On the pre-existing condition of poverty 


The Republicans in the House have crafted a strange bill whose only purpose, at first glance, was to show they could pass a bill.  It does not make health care easier or more accessible.  It’s defining characteristics are not in what it would make possible but in what it makes impossible.  It solves every problem by making it worse.  It would give us a healthcare system largely engineered to make sure those who need it most can’t access it. 

Why??? 

What possible reason could there be for a law that is so transparently savage and hurtful.  What possible reason could there be for a law that paid absolutely no attention to the input or suggestions from anyone who knows anything about healthcare?  Why a law that is little more than pouring gasoline on an already raging fire?  Why? 

The GOP does not really care about healthcare.  Their arguments about repealing the ACA were really never about making things better.  They were about making sure “some people” did not get some they “didn’t deserve.”  As one Republican legislators said when asked to explain his vote said, “I want to make things fairer for good people….”  What the Republicans care most about is protecting us from the rising threat of poor people trying to get something they don’t deserve. 

As much as anything else I think the AHCA is the Republican effort to deal with the preexisting condition of poverty. 

There is a frame of reference, a story, that says that being poor is a willful condition of a large group of people who are lazy and gleefully dependent upon whatever they can get from the government. Their appetites, the story goes are insatiable. They chronically cheat and without management will literally steal us all blind. Some states are now at the point where they not only manage how much food they eat but what kind. It is viewed as a legitimate consequence for the kind of people they have chosen to be.

The lack of health-care is also viewed as a consequence of willful choices. If they only worked harder, tried harder, if only they paid their way they would not be asking, no demanding, for what others work hard for.

Bigotry to have wide commerce must be cloaked in common sense. And the story about poor people is to too many the ultimate common sense. It explains clearly that they bring bad things on themselves. It explains why helping them is bad for them (it makes them more dependent and thus less likely to try harder to make life better) and why the poor are a threat to regular working people. (Personally I think the threat of poor people just gives the rich cushion from too many difficult questions but that may just be me.)

There is also an increasingly a polite bigotry for people embarrassed by open cruelty. It says the problem is not with the poor (after all we are not bad people) but in the misguided and dangerous ways some would have us help them. They counsel patience and waiting. The problem is the government and the best way to help is to do less for those that need help.  Sometimes though the nastiness seeps out.  Listen to Paul Ryan carefully.  Bigotry in the end does not depend on the clothes it wears.

Poverty should not be a crime or seen as God’s judgement on our character and there
is a political vision that sees it that way.  The danger is not simply in those that shout hatred from the rooftops but in those who tell you it is common sense and they know you believe it to and asks you to unite with them in common cause against helping those in need.  The danger is in the acceptance of the idea that the poor are some form of pollution and that some people are really people and some people are “those people.”  The danger is in those who would scapegoat the victims of a broken system as being the cause of that system rather than its results.

It is the defense of a system needing a scapegoat.  It is a system trying to redirect the frustration of it’s citizens towards those “who want too much.” It is a system of entrenched economic injustice that would defend its privelage by pointing at the supposed lack of effort or motivation of those at the bottom.  It won’t stop with healthcare.  Already many states view hunger as a plot by poor people to get food they don’t deserve.  The housing cuts proposed by Trump will solve poverty by making them homeless. 

It is a cruel and mean assault.  One battle has been lost but hopefully it will call more people to the war. 

Stay loud.  Stay persistently loud.  Every voice matters.  Talk to your Senator today. 

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