Friday, September 04, 2009

Too Big to Miss. Autumn. Why I Hate the Republican Party.

Tosi's. Across the street from me is a billboard of a jaunty young woman, hands on her hips, staring up at a giant cock, with Too big to miss! lettered in italics above her. It's an ad for the Oregon State Fair. What's the world coming to?

To be fair, I guess it could be a giant hen. All you can see is its legs.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...

Autumn, heavy with nostalgia. We don't usually have a Fall, here in western Oregon, the way you understand Fall in other parts of the country. Deciduous trees are a minority here. The fruit's mostly been picked. This is not so much a season of its own as a transition between the two real seasons we have, the dry season (July through September) and the wet season (October through June.) Any western Oregonian can feel it: the huge weather systems building out over the Pacific somewhere. Maybe next week, maybe next month: but soon, anyway, they'll come rolling up over the Coast Range, every week or two, each one bringing a couple days of dark cloud and pouring rain, easing off to a few days of showers and drizzle, and then maybe a bright day or two, possibly even sunshine, before the next one roars over us. It's like the breakers coming in: breakers of cold wet air crashing over the West Coast, one after another, all winter long. This is a quiet, in-between time, waiting for the first wave. We pretend it's not here. We don't want to jinx it. If we talk about weather, we talk about how the dark and the rain will be here soon.

It's the dark that most distresses outlanders. The rain, they've all heard of, and they come braced for it. But for weeks at a time the sky can be dark, dark gray: you go to sleep to the sound of rain and wake to the sound of rain. If you're going to read, even at noon, you turn on the lights. If you're used to the bright days of a continental winter, sun on white snow, it's enervating and demoralizing. I love it, myself: the gray layers of cloud pulled up over our heads like bedclothes. We're held and cradled by the sky. The long dreamtime. And then, you never know when a bright day will come. November, January, March: at any time the clouds can all roll back. The sun reappears, the weather is a soft, mild sixty degrees, and everyone walks out on the gleaming wet streets as if woken out of a deep sleep, staring at the new world.

Yah. Health care. I've been deeply disappointed by the whole asinine debate, and the bills shaping up in the house and the senate bid fair to do more harm than good. A weak gesture towards covering the uninsured, one real stride forward -- forcing the insurance companies not to discriminate against pre-existing conditions -- and then a dozen provisions that entrench the current stupidities of the system, digging us even deeper into absurdity. The somewhat more intelligent bill -- Wyden's, bless his heart -- is of course being ignored.

The debate and the bills under consideration have basically nothing to do with each other. It's surreal. To hear the arguments, you'd think universal coverage was under discussion, and some huge government health plan was being proposed. There's nothing of the sort even on the table. Instead, it's business as usual: "insurance" for normal health care -- which is ridiculous: "insurance" is for things like house fires, things you can reasonably hope won't happen, not for annual check-ups, dental work, setting your kids' broken limbs, and nursing care when you're old, which no one can reasonably hope to avoid. And this "insurance" is tied to employment, which may have been less stupid back when people stayed in jobs for more than a few years at a time, but now is deeply, deeply stupid, a huge burden on employers, and a nightmare for the unemployed. There's simply no reason for "insurance" to be our model for health care at all. People act as if there's some God-given reason why there should be third party in the health business between the consumers and the providers. The fact that everyone hates that third party, mostly passionately, should clue you in to the reality: there is no value added, none whatever, by the insurance industry. They're a completely parasitical growth. They need to be surgically excised, now, before they twist themselves even deeper into the healthy tissue.

So anyway. Here I am again, an unhappy but helpless Democrat. I hate what they're doing, but the alternative is even worse. As long as wealth is distributed this way, I have to vote Democratic, out of sheer commonplace humanity, so that people don't die for lack of food and insulin. The damned no-tax Republicans are forcing me to support a centralized bureaucracy that I hate every bit as much as they do. Thanks, guys.

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