Monday, October 21, 2013

The Affordable for "Some" Care Act

This will be the last political post that I make for a while because that’s not what this blog is about. That said, people seem to be having drastically different experiences with the Affordable Care Act. What I don’t understand is why people are continually arguing with each other. Yes, Tony from down the street may have had a hellish experience with the Affordable Care Act while Cheryl from next door had the most amazing experience ever. The system is not some flat fee healthcare for all. Some people are going to be pissed off when they see their new plan options and others will rejoice. It’s just the way it is going to be. I’ve checked the basic information for plans and my rates are about the same whether I go with a package through the exchange or through an outside healthcare provider. I will note that I went to one health insurance company’s website and compared its lowest policy on the website with its similar policy on the exchange and the exchange rate was about $50 cheaper for me, but I’m still shopping around for the best deal. 

I’m not clear on why some people have ridiculously high rates. Is it because of their income, state policies, the lack of competition in their state exchange or what? Why are some people having wonderful experiences and others having nightmarish ones? It doesn’t seem fair or right. There should be a way to set an acceptable range so that policies don’t fluctuate so much. I get upset for some of the people who have rate changes that they cannot afford because ignorant people try to call them liars, as if the system is perfect. It is just as likely that someone has to pay more as it is that someone has to pay less. Don’t call people liars unless you have evidence to contradict their claims. Your experience and the experiences of the people you know do not extend to everyone. If you can’t be civil to people who have different experiences or perspectives then maybe you shouldn’t read about other people’s experiences. 

That said, I don’t understand why some people are complaining about having to sign up for the ridiculous prices. Did they miss the memo? They can still look for and find their own healthcare package. The exchange is not the end all be all for healthcare options. I’ve been tempted to remind them that they don’t have to pay that rate. They can go elsewhere or they can pay the fee. If the plan they are quoted is hundreds of dollars more than they can afford to spend each month, then don’t spend it. Save a few dollars each month and pay the fee instead. View the fee as the cheapest health insurance ever. As long as they stay healthy, they’re going to save a bundle and if they don’t stay healthy, at least they can say that they kind of sort of contributed and they aren’t one of those “leeches” who receives help from the government. Or they can try to get an exemption from the fee, because, as with all taxes, there are exemptions.

Now let’s talk about the federal exchange. The exchange has been a disaster in certain states. I expected there to be some issues, but nothing like the things that I have heard. Obama should be thanking the republicans for the shutdown because the shutdown distracted from the epic glitches in the system. The news mentioned the issues, but they weren’t taking up the headlines like they have since the shutdown. I can understand why some people are upset that a Canadian company was used to create the federal exchange. It doesn’t matter that the government has used the company before or that the company has lots of offices in the United States. There is something that just doesn’t sound right about that. With all the tech companies in America, why not take a risk and try one of them? On top of that, even if I overlook the use of a Canadian based tech company, I can’t overlook the fact that some people have not been as lucky as I have been. Some people are being royally screwed by the available plans. If the government can’t call check on insurance companies then who can? The government is literally throwing money at the insurance companies and the thanks the government gets is rates that are too high for people to afford? Really?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Pledge Allegiance to my Party

I find irony in the fact that the Senate opens with the pledge of allegiance. I’d like to recommend a few changes to the pledge in order to make it more accurately reflect their beliefs:

I pledge allegiance to my party and to the principles for which it stands, one Party under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for those who agree with my party.

