Tag: healthcare

In Accordance with Prophecy

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about self-loathing progressives. Yeah, I’ve really been letting them have it, to the point that one begins to wonder if I’ve turned on my fellow liberals and become, well, self-loathing about it…

Damn, this is not the kind of irony that I appreciate.

So please allow me to re-aim my cannons at the true villains of American politics: the hardcore right-wingers.

This xenophobic herd of nutjobs has basically taken over the modern Republican Party. And one reason they have been so successful is because of simple human frailty.

I’m talking about self-fulfilling prophecies. As we all know, this is “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.”

There are various subsets and versions of self-fulfilling prophecies. But the one that interests me is how stereotypes mingle with this psychological condition to create some rather unpleasant behaviors.

You see, “psychologists have theorized that stereotypes can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, that people internalize stereotype messages, living up — or down — to those expectations.”

We see this with ethnic minority teens who are treated like criminals, when they’ve done nothing wrong. Eventually, a few of them think, “If you’re gonna treat me like a thug, I’m gonna be one.”

Along those lines, we are not supposed to point out that some Trump voters have displayed bigoted behavior, because that just backfires and increases the odds that they will fully embrace racism (yeah, it’s a conundrum).

In essence, whether you call someone a racist or a rapist, enough repetition of the accusation ensures that they will become exactly that.

So how does this bizarre human quirk relate to politics?

Well, as I’ve pointed out, way too many liberals are indeed acting like the angsty wimps that conservatives insist they are.

And I have to admit that a few of my liberal friends openly despise the American flag — and not because of some principled stand against the nation’s flaws or its problematic history. They hate the flag because conservatives have called them America haters for so long that they’ve internalized the label.

But now we’re seeing the reverse.

Conservatives have been called, among other things, racist and misogynist sociopaths who delight in stomping on the poor and wrecking the environment, just for kicks.

And how have Republicans responded to these inflammatory charges?

They have given America a president who draws cheers from Nazis, boasts of his sexual assaults of women, and shows complete disdain for anyone who is not a millionaire.

Well, if that is not embracing a self-fulfilling prophecy, I don’t know what is.

Yes, many commentators are asking why “today’s conservatives feel such antipathy, disregard and hostility toward the poor.”

It’s also fair to ask why the GOP is celebrating old men who openly parade their racism. Or we could ask why blatant sexism within the Republican Party is lauded rather than condemned.

What’s next?

Will Republicans attempt to destroy the environment for no discernable reason?

Will they rush to defend any white men accused of vile behavior, just because liberals have said they are a bunch of sexist, xenophobic bullies with authoritarian tendencies?

How could it get worse? Will the GOP double up and exhibit disdain for both the poor and the elderly at the same time?

Or perhaps they could devastate the environment while simultaneously hurting children?

No, all we needed to see was the GOP health plan, which primarily failed because it wasn’t vicious enough to the needy.

If it keeps going this way, we may have to replace the traditional symbol of the Republican Party, the elephant, with something more appropriate, like this:

 

Maybe it’s all just a cry for help.

 


No, We Don’t All Need to Get Along

Good intentions abound. That’s the only reason people still embrace misguided ideas like “colorblind society,” despite the powerfully negative connotations that such phrases conjure up.

The latest nicey-nicey concept I’ve encountered (and no doubt you have as well) is the absurd notion that, for America to succeed, we need to put aside our differences. In essence, we all need to get along.

Where in the hell did this strange idea come from?

For the overwhelming majority of American history, we have not all gotten along.

For example, Hamilton and Jefferson didn’t say, “let’s be pals” when they were hashing out what kind of government we should have. They had more important things to do.

Even during the so-called Era of Good Feelings, America’s many slaves weren’t feeling the love and joining in group hugs.

Speaking of slavery, America didn’t even reach its centennial before we started shooting at each other over that touchy topic. And it was another century of violence and antagonism before the government said, “Maybe we should be nicer to ethnic minorities.” At no point in that process did we all get along.

Yes, one could argue that the country was united during World War II, but even in that case, all it took to bind us together was a global conflagration where millions of people died and the very survival of democracy was in question. In other words… good times.

More recently, we’ve come to blows over Vietnam and Iraq, over abortion and affirmative action, over gay rights and healthcare.

So when was this mythical time when Americans were of one mind? And why does anyone think this is a necessary condition in order for the country to thrive? Obviously, we’ve found a way to work around our internecine loathing.

The truth is that a nation as vast as ours — with its myriad subcultures, each enjoying a large degree of freedom — is never going to be truly united. To believe otherwise is to embrace the thinking of a child.

However, this Kumbaya concept is more than a pathetic pipe dream. It features an insidious aspect snaking below the surface.

