There were all these articles this week about “hipsters” using their food stamps to buy organic food. The outrage! The terror! Why didn’t they buy Cheez-Whiz and Coke like a real American.
Maybe unrelated to some people, there was also this story about a 600-pound woman aiming to hit the record 1,000 -pound mark.
Now, I get it — or if I didn’t, those internet commentators certainly showed me: “you bust your ass,” “why don’t they get a job,” “my taxes,” etc. [Side note, I’ve never met anyone who actually busted their ass, other than my mom. Most people show up. Their abilities are vastly underutilized and they rarely work as hard as they could. Then they get paid. I’ve never met a real live internet commentator either.]
But here’s the thing: for every story about a woman trying to eat herself to 1,000 pounds (I can’t believe she’s not pulling a Balloon Boy here, because I totally would just make this shit up) which obviously proves we shouldn’t provide universal healthcare, there’s a story about a boy dying from a molar infection that rots into his brain, because he didn’t have insurance to go to the dentist.
I don’t think we get to decide who is and is not worthy of our help.
Otherwise, we could set up panels that decide who gets to live and who gets to die. Let’s just call them death panels. Oh. Right.
That’s even assuming you can, in some way, truly quantify someone’s decisions as worthy or not. What’s that thing from those Chicken Soup books about Hilter being an upstanding citizen other than all the killing, and Churchill being a womanizer, heavy-drinker and smoker.
What we do is we establish rules and those that meet them get our support.
I went to public clinics as a kid. I got food from food stamps. What if someone had gotten to decide that my dad, an actor, didn’t have a real enough job. That my parents should have worked their asses off more. What if when I went to the health clinic they said I hadn’t taken good enough care of myself, it was my own fault, too bad.
Yes, the 1000-pound woman might get healthcare coverage if we had universal healthcare (though if you think you’re not paying the costs of that already in food subsidies to keep her food cheap and insurance premiums because preventative care is so unincentivized in our system that people have no reason to take care of themselves, then you’re wrong), but so would the little boy. Yes, you get to buy what you want on food stamps, and people have actually worked hard to expand the list of items available for purchase within WIC. You get the personal responsibility to make whatever decisions you want.
And no one gets to decide which decisions are more worthwhile.
That’s what makes America great.