September 20, 2009

Candlelight vigil promotes health care for all

"Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and other great religious leaders were healers as well as prophets," the Rev. Michael Mueller reminded congregants at the Racine Interfaith Coalition's Candlelight for Compassion vigil for health care Sunday night. "A faithful tradition of healing restores to community those who have been marginalized by illness..."

The vigil, originally scheduled for Monument Square, was moved inside the Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church by last night's rain. That only intensified the message, delivered by Rev. Mueller, Rev. Tony Larsen and Rev. Carol Baumgartner, who found support for universal health care in diverse sources.

For example:
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Imam Sa'dullah Khan: "The right of every individual to adequate health care flows from the sanctity of human life... We believe that health is a fundamental human right... Equally available and accessible to all."

Rabbi Alexander Schindler: "Health is not a luxury; nor should it be the possession of a privileged few. We are all created b'tzelem elohim -- in the image of God -- and this makes each human life as precious as the next."
Rev. Baumgartner's prayer noted:
Oh Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others...
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong.
Let me not be afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich...
The half-hour service, which attracted about 75 people, also included music sung by Rev. Larsen, who revised some of the lyrics to fit the occasion. For example, he sang
We are a gentle, angry people,
Singing, singing for our lives
and added the verse
We are a healthcare seeking people,
Singing, singing for our lives


  1. Pete - do you have a photo from a wider angle to document the 75 people in attendance? The two you've posted don't seem to show more than a generous 30.

  2. I was there and there were at least 75 people in attendance. Pretty amazing, when you think that this event was moved at the last minute. Somehow the word got around; people care and they showed up.

  3. the 1 million at Washington DC and the 300o at Milwaukee care too, just not for Obama care

  4. What a group of useless people.

  5. Anon 8:14, you must be speaking about those folks in Washington and Milwaukee.

  6. Flintstone - last numbers I've heard from Milwaukee were up to 15,000, but yes, they do care...THEY CARE ABOUT AMERICANS STAYING FREE FROM GOVERNMENT DEPENDENCE!

  7. So somehow being dependent on very profitable insurance companies who could not care any less than they do about you or your family is better?

  8. "Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong.
    Let me not be afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich..."

    How? By Government control of the Auto companies? A trillion + in spending? 700+ Billion in "stumuis" spending that has had no impact?
    By pushing Cap and Trade that will costs 1K's of jobs?
    By telling the same poor how to live?

  9. 8:38 - no I'm referring to the knuckleheads in the photo. Let's all sing cumby-yah with your gay minister.

  10. "We are gentle, angry people".

    So much said. I am so sorry I did not get the change of locataon in time to attend with my family. I guess the difference between us and them, is that we are gentle and angry - angry at the people at the top who continue to rape those at the "bottom". The continual widening of the "haves and have nots". It is because of the last 8 years that many of the have nots have become so, due to loss of jobs, leading to loss of income, loss of INSURANCE, loss of a home, etc. I do not know of one person that dreamt as a child of a goal to grow up poor and be "without". I do see a leader who grew up without many of the things that you as privelaged did, and he is now YOUR president! And unfortunately, it does sseem to be a matter of race at times, you folks just seem to be having trouble taking orders, or even suggestions, from a man who does not look exctly like you! Times are a changing and sso should you!! Remember, we ARE our brother's keeper.

  11. 9:16 you said "I do see a leader who grew up without many of the things that you as privileged did, and he is now YOUR president." You really should get your facts correct. Just because Obama is black foes not mean he was under privileged. - how racist.

    Starting at age 6, Obama attended a Catholic school in Indonesia.

    At age 10, he left his mother and Muslim stepfather behind in Indonesia, moving to Honolulu to live with his Mom's parents. His grandmother was a Vice President for the Bank of Hawaii and was able to afford to send him to the prestigious private college preparatory Punahou School.

    Obama then attended Occidental College, a fine liberal arts college in Los Angeles from 1979 to 1981. He admittedly was a bit of a party animal there.

    He apparently got a bit more serious his sophomore year and transferred to Columbia University in New York City for his junior and senior years, graduating from Columbia in 1983.

    From 1988 to 1991 Obama attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude and was editor of the Law review.

  12. anonymous 9:16, it is true that I have trouble "taking orders" from President Obama. You see, I am clinging, not to guns and religion, but to the quaint notion that I am free.

