Before I get into my real topic for today, I have to say this to CNN and FOX: Really, assholes?
You got it WRONG?
Listen, dudes. I write about employment law for a living. I read lots of court opinions every week. Compared to you, I have about four readers. But you know what? They’re paying me to get it right.
It’s important to get things sort of, you know, correct-ish when you’re reporting about court rulings. That might be especially true when you’re reporting about rulings from the Supreme Court on one of the most significant cases to occur in our lifetimes.
And here’s the thing about court opinions: They bury the lead all the time. They aren’t published with big, red marker scrawls across the front saying WINNER and LOSER (with appropriate happy and sad faces, of course.)
The Supreme Court is not an umpire.
Court opinions are often nuanced. They DISCUSS matters of law which are sometimes INTRICATE. The Supreme Court, especially, often tends to take its time with this.
That means it’s important to read the darn opinion.
Do I have to separate you?
Now let’s talk about why you might be a douche.
My smart, lovely pal Lisa Cellini Romero just wrote something on Facebook that I thought was as smart and lovely as she is. It was one of those things that I’d been thinking but hadn’t quite articulated in my own mind yet. She wrote:
I still cannot understand why so many people view politics or our government in general as “us vs. them”…. it’s not a sporting event, where because I root for the Eagles, I automatically hate the Cowboys…. I don’t “lose” because democracy is in action…. I don’t “win” or “lose” because the view I had was upheld or not.
But I admit: I have been guilty of that mentality in the past.
So, so guilty.
You are gray and stanky
Remember the movie Cujo? Remember how at the beginning of the movie, Cujo looked all normal and nice and possibly even cute? Then, he got rabies and slowly degraded before our eyes — gray, bloody, slobbery and evil … intent on trapping and terrorizing an unsuspecting mother and her child in a car, threatening to rip their limbs off if they dared raise their heads above window level.
That’s what happens to you when you follow politics too closely. You turn into Cujo.
I know because this has happened to me. And I’ve seen it happen to lots of other people.
I’m not saying don’t pay attention. You SHOULD pay attention. You should educate yourself so you don’t believe it when one of our nation’s leading “news authorities” tells you the WRONG DAMN THING.
But there’s a line.
If you start following politics like you’re following NFL draft choices, you’re on a slippery slope. If you start spending your time trawling the Internet for sound bites on the latest political development — especially during an election year — you’re in danger.
Next thing you know, you’re only hanging out with people who agree with you. You start crowing on Facebook about your amazing political insights with the not-so-veiled insinuation that people who don’t agree with you are morons.
Pity the person who attempts to present a different opinion to you. You pull out obscure facts that no one can argue with because no one has any fucking clue what you’re talking about.
Your Facebook friends start arguing amongst themselves in awkward combinations — your Bible study group leader and the dude who used to make bongs out of sneakers in your dorm back in the day. Since you don’t want to alienate your so-called friends, you backpedal, swearing that you weren’t trying to start a brawl, you were simply trying to begin a neutral dialogue about abortion, global warming or high-ranking figures getting blow jobs in public places.
Everyone thinks you’re a douche anyway.
Because you are. You are also Cujo — gray and stanky and ready to rip off people’s limbs.
Those friends you cut to shreds with your amazing political acuity? They’re emailing each other pointing out all the ways that your various douchebaggery manifests. They’re talking about how you’ve become a humorless fuck and whether or not they should unfriend you or just put you on “ignore.”
And let me say this: I have TOTALLY been that douche.
Like, so many times.
What scares me: I’m probably one news story away from being that douche again.
But I’m trying. Lordy, am I trying.
My attempt to not be a douche
So with this whole healthcare thing, I’ll say this: I’m happy.
Not because it has Obama’s name on it. Not because it’s a so-called “win” for any particular group.
But because this affects me.
I don’t have insurance through work. When my ex quit his job to start his own business, we had to buy independent healthcare.
It was terrifying.
It was like rowing up to the Titanic in a little canoe and shouting up, “Uh, hey there! Can anyone hear us? We’d like to come aboard! We don’t want a free ride! We’ll pay! But we need you to pick us up!”
Then a big, booming, faceless voice nearly knocked us out of the boat. “HOW MANY DO YOU HAVE IN THAT BOAT?”
“There are four of us. Two adults, a child and a baby! Overall, we’re pretty healthy. We won’t cause any trouble! We promise! Can you let us on? We’ll pay.”
The big, faceless, booming voice let out a big, put-upon sigh. “Fine,” it said. “Since there aren’t that many of you, you’re not big enough to get a room of your own. You’ll need to sleep in the broom closet. And it’s going to cost you big time. Now before you get on, we’re going to need each of you to turn around so we can ram this propellor up your asses. Then you better disclose that as a pre-existing condition or we’re going to kick you off the boat.”
Or something like that.
Finding insurance became a part-time job for me. I was scared of the questions that I didn’t know to ask. For example, we almost went with one policy, then I googled it and found that people were complaining that it had payout limits on hospitalization and certain types of treatments.
So, if someone got something BIG, we’d basically be screwed.
We finally ended up getting policies at a cost of more than $1000 a month for our family. My ex had an especially hard time finding someone to cover him — he had to get his own policy — because he had the gall to have hereditary high blood pressure.
The Irishman worked as a contractor for one of the biggest banks in the world for almost two years. But since he was a contractor, he never got health insurance. He wound up in the hospital last year and ended up with thousands of dollars in bills.
No, this new healthcare law isn’t going to give us all health insurance. But one of the goals is to make it more affordable for people like me — working, tax-paying, middle-income people who don’t have health insurance through traditional means.
The American workplace is changing. Fewer people are getting insurance from their employers. If you ever have to fend for yourself out there, wouldn’t it be nice to know that there’s an affordable option?
As for the tax penalty that people who want to opt out have to pay — I can’t understand what the big deal is. I don’t know any single person who has never needed healthcare in their lifetime. Not one. You will use the healthcare system at some point. And people who don’t have health insurance who run out on their medical bills make it more expensive for everyone — it’s the equivalent of stores inflating prices to cover theft.
Think of it this way: If you have a car, you’re legally required to carry auto insurance. Most months, you pay it and don’t use it. But if you ever need to use it, you want to know you can get your car replaced.
So if you’re walking around with a body, you should have health insurance.
Is this law perfect? I doubt it. Is health insurance going to be as affordable as I’d like it to be? Time will tell, but I’m hopeful that many of us will be shelling out a whole lot less when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.
I work hard. I’m a good person. I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself and raise my children to be good people. I deserve affordable healthcare. So do my children.
So do you.