Notes from a bitch…the truth is true…

“To be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true.” Bayard Rustin
Shall we?
***steps up on soap box***
The internets and political chats are all buzzing about the vote on federal health care reform legislation and pundits are speculating over what will define victory and for whom or what will define defeat for that other side and why.
With so much speculation floating around, I just want to put some known things out there into the universe.
I ain’t afraid of a damn thing related to health care reform.
Let me say that one more time…I am not afraid.
You see, health care is a right.
Mmmhmm, and no legislative defeat can change that…it would only indict the moral character of those who celebrate that defeat.
No limits, compromises or fucked up restrictions will change that. They may delay progress, frustrate the hell out of people and put women at risk…but they call this social justice movement a struggle for a reason and such hurdles have never, do not now and never will change the truth that…
…health care is a right.
No legislative victory is required to confirm that.
No matter what happens this week, health care is a right.
The only thing Congress is about to determine is whether justice will be advanced or delayed.
Justice will not be denied.
Hell, if I didn’t believe in the inevitability of justice I couldn’t do social justice work!
So, be not afraid!
The truth is true.
And we will get this done.
***steps down from soap box and gets back to work***

Join the Conversation

  • Brittany-Ann

    Hear hear.

  • rebekah

    I hear where you are coming from and I appreciate you standing up on your soap box and saying it. But at this point I do not want health care to pass. There is no public option, they are not protecting the people with preexisting conditions, and they still have the stupak amendment in that fucked up bill. I think that they need to vote this down and go back to the drawing board. Put the public option back in. Do not take anything similar to the stupak amendment as friendly. GET RID OF PREEXISTING CONDITION BLOCKS, take care of our people. I will not support health care until it does all of those things. I will also refuse to support legislators in my state who do not fight for those things to be in the bill.

  • The Flash

    Health care isn’t a right. Doctors need to be paid. Nurses need to be paid. Research needs to be funded by profits from drugs. High-tech medical equipment needs to be built and replaced and serviced. Medical supplies are used. These things cost a lot of money, and involve a lot of training for other people. If being a doctor or a nurse isn’t a well-paid job, nobody will put in the time to become either of those things. And if it’s made easier to become those things, the quality won’t be as good.
    I’m not saying the system, as it exists now, is good, adequate or just. I’m saying that health care isn’t a right, because you’re never entitled to someone else’s time and/or effort, and particularly not to someone else’s life mission. Doctors, nurses, and medical researchers aren’t factory workers and their labor isn’t a commodity. It doesn’t matter that some people can get care and some can’t; that doesn’t mean you mystically develop a moral right to health care. The people who are getting care pay for it.

  • Comrade Kevin

    Change is not a zero sum game, but the opponents of Health Care Reform think that it is.

  • Sandra

    Who says rights have no cost attached to them or that these costs aren’t or shouldn’t be borne by society at large?
    I live in a country where health care is a right and, guess what? Doctors and nurses get paid. They get paid very well, actually. And sick people don’t have to declare bankruptcy to pay for their treatment.
    As a matter of fact, the only people who aren’t getting paid for health care in my country are the insurance company employees who deny treatment in your country.

  • ak33yu

    Uh, Flash, did I miss a memo?
    If health care passes, are doctors going to be required to work for free?
    We already assume, at some level, that food is a right (hence the existance of food stamps, free school lunches and other programs), but farmers and cooks and restaurant owners don’t work for free.
    You could insert any of the following:
    public order/police
    roads/construction workers

  • Suzann

    I think there was a post from a nurse a while back? Not about health care per se – but about attitudes to a mostly-woman profession.
    Some people can’t seem to connect a woman’s right to control her own person to her right to control the work she produces. Demanding ‘health care’ (which is the product of someone’s work – and usually a female someone at that) without accepting the duty to pay them for it doesn’t strike me as very liberating.
    Health care may be a ‘civil’ right – if we decide to grant it and PAY for it – but it is not a ‘natural’ right. It does not come without placing a burden on another person. The bill – as it now stands – makes poor provision for paying fairly for that burden. (Or ask a nurse if they think that insurance companies are ‘rewarding’ them too highly these days.)