  13. Thank you to RIC for hosting a respectful event. I wish we could have been there.

  14. No one is diputing your touting of the facts - but racist?????? The ability to attend the schools he did is highly comendable,but he was so fortunate to have assistance in his early years to have soemome seek those out for him, allowing him the ability to have quality education. But, then again, I have known many that have been afforded the best of eduacation, and was put to waste. That is only a small part of the issue of poverty - what about growing up male without a father, changes in living situations, the fact that his identity was questioned by so many - and often by himself.

    As I sit here with my elderly father in a hospital room, I am thankful to have the government provided medical coverage that allows him the best care possible. And I will continue to fight, as he would want me to, and has taught me to, for the "other guy".

    Instead of disputing these issues, let's work together for good of all mankind.

  15. 10:09 - If your comments were not racist - where did you get the under privledge comment. Yes, let's work together - when 56% of the population does not want ObamaCare - then let's respect the wishes of the majority - we are a Democratic nation are we not?

  16. 10:09 -

    "You've got a larger and larger share of people paying less and less for the services provided by the federal government," says Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. "The concern is that the majority can say, 'Let's have more benefits, spend more,' if they're not paying for it. It's 'free.' That's not a good thing to have."

    Yes indeed, let's all work together, and pay our taxes together.

  17. 10:09

    Because elections have consequences.

    No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.

  18. sorry that reply was for 10:20 not 10:09

  19. 10:50 - give me an example of one person that died because of not getting care? Even Obama lied about the examples in his speech.That is a myth. Again 56% of the population do not Obama Care - so elected officials should respect the wishes of their constiuents.

  20. Any poll taken at this time will be slanted given the fact there is not one proposal. In addition those being polled are voicing an opinion using distorted information handed out by those opposing any change that takes away from their profits.

  21. 11:17 - if you really believe that, you are naive.

  22. 11:17 - I'm also waiting for your example of someone that died because of no coverage.


  24. 11:40 - I suggest they go to the hospital when sick rather than waiting until they are ready to die - you do need to use some common sense.

  25. My wife’s son Timothy had been in and out of the hospital a couple times after contracting some kind of pathogen from the water in Santa Fe.

    He’d worked in an art gallery and at a hotel in Santa Fe, but like so many jobs these days, none offered health insurance. Besides, he’d become too sick to work.

    At our urging, Timothy applied for private health insurance, but he was turned down.

    We’d already spent something in the neighborhood of $40,000 for his care, and it was just getting to be too much. Swelling from the edema had gone down, especially since they'd drained so many quarts of fluid out of him so many times, and he kept saying he thought he was doing better.

    He was discharged from the charity ward of the hospital, and a doctor saw him a couple times for follow-up visits, but then it became too much for him, too, so Timothy’s care was discontinued.

    Timothy died in his apartment in Santa Fe, alone, while he was in the middle of brewing a pot of coffee.

    We couldn’t raise him on the telephone for a few days, so I finally called the Santa Fe police to check on him. They called back a while later. They’d found him on the couch, coffee half made.

    I had to tell his mother he was dead.

    Maybe we should have paid another $40,000, or $100,000, or maybe a million dollars to get him better care, though at the time we thought we didn’t really have it. Besides, kids are so independent, they always say they want to make it on their own.

    Yes, we should have done it anyway.

    That aside, I also think Timothy also should have been able to buy health insurance for himself, but he was rejected.

    So, I ask all parents of grown children: Do your loved ones all have health care at their jobs? Are all their jobs guaranteed, even if they get sick? Or are you on the hook? Or worse, do you think you'll make the right decision in a time of crisis?
    For that matter, is your own health insurance guaranteed forever in all circumstances?

    Seems to me that universal health insurance, with guaranteed coverage for everybody, is a better answer to all these questions.

  26. Although I am sad to hear of your story - ignorance of what is available is no excuse for disrupting our current health care for 10% of the population - possibly he had aids? If so then who is to blame?

  27. Christians and people of faith have a special calling to increasingly harmonize our lives (including our lives as citizens) with the teaching and example of Jesus. Many of my sisters and brothers, without realizing it, have begun seeing Jesus and the faith through the lens of a neo-conservative political framework, thus reducing their vision of Jesus and his essential message of the kingdom of God. As a result, too many are becoming more and more zealous conservatives, but less and less Christ-like Christians, and many don’t seem to notice the difference.

  28. First of all there are many that have aids and it was not their fault. Secondly even the 10% should have access to health care. After all we are the only non third world country that does not offer its citizens health care. IMHO those that oppose health care reform are hypocrites.

  29. “The only problem with Christian morality is that Christians on the whole don’t practice it. Whereas the Ten Commandments represent a code that men can follow if they try, the Sermon on the Mount has been, so far, a code beyond the grasp of society.”