We see this in the earnest pleas, even demands, for liberals to shut up and support Trump. Of course, conservatives would like nothing better than for progressives to give Trump a chance (which many liberals, inexplicably, are quite willing to do).

But why would leftists agree to a right-wing agenda that goes against every principle we have, and that could lead America into chaos? Apparently, we should do so out of blind patriotism and for the sake of the vague, abstract concept of “unity.”

According to this idea, striving to be friends supersedes the threat of decimating the country.

“Yes, thousands of people are dead now because Obamacare was repealed, but at least we’re all getting along, and that’s the most important thing. Yup.”

This is clearly insane.

And aside from the specifics of the current era — where a wannabe fascist seeks to make the nation great again for white supremacists — the fact remains that striving for unity at all costs is spectacularly naïve, even destructive.

The US Constitution is the result of Founding Fathers threatening to duel each other to the death. Slavery was abolished through warfare. Civil rights came only after decades of people refusing to back down, and not settling for getting along.

One of the virtues/flaws of American culture is our hyper-competitiveness. As such, one idea or principle usually emerges triumphant. Sometimes it’s a good idea… and sometimes it’s not. Still, as we know, the moral arc is long but bends toward justice (at least we hope it does).

However, progress is delayed even more when we smile and act polite in the face of idiocy or fanaticism or demagoguery. And there is no need to do so.

Because we have never all gotten along.

And we never will.

 

 


I Can’t Even…

 

Rather than dwell on this week’s inauguration (i.e., the monstrous legitimization of humanity’s most base and vile impulses), I will focus on the future — even though that future may be poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Perhaps the biggest quandary facing our country — in a cavalcade of complex and stomach-churning quandaries — is what our healthcare system will look like.

You see, the GOP has made it clear that Obamacare is the gravest threat facing America (well, other than the constant dread that grizzly bears will burst into our nation’s schools and eat all the students, but I digress).

So the Republican Congress is working feverishly to replace the Affordable Care Act with something more free market-like, with less big government and more choice and more freedom and blah blah blah. Yes, they have had years to come up with an alternative, and have failed miserably to do so. But to be fair, all their energy was taken up with hating on Obama. So you can see how some minor details — like a coherent proposal on a life-or-death issue — might have slipped through the cracks.

In any case, I have a question, one that I am frankly shocked that our highly paid media pundits are not asking.

Here it is: Why do we have to replace Obamacare with anything?

After all, when the ACA was first being debated, one argument we heard from the GOP and everybody at Fox News was that the America — and this is a direct quote from multiple conservative sources — had “the greatest healthcare system in the world.”

Again, we are not talking about the distant past. This was just a few years ago.

 

Now, at the time, many liberals pointed out that this was nonsense. A five-minute Google search would reveal undeniable statistics that showed the USA spent way more than other industrialized countries, got far worst results, had unhealthier citizens, and ranked shockingly low in terms of nationwide health.

But Republicans insisted that “the greatest healthcare system in the world” cliché was the pure truth, and not just bald-faced bullshit designed to rile up the ignorant and the racially insecure.

So now, years later, the Republican Party should be forced to answer a fair question.

If that was so very true, why not just repeal Obamacare and go back to “the greatest healthcare system in the world”? Surely we can just revert to a system that every American loved and never caused any problems and that got such amazing results.

Can’t you just hear every citizen clamoring for that?

Hmm, that is indeed strange. Because it seems that, even as it faces certain death, Obamacare has never been more popular.

Even many Trump voters don’t want it repealed. Of course, one has to wonder why they would vote for someone who said that he would cut off their healthcare. Perhaps it’s because they didn’t take him seriously and brushed it off as campaign rhetoric, which oddly enough, is not what they thought when they heard him babbling about building a wall or deporting every Latino and Muslim in the country.

Apparently, only the threats that applied to other people were to be taken seriously.

But speaking of Latinos, it’s clear that Hispanics have greatly benefitted from the ACA and will be punished severely if it is repealed. In fact, about 4 million Hispanics have obtained health insurance through Obamacare, and the percentage of uninsured Latinos has gone down.

That hasn’t stopped the GOP from attempting its own form of Latino outreach, which I would say is breathtaking in its cynicism and contempt for Hispanics, but come on, look who we are talking about here. The bar is pretty damn low. Hell, the bar is wedged underground at this point.

In any case, the good news is that if Obamacare is repealed, 18 million people will lose coverage the first year, and health insurance premiums would spike up to 25 percent.

You might ask, how is that good news? Well, if the ACA dies and is not replaced, “within 10 years, 32 million more people would be without health insurance [and] healthcare costs would continue to rise every year.”

That’s the bad news.

So again, I have to ask, were Republicans lying when they said America had super-duper healthcare that was the envy of the world? And if so, why the hell should we trust them now?

