Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why I Hate Politics

There are a few things in the news that have been bothering me, so I'm going to complain.

First up: Gitmo. There's talk about moving the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay into the United States, such as to a prison in Illinois. I guess some are going to be tried in New York City, mere blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood, and a lot of people are all up in arms about this.

And I wonder--WHY? Who the heck cares? They're in a prison in Illinois. What do people think will happen--they'll escape and go on a rampage killing everyone they can? I suppose technically it could happen, but that can happen to Gitmo too. At least if they escape from Gitmo, they can escape into Cuba and be beyond our reach. Much better. *rolling eyes*

I suppose the idea of exiling Bad People onto an island is appealing to a lot of people (Alcatraz, anyone?), but they're in prison, which in my book makes them no more dangerous in Illinois than they would be in Cuba. The idea of holding people prisoner indefinitely without a trial I find a little disturbing. If there's good evidence that these people are dangerous, why hide it? If there's not good evidence that these people are dangerous, why are they being held? I never liked the setup to begin with, and if they start putting some of these folks on trial--great!

Most trials are held near where the crime took place. If I rob a bank here in San Luis and get caught, you'll probably see me showing up in court here in San Luis--not Seattle. So holding a trial for someone related to the 9/11 attacks--it makes sense to have it in New York City.

A change of venue makes a lot of sense in this case--granted, it would probably be tough to find anyone in the world who was an unbiased opinion of the matter, but some folks will likely be more prejudice than others regarding the manner, and the citizens of New York City are probably among them. No discredit to the citizens of NYC--that's perfectly understandable. But the victims of a crime are not exactly the best people to choose to decide their fate either. So it starts in NYC--I don't really have a problem with that. If both the defense and prosecutor don't mind holding it in NYC, by all means, let them. If they want a change of venue, though, I'd give them that too. But my point--for all the drama that shows up in the news, I think it's much ado about nothing.

Then there's the health-care debate. Politics of the worst kind. The "public option" is one of those things that seems to get people riled up. Supporters seem to suggest that it could single-handedly save the world, while those against seem to suggest that it'll be the end of the world if it's allowed. I'm in neither camp--my thought is that it's much ado about nothing. I don't think it'll help reduce health-care costs in the long run (the for-profit companies don't have particularly high margins to begin with), but it's not going to be financial ruin either. So I don't really care if there is a public option or not--just so long as it's not subsidized by the taxpayers. Whatever it takes in in premiums must cover all expenses. I don't expect it to be for profit, but it should not be allowed to run at a loss either.

Republicans are whining about all the things wrong with the plan. Perhaps there's some element of truth to their statements, but they're in the minority and therefore it is their duty and cry and throw tantrums every chance they can get. Some of you might think I'm bashing the Republicans, but the Democrats would do the same thing if the rolls were reversed, and did so after Republicans took control of both sides of Congress during the Clinton administration.

Here's the problem with Republicans: They have practically no power. They don't control the Senate, the House, or the Presidency. It is in their best interests to see Democrats fail. It is in their best interests to see the economy tank, health-care costs spiral out of control, inflation to shoot through the roof, and lose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If those things happen, the Republicans will sit back and say, "Ah, see, I told you that would happen. It's all those Democrats fault, but we didn't have enough people on our side."

Heaven forbid, if a solid, really good piece of health-care legislation did come out of Congress and it turns into a stunning success, Democrats will happily take all of the credit (and given the Republicans staunch opposition, deservedly so). So it's in the best interests of Republicans everywhere to see that the Democrats fail. Absolutely and completely fail. With health-care being such a hot-button topic, it makes sense that Republicans want to torpedo any legislation regarding it. They need it to fail. Doesn't matter if the legislation is good or not--it just needs to be stopped.

I personally don't have a strong opinion about the current health-care bill being kicked around in Congress one way or another. My biggest complaint regarding health-care isn't being addressed at all--which is why health-care is tied to the company one works for. That's just f****d up.

Imagine that everyone always got car insurance through your job. If you lost your job or changed jobs, you'd also lose your car insurance or be required to change insurance carriers. It's stupid--why should my employer decide where I can get my car insurance?

That's the thing that ticks me off the most--that insurance is most often tied to one's employer. I think it's stupid. There are historical reasons for why that developed, but it's a terrible setup.

It also hides the real costs of health insurance from the people who have it. If you have to fill a prescription but it costs you only $10 no matter where you get it, what are the chances you will comparison shop? Not very high. Maybe the drug normally costs $30 at Costco but $90 at Walgreens. That's a HUGE difference, but it doesn't matter to you--you pay $10 at either place.

Ultimately, the people paying premiums ARE paying that added cost, but one's employer is often the person footing the bill, so it still doesn't "hurt" like it would money out of your own pocket. Companies that are footing the bill don't like it, though, and are pushing more and more of the costs back to the employees that are ringing up the bills. Fair is fair. *shrug* There's a lot of talk about 'socialized medicine' and how terrible that would be, but that's practically what we have already. We have a socialized health-care system wearing a capitalism costume, creating this strange creature that combines the worst of both approaches. Getting away from that would be a good thing.

Back to the auto insurance comparison--what if you're driving around without auto insurance, then wreck your vehicle. If you tried to get insurance a week later, your wreck isn't going to be covered because it's a "pre-existing condition." So yeah, a health-insurance policy that doesn't allow for pre-existing conditions makes sense. Insurance is supposed to protect you against unknown events in the future. It's not really "insurance" if it's protecting you against known events.

I don't really have a good solution to this pre-existing condition problem. I haven't heard of a good solution to it either. If you wreck a car then want the pre-existing condition covered, I'm sure the insurance company would be happy to accommodate you--but they're going to add the cost of that known expense to their premiums. They have to to stay in business. Same goes for health insurance companies. If they know you're going to cost a lot of money to treat, they're going to charge a lot more to cover the cost. Maybe basic health insurance should be a fundamental right for every American. It'll cost more, but treating poor, uninsured folks in emergency rooms isn't cheap either.

We don't want our employers telling us what company to use for auto insurance, so why the heck do we let them tell us where to get our health insurance from? That's screwed up.

Whatever happens with the current health-care proposals, it won't be the end of the world as we know it (like the Republicans suggest), but I don't see it helping much either (like the Democrats suggest). It's politics as usual--much ado about nothing. *sigh*


Stacy Christian said...

One thing about moving the residents of Gitmo to a prison in Illinois that isn't getting much coverage is that the facility they are suggesting would need serious renovation first, at the expense of the taxpayers.
I don't particularly care where they are kept, but don't understand why they feel the need to move them in the first place when there isn't anything wrong with their current location and it will cost me to move them.

Unknown said...

Death Penalty. Nuff said.

Amanda from Seattle said...

actually, my insurance thru my company requires me to get my regular prescriptions filled thru a mail order firm (except for "emergency" stuff--then I can go wherever)--so anything that is ongoing, like drugs for diabetes, asthma or birth control is done thru a cheaper mail order pharmacy