The government tit and health care reform.

health care reform and government tit

This is a true story.

Last week while I was walking my dog, I ran into a neighbor. Let’s call him “Tiny Tim,” although Tim is anything but tiny. In fact, Tim and his wife, Krista, are both obese to put it kindly. In case you think I am trying to be mean, it is a relevant observation as you will soon see.

I have had countless conversations in front of Tim’s driveway. Basically, he is a friendly, family man with three young children. He works as a fireman in a nearby town. His wife is a teacher. I like Tim, his wife seems nice enough, and his children are incredibly well behaved.

When Tim is out working in his yard, he usually has Rush Limbaugh blaring from his pickup truck, an immediate clue about his political leanings. Over the years I have known my fair share of Dittoheads and have learned how to co-exist with the enemy without losing my temper.

Until last week. . .

Tim asked for my opinion about health care reform. I told him that I thought it was a crime that in this country some 47 million people do not have health insurance, that health care is a right not a privilege, and that a public option is a core principle of health care reform that should not be dropped to appease the Far Right or the so-called Blue Dogs. In other words, my point of view mirrors that of most enlightened, educated people in this country. . . or so I say.

Upon hearing my thoughts, Tim puffed up like a t-shirted version of Rush Limbaugh and accused me and other liberals of creating a socialist health care system in which millions of people — including, he said, those vile illegal aliens — will be “sucking on the government tit.”

Since he is such a family man trying to be proper and respectable, I was surprised to hear Tim use the word “tit.” I think he meant to say “teat,” as if that would have made a big difference.

I tried to explain some of the nuances of the various reform bills, but Dittoheads are not to be nuanced. It was a “tit” or a “teat” no matter how you sucked it, according to Tim. And it was, worst of all, a government mammary, not one from the free market, private sector.

Our conversation continued, though it was clear that if we went too far we would no longer be friendly neighbors, but turn into those town-hall, “fight club” drones sucking all the wind out of our democracy and what used to be called intelligent debate.

Out of curiosity, I asked Tim how much he paid for his health insurance. What he told me nearly knocked me into the road. For himself, his obese wife, and three young children, Tim pays $80 a month. I think I started laughing or crying or both. I told him that my last monthly premium for just me — with a $2,000 deductible and $40 office copay — was $458.

I struggled to uncover the mystery of Tim’s obscenely low insurance premiums. I have heard of other families of four with private health insurance paying upwards of $1,ooo a month. . .or more.

Then I realized that as a town employee Tim was covered by the fire department’s insurance program. Lightening struck! It was obvious that Tim was sucking on a government tit of his own. It wasn’t the federal tit, but still — a tit is a tit is a tit.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked. “You are attacking the uninsured because they would be sucking on the government tit but you are doing the same thing yourself? Who do you think is subsidizing your health insurance premiums? The health care fairy?”

Tim protested that there was a difference between federal taxpayers and town taxpayers. I begged to differ. Here in New Hampshire where sky-high property taxes make health insurance premiums look like a flat-chested nuisance, local taxpayers have bigger boobs than the federal variety. So, I proclaimed once more that a tit is a tit is a tit.

I was too timid or kind to say this, but in fact if Tim tried to get health insurance in the free market, private sector that he so idolizes, he and his wife would either be turned down because of their weight, or be put in a high risk pool and forced to pay a five-figure or higher monthly premium. Instead, his insurance is subsidized by local taxpayers and his premium is a mere $80 a month.

Wisely, as things were starting to get testy, we changed the topic. Tim mentioned how he wanted to do more with his life than be a fireman. I applauded his ambition. He said that after he finished paying his student loans from his undergraduate days, he would consider going back for a graduate degree.

“You have student loans?” I wondered. “Yes,” said Tim.

“Are they like Stafford Loans?” I wondered again.

Tim is a smart dude and instantly knew where I was going with my line of questioning. “Yeah, but I have to pay them back.”

“I am sure you do, Tim. But you do realize that the interest rates on those loans are SUBSIDIZED by the federal government? Do you realize that banks only make those loans to deadbeat students because they are insured by a government entity. . . a tit as it were?”

Tim protested in principle, though I am not sure which one it was. He seemed confused. I think the word is “flummoxed” — yes, Tim was flummoxed. He skulked off into his house and I took myself and my dog back home. All the way I was shaking my head, crying or laughing or both, astounded by the hypocrisy of the insured. It was clear that Tim — this anti-health care reform Dittohead who rebelled at the idea of insuring the poor — was tenaciously and deliriously affixed to a few massive boobs of his own choosing.

Is Tim the exception to the rule? Of course not. I have yet to meet anyone who is against health care reform who does not have health insurance. Do you know any one like that? And how many of them have subsidized premiums? Almost all, of course, by local and state governments or by their employers.

So let me shout out the word “tit” one more time. We all want one. There are those who have, and those who have not. Ever see kittens sucking on momma cat? How they fight and claw to keep the tit they have, never caring if their siblings starve to death. Once they have a productive tit, they don’t want to give it up.

As this health care debate proves, people are like that, too.

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