Clearly, they expect the American people not to remember their mendacity and horrible judgment.

Sadly… that’s a pretty good bet.

 


Anybody Remember “Cocoon”?

My abuela is past 90 and shows no signs of ill health. I wonder if she will visit me in the retirement home, because I will end up in one of those places long before she does.

I mention this because more Americans are entering “the sandwich generation,” where they raise their kids while taking care of their aging parents. It’s a common scenario, and the premise for at least a couple of failed sitcoms.

Indeed, in post-recession America, multiple generations under one roof is not uncommon. And for Latinos, economic necessity and strong familial bonds increase the odds that individuals will one day have to take care of their parents. But that scenario doesn’t seem to faze us.

In fact, more than 90% of Hispanics say providing assistance to elderly loved ones will be a positive experience, a higher number than the general population. And while more than half of all caregivers to the elderly report being stressed about the situation, only one-third of Latinos who care for an older person say that it has caused stress.

Yes, as I’ve written before, putting one’s aging parents in a retirement home is unthinkable for many Hispanics. Latino culture is strongly focused on the family, and it is often assumed that elderly parents will eventually go live with their adult children. As one Latina writer puts it, “We open our doors and bring [elderly parents] home, we care for them, and we do not set them aside like a piece of old furniture.”

How-to-Get-Rid-of-Broken-Furniture-sm

 

Of course, that’s a little harsh on all you non-Latinos who plan to stuff mom and dad in one of those old folks’ homes at some point. But it is — how can I put this? — pretty much damn true.

Now, there is a dark side to this. Perhaps because Latinos often presume that elderly parents will eventually go live with their adult children, just 10% of Latinos report that they have done much planning for their long-term care.

So when madre or padre does move in, stresses such as overcrowding and conflicting needs can pile up. Still, we seem to be handling it well so far.

As for my abuela, thus far she has not had to move in with any of her kids (or more likely, her grandkids). She lives by herself, where she cooks, watches TV, and reminisces about the past.

But I bet she’s also plotting how to spend the inheritances she will get, considering she will outlive all of us.

 

 


Kind of Like a Doogie Howser Episode

The state of Latino health is grim — grim, grim, grim. We have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, you name it.

Hispanics are also doing pretty sucky when it comes to education and employment. If only there was a way to combine all these issues…

Well, a California job-training program is trying to peg multiple issues with just one stone. Medical Pathways trains high schoolers in the Latino community for health care occupations. The goal is to provide real-world experience to disadvantaged kids while improving the overall health of the community.

The program guides students — primarily Hispanic — through four years of medically focused science classes, such as anatomy and physiology. The students run community health fairs, where visitors — again, primarily Hispanic — get information about different health issues and receive free services, such as getting weighed or having their blood pressure taken.

blood-pressure-340x289
Many students put in enough hours for a medical assistant certificate, which gives them a head-start on snagging better-paying health care jobs. Other students are inspired to become doctors or nurses.

No, it’s not an ideal solution. But it’s certainly creative and effective. And that’s a start.

 


Sucking Up All the Oxygen

The biggest story in America right now — not the biggest Latino-themed story, but the most talked-about news item, period — is the humanitarian crisis at the border. As we all know, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants — many of them children — are massed in overrun detention centers, awaiting their fate.

Meanwhile, whole towns of god-fearin’ Americans are making it clear that they don’t want no stinkin’ illegals in their neighborhood.

140703-murrieta-jms-1658_1ca57b1759c2c10acdea96c921643599

Yes, this is the latest, most impressive imbroglio over immigration. And in the minds of many Americans, all immigrants are undocumented, all undocumented people are Hispanic, and all Hispanics are undocumented immigrants. It’s a nice little A=B=C theorem.

But the funny thing is that there are 11.7 undocumented migrants in the U.S. By comparison, the overall U.S. Hispanic population is 53 million. Although “immigration is the issue most associated with Latinos…it is not necessarily the most interesting issue to Latinos.” One could argue, in fact, that “most Latinos would probably love not to have to deal with it.”

Indeed, Pew Research says that the top issues for Hispanics are education, jobs and the economy, healthcare, the federal government debt, and (in fifth place) immigration. Even among Hispanic immigrants themselves, only one-third say immigration is an extremely important issue to them personally.

The discrepancy between immigration’s status in the media and its actual importance to the Hispanic community has provoked some Hispanic leaders to say that immigration “occupies almost all the Latino policy agenda, sucking up…all the oxygen on Latino issues.”

Latino leaders say that Hispanics “need to strike a better balance” and not allow immigration to stifle “the Latino agenda for the 21st century. We have to get to the point where we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and focus on other things like discrimination, education, and the infrastructures in our communities.”

