Friday, August 7, 2009

The Right On Health Care: Fear The Absurd, Ignore The Present

It seems that much of the debate from the right on many issues comes from a position of wanting paranoia and fear of the next piece of legislation. For example, if gay people can marry each other the next thing people want is to marry their dogs. It is an absurd argument but it has been made. When the bill comes to define marriage between a man and his dog I will join the paranoid nuts and oppose it. I am fairly certain that this paranoia flame is fanned by people who don't actually believe in the fire they are creating. The fear and paranoia is developed to influence less sophisticated people.

In parts of the health care debate the right has succeeded in developing the same paranoia and fear. For instance President Obama took a question a woman named Mary at a town hall meeting last week. She asked, "I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that's Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die. This bothers me greatly, and I'd like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill." Now, Mary has probably heard this dozens of times from people on television, the radio and people she knows who heard it on television or radio. The president answered her question and hopefully calmed her fears.

Pundits from the right continue to promote the fear and paranoia even after they acknowledge that end of life planning is important. Suzanne Fields in the Washington Times tells a story with genuine feeling about end of life planning with her mother. She writes:
"When my mother was in her late 80s, I took her to a lawyer's office one bright sunny day to sign her 'living will.' We read over the questions and her answers and she signed on the dotted line. She had made her decisions weeks before and she was pleased.

We went shopping afterward, and she bought an antique watch that caught my eye in a shop window. This was an appropriate gift, she joked, because she had named me to be in charge of her 'life time.' If the time should come that a doctor asks whether to prolong her life when all hope was gone, I was to produce her living will."

It is nice story that we should all take to heart. We should all follow Fields and her mothers lead. Fields takes this important message and then twists it to the paranoid and fear-mongering position. She writes:

"Trying to allay Mary the questioner's fears, the president offered a flippant answer: 'We just don't have enough government workers to send to talk to everybody to find out how they want to die.' But what if it did? What kind of Big Brother government have we created that makes us feel so small? Collecting information about how the elderly want to die is not the problem. Who manages that information is what's crucial."

Honestly, the people she is trying to scare may not be the most sophisticated but this idea that the only obstacle to creating this big brother hospice authority is the lack of people is sick. It is also silly because there are plenty of people looking for work right now.

An open dialogue and honest debate is not possible if the people with any perceived authority whether it is Glenn Beck or Suzanne Fields continue to agitate and promote fear and paranoia of the next fight. Especially when the next fight is unlikely and absurd as a member of congress drafting legislation to allow me to marry Apple (my dog).

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