    - Barbara Tuchman, historian

  30. Even conservatively, 10 percent of the population without health care still amounts to what, 30 million people?

    And even if it's just 10 percent, that 10 percent's a moving target. It's not always the same 10 percent. Indeed, the health insurance problem's pretty fluid.

    There are lots of life's circumstances that can leave you without health insurance, often permanently.

    It's like playing Russian roulette, albeit with a 10-shot revolver rather than a six-gun.

  31. By all means, give access to healthcare to whoever wants it or needs it. But don't make ME pay for YOUR healthcare.

    The people at Olympia Brown are deluded, aging hippes and hopeful youngsters who don't know anything about the real world. And oh, if they would pay attention to the words in the quote in the story about "sanctity of human life." They only are referring to, I assume, human life that was allowed to live.


  32. Holly,

    Matt. 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

    Our role as people of faith is to make certain that compassion, mercy and justice do not get lost in the shuffle, but are an integral part of providing health care to those in need.

    Some in the crowd laughed at Jesus when he told them that there was hope for healing, their laughter did not stop him from calling the dead to life, nor should it keep his followers from holding out the same hope to those who are sick and suffering.

  33. 1:21 - I've got an idea, how about all of you that are in favor of ObamaCare and are working - pay for it for those who need it and leave the rest of us alone - that should not be an issue for a good Christian like you.

  34. "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

    Dr. Samuel Johnson

  35. Dr. Feelgood9/21/2009 1:48 PM

    I thought this debate was about "health care insurance" for all. Not "health care" for all. There is a huge difference.

  36. Good point Doc. it is. But what is there to be afraid of if we talk about a plan that guarantees you cannot be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions or a plan that says you can't be dropped if you get sick, and can't discriminate against women with higher premiums. Well that would be, um, a good thing.

    Then we might have some agreement and that will not do.

    Nice job RIC. Health care is a right and not a privilege. Good, compassionate people know the difference.

  37. I cannot believe those who say they do not want to pay for insuring those that do not have insurance, don't they realize they are now paying for it in their insurance premiums, taxes, and medical bills?

  38. Let's all sing cumby-yah with the gay RIC minister.

  39. It's all about money for some of you isn't it? Is that your basis for all judgment? Where is your sense of morality, of right and wrong. "I've got mine and the **** with the rest of the world." If somebody who needs it gets has health care, does that make you less free? I simply don't understand.
    "Aging hippie?" LOL

  40. katybora - as long as you that are for it pay for it fine. Leave the rest of us alone.

  41. "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these."

    George Washington Carver

  42. 2:07

    The only answer then is to provide health care not only to Americans but the world, along with housing healthly food and a good income. If not are you not then walking away from your brother?

  43. “Moral judgments of others are just the tragic expression of unmet needs.”

    Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.d.

    I stand proudly next to my gay minister or any man or woman who knows love and compassion and sing Kumbaya any day.

  44. I wish people would stop spreading the fiction that health insurance under the health reform plan would be free.

    It's not. More people will be able to buy insurance under the plan, just like you do.

  45. You are totally correct Randolph, a public option is not free. It will be an affordable option for those who are not currently insured.

    While some may feel the emergency room is sufficient, it is expensive and used when things have become quite serious. Hospitals then defray the costs to us.

    The current system is unsustainable. We are all one heart attack or stroke away from financial ruin.

    For those who want to be left alone: good riddance. But don't complain when you're living in your car because your employer dropped insurance coverage and you got sick. I don't want to pay for you either!

  46. Trying to convince those against health care reform is impossible. They need to get over it and realize that it will happen. Your choices are to move to another country, oh I forgot we are the only democratic country that does not provide insurance, I guess in that case you will have to vote someone in who will reverse it. Sort of like Paul Ryan would eliminate medicare.

  47. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”

    - Daniel Patrick Moynihan (attributed)

  48. I am tired of paying for others not the truly needy but those who choose
    poorly then cry that they have to give up Cable or and 2nd car or maybe work two jobs.

  49. Anon 5:17,

    Hey, here's an idea then: Make them pay for their own insurance ... you know, like under health care reform.

  50. What do you not get about unsustainable costs? This isn't about the not truly needy, it's about insurance companies sucking us dry!

    Insurance company profits are up over 400%.

    Premiums are up 87% since 2002.

    7 in 10 bankruptcies are caused by health bills and 68% of those HAVE insurance.

    This is not about you paying for some sad sack, you already are! It's about reining in an industry that will bankrupt us all!