  • adag87

    We are one of the only industrialized nations that refuses to provide free, or low-cost medical care for the majority of its citizens. There are doctors who make substantial wages in other countries. The fact that doctors need to be paid money has nothing to do with the argument that health care is or isn’t a right. You can have government subsidized health care, and people still wanting to be doctors. These two things are not mutually exclusive.
    A person who has money doesn’t deserve to be saved any more than a person who does not have money. That is the point of health care being a right.

  • adag87

    Also, I might add, that nobody has “mystically” decided anything. There is a precedent, in the form of a 60 year old Universal Declaration of Human Rights Declaration put forth by the United Nations.
    Article 25 of this document states:
    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

  • s mandisa

    and there in lies the problem….why shouldnt BASIC, HUMAN needs such as wellness, housing be rights that we are all entitled to? it is true that doctors, nurses, etc need to be paid, but only if we refuse to think outside of what is often called the “medical industrial complex”, as well as US-based capitalism.
    your statement that “people who are getting care pay for it” points exactly to what im talking to. By your logic, only the owning class is entitled to health care. and, to be clear, working class folx pay for care too b/c if it wasnt for us, the owning class couldnt live the lifestyles that they do.
    Shark Fu: go on witcha badaaassss self!!!!
    marginalized communities have always done what we had to survive and make what we needed, and while i would like us to move out of the survival mode, we will def keep caring for our souls and bodies with all that we have.

  • Judi

    Flash, you say: “Doctors, nurses, and medical researchers aren’t factory workers and their labor isn’t a commodity. It doesn’t matter that some people can get care and some can’t; that doesn’t mean you mystically develop a moral right to health care. The people who are getting care pay for it.”
    Leaving aside your problematic comparison between doctors/nurses and factory workers. . . hem. . .
    Are you not pointing out that doctors, nurses, and medical researchers (who aren’t, of course, lowly factory workers) and the health care they provide _are_ commodities? The people who are getting care are paying for it, afterall. . . While this might be problematic, I’m not sure what your point is here.
    And, it certainly does matter that some people can get care and some can’t. It matters to people who can’t, and it should definitely matter to people who can.

  • Stelllaaa

    @The Flash
    Police protection is seen as a right. Police officers need to be paid. Dispatchers need to be paid. The companies that manufacture police cars need to be paid. And they are. With tax dollars. We see the services of the fire department as a right. Same goes. Nobody asks if your house has any pre-existing conditions before they put out a fire.
    These things were not always state-funded in the history of this country and its predecessors, but it is generally agreed that they should be. As health care should and will be in the future.

  • Athenia

    They got rid of the preexisting condition ban!?!? When did that happen??? Why aren’t people talking about that????

  • Athenia

    “The people who are getting care pay for it.”
    No, the people who are getting care are the ones who have jobs and make insurance companies profit.
    What do people have the right to?
    Because, honestly, if you do not have your health, you do not have anything.

  • davenj

    Health care is a social good. It is not a right.
    There’s a big difference.
    This is the same as when I hear that college education is a right, or owning a car is a right, or home ownership is a right.
    Social goods are important. They can be driven by a moral imperative, even. However, that doesn’t make them a fundamental human right.
    If every doctor on the planet decided not to practice their craft for a day it would be their right. And we then would not be able to receive health care from them. But it would be their right to not work.
    And if health care is a human right, not just an American right, then there’s a case to be made to spend the money from the bill on human health services around the world, as opposed to in the United States, as many nations have far worse health services systems.
    Calling something a right over and over again does not make it so. Health care is not a right. If two people are sick and there’s only one doctor one of those two will necessarily not be able to receive health care.
    That’s because health care is a good/service, and goods and services are created and provided by people with property and bodily autonomy rights.
    It’s up to us to create a system conducive to getting important goods (education, healthy food and water, healthcare, etc.) to everyone, but that’s an issue of fostering social goods. It is not a rights issue.
    And confusing the two only obfuscates this problem, making it easy for folks to shoot holes in attempts to implement programs piece by piece.

