Scared turtles

It is the great unmentionable in the health care debate.

It is an attitude apparently shared by many voters.  The Democrats keep quiet about it because they don’t want to make voters mad.

The same attitude is helping the Republicans thwart reform. But they won’t acknowledge it publicly for fear of looking bad.

B. Smith isn’t scared to talk about it on his Internet blogsite, Radical Love. It is greed and selfishness, which he says are “hateful” aspects “of humanity that this debate has brought out” in much of the body politic.

Smith identifies himself as a Methodist pastor from Pulaski, Tenn. He doesn’t pull punches.

Smith says, flat out, that some folks oppose reform because they think it will diminish the quality of their health care in favor of “undeserving” poor people and immigrants. “It is in times of economic downturn when people recede into their shells like a scared turtle and refuse to help anyone but themselves and their immediate families,” the parson added.

This union-card carrying Hubert Humphrey Democrat and Bluegrass State Presbyterian will add an “amen” to Rev. Smith’s cyber-sermonette.

Tennessee and my native Kentucky are two of the church-goingest states in the church-goingest nation in Christendom. But when it comes to backing government help for people who need help — people without health insurance, for instance – a lot of Tennesseans, Kentuckians and other Americans have never been all that big on the biblical brother’s keeper thing.

Per capita, the U.S. trails all of its NATO allies in social welfare spending, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
We’re the only NATO country without some form of comprehensive national health insurance. Whatever health reform Congress approves – if anything — will be small potatoes compared to government health care programs in other countries.

True, Americans are bigger on charitable giving than anybody else. But most of the money they donate goes to their churches and to educational institutions, including their alma maters, not to charities that directly aid the poor.

Anyway, many Americans probably would agree with a Georgia woman who told the Associated Press why she’s not a fan of government health care. “Well, for one, I know nobody wants to pay taxes for anybody else to go to the doctor — I don’t,” she was quoted in an AP wire story about an AP health care poll. “I don’t want to pay for somebody to use my money that I could be using for myself.”

The story said the woman is 20. I wonder if she has grandparents on Medicare.

No matter, Republicans love people like the Georgian. Though they might not be so candid with a reporter,  more than a few Americans agree with her. 

Democrats are hesitant to call them out for their I’ve-got-mine-and-to-heck-with-you outlook. Republicans welcome them as allies in their holy war against health care form.  

The Republicans are battling reform with their stock “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” con job. It’s Social Darwinism, straight from the Gilded Age: If you’re poor (and don’t have health insurance), it’s your fault and not my responsibility.

Governments in other Western democracies believe good health care is a fundamental human right, not a privilege for those who can afford it. Some of us stateside do, too. (Go ahead and call us “socialists.”)

I’m blessed. I have a steady job and good health insurance. But growing up Presbyterian, I learned we were supposed to be our brothers’ – and sisters’ – keepers. The same principle guides our union movement.

So count me in with my union brothers and sisters who support a single-payer health care system that covers all Americans. And I’m somebody who wouldn’t mind Uncle Sam raising my taxes to help pay for it.

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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a native Kentuckian, a professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance journalist. He is a member of the American Federation of Teachers and the Kentucky Education Association/National Education Association. He is the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, which he describes as "a strictly non-partisan chronicle of our political past from Gov. Isaac Shelby to Gov. Ruby Laffoon."
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7 Responses to Scared turtles

  1. Could you give us a link to the “Radical Love” blog? I haven’t been able to locate it. Mostly I get referred to a “life coach.”

    (PS: Love your ad below this comment space!)

  2. mary b says:

    “True, Americans are bigger on charitable giving than anybody else. But most of the money they donate goes to their churches and to educational institutions, including their alma maters, not to charities that directly aid the poor.”

    You would think being in the Bible Belt people would want to help ‘those least among us’.
    Bullshit.
    Our (rented) house burned down almost killing me and my 7 year old son. My 15 year old son pulled us from the flames, risking his life entirely. It was on all the local news stations and radio for my sons act of courage and love.
    The Metro Police Dept started up a fund to help us as we were then homeless, had no place to go and broke. I was suffering bad from smoke inhalation.
    This is Nashville.
    Not one person donated one cent.
    You are from KY. I heard that they are nicer there. Are they?

  3. mary b says:

    Forgot to add this;

    “Smith says, flat out, that some folks oppose reform because they think it will diminish the quality of their health care in favor of “undeserving” poor people and immigrants. “It is in times of economic downturn when people recede into their shells like a scared turtle and refuse to help anyone but themselves and their immediate families,” the parson added.”

    This man is the definition of a true Christian, unlike the Xtian right. I don’t even like to use the word Christ when describing the radical hate mongers.

  4. Brad S says:

    I am the blogger quoted above. Click my name for a link to my blog.

  5. Eric Pearson says:

    Click on the below link to read the Reid – Health Care Bill:

    http://www.democraticreformparty.com/ReidBill.pdf

    We as Americans have not been able to read the full current Reid – Health Care Bill. As such, I have acquired a copy and posted it on a web site I started for my fellow democrats that do not agree with our Democratic Party representatives in Washington.

    I realize some of you may not be happy with me posting this Health Care Bill, but I strongly believe “We The People” have the right to read it, including the Republican U.S. Senators.

    Please remember to vote for me in 2010, Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Congress in the 5th District, Tennessee.

  6. John says:

    In my opinion, the last GOOD democrat was John F Kennedy. A Great man and a Great President, with his life taken away while he still had so much to offer his people and his God. Mr Kennedy was unmoving in his belief in his God, the American People and the Constitution written by our founding fathers. All of these things has made us the greatest nation on earth and leaders like Abe Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagon and George Bush were the gate keepers holding America on the straight and narrow way.

    Now we have Barack Husein Obama who holds himself to be qualified to change the world that our forefathers built. If he and peloci and the rest of what passes for a democratic party now was so proud of their accomplishment with the Health Care bill, why do it under the cover of night and in secret, why not hold a reading of the bill and while we are at it why not LISTEN to the voice of the People?
    I suppose that simply is not the democratic way.

    Mr Kennedy must be so proud of the democratic party at this point.

    I must stand in agreement with a for now un-named talk show host, all Republicans should just go home and spend Christmas with your families, the democratic party is no longer democratic and will not hear you in any case. Lets look forward to a republican takeover in the very near future, elections are coming up and the people will make themselves heard.

    Good day and God bless.

  7. John says:

    With the last several days of debate it seems that the Democrats finally have the votes to call for a final vote on the natural disaster referred to by the Obama, Poloci and Reed administration as the Health Care Bill.

    The fact that they have been forced to make concessions on most every aspect of this bill to get it through the house matters little to them.
    The fact that the American people are overwhelmingly against this bill does not enter into the decision making process.
    The fact that they have resorted to bribery to the special interests of various state senators within the democratic party does not weigh upon their conscience’s in the slightest
    All that matters is that they have gathered their sixty (60) votes and think they have won a victory.

    This is an excerpt from a larger article, the entire text is located at: http://www.trueamericans.info/?p=10 or you can click on my name for the main website.

    Thank you and God bless. (We are going to need it)