In my previous article I pointed out that March madness can be a very good thing — for instance, when the NCAA tournament comes to town and great young athletes skillfully execute basketball plays.
But there is a darker form of March madness, in which the executions can be lethal.
Was it a Freudian slip when Paul Ryan recently announced before whirring TV cameras: “We’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system.” Ryan was discussing his plans to repeal Obamacare and replace Medicare with a voucher system. If he succeeds, how many ordinary Janes and Joes (i.e., “we the people”) may suffer and die premature deaths as a result?
Ryan is the House Budget Committee Chairman, and a probable Republican frontrunner in the next presidential election. And he really does seem to be intent on destroying our health care system, when many nations that are far less wealthy than the U.S. have universal health care.
When Ryan’s running mate, Bishop Willard Mitt Romney, visited three nations during his presidential campaign, he praised the values they share with Americans. But all three nations — the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland — have universal health care systems. And one might suspect that the U.S. is either underwriting or helping to fund Israel’s health care system, as the U.S. gives tiny Israel billions of dollars in “loans” every year, but none of the “loans” has ever been repaid. Why are Republicans like Romney and Ryan so adamant that the U.S. cannot afford Obamacare, when they insist that Israel be given blank checks that are dishonestly called “loans”?
Closer to home, Republicans are working feverishly to make it difficult or impossible for Tennessee employees who have been injured on the job to sue for justice if their workers compensation claims are denied. Can anyone doubt that Gov. Bill Haslam’s pro-business administration will favor businesses over injured workers? Haslam is fast-tracking the proposed new legislation, with public discussions being limited to a few minutes on a bill that is 68 pages long. Opponents of the new workers compensation regulations have employed such harsh terms as “barbaric” and “sacrificing workers.” Democrats have panned the proposed legislation. For instance, Mike Turner, a state representative from Old Hickory, recently said: “This bill is the worst bill I’ve seen since I’ve been here, as far as working people go. This bill really disturbs me.”
Meanwhile, Nashville mayor Karl Dean is trying to reduce what Metro pays injured workers, including even public safety workers.
According to the most recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Tennessee ranks 47th out of 50 states. The poll asks state residents to rate their sense of well-being based on factors such as physical health, job satisfaction, outlook on life, etc. One of the most important factors is obviously personal health. Granted, some health factors are the responsibility of the individual, such as obesity. But employees who are injured at work and people who contract contagious diseases should not be forced to suffer — and perhaps die — because politicians are lacking in heart, mind and soul. So the workers compensation and health care systems play crucial roles in the well-being of citizens.
Both nationally and here at home, Republicans seem to be madder than March hares, willing to let their fellow Americans suffer and die, if that will add a few pennies to some heartless business’s bottom line.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.