Is the Health Care Debate Ruining Our Health?


doctor2214627c9qk8If you feel like I do, the ongoing health care debate has been confusing, wrenching and alienating. Such stress is, the docs tell us, bad for our health. So the debate itself is probably driving up health care demand as lawmakers seek to improve care for millions of us. Some kind of compromise appears to have been reached in the Senate, so maybe we are entering the home stretch. One can hope.

What are the sources of the stress? It’s disorienting to have so many of my fellow citizens talking about sacrificing my health so insurance companies can make more money. The immorality of those arguing against reform is so stark, so cruel, so blind, so downright stupid. This summer we were treated to the spectacle of thousands of suckers doing what the health insurance lobby told them to do. “Hey, get some teabags and go publicly protest improving the health of your family and your neighbors,” they were told. And that’s what they did, good little sheep that they are.

Few political issues carry the moral gravity of health care, which is why politicians would rather do anything than talk about the moral issues at stake. Instead, they talk about money. And not our money, but the money of an insurance industry that already makes so much from denying coverage and care that it can afford to spend millions a week protecting its goose and all its golden eggs.

While morally weighty, health care isssues are really not all that complex. They are complexified by the industry and the politicians on purpose, all the better to hide the simple fact that the powers that be in the wealthiest democracy on earth are intentionally denying care to millions of citizens. In the name of what? They’d rather not say, because the only answer is the insurance lobby that gives them millions of dollars — earned through the sacrifice of millions of lives — so they can be re-elected.

Adding to the stress is the fact that the issues involve everyone. It’s not an abstract argument. Our health is at stake. So, we watch the flood of pharmaceutical ads telling us how many diseases we might be suffering from when the system itself denies us the drugs being pitched to relieve the health issue and the anxieties caused by worrying about the health issue.

Listening to politicians talk about my health is like listening to burglars talk about what a cool T.V. I have. Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Aetna, has no moral right to condemn my life and the health of my family. Have you noticed that opponents of reform like Lieberman never talk about the human issues? It’s all about money. And they lie about that.

Today, the quickest way to improve our health will be to quite the inane arguments and pass a bill. I can’t take it any longer.

Author: Glenn W. Smith

Glenn W. Smith has spent the past 30 years in journalism and politics, where he’s made a name for himself as a writer, campaign manager, activist, think tank analyst and, as Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says, a “legendary political consultant and all-around good guy.” “There’s no one like him,” says author George Lakoff. CNN commentator Paul Begala says, “He has unmatched experience, a graceful pen (or pixel nowadays) and deep insight into the best and worst of us.” Novelist Sarah Bird speaks of his “lucid and lyrical” prose. And, she says, he’s fun. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington says Glenn writes with “grace and abundant humor” and “uses his colorful experiences in Texas to enlighten us all.”

Smith led Ann Richards’ successful 1990 campaign for Governor of Texas. He worked for former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Earlier, Smith was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post. He’s coordinated national campaigns for groups such as In 2004, he authored the highly acclaimed book, The Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction. He also wrote Unfit Commander, a book that detailed George W. Bush’s mysterious disappearance from military service.

In 2004, Smith was featured in the film, Bush’s Brain, a documentary about Karl Rove. Smith provided commentary on Rove’s role as then-President Bush’s senior advisor. He has made numerous media appearances with Chris Mathews on Hardball, Joe Scarborough, Brit Hume, and many others. He writes a regularly for top national web sites, including FireDogLake and Huffington Post.

As a senior fellow at George Lakoff’s prestigious Rockridge Institute in Berkeley he studied, wrote and taught on the power of metaphor and narrative in political communications. He also lectured on religion and politics at the Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley. As a sponsor and organizer, he has pulled together numerous national events with progressive religious leaders. He also organized a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in New York City as well as “Freedom and Faith” bus tours, which was a nationwide campaign for social justice and progressive values.

Smith’s play, Double Play, which explored American Western myths and legends, was held over to sold-out audiences. He’s even written and performed songs in the Americana tradition, such as his best-known song, “Helping Marty Robbins,” a tribute to his hometown, Houston.

Most recently, Smith is the creator of DogCanyon, a political and cultural web site covering state, national and global issues from a Texas perspective. DogCanyon is an exhilarating and unique site that gets the connections between politics and culture and explores both the personal side of politics and the ups, down, craziness and beauty of “life its ownself,” as humorist Dan Jenkins would say. DogCanyon offers heartfelt personal essays, hard-hitting political analysis, and, most importantly, laughs.

As Paul Begala said, Smith writes in “the finest, firmest, fearless tradition of Texas essayists like Molly Ivins.”

7 thoughts on “Is the Health Care Debate Ruining Our Health?”

  1. They are deciding life and death issues for us and they don’t want us to be able to use OUR money to take care of OUR health. They act as if the money is theirs and they get to spend it on wars, pork and assorted other things they like. The real Democrats need to get rid of the fake Democrats and move on with business.

    1. They’ve condemned themselves by the very terms and arguments they employ in the debate. I would like to ask them this:

      Would you have found it moral to free half the slaves?

  2. This whole business is profoundly depressing, truly depressing. I am normally a politics junkie, but I can’t stand to pay attention to the health care debate. My husband and I definitely have a dog in this fight– we are seriously underinsured– and without the robust, affordable public option we will be condemned to pouring more money down a rathole, indefinitely.
    I wish all the legislators and lobbyists who are fighting for the insurance companies would somehow get a clue how treacherous these companies are in the pursuit of profit. Just holding a policy is no guarantee that a consumer will have health care paid for when most needed.

  3. I too am depressed about it. A year ago I was elated, now I’m depressed. I’m watching people represent the highest bidders to their campaigns, people trying to legislate THEIR religious values, watching supposedly adult Senators say they will stop all health care reform if they don’t get their way, and wondering how it is Democrats control all three branches of the government. Whatever happened to the common good?

    1. Yes, it’s hard to watch, and it is depressing. I’d like to wave a wand and have social responsibility reawaken in the hearts of our representatives. I don’t have a magic wand, but I do have a voice and a vote, and I can rely on the solidarity and strength of people like you, Claudia, who took a moment to speak for the common good.

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