  51. If you really knew Tony Larsen at Olymbia Brown UUC, you would see beyond the fact that he is gay — not by choice but by God’s giving.
    You “Christians” who judge should attend a few of his services — out of curiosity if nothing else.
    Tony’s church is a community of love and gratitude for each other and where judgment has no place.
    I’m sick of self-righteous congregations that pick at their membership because of varying opinions. I’ve attended churches all over this town, looking for a spot that preaches and lives as Jesus lived with love for all. Nowhere have I found a place so receptive of who I am and what I believe. I’ve searched for answers to a meaningful faith. The Olympia Brown UUC enables and encourages that search without specifying what I SHOULD believe.
    God is not a dictator. He has given us free will. He hopes we choose well and unselfishly.
    For those of you who condemn the sick and imply illness and/or death is deserved: When we judge others for their misfortunes, we might remember, “There but by the grace of God, go I.”

  52. Amen BJEDIT!

    And let's point out this was a Racine Interfaith Coalition event represent many churches and faiths in Racine.

    “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”

  53. I must have missed the last liberal conspiracy convention because I don’t hate insurance companies.

    Under health care reform, insurance companies are our allies because they’ve chosen to support the plan rather than continue business as usual, which they know is unsustainable in the long run.

    Too many people and businesses are being priced out of the market.

    Insurance companies have committed to cutting costs and rates in exchange for a health insurance mandate, tapping into millions more potential policyholders under the health care reform bills.

    They’ll also drop their discriminatory practices of refusing to insure sick people.

    They must have figured out they’ll make more on the volume than they’d lose in cutting rates.

    Cover more people; increase the customer base, gee.

    Pharmaceutical companies have signed on, too, pledging to cut prescription costs - and reducing by half what senior citizens pay - because they also know that there’s a lot of business out there they’re missing with costs too high and health care access limited.

  54. Here's a question for you Randolph, or anyone else: what is percentage of the total global health care bill is from pharmaceuticals? Take a guess -

  55. what percentage, sorry -

  56. I think you're a little too kind to insurance companies Randolph, but you've got the right idea.

    Reform isn't socialism, it's just smart.

  57. Anon, 6:34,

    Well, maybe you're right. I am a little light on insurance companies these days, maybe because they're starting to see the light. But a major thrust of health care reform is to keep them honest by enshrining commitments to insuring everybody into law.

    As Reagan said, trust but verify.

    And I'm a little confused by the "socialized" nomenclature.

    Since when is health insurance socialism? That's like saying auto insurance is "socialized driving," or life insurance is "socialized dying," or fire insurance is "socialized fire protection."

  58. Anyone who thinks Obama didn't come from money is fooling themselves. He never held a regular job, he did not come from the black streets of America (in fact, he's half white) and he has no concept of what it's like to be a poor person.

    Anon 10:09, according to the HR3200 plan (that's what's being referred to as "Obamacare" for those of you who went to school in the RUSD), your elderly father would not be receiving "the best care possible" for his ailment. Being over 55 he would be councilled about ending his life and/or be placed in a hospice to wait for the end.

    I sure don't know where you people get your numbers about how many attended the rally at Veteran's Park last Saturday, but I was there and the count, as reported in the Racine JT, was pretty accurate at 8,000 to 10,000. There were even liberals walking through the crowd with signs about the mess Bush left us in and everything was sane and peacful.

    Anon 12:03, Jesus did not preach distribution of wealth. The bible tells us that to give a man a fish feeds him for a day, but to teach him to fish (ergo be self sufficient) feeds him for a lifetime. It also teaches us that God helps those who help themselves, not those that sit on their fat arses with their hand out.

    Anon 2:02, show me ANYWHERE where it is written that health care is a right. I don't think anyone who is not willing to be a productive, contributing member of society (save those who are truly physically or mentally afflicted to the point where they can't take care of themselves) should feed off of those who are. It's bad enough that we have a 4th generation of welfare slaves to feed and house and provide health care for, now you want us who DO work hard to provide for just ANYONE who WON'T put forth the same effort we do? I think not.

    Katybora, yes it is about money. It's about the money I can't afford to have taken away to pay for others. It's about the money that these costs have forced me to buy cheaper cuts of meat for my family's table, it's about the money being taken away from me that is making it more and more difficult to pay my mortgage, and on and on. Yes, it is about the money. The thing the government seems to forget is that I worked hard for it and it isn't their place to take it away from me and give it to some low-life piece of crap that refuses to put forth any effort whatsoever to improve his life. You bet it's about the money, if it wasn't there wouldn't be any argument.

