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If You Don't Want the Public Option, Get the Hell Out of the Way

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This past weekend, lost in the wall-to-wall Michael Jackson coverage and Sarah Palin goodbye-cruel-world nincompoopery, there was a second round of tea party protests.

They were easy to miss because nobody showed up. But if you happened to have been driving in the vicinity of an evil publicly-funded park, you might've seen two or three Republicans loitering around -- sitting there in the socialized grass, believing that a vigorous protest involves napping in lawn chairs.

While I spent a few moments of my holiday weekend revisiting the irony of anti-socialism protests taking place on socialized park land, it occurred to me that the proposed government-run public health insurance option probably won't cost nearly as much as the CBO is suggesting.

Because clearly there won't be any Republicans signing up for it.

I mean, no Republican would dare sign up for inexpensive, easily portable health insurance. Not when red, white and blue All American for-profit health insurance is available. After all, free market private health insurance will probably continue to be the more expensive option, so that must mean it's the finest insurance, right? Expensive equals good, no? (No. More on that presently.)

And of course none of the Republicans or Blue Dogs in Congress are covered by a government health insurance plan. Except for all of them.

Please explain, conservatives and wingnuts, why you wouldn't seriously consider switching to the public option if it turned out to be more affordable and portable from job to job -- not to mention the fact that you wouldn't be turned down for a preexisting condition; you wouldn't be randomly booted from the plan as soon as you needed it most; and you would never have to worry about health insurance coverage ever again. Employed or unemployed. Sick or healthy.

I find it hard to believe that you, Mr. and Mrs. Wingnut, would defiantly pay more for less reliable insurance if offered a better deal. To pay more for less would be outstandingly backwards. Palin backwards. "Quitter" equals "fighter" backwards.

The fact remains that the only downside to the public option is that it's just too awesome. We don't deserve anything that good. Simply put: it's Medicare, but for anyone who wants it. And this is somehow a nightmare scenario -- one that we must never be allowed to experience even though it would cost much less than our current system, it would cover everyone who wants it, and it would be accountable to the American people. This is somehow a terrible idea. Terrible to the private health insurance mafia, that is. They simply can't allow you to have an affordable public option because they need your financial support. Face it, $1.4 million a day to lobby members of Congress isn't cheap.

The "it's too awesome for your own good" argument was the one we heard from both Republicans and centrist Blue Dog Democrats for several months recently. But now it's back to the good old fashioned socialized-healthcare-is-awful frame, most notably trotted out by Republican minority leader and Deep Space Nine shapeshifter Mitch McConnell, who has been peppering his floor speeches with the tear-jerking story of the one person from Canada who doesn't like her free and universal healthcare.

Imagine that. Free. And this one person hates it so bad, you don't even know!

Too bad there's nothing free and universal in God's non-socialist America. Like roads, police protection, fire departments, public schools, and public parks where we can protest against public programs like funding for parks.

But Mitch McConnell says that in Canada people have to wait for a knee replacement. See now, if I'm getting a free knee replacement surgery without fear of being dropped by my health insurance carrier or having to run up credit card debt in order to cover the co-pay, the co-insurance and the deductible, I want my damn knee replacement yesterday.

Waiting eight weeks (the average wait time) for a free Canadian knee replacement surgery is eight weeks too long. In America, I can have my knee surgery over lunch, yes? Of course I have to pay more for such a convenience. And I'm participating in an enterprise that could easily screw me out of the coverage entirely. But I can have my surgery whenever I want it. (Actually, it's about a 21 day wait.)

We sometimes hear a similar argument from rednecks who outright refuse to own a "faggy" fuel efficient car even though they're more affordable in nearly every way. But, you know, maybe I'm wrong and the ability to haul a cord of wood and to disguise their impotence with an optical illusion of enormous genitalia is worth the extra cash they're borrowing from various credit card companies to pay for all of that Middle Eastern gasoline. It's this brand of ignorance and defiance that's holding us back in so many ways, be it in terms of healthcare or green industrial development or education. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Fox News have convinced too many of us that "smart, free and affordable" is un-American while "oversized, unhealthy and expensive" is patriotic.

Yet people in Canada and Europe aren't dropping dead from a lack of affordable healthcare. They're being treated for the same illnesses we are, and with similar quality of care for approximately two-thirds the cost of our system.

But people are, in fact, dropping dead here due to a lack of affordable, reliable healthcare. They're being abandoned on the street. They're being denied coverage and care. They're going bankrupt and losing everything just because they had the bad luck of losing their job and then getting sick. And the Republicans are telling us that this is the best system ever, even though our infant mortality rate ranks 29th, our life expectancy ranks 42nd (so much for "pro life") and our healthcare spending is the highest among industrialized nations.

We have an opportunity to turn all of that around, though, with a strong public health insurance option. In fact, 70 percent of us want it. But if certain wingnuts and Republicans don't want affordable, guaranteed health insurance, then they don't have to sign up. They're welcome to continue to defiantly roll the dice with their private plans. And good luck with that, by the way. Just don't punish the rest of us with this self-defeating Palin-ish ignorance.

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