So, like I have repeatedly said, this whole two party thing isn’t working for me. Both sides keep pointing the finger at each other and using the same arguments. If I believe the Democrats, then the Republicans are holding the country hostage and being unreasonable. If I believe the Republicans, then the Democrats are holding the country hostage and being unreasonable. I’ve tried to keep tabs on what has been going on and I think both sides are holding the country hostage and being unreasonable. For weeks, the Republicans refused to compromise and then when it was apparent that a shutdown was inevitable, they suddenly had nothing but compromises and wanted to sit down at the table and talk about it. The Democrats have been warning America for weeks that the Republicans were refusing to negotiate, and then, at the 11th hour when the Republicans finally gave in and said okay, let’s conference about it, the Democrats said, “You didn’t want to conference last week so we don’t want to conference now.” What the hell? If I have been begging someone for weeks and as the Democrats claimed, months, to do something, I’m not going to turn it down just to prove a point. I don’t know which is worse: the fact that the Republicans attached the Affordable Care Act to government spending or the fact that the Democrats refused an 11th hour attempt to stop this train wreck. 

We as a people keep complaining about Congress and yet we keep voting for them. Compromise shouldn’t be a dirty word and it also shouldn’t be the result of blackmail, extortion or threats. When your job is to run the country, you need to give everything you have to that job. If you’re a Republican, you don’t get to decide as a party to not support the President and publicly express your wish to see him fail then bitch about it when he stops trying to work with you. You don’t get to say that the presidential election is a referendum on Obamacare, then take that back after the people have spoken. If you’re a Democrat, you don’t get to always be the victim of those “extreme” Republicans. You don’t get to be just as extreme, corrupt and hypocritical as your counterparts on the other side of the aisle and then be excluded from blame. You don’t get to dig in and say that you are right then condemn the other side for digging in because they think that they are right. If you’re Obama, you don’t get to come out and publicly chastise members of a particular party and expect not to suffer repercussions and reinvigorate the hatred that they feel towards you. I think his comments about Republicans should be done behind closed doors. In public, he should plead for bipartisanship and constantly remind people that his door is open to suggestions from both parties.  

At what point will the members of Congress realize that while their party and lobbyists may put money in their pockets, they technically represent neither? The members of Congress are supposed to represent their constituents. This whole party line crap is destroying our country because few people on either side of the aisle have the courage to stand up to their party and let them know that they are wrong. Boehner said we wouldn’t see a government shutdown but when his party said let’s do it, he said, yeah, screw the country and those darn federal workers, if we can’t get what we want, we’re going to shut the government down. Then there’s Harry Reid. I watched him speak last night and declare that the Senate was not going to agree to a last minute conference because the House had repeatedly refused the Senate’s requests for conferences before. He used an analogy about the Senate not being pressured with a gun to their head and I cringed. My interpretation of his words was, “Look here, you didn’t want to talk when we wanted to talk so we’re not talking to you now. You’re wrong. We’re right. This whole country can suck it and um, don’t bother me again until 9:30 tomorrow morning. Goodnight.”

From a personal standpoint, I allowed my health insurance policy to expire September 1 because I plan on checking out the policies available through the exchange and comparing them to my other options. I’m not going to rush and try to sign up today, because I don’t expect the system to work perfectly today. You can’t unveil something on a national level and not expect hiccups. I plan to wait a few days and maybe even a week or two then make my decision. I don’t know if the Affordable Care Act will help me, but I’ve already checked the numbers and it’s cheaper than the plan I had that expired September 1, so I’m already smiling about my decision to wait. I admit that I support the Affordable Care Act. I know there are going to be growing pains as the program is implemented and it is my hope that Congress will be able to address those growing pains and fix them as needed. 

I like the Republican offer to not have people pay a fee if they mess up during the first year. That makes sense to me. From an economic standpoint, I like the Democrats’ position that we can lower the cost of healthcare by having more people pay in to the system. Based on the initial numbers I’m seeing, my cost will be lower. I like the Republican offer to have the members of Congress excluded from qualifying for subsidies, but I don’t like that they want to expand that to include other federal workers who may not have the access to the monetary resources available to the members of Congress. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we need more than two major parties. Many of the current Democrats and Republicans in Congress care more about making each other look bad than they do about working together and moving the country forward. I’m tired of both of them and I’m sure other people feel the same way. We have to do something to change our system before it truly becomes the undoing of our country. I don’t care who did what or who started this, I care about ending this. How do we get back to working together if both sides are playing for keeps?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Would Jesus Do?