    Randolph, if more people will be abe to buy insurance at a lesser cost, how can that insurance not deteriorate in quality. I don't want to buy rationed health care. I want to buy health care that will meet my needs though an entire illness, not just to the point where the government isn't willing to spend anymore money on me.

    Anon 5:26 pretty much nails it. We need to quit treating the symptoms and treat the cause of high insurance costs. Let's start at the hospitals and demand that they justify their costs; such as, why does a simple saline solution IV cost $900 instead of $30? Why does an ambulance ride cost the patient $500? I would be much more in favor of my tax dollars sustaining the hospitals and getting those costs under control, which would drastically drive down the cost of health care insurance.

    "God is not a dictator. He has given us free will. He hopes we choose well and unselfishly."
    That is right. And being "gay" is a free will decision that a person makes. And according to God's word (the Bible) homosexuality is one of the main reasons for destroying Sodom and Gammorah. It is sinful, it is against nature, it is so wrong that, until the immoral liberals turned our country up-side-down, there were laws against sodomy.

  59. Racine Resident,

    Don’t believe everything you hear or think you know.

    The “death panel, hospice” myth is a gross misrepresentation of a practice that’s already standard at many of our hospitals, All Saints included. They always ask if you have a power of attorney for health care and/or an advance directive. The health care reform would simply mean that if you wanted to talk to your doctor about it, he’d get paid through your insurance for taking the time to have that conversation with you.

    For a lot of older people, the prospect of being put through unnecessary end-of-life care they don’t really want is a major fear. Advance directives and powers-of-attorney for health care help alleviate that fear.

    I have one because it makes good sense. I’m grateful my doctor took the time to go over it with me, even though he didn’t get paid for doing it.

    Yes, Jesus did preach distribution of wealth, and “God helps those who help themselves,” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible.

    He also taught us, through the parable of the Good Samaritan that the righteous help the afflicted. He particularly selected a despised minority – the Samaritan – to further make his point. An interesting switcheroo there.

    Some people see the right to health care in the Constitution, which exists to “promote the general welfare,” or the Declaration of Independence, which provides for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    But whether you believe that or not, certainly it’s pretty clear that people who drive by an accident without rendering aid or a doctor who refuses to help someone who’s sick, or a bystander who lets somebody bleed to death without calling 911 is pretty much reviled by society.

    People have always had an affirmative duty to help those who are sick and in need. We honor people who do it, and we think ill of people who don’t do it.

    He taught us that, too, when He said, I was sick and you visited me. He wasn’t sick. He was demonstrating that what you do the least of men, you do to Him.

    If you read your Bible closely, you’ll discover that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because their residents were inhospitable to strangers, sort of the same idea.

    But let’s move on.

    Since the Clinton administration, you can’t be on welfare for more than five years, so I don’t know that there are generations and generations and generations of welfare slaves anymore, if there ever were.

    Ironically, much of what you want fixed in the health care system would be fixed by the pending health care reform you think you should oppose.

    One of its main planks would keep a database of effective treatments, which ones really work and which one’s don’t, and whether they’re worth the costs hospitals now charge, a first step in doing away with $900 IV solutions.

    Under health care reform, your costs will go down instead of continuing to spiral upward, and the efficacy of your health care will improve instead of deteriorate.

    That’s the whole idea.

    But to keep people from seeing those benefits, opponents have irrationally labeled the effort “rationing,” as if you’re care’s going to be arbitrarily limited by some government bureaucrat.

    No, that’s what happens now, but by an insurance company bureaucrat.

    Also, for a change, people will be required to pay for their own care through their own health insurance, instead of you paying for them.

    It’s actually the reverse of what you think you see, what others who want to see the plan defeated have told you.

    In a larger sense, you seen to be angry about a lot of things, but you don’t see how they can be fixed, even when it’s right before you.

    See the worth, not the worst in what you imagine.

  60. Bjedit,
    The problem is that Olympia Brown is preaching more than Christ - it's preaching Krisha, Buddah, and all the other stuff, all together. Christ said there was ONE way and that's it's a NARROW way.

    (He also said homosexuals would not inherit the Kingdom. But let's just skip over that part, shall we?)

  61. Funny, I don't remember Jesus saying anything about homosexuals.

    Must not have been too important to him.

  62. ... but I do remember something about the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion.

  63. Randy - Why don't you ask Pete and Dustin if they'd prefer you to be author of articles or just a blogger like the rest of us? Then try to pick one and stick to it.

  64. Well done Randolph. You nailed the moral and practical imperative of health care reform.

    Racine Resident you have nothing to offer in your arguments but vast indifference and selfishness. I will pray for you.