  • cattrack2

    I’ve often adopted the same view. That said, we treat education as a right, and health care is every bit as important–if not more so–than a high school diploma.
    In a philosophical sense you may be right, but ensuring a health care safety net is absolutely critical.

  • davenj

    Food stamps are not a right. They are a social good.
    The same is true of all the services you just mentioned.
    Public order? Not a right. A social good, yes, but not a right.
    Roads? Not a right. A socially valuable form of transportation.
    Education? Compulsory, but not a right. Education is compulsory because it is socially valuable.
    We have rights, and we also have social goods. Social goods are important. They sometimes have a far greater impact on us than our rights do. But rights are different. Human rights are almost universally negative rights, i.e. freedom FROM something, usually a type of oppression.
    Freedom of speech is the freedom from censorship.
    Freedom of worship is the freedom from religious persecution.
    The legal system offers a key exception to this, with the right TO an attorney and a jury trial. And even these are in place in order to create freedom from injustice.
    However, health care is not an enumerated right in the US Constitution.
    Why do humans have a RIGHT to health care? I think humans SHOULD have health care, and believe it is an important social good. But to say that we have a right to health care stretches the bounds of what rights are.

  • Ariel

    Shark-Fu, I love you and thank you for saying what needed to be said. It’s easy to get caught up in the gloom that surrounds health-care reform. Your post what exactly is at stake, and while failure to pass health care reform will delay justice, it cannot hold it back forever.

  • Suzann

    And so again we come to the confusion between the genre of rights.
    There are ‘natural’ rights. These are things like self-ownership and volition.They are rights every human are born with and which can not be removed. (Freedom of speach, freedom of association, etc are codified natural rights.In American terms “endowed by our creator”.) Natural rights must exist within the single human, and can not burden another human. Most readers here would consider abortion a ‘natural right’.
    There are ‘civil rights’. (A term utterly misused.) Civil rights collective rights that are created by *agreement* between the members of a unit. Civil rights are thus limited to the members of the ‘civitas’. (Usually a state or nation.) Because they are created by the people civil rights can vary from place to place. Because they are ‘negotiated’ they can impose duty on the citizen. (For instance, the ‘right to common defense’ often imposes a military draft.) One person in one civitas ( such as Susan) may have a ‘right’ to a specific care, while another in another place does not. (In terms of health care we plan to pay the providers and charge the general population, but it is still an imposition for a service.)
    There are also what are termed ‘moral’ rights. These are harder to define in a multi-theological world, but are generally covered under ‘caritas’. Moral rights cover the range of things people *should* do, but which we can not demand other people do for us. (I have a moral right to be loved by my parents – but I don’t think I can call the cops just because they don’t.) Moral rights can also perhaps be defined as those which impose the duty without granting the right. (Such as I may have a moral duty to feed the poor – if I was Christian – but that does not mean a random poor person can show up and demand lunch.)
    Health care ( or food, for that matter) IS clearly a moral right ( at least for those with a majoritarian theological worldview) and CAN be a civil right (in those places with a civil society organized to provide it) but can NEVER be a natural right (unless you are talking only about the sort of care you can provide for yourself by yourself.)
    This may seem like a petty distinction, but it is not.
    Legistating all ‘moral’ rights into positions of demand can be disaster. After all, I have a *moral* right to children. (I think everyone here is against forced sterilization, right?) I do not, however, have a right to make *you* bear that child, nor to take your eggs or sperm to create that child. OK – that’s extreme – but does it make the point of why I care about rights?

