Wednesday, August 12, 2009

There's An Old Man Who Lives Behind Me.

There's an old man who lives behind me. Actually, there's an old man, his wife, an old lady, and possibly at least one adult child and an adult grand-son all live behind me. The modern version of the American family: the 80 year olds who worked their whole lives and benefited from a post-war government that was actually democratic and passed programs to help the citizens. Then all the younger generations who got screwed, are unemployed and broke, deeply in debt, and can't even afford to pay for housing. I know quite a few families who have multiple-generations now living together. Not because the younger folks decided to take in and care for the older folks, but the opposite.

What's that saying? Family means that when you go there, they have to take you in?

This old man is a tough old bird, calloused and often nicked and cut on his hands with a thick coating of dry scarred skin on his elbows and forarms, dark brown patches on his face, a working man. A little bit stooped now, but still like a pit bull going about his day, going to the store, doing his business, keeping busy. He probably does the same thing today that he's done since he was little kid: just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Don't stay still or the crows will land on you. Don't lie down or it's all over. I know he had a heart bypass surgery in the spring, but he seems just as tough and strong as ever. And a little bit mean, too. His wife's had serious medical problems too. They both got full medical treatment courtesy of a government-run, single-payer system we call Medicare.

That whole theory that when people get old they get sweet -- complete nonsense. Who on earth dreamed up that one? Must have been Disney. The old people I know get just more of what they always were, kind of condensed. Often nasty. The fat melts away and they're down to bone and gristle, nothing extra. Their bodies are wearing out, they know their time is limited, and they're pissed off about the whole thing. In some ways it seems like if somebody makes it to 80 and is still going strong, there should be some kind of a get-out-of-death card, a reward of sorts. What's the point of charging along, getting past all those diseases that felled your contemporaries, if you're just going to get it anyway in the end.

I think this old man steals my newspaper. I see him go out early in the morning, and I think he's looking for my paper. Tomorrow I'm going to watch for him and yell out the door: "Don't steal my newspaper, old man."

I'm on crutches and in a bad mood. The shock from my accident has worn off, I no longer have any excuse to keep taking all the brain-numbing drugs they gave me so I'm now on Advil, coffee, and crutches, and I'm really angry about the whole thing. You try staying home for 3 weeks. With a sentence of another 3-5. At least I'm back at my computer, I can hobble that far. I would not be a good long-term patient. If I ever get some illness that's likely to leave me bed-ridden for over a month, I'm leaving written instructions that somebody should just shoot me and get it over with.

My EOBs have started coming in. EOB stands for Explanation of Benefits. I only know that because I represented some parties in a lawsuit relating to medical billing, so I had to learn the terminology and procedures. Here's an overview of the medical billing procedures: the providers (doctors, hospitals) bill exorbitant and outrageous amounts for their services, obscene and unconscionable under any standards; the insurance companies refuse to pay most of it, and send the patient an EOB telling them to pay. That's where I come in, opening the EOBs, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. The part that really worries me is every time I see "Patient should pay" followed by some dollar amount.

I've been basically avoiding the news for weeks now. I finally turned my clock-alarm back on so I hear some NPR news in the morning, and now I'm back at my computer so I'm really getting up to speed. It makes me so crazy watching how the Democrats are allowing the Republicans and Medical Industry a full month to stage these circuses, empty the lunatic asylums and bring out their paid insurance company employees to scream about euthanasia.

My theory is this: of course Republicans would be terrified of the idea of a government program to euthanize the feeble-minded. That would wipe out most of the Republican party.

And exactly where are "my" representatives, the Democrats? They're at fundraisers hauling in huge bags of money from the health insurance industry, doctors lobbies, hospital and clinic industries, in exchange for them agreeing they will do absolutely nothing to help the people of this country by providing decent and affordable health care.

So here I sit the perfect example of why we need help. And John Kerry is out collecting $9.0 million from the medical industry in exchange for selling me out. Why does he need this money? Isn't his wife one of the richest people in the country?

If the Democrats do not pass health care reform which, essentially, will allow me to join something like Medicare, a meaningful protection and cost savings for me, I will change my party affiliation to independent. It may not seem like much. But if 10 million Americans did it, and peeled the Obama stickers off their cars and mailed them into the White House, then maybe the Democrats would stop spitting in our face and would start doing the things they promised they would do. Such as: end the wars; prosecute the war criminals, torturers and murderers from the Bush administration; create real jobs programs for Americans; prosecute the Wall Street criminals, seize their assets and throw them into Attica for the rest of their lives; pass real credit card reform and force those Gucci-loafered loan sharks to obey the laws of usury; and pass universal health care for the citizens of this country.


  1. Welcome back NABNYC.

  2. Hey, thanks. It's good to be back.

  3. "And exactly where are "my" representatives, the Democrats? They're at fundraisers hauling in huge bags of money from the health insurance industry, doctors lobbies, hospital and clinic industries, in exchange for them agreeing they will do absolutely nothing to help the people of this country by providing decent and affordable health care."
    Of course, any real reform, such as simply expanding medicare to the entire population while paying for it by an accross the board removal of the upper limits of income on ssi taxes is out of the question. That would be destructive of the moral values of capitalist (read free, democratic, just, individual initiative, etc. etc.), national values.
    Multi trillion dollar bail outs for the organised thieves of finance are okey-dokey, though.
    The pretense that there is a real effort to reform medical coverage by any administration is just so much sheep dip. The images perpetrated upon the mob by the MInistry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda emphsize fear, (Death Panels!), and distract the rubes from the reality that this is simply another dog and pony show in the bright lights of the center ring.
    In a nation which is fed stories of a puppy down a street drain as national news, I guess this should not be a surprise.
    I have been slow to get to this site, sorry about that, this is good stuff.
    Donald L. Smith

  4. Hey Donald: I don't know what "sheep dip" is, but other than that I agree completely with what you said. (No, don't tell me -- I can guess what it means).