Got an e-mail the other day from a different right-wing cousin. He's the brother of the right-wing cousin in one of my earlier missives. I'm not sure which one. Which missive, that is. I know which cousin.
At any rate, this e-mail was about health care, about how the nation’s health care crisis isn’t really a health care crisis at all, it’s a values crisis. This e-mail featured a Mississippi physician who sent the following note to President Obama:
Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.
While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.
And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care? I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture", a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me."
Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.
Starner Jones, MD
First of all, what the hell kind of first name is “Starner?” I’ve never met a “Starner.” I Googled “Starner” and found a lot of last name Starners, but no first name Starner except for the aforementioned Starner Jones, MD, who appears to be around 35 years old, maybe 40. Big shock: he’s a white guy with a five o’clock shadow and a burr and a smart-ass grin. According to snopes.com, he specializes in emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I don’t want to pretend that I know anything more about him than that, except that he appears to think that Obama is somehow personally responsible for gold teeth and tattoos and expensive cell phones. He probably thinks the federal budget deficit didn't exist until 2008 either.
At any rate, I typically don’t agree with e-mails from my right-wing relatives (and I have scads of them), but I think I agree with them and with Dr. Jones on this one. Hell, I don’t want to pay for health care for unhealthy people either, whether they have gold teeth and tattoos and listen to R&B on their expensive new cell phones or whether they have two teeth and Skoal dripping down their chin and listen to Glenn Beck on their expensive new flat-panel TV sets. Health care for unhealthy people is costly and mostly a waste of money, inasmuch as these people aren't unhealthy by accident. They’re fat. They have high blood pressure, diabetes and/or cholesterol the size of corn flakes. They smoke. They drink. They scarf chili-cheese fries sandwiches between snacks. They spend most of their spare time staring through double fists full of mayonnaise-dipped burritos at their expensive new flat-panel TV sets.
Incidentally, where do you think most of these fat people live? In the South, of course. Mississippi in particular. Studies that rank states by overall health typically follow the same pattern. Red states have relatively unhealthy people. Blue states have relatively healthy people. To wit:
The 5 Fattest States:1) Mississippi2) Alabama3) West Virginia4) Tennessee5) South Carolina
The 5 Slimmest States:1) Colorado2) Massachusetts3) Connecticut4) Rhode Island5) Hawaii
Of course, you don't need a study to confirm this. Travel abroad for a week or so, then return to the U.S. through the Atlanta airport. Folks waddling around the domestic terminal are the size of panel trucks. Granted, some of these people have gold teeth and tattoos, but the majority are good ol’ boys and their dumpy wives and corpulent kids.
And you thought liberals were “politically correct. Ha!
Anyway, as a 56-year-old social liberal and economic conservative who exercises four times a week and who ran the Marine Corps Marathon in just over five hours two years ago, let me say that I don’t want my federal or state or local tax dollars paying for health care for chain-smoking, liquor-swilling, bacon-addicted Southern redneck conservatives. I don't mind paying for breast-implants for college coeds, but if the Rush Limbaugh nation wants to eat itself into a coma, I see no reason why my tax dollars should foot the medical bill.
I’m willing to chip in a few bucks to help them obtain a second hand treadmill or a pair of running shoes, even though there’s nothing explicitly in the Constitution guaranteeing treadmills or running shoes to anyone. I just think it’s a good idea. That’s the bleeding-heart liberal in me, I guess.