Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wipe this

Early Thursday morning, on my drive home from work, I found myself traversing roads soaked from a vortex of rain. The worst of it had stopped, but a consistent drizzle continued.

I drive a boxy Scion hatchback, which means I have a rear windshield wiper. I probably use mine more than most, but I still don't fire it up nearly as much as I do with the front wipers. In driving rains, I don't hesitate. In other conditions, I flip it on and off manually (it has no intermittent setting) whenever enough rain collects.

I'm generally frugal with the rear wiper because, unlike my front wipers, the rear blade is a custom item that must be bought as a complete piece. It costs $78. Unlike with most similar cars, no standard blade will fit it. I discovered this the hard way, and frankly I'm not a fan of this setup. It looks cooler and more streamlined than your average sagging minivan rear wiper, but there's no reason that someone shouldn't be able to get a simple blade refill for it. Scion made it 12 inches long, which is not a standard refill size. As it is, I'm going to exercise my usual thrift next time I need a rear wiper and try to splice a refill onto one of my plastic housings. It seems wrong to have to toss a perfectly fine two-foot-long plastic housing every time the (tiny) blade wears out. Before long, I'll have a closet full of these things.

The point being, this is not a wiper I use recklessly.

On my drive home Thursday morning, the rain was just borderline enough to where I wasn't sure whether or not to turn on the rear wiper. It had been squeaking and rubbing recently, and I wasn't sure if it was worth the wear to wipe off the mist that had accumulated. After all, it was mostly dark outside and traffic was light.

A couple of cars and trucks answered that for me. They approached from behind and one passed me, kicking up splashes. I flipped on the rear wiper. On this wet and curvy road, with a sudden influx of traffic sandwiching me, thrift suddenly seemed like a cheap notion. Who risks their road vision - and life - over a car part?

That's when, as often happens, my mind turned to the health care debate. I've always been irritated by the conservative/libertarian mind-set that certain political measures aren't worth doing because they cost taxpayer money. This, I feel, goes beyond a healthy sense of frugality into the realm of financial fanaticism; it seems to ignore completely the idea that any benefit whatsoever will result, but that such programs are simply financial black holes.

Such sentiment is succinctly encapsulated in bumper stickers all over red-state streets: "Work Hard. Millions on welfare are depending on you." The notion is not just limited to welfare, but goes for any entity that does not directly benefit those who fund it a few cents at a time.

Curiously, this mentality apparently does not cover undefined and endless wars or any other efforts to flex U.S. muscle by right-wing leaders, nor farm or other subsidies that many of these people count on for survival. But that's another post altogether.

The health care debate brings this attitude to light like never before. Almost to a person, Republican politicians - and, regrettably, their allied Democratic brethren - who oppose health reform speak in dollars. Their arguments resonate with those with their hands in their pockets, rather than in casts. They think the answer to health care overhaul is to suppress malpractice suits or offer tax cuts so people can shop for private insurance at the insurance mall. Or to do nothing at all. Anything to keep private insurers sacrosanct and to keep alive the utterly idiotic notion that they aren't paying a staggering amount for inefficient medical care for the poor already. Meanwhile, millions lack adequate care and are dying because of it.

In other words, these critics want to leave the windshield wiper off in the rain to save a few dollars. I say, use the wiper, stay alive and realize later that it isn't actually costing you much, considering what you're getting.

Otherwise, you might find that your cheap ways wind up costing you thousands of dollars when you eventually crash.

6 comments:

NOLA Progressive said...

Well put.

twodiddle said...

Ian,

Well said. Healthcare is like your box on wheels. No style, no class, and only poor people want them. Hmmm, the only thing that would make ur Scion better, is if it were free. I wonder if the people in Detriot would line up for these. Oh wait, senior citizen mobiles, that's the new stimulas pkg. YES!

Rich (I'm back)

Ian McGibboney said...

Yeah, an inexpensive and tremendously reliable car that draws a ton of positive attention. Who in their right mind would want THAT?

Actually, twodiddle, you're more on the mark than you know with your analogy. You sound like you'd rather keep the health care system as it is, because it's American and Americans do everything the best. Why is why most of its automakers are bankrupt, right?

I, for one, am not going to buy a piece of crap just because of the flag it was made under. I feel the same way about health care.

NOLA Progressive said...

No, this is America and we are going to buy from our American companies. Buy a car from Chevy made right in good 'ol Mexico! Better yet, buy a Fiat err I mean Chrysler.

Geeez, provincial much?

Ian McGibboney said...

Add to that that many Hondas, Toyotas and Mercedes cars are built in the U.S. (many in the south, even), and you've got lots of irony.

Oh, and you know how they say U.S. automakers can't compete because of the union benefits? Three words: universal health care.

google said...

Well said. Have you seen the new chamber of commerce ads that are trying to push against health care reform and the public option? The ads are basically a response to an earlier ad buy that was FOR health care reform: http://www.healthequityforall.org/

I'm wondering what your thoughts are about these two ads. They're sort of pitting the chamber of commerce/health insurance companies AGAINST groups like NAACP, National Council of La Raza and other more community based groups.