get X-rayed by a Sarah Palin lookalike. No one wants that. Health-wise, of course.

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