- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. â€” That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, â€” That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. — Some historical artifact hanging in the Rotunda that Republicans might want to read sometime
While the debate around the Frost family at least initially centered around their relative wealth, the issue really at hand is one of bad behavior. While USAction and a labyrinthine maze of leftist activist groups prepare to rally around images of Tampa Bayâ€™s Most Photogenic Baby holding up a crayon sign that says â€œDonâ€™t Veto Me,â€ Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children â€” for irresponsible decisions.
On the conference call, Dara admitted to me that she and Brian had been talking about having children since before they were married. She further admitted that after they were married she voluntarily left a job at a country club that had good health insurance, because the situation was â€œunmanageable.â€ From there she took a job at a restaurant with no health insurance, and the couple went on to have a baby anyway, presuming that others would pay for it and certainly long before they knew their daughter would have a heart defect that probably cost the gross national product of Burkina Faso to fix. But not knowing about future health problems is the reason we have insurance in the first place.
Blog reaction to Hemingway was, um, strong. Bill Scher:
In the conservative vision for America, the only people who should choose to have children are people that can afford health insurance. Or in other words: “Pro-Life (If You Can Pay For It).” …
… The honest conservative response to seeing the struggles of working class Americans is to mock them.
And the more honest conservatives are about their cold and callous vision for America, the easier it will be for American voters to make informed decisions about where we should go as a nation.
Hemingway left out a pertinent detail: Dara left that job seven years before Bethany was born. The implication in the National Review piece is that Dara should have stayed at her job in order to provide for her family. The reality shows otherwise. (And Hemingwayâ€™s decision to leave this fact out doesnâ€™t reflect well on his argument.)
Implicit in all of this is that every parent in this country has an obligation to either work for someone who provides health insurance for their families —- or be rich. The alternatives — entrepreneurial risk taking, working for retail employers like Walmart or restaurants which fail to provide health insurance, is something that no responsible parent would do. Therefore, that sector of the economy is completely off limits to middle class families. And that is the only sector of the economy that’s actually growing.
(Oh, and by the way, those health insurance providing companies which all responsible middle class should work for are under no obligation to these employees with kids who indenture themselves for the benefit. They are allowed to pull back this coverage any time they want, raise the contributions and fire the employees at will. That’s what Republicans call “liberty.”)
I suggested that the Wilkersons might have sacrificed by working less-desirable jobs, if that choice (or those choices) meant they could more adequately provide for their daughter. I said that a married couple that has been talking about having kids for years, but has failed to sacrifice financially or make basic economic preparations to pay for their first kid, is acting irresponsibly. That’s hardly “anti-life.” It’s common sense. How many people are in less than optimal jobs because of good benefits for their dependents?
Dude — we heard you the first time.
Life shouldn’t be something you put up with. Certainly, all of us deal with less-than-optimal situations every day; that’s life. But when the big stuff, the stuff that eats most of your time and concern — like your job or your marriage — become something you are just enduring year after year because you don’t have a choice, your life can seem like something you’re just waiting out.
I’ve had jobs that were so miserable I sincerely wondered if I wouldn’t be happier living in a cardboard box on the street. Once I bailed out of an insufferable work situation and found a new job that was even worse. And yes, I do ask myself if it’s me, but I have also had pleasant jobs that I’ve had to leave for reasons unrelated to the job. I think I have bad job karma.
We don’t know what Dara meant by â€œunmanageable.â€ Maybe the job required putting in unreasonable hours, which is not compatible with being a parent. Maybe the boss was hitting on her, or was abusive in some other way. I had one boss once who expected me to cheat the vendors and customers to save her money, which I found intolerable. There are some things nobody should have to put up with.
Let’s say Dara enjoys her current job and likes her boss and co-workers. What kind of “free” society would force her to choose between a job she likes and having children?
Freedom is about making your own choices, so let’s talk about choices. President Bush and other right wingers warn us that if we switch to “socialized medicine,” we’ll lose the freedom to choose our own doctors, which is bogus on two levels. First, citizens in most countries with universal health care can choose their own doctors. Second, under our current “system” workers all over America already have been forced to switch doctors by their employer’s managed care plan. And they can’t shop around for a new employer with a better managed care plan, because if they have pre-existing conditions they won’t be insured at all. So what choices do they have?
Even if you have insurance there’s no guarantee you’ll keep it if you develop a major medical problem. Get cancer, lose your home. Some choice.
In America, once upon a time, most people who weren’t slaves or servants were, in effect, self-employed. The whopping majority of free people were farmers. A young person might work for someone else for a while to learn a trade, with the expectation that he would strike out on his own when he was ready. In the 19th century, as the industrial revolution pulled people off farms and into factories, having to work for someone else was derided as “wage slavery.” Now, holding a job is not only respectable, it’s expected. A job isn’t slavery if you can walk away from it, right? But for growing numbers of Americans the system is rigged so that they can’t walk away from it. Call it “insurance slavery.” Road to serfdom, anyone?
John McG of Man Bites Blog writes,
That many people are in jobs they hate for the sake of insurance is a bug, not a feature. … Does the GOP really want to be the party of forcing people into life-sucking 40 hour a week jobs for huge companies for fear that they wonâ€™t have insurance? Seems like a loser to me.
I don’t care what the lyrics to the national anthem say; we’re not “the land of the free” if Americans aren’t allowed to make reasonable choices about how to live their own bleeping lives.