It’s a fair point. But immigration is not going away as a media hot topic anytime soon. It’s been pointed out that whether “we are talking about health care or voting rights, there are those who keep inserting immigration into the mix, whether it pertains to a particular issue or not – and normally in a detrimental way.”

And let’s not forget that the media “tends to reduce our diversity down to one issue [and] treat us all as perpetual immigrants.” 

But just you wait, someday soon a national Latino leader will be invited to a Sunday morning news program, and he or she will be asked about the deficit or the Israeli-Palestinian problem or guns in schools or whether the president should be impeached for wearing white after Labor Day or whatever.

And nobody will mention immigration. And it will be pretty cool.

 


The Best of Intentions

President Obama recently held a town-hall meeting to pitch the finer points of the Affordable Care Act to Latinos. And when I say, “the finer points,” I mean that he basically said, “This is driving me nuts. You should be signing up in droves.”

But Hispanics are doing no such thing, and despite the fact that “the Latino population is disproportionately uninsured and relatively young… enrollment hasn’t been going well.” This is because, like all things related to the Obamacare rollout, things were botched and fumbled.

Fumble

For example, “instead of starting with what would resonate with Latinos, outreach campaigns were developed in English for English-speaking audiences,” with the result that Obamacare details and benefits were not “directed particularly at the Latino population.”

Even more alarming, many Hispanics are under the mistaken impression “that signing up for the Affordable Care Act could get family members deported.”

So now some of Obama’s biggest supporters — who also stand to benefit greatly from the ACA, and who are also more likely than most Americans to be uninsured, and who are more at risk for some particularly vexing diseases – are cowering in fear rather than bum rushing the registration desks and swamping the ACA website.

It’s a cruel irony, and one that could have been easily avoided, if the Obama administration had put as much effort into proper outreach as they do in fending off right-wing attacks.

But a quick and easy solution isn’t coming. Indeed, at Obama’s town hall, “as the questions came, some of the challenges the president and his administration face in selling the health care law were brought into focus.”

Hopefully, they got the message.

 


Double Agents

So it looks like many of the bugs have been worked out, and Obamacare is more or less chugging along.

Or is it?

questionmark

According to some commentators, the key to the ACA’s ultimate success or failure is, as with many aspects of American society, none other than Latinos.

This is because “as the youngest, fastest growing, and least likely demographic in the United States to be insured,” Hispanics “represent a huge opportunity to inject a broad swath of young, healthy adults into the healthcare system.”

However, a mix of “cultural barriers, mixed-status families, and the delayed launch of Spanish-language enrollment tools” could limit “efforts to encourage Hispanics to get coverage.”

So will Latinos accomplish what the GOP could not? Could Hispanics kill Obamacare? 

Well, I find that hard to believe, since Latinos are among the biggest supporters of so-called socialized medicine. Unless, of course, we have been GOP spies all along who are intent on undermining Obamacare from the inside.

Wow, that’s either the best or the worst political thriller of all time.

 


Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

So once upon a time, and by that I mean just a few months ago, it looked like comprehensive immigration reform was going to happen, and soon. After all, you had Democrats fresh off an election triumph. And Republicans had finally caught on that you don’t repeatedly insult the fastest-growing demographic in America (Latinos) and expect to win.

But then government shutdowns and botched healthcare websites and Ted Cruz all happened. And now we have reached the point where people are asking, “Hey, whatever happened to that whole immigration reform thingy?”

girl-shrugging

The answer is that all that forward momentum was “no match for the absurd illogic of today’s Washington, where political imperatives, voter preferences, and even the desires of moneyed interests are powerless to move House Republicans off a default stance of ‘no.’”

So there you have it. I’m glad we spent all that time and energy on something so very, very doomed.

 


Up and Running

As we know, the Affordable Care Act went into effect this month.

So-called Obamacare “is particularly critical to Latinos, who have the highest rate of being uninsured in the nation.”

Yes, about nine million more Hispanics will now be eligible for health insurance, and this thought terrifies the Republican Party, which sees nine million more voters who will think positively of the Democratic Party.

So we just had to have this shutdown nonsense, so that the GOP could stop its collective foot and scream, “Socialism!” one more time, for nostalgia’s sake.

boehner

Interestingly, many Americans blame the Democrats for this mess. While I have my own issues with the Democrats, which I’ve written about in the past, I am stumped over how this cannot be construed as a 100% GOP-manufactured crisis.

As many people have pointed out, the ACA passed Congress, was signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and put into effect. That’s the way our country works.

We don’t say, “Hey, the minority party, which overwhelmingly lost the last election, doesn’t like the law. So we have to negotiate.”

What in fuck’s name is there to negotiate?

It’s the law. Deal with it.

 


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