  • Tracey T

    With regards to insurance companies rewarding people:
    they reward insurance employees who deny coverage, thereby trampling on the patient’s dignity as well as ignoring medical advice and seeing to it that medical staff don’t get to perform procedures (and don’t get paid) that patients may actually need.
    In addition to the “right” thing, yes, the current bill is terribad, but health care is absolutely in a right in the sense everyone deserves access to what we have available, especially when considering we do have the resources available. Any shortage of doctors/nurses is actually self-imposed to a greater extent, and no one is talking about not paying the ones we currently have. As a matter of fact, not only will they still get paid, but a number of emergency room staff and onocological staff will likely see a decrease in workload if people can get treatment earlier and have access to prevenative care.
    Healthcare is a right because what is keeping people from having healthcare is not a restriction imposed by medical staff, but by the current healthcare system which priveledges profits over people. People aren’t unable to see a dentist regulary and end up with heart disesase as a result because a doctor doesn’t want to see them, they are in that situation because of financial reasons.
    So, does Access to healthcare being a right make you and the rest of the libertarian-minded alarmist feel a little more at ease? Or does the idea that people shouldn’t be barred from receiving adequate healthcare because of system imposed financial restrictions that aren’t the doing of medical staff still make ya’ll uncomfortable? Pointing out that “healthcare” isn’t a right because it is the product of someone else’s labor when that argument isn’t even relevant to why people don’t have healthcare comes across as alarmist and a red herring.


    I am not on board with the health insurance deal as is. The main reason is I do not like the mandatory aspect of it, as it doesn’t agree with me personally. Having grown up without and having lived a total of a few years total with insurance (I have only ever gone to the doctor or dentist when required or in the case of an immediate emergency), I guess I’m in the minority of truly not wanting to pay for something I don’t see needing. Or, to put it another way, I only want to pay for something when I need it and do not believe in the “what if” stance. I’ve been in the hospital more times than I care to think of, and so it takes A LOT for me to go willingly. I loathe doctors! >:(
    A couple years ago, my husband’s day job began offering insurance, so we took them up on the offer. I used it for the girlie doc, as it was my first pap in 17 years. Yeah, she got some stuff cleared up I’d been wanting to get treated for a good while, but I didn’t see it as dire. But what pissed me off was the fact she ran tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia, against my objections to needing it, and dumped it on the insurance. Not only had the doctor proven to me once again that 99.9% of medical people are egotistical, stubborn jackasses who are in it for the money, but guess what – I had to pay extra for the tests I specifically said not to conduct, as the insurance company wouldn’t include that in an initial meeting! Oh and one better, we canceled the policy because after doing the math, it would have been cheaper to pay out of pocket than the three months of payments we made.
    Needless to say, I dropped the follow-up visits this doctor said I needed, something about an ultrasound for cysts and whatnot, and yeah I have super nasty, super TMI monthlies she said she needed to investigate further, but meh. I don’t care. I’d rather not know bad info and die all the sudden than what happened to my dad. And hey, at least I wouldn’t be forced by the government to pay for it.
    My dad died from lymphoma five years ago today, and all the treatments they made him do did nothing to enhance his life. I’m sure he’d rather had died with his hair (he loved his long hair) and facial hair (he NEVER went without at least a mustache since he was a kid!), not to mention the paid and suffering, than the crap they put him through. All that for nothing.
    So while I think folks who want the healthcare deal can have at it, I don’t think it’s right everyone has to pay for it. I can choose not to pay for car insurance if I don’t have a car, and I do not buy into any other type of insurance as it’s my right to go without. Why then should I be obligated to buy health insurance, especially if I doubt I’d use it enough to justify paying the bills?