    “If a profound gulf separates my neighbor's belief from mine, there is always the golden bridge of tolerance”

  65. Oh, and for Racine Resident, the "Give a man a fish ..." quote isn't from the Bible either, it's from Loa Tzu, a Chinese philosopher.

    There's lots to learn from others, if we get by our prejudices and open our minds to see the worth, rather than the worst, we can imagine.

    I'm not trying to make anyone look uninformed. These are common misconceptions, because we rarely look deliberately at things.

    It's easier to let our first impressions rule us.

  66. Anon 9;50,

    Let's not belittle or condemn opponents, such as Racine Resident.

    Politics is the art of persuasion and compromise.

    Logic can rule here, but only if we respect people with doubts and use the facts to persuade them, not prejudice.

    That cuts both ways.

  67. OK, no one had any interest in my pharmaceutical question, so here are a few different questions. Jesus preached "distribution of wealth", right? Did He say that people should give through their own free will, or should Caesar extract money from people - under penalty of fines or jail - to "distribute", paying his minions (salary/benefits/vacation/sick time/whatever else) before a SINGLE penny reaches a single needy person? Would Jesus agree that the ends justify the means? Is it Christian to force others, even non-believers, to contribute? Is it wrong for a man to buy a Ferrari when someone somewhere is starving? I would say yes, but be careful, lest my house (and Randolph’s) be judged to be a bit too nice. We COULD both be living in two bedroom apartments and giving the rest to the poor, right Randolph?

  68. Anonymous said...
    "Randy - Why don't you ask Pete and Dustin if they'd prefer you to be author of articles or just a blogger like the rest of us? Then try to pick one and stick to it."

    A good consideration, but frankly, I rather like debating worthy opponents in any form or forum.

    To believe in our system is to believe that healthy, factually based debate will bring us to the best decisions for our society, whether that's a thought-provoking article or a continued give-and-take commentary on the blogs.

    I've learned a lot interacting with folks in this manner.

    I hope you have, too.

  69. Anon, 10:08,

    I started researching your pharmaceutical question but couldn’t immediately find a definitive answer.

    I did, however, learn that the U.S. spends 45 percent of what the entire world spends on pharmaceuticals, yet it ranks 37th among nations of the world for quality of health care.

    Go figure.

    Seems like that’s a pretty good argument for health care reform right there, because obviously, we ain’t getting our money’s worth now.

  70. Anon, 10:08,

    To your other concerns. Should we be our brother’s keeper?

    Well, yes.

    But is that really what’s being asked in health care reform?

    Well, for the most part, no.

    Let’s get down to brass tacks.

    Everybody on this blog who’s making more than a quarter million dollars a year, raise your hand. Go ahead, chime in. Or does anybody who’s been joining us in these philosophical discussions own a business with revenues in the multimillions of dollars a year? Yes? No?

    Speak up. It’s anonymous.

    OK, then, let’s talk turkey, just average citizen to average citizen here for a moment, normal people, without the ideological static that’s being encouraged by the vested interests that have a really big-money stake in all of this.

    None of this health care reform proposal affects us personally, except to the good.

    Those of us without health care will be able to get it, at reasonable rates. Those of us with insurance through our employers can keep it, and it’s actually more secure because it’ll cost our employers less, and we’ll have it guaranteed, whether we leave our jobs or not, and at cheaper rates overall.

    The estimates vary, but somewhere between 30 million and 50 million people will get health care insurance that they don’t have now, and the vast majority will have to pay for it themselves.

    Unless you’re the most unreconstructed libertarian, like those who object to a government mandate for people to buy their own insurance, the health care reform proposals mean a pretty good deal for you.

    You get the benefits, and they cost you less. And you can’t lose the health insurance you already have, no matter what.

    What the hell’s wrong with that?

    If you’re making $250,000 a year or more, well, it might cost you the equivalent of a month’s car payment on your Ferrari to help a few of your fellow Americans meet payments on health insurance they can afford on working man’s wage.

    Too bad for you.

    I don’t begrudge you your Ferrari, understand, but I do need affordable health insurance to live.


  71. Randolph - the answer was 8%. Yes, only eight percent of the total global health spending is on pharmaceuticals, the rest is salaries, costs of services, etc. In fact, the global spending on supplements - vitamins, grow-your-hair potions, etc. - rival that of pharmaceuticals and little of this is covered by anyone's insurance.

    I understand your comments about the net benefits and the good of all with Obamacare. I also recognize that you have a very personal stake in this as well as the values for all that you spend so much time talking about.

