Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Drama Kings and Queens

I ran to our mailbox this morning, expecting a letter from my health insurance company telling me my premium has risen because, well, "we were going to drop you due to high cholesterol, but now we can't because of the new health care bill," or maybe a notice that I needed to find another insurer because mine was filing for bankruptcy.  I thought I might see a line of panhandlers outside the post office smiling because "now we have health insurance," and waiting at the ATM, a 25-year old who thought he could spend more of his paycheck because mom and dad were adding him to their health care policy (and then he remembered he'd never signed up for a plan after their company dropped him when he withdrew from school).  Maybe the envelope in my mailbox would have a new name in the return address (United State Government Insurance Plan) along with a letter that began:  "Dear fellow socialist..."

Phew!  I was relieved when none of this occurred.  Based on news reports and speeches on the floor of the House, I was worried.  Shoot, I forgot: tomorrow is on its way; these things still could happen.

Andres Martinez, writing "The Next American Century" in the March 22 issue of Time, suggests, with refreshing optimism, "don't believe the prophets of doom."  He says anyone raised in a different country will tell us that the two strongest impressions he or she has upon arrival in the U.S are: (1) what a great country this seems to be; and (2) what a mess it must be, judging by the tenor of news coverage and political discourse.  He goes on to say:  "Overwrought, constant hand-wringing about the nation's decline is one of America's competitive advantages, reflecting high standards and expectations...."  We have little tolerance, he says, for accidents or other calamities; we investigate, postmortemize and litigate bad stuff until it is clear who it to blame and why it won't happen again.  "Then we go on fretting about how the nation is falling apart."

"Don't you think it would have been better if a few Republicans had voted for the health care bill?" says Virginia.

"Yeah, sure," I say, "but they, like the Democrats, say we need health care reform.  In fact, everyone's been saying that for years, so after 8 years of nothing (except wars and bailouts that demolished the Clinton budget surplus), it's about time."

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