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SPOTLIGHT
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What would you change, if you could?

Published on -2/14/2013, 9:53 AM

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I watched the Letterman show last week, when Chris Christie pulled a sticky doughnut out of his pocket and took a bite in Letterman's face. His attitude was so apparent: "You think I'm fat? Here's what I think about you thinking about my fat!"

It's Christie's charm that he'll face down a bully, wherever he finds one. He does not suffer fools who speculate. He has the confidence to claim his individuality and defy those who dare take a swipe at him, as Letterman has done.

I laughed about it the next day, actually, while I was finding The Hays Daily News article about the number of people who think we should just let those with bad habits die from their weaknesses. As that theory goes, smokers and the morbidly obese, along with addicts and the disabled, are drains on the health care system and if they die sooner, no problem. At least we're not paying for their health care.

How cynical and sanctimonious.

It is possible to accept the anomalies of nature as natural in themselves. A natural system addresses every need and recognizes every person, without qualification.

Scientists have discovered it is possible to manipulate enzymes and change the sequences in our DNA that are markers for addiction or disease. The question rises: If you could, would you remove the addiction? Would you cure obesity? Alzheimer's? Cancer?

There are no clear lines of acceptability, so is it still an abomination to change DNA? Would you have a Beethoven or a Matisse or a Thoreau if you did? Was Joan D'Arc inspired or schizophrenic?

The health care debate brings forward the argument of personal freedom. The self-determined say "It's my life, it's my death, mind your own darn business." Society influences these things by popular consensus. I remember when there were ashtrays in the doctor's office waiting room, and watched education over time change the attitudes toward tobacco.

It's impossible to make a logical reach to subsidizing tobacco farms, but there you have it. We subsidize tobacco, we tax it, we legislate it, we have created an environment of antipathy against its use -- and we still have smokers.

The scientific community is vigilant in changing attitudes, but surely it's important to note that while we whip up the dogs to fight tobacco addiction we also are paying for its survival as an industry.

We do the same thing with fast food and genetically engineered food products that may or may not have an impact on obesity or cancer. We haven't demanded enough that these products are objectively studied, but it's OK to complain about Fatty McFat and consider imposing restrictions on Fatty's health care. The current system of health care delivery operates under a strange morality that allows the cruelty of denying care to anyone while building the environment that makes them sick.

The system is built for profit and not for anybody's actual health. When the single payer option was taken off the table in the national health care bill, it became a given that taxpayer money spent on corporate bureaucracy is preferable to spending that money on the actual taxpayers.

Is health care a privilege or a right? The system rises from the public wealth, either way. If public tax money is being spent on the continuation of the monumental, corporate health care system, bloated as it is with middlemen and hedge funders, then shouldn't everyone automatically get the same share of the pie? The business model to our health care system fails because we pay in but we are not shareholders.

Which kind of bureaucracy do you want, a public service or a corporate behemoth? Which one has real oversight? The natural system is one that addresses every need and is productive. We don't have that. Everyone pays in but not everyone has care.

We have a system built on penalty. If you can't pay the company you suffer.

If you're ever the person sitting in a doctor's office with no insurance card to hand in, those attitudes and influences get personal. Those who cannot pay do not get the same health care as those in the system, and are often charged more. Those without membership can forget the doctor, preventative measures, pharmacy, continuing care or hospice. Even those with membership are given a rutty playing field when their insurance can change the terms at any time, for any reason.

What about the right to life, then?

It's disingenuous to assert that anybody really cares about the actual health issues. Chris Christie can eat all the doughnuts he wants, he has insurance and we've already paid for the corn syrup solids in his snacks. Smokers pay extra taxes, paying forward for the future inconveniences of bad health. Drugs with heinous side effects don't need further review. Monsanto can dominate the ag industry engineering the seed and producing the chemicals that kill pests and weeds that evolve past the engineering. Money is being made and that's the important thing.

It is a hypocritical morality that inhibits real health, but we accept the ethical compromise under the guise of economic stability.

It's a sham argument. We can demand more for ourselves. It's our money they're throwing around.

Mary Hart-Detrixhe is a lifelong resident of the prairie and Ellis county. Her work can be found at www.janeQaverage.com.

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