    Beyond the fact that Obamacare, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth, should not be considered a "Christian" endeavor, as well as the fact that it should not pass Constitutional muster, I have a very practical reason for being against this. Any private industry, from candy makers to insurance companies, has some level of regulation by our glorious government. We can argue all day about the level of regulation and the appropriateness thereof, but there are regulations. ANY law the government passes has the disclaimer “subject to change at any time”, just like the structure of Social Security was changed to pay-go and Wisconsin transportation tax money was shifted elsewhere. What we are about to be sold has no relationship to what we will be getting months and years down the road. I know the number is $250,000 and up with no rationing, but you might find yourself taxed out of your nice home and standing in line for aspirin in a few years.

    I don’t own a Ferrari – I park an old Pontiac with a quarter of a million miles on it at my house. I’m saving up because when one of my businesses grows (hopefully) and I get to that magic $250,000 mark (and can pay the bills from the last few years) I’ll be spanked. Maybe it will switch to $135,000 by 2010 . . .

  72. Randy - why do you keep responding to your own posts. Give us a break from your ranting.

  73. And Randolph, you feel that those who do not want to pay for your health care are "selfish". The benefits of exercise were well known at least as far back as the 70s. Were you making any effort to exercise? The ill effects of smoking have been known at least back to the early 60s, yet you have smoked for how many years (cancer, COPD, circulatory problems, high blood pressure, exacerbation of diabetes effects, etc.). A healthy diet has also been known to promote health for quite some time - did you eat well or get fried Chinese takeout and burgers while you smoked and drank coffee as an editor?

    What a fool I am. As I take (MAKE) the time to exercise (that $55 a month gym membership could be spent on wine for my cellar), as well as eat right, the only exercise some people get is leaning out the car window to grab a bag at the Wendy’s drive-through. Just kidding about the wine cellar.

    Some people are born with disabilities or are injured and cannot exercise or even take care of themselves, and this is very different. However, it is extraordinarily selfish to trash your body then expect someone else to keep it functioning.

  74. Thank you, and I stand corrected on where the examples I used are quoted from. But that doesn't make them any less true.

    It seems that you who wupport this health care reform only listen to those in Obama's Fourth Reich and ignore what is being said elsewhere. What about the FACT that if the O'Nazis have their way that the only insurance companies that will survive are those that belong to the government implemented and run Insurance Exchange. It is flatly stated that any insurance company that does not belong to it and ABIDE BY ITS RULES will not be allowed to continue doing business?

    What about the recent poll of doctors where 45% of them said that if this bill goes through they will either retire or quit, thereby causing a doctor shortage?

    What about the proposed new tax on businesses for the health care for which they pay for their employees?

    What about the part of this bill that gives the government direct access to our personal bank accounts?

    This is the worst piece of socialist crap that can happen to us. Why? Because once the government is in charge of health care that gives them access to virtually everything else in our lives. They will be able to regulate EVERYTHING we do based on the guise of "health care." What we eat, drink, if and when we exercise and how, the clothes we wear, whether or not we can smoke, drink alcohol, soda pop, the type of car we can drive, and on and on. There will be no end to it.

    I don't want to live in the U.S.S. of A. And I sure don't want to live under Emperor Obama and his czars.

  75. Racine Resident,

    Both the insurance industry and the American Medical Association, representing America's doctors, support the health care reform plan.

    It's probably a good idea to expect insurance companies to abide by some regulations, especially forbidding the current practice of denying health insurance to sick people.

    The state insurance exchanges would list insurance companies and their private plans so people could compare and choose what they wanted, to promote competition.

    The insurance exchange idea came from the Republicans.

  76. Racine Resident,

    A provision giving government access to your bank accounts is another made-up scary tale.

    It doesn't exist in the health care reform bills.

    Maybe you're confusing health care reform with the IRS, which can access (or freeze) your bank account if you don't pay your taxes.

  77. Anon, 7:26,

    Anything can change in the future, of course. That's not a very good reason to live with a broken system in the present.

    Reagan pushed through tax reform in the 1980s, making IRS filings much simpler, and the plan was completely revenue-neutral. It was a good idea.

    Of course, lobbyists for special interests immediately went to work un-simplifying the tax code and by now, it needs to be simplified again.

    That doesn't mean Reagan was wrong to do it in the first place. Just means it needs to be done again, is all.

  78. Anon, 8:20,

    Many people make unhealthy choices in their lives, just as many people suffer deliterious health effects from their work or the sports they play.

    Doesn't mean they should be denied health care.

    Health care reform punishes smokers, by the way. They'll have to pay upwards of 50 percent more for their health insurance.

