Saturday, November 03, 2018

Don't Forget to Vote

We're at a turning point in America, and I'd argue here in NY State as well. We've mostly rid ourselves of the fake Democrats who caucused with the GOP in the State Senate, and we have a great opportunity to turn the Senate blue on Tuesday. This is very significant because each year our Assembly votes to pass universal health care for New Yorkers, but it lingers and dies in the Senate.

There are so many levels on which this is important. I've taken this issue to heart ever since I was in college. The father of a person I worked with went broke paying his wife's medical bills. He had to sell his house to settle. He moved into the basement of his son's house, and one Christmas Eve he blew his brains out with a gun. I learned that other countries covered people for medical bills, and that people in those places didn't go bankrupt over catastrophic medical emergencies.

About ten or twelve years ago I had a job playing with a bluegrass band in Pennsylvania. We played in this really cool old theater, and they sent us out to lunch in a nearby restaurant. I won't say the name of the band we opened for, and most readers probably won't recognize it anyway, but I will say that there were four people in the band and the only one who wasn't obese was the banjo player. I remember we sat together, and I remember we both ordered Ruben sandwiches.

Even more clearly, I remember that was a Sunday, and a few days later I heard that banjo player had died. He'd had chest pains but didn't want to pay the thousands of dollars it would've cost him to go to the ER. Of course that was a terrible decision. I can tell you for sure, though, that playing the banjo is not the optimal route to making a good living in America these days, or probably ever.

I don't know if New York can muster the heart to do this. I know it was tried in deep blue California and Democrats somehow blocked it. I'm not confident Andrew Cuomo, a shoo-in for reelection, will get behind it. It's possible, though. Cuomo is trying to rework himself into Bernie Sanders Lite, and has to act like he cares about stuff like health care and working people. This could be a good time for this.

If New York can make this happen, perhaps California will follow. And if we do this, it's possible that people in red states will tire of having no insurance. This, in fact, is how Canada got guaranteed health care for all its citizens. They don't have a national health care system, but rather each province has its own.

This would be a benefit to union workers as well. Why do we need to negotiate health care? Why do we need to worry about co-pays, and this plan or that? If there were a basic health care guaranteed to all who lived here, maybe we could negotiate on extras or something. My brother-in-law in Quebec is in a union, and all his prescriptions are paid for. He also receives insurance whenever he comes to vist us in America as a union benefit.

It's time for the pendulum to swing back toward us. The uber-rich have been having a great party with the ethics-shmethics president. While he pretends to be a conservative, it's time for us to make Cuomo not only pretend to be a liberal, but also to act on it. This may be our moment.
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