I usually smile when I hear people ask, “what would Jesus do?” I think of Jesus and I think of a man with open arms who welcomed saints and sinners alike, but I know that people have different views of Jesus. I read an article about a church in Tennessee that is kicking out a family because the family supported their lesbian daughter’s push to change the laws in Collegedale, Tennessee. Kat Cooper, who is the daughter in question, led an effort to have family benefits extended to her wife. After the city council voted in Cooper’s favor, members of her family were allegedly invited to a meeting with church officials and told to either publicly repent for supporting their daughter or leave the church. I read this article and I had my own “what would Jesus do” moment. The church’s actions are essentially saying that Jesus would not support his family member if they were deemed a “sinner.” Jesus, the man who was willing to die for the sins of other people, would turn his back on his family. It sounds ludicrous to me. I know that the church didn’t mention anything about what Jesus would do, but that was the first thought that came to my mind. How can any church begrudge a family for their unconditional support of their child? I want to find out more about this church. I hope that the church has a long list of other families who have been addressed in similar meetings. I hope that the church has the same policy for unwed mothers and the parents of unwed mothers unless the parents have publicly repented for supporting their unwed child, divorced people and anyone who admits to fornicating or is found to be using contraception. I try to be supportive of religious freedom, so if this church is strict enough to blame the parents for the “sins” of the daughter, then every parent in the congregation should be held accountable for the “sins” of their child. Fair is fair.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

You and I

I felt like sharing a random poem today:

 You and I

You moved me
You pushed me down the stairs, around the table and out the door
My feet took baby steps
I thought about walking away
But I turned and begged you to give me more
I wanted that hurt because it came from you
I wanted to feel it, to breathe it, to bathe in it
I wanted it
And you gave it so freely

You touched me
You hit me before I fell, as I was falling and after I was on the floor
My arms protected my face
I thought about screaming for help
But I knew there was no one to hear me anymore
I wanted your love so I pushed away all others
I wanted to have you, all of you, not just part of you
I wanted you
And you denied me so easily

You broke me
You grabbed me, twisted me with your hands and struck me at my core
My body became limp
I thought about pulling away
But I knew it was my fault because I didn’t finish my chore
I wanted to tell you I was sorry
I wanted you to know it, to believe it, to finally see it
I wanted an end
And you were done so quickly

You scarred me
You ripped off the callous, squeezed it and put lemon juice on the sore
My soul wept for us
I thought about our years together
But I couldn’t get you to remember how we were before
I wanted to invade your mind
I wanted you to see us, to remember us, to want to be us
I wanted to go back
And you pulled me forward abruptly

You lost me
You hid me away, forgot what you had and what you kept me for
My heart ached for you
I thought about holding on
But I saw that you couldn’t look at me anymore
I wanted to warn you I was leaving
I wanted to face you, to tell you, to show you
I wanted to be strong
And you didn’t want anything for me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ariel Castro's Kind of "Love"

I apologize in advance and promise that my next post will not be a rant, but I have to get this off of my chest. I live in a suburb of Cleveland. I remember when Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus went missing. I remember watching the yearly coverage of the vigils. I remember the shock and relief I felt when they were found alive. 

I look at Ariel Castro and I see him for the troubled soul that he is. I understand that people like him need to be locked away forever in order to protect the rest of us from falling victim to them. I thought people from all sides of the political aisle could come together and shake their heads in mutual disgust at what Castro did to those three women. I foolishly thought that his actions would stand alone as sick and perverted and so far away from what normal people do, that there was no comparing him to everyday people. 

I should have known better. Our society is built on sound bites and sensationalism. We beg for it like a dog panting for a bone. We live to be outraged and offended and insulted and frankly, it irritates the hell out of me. I can’t remember the last time that I watched a panel on MSNBC, FOX NEWS or CNN, and I didn’t hear someone say something that I felt was a bit extreme. We have to tone down the rhetoric because we've gone too far. We jumped overboard a long time ago and I’m starting to wonder if the ship of human decency will ever turn around and come back to rescue us from ourselves.  