  79. Randy - give it up already!!!!!

  80. Not so fast there Randolph! "Many people make unhealthy choices" - and others shouldn't have to pay for it! When I hit 75, without making a dent in the new healthcare budget, and am diagnosed with cancer, I'm sure a committee will look at a chart and say I don't have that much "quality time" left and turn me down. Even though I have spent a lifetime with decent diet and exercise, and could easily be looking at 80s or 90s post-cancer, the money will be handed out with a tweezers by then - because inordinate amounts of cash will have been spent on those poor unfortunates "who made poor choices".

  81. . . and don't even PRETEND that my sprained ankle - resulting from an active, healthy lifestyle - is the same as smoking Camels while watching Packers reruns and eating brats evvery day -

  82. Anon,

    There's nothing in health care reform that even remotely resembles what you imagine at 75. Good luck getting to 90!

    I was thinking more of skiers and skydivers and Brett Favre, not runners.

    Still, that is awfully hard on the knees, and walking does you just as much good.

  83. Randolf

    Please don't stop ranting. It is nice to read an informed and reasonable response instead of the usual ignorance that fills these blogs.

  84. Thanks, Anon 10:43.

    That's the idea.

  85. You're right, there is nothing in current legislation that reflects the scenario I see down the road, but the foreshadowing is there. When the money starts to get tight changes will be made. Big ones. Don't worry, you'll be fine because the money will flow a lot more freely early in this, but later on, watch out. One of my favorite quotes in history was that of King Louis XV, the "guy in the middle" who no one remembers: "after me, the deluge".

    I disagree on the benefits of walking and yes, running is hard on ankles/knees/hips. However, anything people do to eat better and become active, one step at a time, is great. I have avoided joint problems (I think) because I toss running shoes after 120 uses or so. Shoes look better for far longer than they actually resist shock, and it adds to my expenses but it's well worth it.

    I have nothing against folks who are out of shape, make bad choices and actively make themselves unhealthy. But when those same people call ME “selfish”, and say that they are being “denied”, forgive me for being absolutely pissed.

  86. Anon 10:59,

    You make good choices.

    Don't take the counsel of your fears in health care reform.

  87. Randolph you are a godsend to the Post's comment thread! Calm, thoughtful and informed rebuttal is exactly what has been needed to threads hijacked by too much anger and misinformation.

    Your post last night was too late for me to take up the challenge, I see no one actually did either. I make over $250k, I would be taxed in the health care bill proposed. While no one likes taxes, I am absolutely not opposed to this provision. One reason is I have in the past already been taxed at this rate-it isn't a huge difference.

    The second reason is as a business owner, our health insurance has gone up at a shocking rate over the last decade. Far more than a tax would represent.

    People who have employer coverage don't always realize the cost to employers unless deductibles and co-pays have risen significantly. At the same time, I imagine their salaries and wages have not gone up nearly as much. In recent years our income has gone up maybe 2 or 3% if we're lucky, but insurance costs has gone up much, much more.

    The last reason I am not opposed to a tax increase, which again isn't a huge one, more people will be able to acquire insurance which I am already paying for.

    I would rather pay my colleagues more in wages than pay into an industry that is quickly pricing us out.

  88. Randy - Get a job!!!

  89. I am also one of those whose taxes will increase as a result of the proposed health care changes. I would rather pay a bit more in taxes than see insurance companies raise rates whenever they want, deny coverage whenever they want and drop coverage whenever they wish. It is would be refreshing to see a reasonable debate on the subject rather than irrational statements by those who most likely would benefit from the health care changes but have been brainwashed by the those who would benefit most from no change.

  90. Randolph, you make a statement like, "the American Medical Association, representing America's doctors, support the health care reform plan." But that is very misleading when you consider that AMA only represents 17% of the all doctors. So that statistic means nothing, and even more so because of that 17%, very few of the doctors themselves support the plan.

    Asking insurance companies to insure someone who is already sick is like trying to buy auto insurance AFTER you've had the accident. What it amounts to is telling an insurance company, "I'll pay your $250 per month premium if you'll pay for the tens-of-thousands of dollars my illness will cost." If you've got the money to buy insurance AFTER the fact, then you should have bought it BEFORE you got sick.

    The insurance exchange did not come from the Republicans. It was a part of the original HR3200 bill.

    You are also wrong about the bank account access. Maybe you should read the bill. I did, and it IS in there in exactly these terms, "To have access to individual bank accounts for the purposes of withdrawing and transferring funds." Maybe you should read this bill in its entirety before telling others what's in it and what's not.

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