Friday, February 03, 2006

A Dream...

Speaking of health care, Bush, I had this awful and depressing dream last night. Well, actually in the early morning hours, but no matter... I dreamed I had become a doddering old man, incapable of taking care of myself and losing my mind. The time span covered many years, since one scene involved my being incomptent to give my baby son (now 40 years old!) a bath, and letting him slip through my fingers to the floor. Other scenes seemed more contemporaneous, or perhaps looking forward into the future. The chief theme was that I no longer knew who I was, or where I was, or what I was doing there. I actually had the experience--and in dream, Bush, you know how real it all seems--of feeling what I imagine an Alzheimer's patient to feel: totally isolated, unwanted, out of touch, tired of myself and unable to accept the sympathy of others.

Not a dream, then, but a nightmare. The depression refused to leave when I awoke, and was still with me after a half hour of (depressed!) meditation. Hours later now, I still feel it hanging around me like a fog. Like all dreams, as you know, Bush, it was irrational. For myself, from a purely practical point of view, I'm in the fortunate position of being able to buy long-term health care insurance, for which I pay a "healthy" annual premium. I've done what I can to insure that neither Ellie nor I will be as uncared for as my fears projected in that dream.

But that's my own good fortune. I'd want to share that good fortune--if necessary by an increase in my taxes--with those millions of people for whom their health care, current and future, is a daily worry. Your plan for health care savings accounts may sound wonderful to those who can already afford to save, and pay, for their own health insurance. I'm sure they sound wonderful to the banks and the insurance companies who'll make off gleefully with yet more hard-earned dollars from the less-well off.

I fail to see, however, how your scheme can be of help to those who really need it. They have enough trouble making ends meet without having to put aside savings for this purpose. I guess your idea is to let employers off the hook. But that could best be achieved as it has been done in most other developed countries: by a single-payer system that would combine the resources of government, insurance companies, pharmaceutical producers, employers AND end users, working together for mutual benefit,to cut out multiple middle men and attenuate the soaring costs of medical care. The idea that competition and free market practices will eventually benefit the consumer seems amply disproven by the disastrous state of affairs already existing in this country's health care system--if it can be called such.

"Socialized medicine"? Bring it on, I say. Failing that, I fear my nightmare--already a reality for too many people--will become the norm for the huge wave of baby boomers headed for retirement age. Your jovial remark in your State of the Union speech--get a new joke book, Bush, for God's sake--about yourself and Clinton reaching that age seemed quite unfunny to those of us who know that neither one of you will need to draw on the entitlement services you speak of with such scorn. You're well taken care of. You'd do well to remember that not everyone can rely on the nice packages that you and your already wealthy political friends stand to benefit from, at public expense, when retirement comes around.

On this matter, too, Bush, let me suggest a little more humility, a little less bravado. Not to mention an ounce of common sense and a dash of human feeling.


Fred Thompson said...

Your description of the dream was harrowing. And the reality so many of us face about health care -- never mind "long term" care -- is equally harrowing. Bush's solution? More welfare for the insurance companies and big pharma.

David said...

The real theme of his agenda could be called Take The Money and Run (sorry Woody).

PK said...

Good post Peter. We should be so lucky to be like Canada and other countries. He just keeps on with, " I wan't those tax cuts made permanent!!". It can sure be depressing.