I saw an article about a conservative radio host comparing LGBT love with Ariel Castro’s demented “love” for his victims. My first thought was that surely the commentator was misquoted. No rational person would ever compare a mutual love between consenting adults to a one sided love in which the unwilling partners were kidnapped, imprisoned, terrorized, beaten, raped, starved and abused in more ways than can be described in words. How can anyone even remotely link the two? I can’t fathom the thought process of people so obsessed with ratings and talking points that they abandon common sense. 

So who did this? Well I blame both people who were having the discussion. Sandy Rios, an American Family Association talk show host and Fox News Contributor, and Erwin Lutzer. Their discussion about some Facebook post, became a discussion of the ways in which love is contorted and sometimes perverted in to something that in no way resembles love. Lutzer began talking about pedophilia in an attempt to explain that all love isn’t good and loosely connect it to the idea that same-sex marriage represents bad love. Anyway, Lutzer said, “A pedophile I’m sure says that he loves children…but you can see how destructive that love is.” He went on to say “Once love is undefined as kind of this ‘I want to do this and so I’m loving’ then, of course, we end up where we are ending up today with a great slide in morality…” Here is where I take a breath to keep from screaming. His argument upsets me for two reasons: one, it is comparing apples and oranges and two, it is attributing something to love that love has not done. Let’s address the first argument. There is a huge difference between the love between two consenting adults and the love between a consenting adult and a child. Where do I begin? As a society, we acknowledge the inability of a child to consent or enter in to agreements. Gone are the days of 12 year old brides (unless you live in a cult or something). Children cannot have legal relationships with adults because we realize that children are not the same as adults. Children do not think the same way as adults. They don’t usually have the foresight to consider the long term ramifications of their actions. We don’t even trust children to drive vehicles until they are a certain age. To compare a “relationship” between an adult and a child to a relationship between two adults is to completely ignore the fact that one contains two people who can legally enter in to agreements and one does not. Proponents of same-sex marriage are not looking to make love “undefined,” they use the same definition as everyone else, only theirs is gender free. Instead of marriage being a union between one man and one woman, proponents of same-sex marriage argue that marriage should be a union of two consenting adults, regardless of gender, but everything else should stay the same. And for the second part about morality, um, society started slipping down that slope a long time ago. Sex sales everything, from shampoo to food to cars. Singers prance around on stage in risqué outfits, young celebrities are sexualized way before they should be. Wholesome family entertainment is virtually a thing of the past with few exceptions and that has little to do with homosexuality and everything to do with the drastic change in American morality in which things are only immoral if you get caught doing them. 

Now back to the comment that Sandy Rios made about Castro. Castro was an abuser. His “love” for his victims was, is and always should be criminal. No one has the right to hold someone against their will and abuse them. Same-sex marriage is about people willingly committing to each other. If a gay man came to the Justice of the Peace with his partner bound and gagged in a cage, the Justice of the Peace would need the partner’s consent before and during the ceremony. You don’t get to force your “love” on other people who don’t want it. That’s why there are t-shirts that say “Against Gay Marriage? Don’t Get One.” A sane gay man doesn’t want to force a straight man to marry him any more than a sane straight woman wants to force a gay man to marry her. When proponents of same-sex marriage say that it’s about the right to love, they don’t mean to love someone who doesn’t love you back, but rather, the right for two people to love each other and express that commitment through entering in to an institution that declares their love to the world and gives their relationship legal protections under the law. Comparing same-sex love to Ariel Castro’s love reflects poorly on the person making the comparison because it is clearly a comparison that is made for emotional purposes and not based on any rational thought. 

Can we please stop with the sound bites and outrageous comments and go back to thinking before we speak?