  • The Flash

    Probably should do this on a consolidated basis…
    And I should do this in order, but there’s one fundamental point that goes to the heart of all of this, and it’s that the concept of “rights” is a concept of liberties and of fair application. Yes, everyone is entitled to police protection, but that’s because police protection is what defines the state, a la Weber, and if you follow the laws, you’ve ‘paid in’ to police protection, and when you break the laws, you lose the right to police protection and become a police target. The police aren’t there to give you anything; they’re there to deny you your freedom if you break the law. Our enjoyment of police “protection” is an externality from the police enforcing societal rules. If policing were about “protection”, preemptive arrests would be permitted. By contrast, medical care is about giving something positive to someone directly. It’s like saying you’re entitled to the state giving you food. You’re not. When you get food from the state, it’s charity, not fulfilling an entitlement. While, in a legal sense, you may be “entitled” to something the law provides for you, that’s not the same as a pre-legal ethical argument about what you are or aren’t entitled to.
    There are libraries full of books just on this subject, but the fundamental economics of it are that somebody has to work to give you something you assert you’re “entitled” to. That’s not fair. And sure, there’s lots of stuff in this world that isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that some people are born with every advantage in the world and some people are born with every disadvantage in the world. But confusing the hostage situation of the modern social welfare state with actual justice is a red herring to what’s really going on. So to the extent that the state should be gives anyone healthcare, it’s either a bribe to avoid revolution, or it’s charity. But it’s not an entitlement.
    @Sandra: I don’t know where you live, so I can’t speak to the quality of care you get, the outcomes, or the quality of medical professionals you have. But regarding whether rights have costs? That’s wrong. Rights don’t have inherent costs. Obligations have costs. Do people with healthcare and, generally, people who pay more in taxes than they get back, have an obligation to provide healthcare to those without healthcare? And does it need to be the same healthcare?
    @ak33yu: There is no way for doctors or nurses to provide the same level of care that they do now for more people without either working much more (in professions that are already overworked) or by neglecting patients they currently have who are getting treatment that won’t be covered under the new healthcare plan (which tend to be the expensive treatments that shore up the bottom line of most medical offices. This is why even smart doctors with life-saving skills still do cosmetic stuff: it makes things cheaper for the actually sick patients.). So, no, doctors won’t have to work for free, but they’ll have to work for much less, and, given the price of malpractice insurance, often it won’t be worth it.
    And we do pay for roads. That’s what tolls are. And people who send their kids to private school get to deduct the tuition from their taxes, so it’s kind of like not having to pay for public school you’re not using.
    @adag87: We are also where all the medical research in the world comes from, pretty much. At least, the big, big majority of it. And the UN defines nothing in any real sense.
    @s mandisa: I don’t see hwo thinking otuside of the medical-industrial compelx leads you toa place where you don’t have to pay doctors, nurses and researchers. Even if you’re a communist, there’s economics underlying any dsitribution of resources. Even the soviet union had an economics of its own. Doctors and nurses give up years of working and then have families they need to feed and clothe and shelter. Patients need to facilitate those things in order to receive medical care. It doesn’t come out of thin air– the state is jsut a less-efficient way of making people pay for those things, and it just makes more-productive people pay more. And I never said anyone was entitled to medical care. That’s the point. you pay for medical care. You’re never entitled to it.
    @Judi: Factory workers can be replaced. Virtually instantly. Their work can also be outsourced to less-expensive countries. Doctors and nurses and researchers can’t be replaced. Their care isn’t a commodity– they need to be trained over the course of several years, and the supply of them isn’t infinite because there are high and strict standards for licensing them. If you want to propose that a public healthcare system doesn’t need highly trained professionals, that we can just send people in the public care system to someone who’s done a one-month course and didn’t go to college, then, sure. Just because something is bought and sold doesn’t make it a commodity. The care of a trained professional can’t be swapped easily: if you have a chronic illness, and your doctor changes every week, even if they’re all very good doctors, you’re not going to be getting the care you need. and of COURSE it matters when some people can’t get healthcare. It just doesn’t “matter” in the sense that it changes what they have a “right” to. Does everyone have a “right” to a good night’s sleep? We need much more sleep than we do medical care, but there are still people who are never going to get it.
    @stelllaaa: Fire departments became public in part because if a fire breaks out in your house, it doesn’t stay in your house– everyone around you has a vested interest in the fire being put out. Much the same way, many vaccines are made publicly available for free right now, because we don’t want certain diseases to gain a foothold in the population. But “public health” and “personal medical care” aren’t the same thing.

  • davenj

    Education is compulsory, as would health insurance be if this bill passes. I think that’s a bit different. Mandating something is not the same as making it a right.
    I’ll go back to the two patients example: if there is a situation in which only one doctor is available and two patients arrive with the same problem one will necessarily not get treated. That’s not a rights issue, it’s a goods/services issue.
    Mandating insurance won’t make health care a right any more than we make equal education a right. The goal is to ensure a minimum standard of a social good for every citizen, which is different than rights.

  • rebekah

    no, they still have the protections for the insurance companies in place that allow them to deny coverage to a patient based on what they call preexisting conditions. I’m sorry if I made that wording unclear in my original comment