Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Which I Attempt to Connect the Dots Between Bush and Myself in a Post Nobody Will Comment On

I've been thinking about the news, and I've been thinking about work, and this morning I realized that there are connections between the two, and the president is an out-of-touch ass. I don't think this post is going to be as coherent as it could be, because there are a couple of extraneous points I want to make, but here goes (at least I'm leaving out this morning's Dan Shaughnessy rant, which S told me was not appropriate for first thing in the morning).

I don't understand why people are so shocked about Blackwater. The account of what happened in Nisour Square on September 16 is appalling, but 1) Americans with guns in Iraq and Afghanistan behave like this not infrequently, and 2) Americans with guns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most other places where Americans have guns, are often mercenaries. Doesn't everyone know this? It's horrifying and embarassing (nationally speaking) and wrong, but it's been the case for a long time, and certainly for this whole war. Halliburton/Blackwater: two sides of the same outsourcing privatization which the politicians and the press, at least, have not only known about but been complicit in. So why the sudden outrage? We all should be in a constant state of outrage (in fact, I am, but I need to keep it suppressed to function in daily life, though it spurted out again when I read about secret torture authorizations).

Speaking of privatization, not to mention outrage (yay, I forged a segue), the president has, as promised, vetoed the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and he claims it's a matter of principle:

The policies of the government ought to be to help poor children and to focus on poor children, and the policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage. And that's where the philosophical divide comes in.

While some people may be surprised about the privatization of the military, the privatization of health care is a piece of the fabric of our daily lives that Bush is trying to preserve, not produce. So there's my segue. And now I'm trying to make another segue that links this to me, and I'm failing, so I'm just going to get on with the things I want to say and eventually we'll get to me.

If the theoretical underpinning of Bush's veto is privatization, the explicit issue at stake is how we define poverty. The new bill says SCHIP should be available to families earning up to 250% of the poverty line. Up to now it has been 200%.* The current poverty line for a family of four in the 48 contiguous states is $20,650. This means the new bill wants to make SCHIP available to kids in families that make around $52,000 a year.

Right now we are buying private health insurance, because I'm the one with the professional responsibility for health insurance (restaurants? health insurance? ha!) and I don't have a job. We're paying around $750/month (not sure of the exact amount, S pays the bills these days in a fabulous shift of domestic labor that I've meant to blog about, but haven't) for extremely mediocre health insurance. Big deductible, big co-pay, and no dental which is really bothering me given the position of E's new teeth. We decided to go for lower monthly payments and bigger risk because our income is down now but we have some savings and, most importantly, because we have an extended family with the means to help us out if crisis comes (knock wood).

So we have the cheapest private insurance you can get, really, and it comes to $9,000 a year, which means $10,350 pre-tax, for families at that 250% point (which we are significantly above, but now this isn't about me), which means those families are paying 20% of their income in health insurance. Does President Bush pay 20% of his income in health insurance? I think not. Does he have any idea what it's like to try to make things work for a family of four on $52,000, especially in an expensive urban area? I think not. Certainly it's much harder to make things work on $25,000, no question, but the poor have things like SCHIP... OK, now I'm turning into a John Edwards clone making the middle-class argument, so I'll turn back to me.

I have to make a decision in the next few days about what I'm going to do next. I've been torn all along between finding a job and striking out on my own. I now have an opportunity which would be the linchpin of striking out on my own: a reasonably-paid long-term consulting gig doing work that interests me with people I like. In 2-3 days a week it would provide me with a sizeable chunk of the money I need to make each month, leaving a good amount of time to make a theoretically achievable amount of money. But it does not have health insurance, and while these people would like to have me consult with them full-time, they will never be able to give me health insurance for reasons I won't get into (and no, Phantom, this would not make a good novel).

OK, I don't have a conclusion. There are a lot of other factors going into my decision, like the seductive possibility of the best job ever right around the next corner (hasn't shown up yet, but it could!), but if we had national health insurance, there'd be one factor I wouldn't have to worry about. Not that the president cares about me.

*Edited to add: I'm not sure I'm exactly right on the specifics of these figures, though I did read them somewhere reputable (good newspaper, not sure which), but I don't have time to figure it out, and I think my overall point still holds: Bush does not want to expand eligibility, but the populations to whom he does not want to expand definitely could use SCHIP.


Dawn said...

(Here -- I'll commment)


Phantom Scribbler said...

I think all you'd need to add would be some kids (schools), real estate, and infidelity to make it an excellent novel.

Libby said...

So why wouldn't we comment on this? (I think it could be a novel even without infidelity--think Middlemarch. Not that health insurance is precisely the point there, but to some extent security is...)

Anonymous said...

take the job...