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When Nutjobs Attack...Twelve-Year-Olds? [10/11/2007 04:08:00 PM]:
Nice, all you right-wing whackjob guys (and gals -- no, I'm not forgetting about you, Michelle Malkin), real nice. In order to combat Democratic PR about how the Prez is giving the finger to poor kids, what do you do? You smack down a twelve-year-old and his family, setting off a firestorm of hatred and vitriol that has people calling their home and declaring that they should be publicly hanged. Beautiful.

Of course, what can I really expect from a party that'll happily savage their own when it serves their needs (Senator McCain, has your amnesia about the 2000 elections worn off yet?) and even throw a working officer in our intelligence services under the wheels of the train when their husband does something they don't like? Still, this is low even for these assholes. You guys got all up in arms because MoveOn put out an ad about the top general in Iraq -- a guy who, frankly, is old enough to be able to stand up for himself and probably thinks the whole thing is laughable -- but you've got no problem attacking a kid? Pathetic.

To top it all off, the Frost family has it right when they point out that it's a technique meant to distract from the real issue, which is that the State Children's Health Insurance Program helps people when they're in need -- and the Frosts are in need, believe it. These folks are only sporadically employed -- the husband's a woodworker and the wife works part-time at a medical publishing company. They may not be dirt-poor and living in boxes, but they make little enough between 'em that they qualify for the Maryland program, no matter how much that irks all the bad-tempered Red Staters out there.

And so the hell what if their house is worth money? Does that mean all conservatives think that if you get into financial trouble, heck, you'd better up and move? That's idiotic. I'll tell you right now that if I were to lose my job and something catastrophic were to happen to my daughter, I'd sell our home as an absolute last resort; instead, I would use any and all programs I could find to help her get better. Anybody would; if somebody tells you they'd rather sell off their house to pay medical bills than accept the state's help in footing the bill, they're either a big fat liar or they've got enough cash to not have to worry about it to begin with. Period.

Y'know, it's funny, but the comment from the National Review Online guy, Mark Steyn, is actually kinda telling:

"Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and touch choices. ... But, if this is the face of the 'needy' in America, then no-one is not needy." (emphasis mine)

ding! Mr. Steyn, you win the prize; here's your free toaster. Welcome to the New Republican-Led America, folks (and yes, it is still the Repub-Led America, since the Dems apparently either don't have the spine to fight tooth-and-nail and demonstrate that they're actually in charge of Congress), where even outwardly middle-class people like you, me, and your parents are often about a paycheck away from total financial ruin. Seen the average hospital bill for a major injury or illness lately? If you don't have insurance -- and sometimes even if you do -- then you can kiss it goodbye.

Without programs like SCHIP, people like the Frosts would be paupers. Hell, people like me would be paupers. Here's a case that's a little close to home for me, just to give an example of how bad it can get and just how quick it can happen. My wife's an oilfield brat, and she grew up overseas with one particular family where the kids were her age & the parents were her parents' age; over the years, working the standard oilfield-circle jobs (North Sea, Texas, Norway), they've run into one another regularly and have remained friends. They've had a succession of jobs, and a while back the dad of the family got laid off. He's a skilled guy, so he was able to find a contract position with no problem, but there's was no health insurance.

Knowing that, they figure, "well, we've got to have health insurance," so the wife of the family goes to work part-time at a Barnes & Noble, just so they can get on a health plan there. These folks don't really need the income from both jobs -- they do okay on the dad's paycheck -- but they need the benefits.

Now, the contracting company finds the dad a new job, with one catch: it's in China. He agrees, he flies out there, he's working for a few months, everything's going okay, and then wham, it all falls apart. While he's in China, he's eating junkier food than he would at home -- lots of snacks, lots of candy, that sort of thing -- and it turns out that he's become a full-blown diabetic. The next phone call we get, he's in the hospital in some backwater town in China, and while the Chinese doctors are taking care of him the best they can (for free, I might add), they don't have the equipment or the skills necessary to keep him alive for very long. We're told that they're going to have to amputate his foot, maybe his leg, and that he might well die anyway.

Naturally, as soon as this mess explodes, the contracting company carefully washes their hands of our friend and his family and walks away. So he's left in China on the verge of, at best, losing a limb, and at worst, dying thousands of miles away from his home and his family. Back here in Houston, of course, his wife is at her wits' end -- her husband is in critical condition in a foreign country with nobody there to help him, and what the hell can she do? Luckily, the family was very, very smart to go for the second job at Barnes & Noble, because as luck would have it, B&N and their insurance company handle everything.

Seriously; this episode's made me actually like B&N for the first time in years. They fly a doctor out to China and he accompanies the husband back to the States and takes him straight to a hospital where they get him back to the world. In the end, he loses a toe and that's it; he was extremely fortunate. Of course, emergency medical care like this isn't free, so the bills come rolling in, eventually totaling more than a million dollars. Which, incidentally, these people do not have; who the hell does? These folks are hard-working, mid-to-upper middle class, but even people like that don't tend to have $1 million plus laying around, not even when you add up all their assets.

Happily for them, the insurance company paid for nearly all of it. I don't know exactly how much they ended up having to pay, but it was a relatively small fraction of the total bill. What the heck would've happened, though, if the wife of this family hadn't taken that second job? This New Republican-Led America is also the Land of the Freelance, these days -- there're a lot of people out there right now who don't have any insurance, zip, and who basically spend their days hoping against hope that nothing bad happens to them medically. So it's conceivable that the husband might've just had his job & they could've lived off that. And then he might've died on an operating table somewhere in rural China.

Granted, my little illustration's a bit extreme -- not all of us work overseas, obviously -- but the risk's still there. In the case of the Frosts, they were in a terrible car wreck that left their two children essentially crippled for life. Any idea how much a lifetime of physical therapy costs? How about a couple months in intensive care? It's a hell of a lot more than you can pay when you make $50K a year. That's where programs like SCHIP come in, and it's why they're necessary.

So, to the people who've attacked the Frost family, called them names, threatened their lives, and used them as general whipping-boys: until you've been there, how 'bout shutting the fuck up? Until you've had to sell off your house to pay for the operations your son or daughter needs to function like a human being or take out insane loans to pay for specialized education for your kid because they can no longer read or write, how 'bout you rein in your hatred and self-important rage? I hope you never have to deal with what these folks have dealt with -- no, I wouldn't wish somebody's child got horribly injured like Graeme and Gemma Frost have, not even Limbaugh's, Malkin's, or those wretched Freepers' -- but if you do, maybe then you'll get what SCHIP is for. Welcome to the country where everyone's "needy," folks.

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