Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

Thinking about us

Posted by boakley59 on October 20, 2009

Oct. 14, 2009: I’ve been a bit caught up in my own little worries these days, and in thinking about how the way we live is Simply not good enough. It’s a little uncomfortable to constantly find myself to be the easiest example to cite for the kind of inadequacies I wish we all would worker harder to overcome. Indulge me for a moment while I atone for the latest slip.

Dad, I’m sorry I almost didn’t notice it’s your birthday. Today would have made 88. I sure miss you, and Mom keeps your memory alive every day. I’ve been thinking about you a lot these days, but today almost slipped by and I wish I had a good reason why. But I just wasn’t paying attention. So, go easy on me as usual and hear the heartache as I say, “Happy birthday; I miss you; I love you.”

Here’s what hurts about almost forgetting Dad’s birthday: It means I am forgetting about people, even the most important people in my life. How can I worry about, care about or help people I don’t even know when I can’t honor those closest to me, either in the moment or in memory?

This is the fatal indifference in our national discussion of health-care reform: We are not thinking of or talking about people.

We talk incessantly about how costs are too high and how rules are devised to prevent coverage and whose benefits are going to be reduced under which proposed change. That’s all about profits and who gets the best slice of the pie. The issue is this: People die before they should in our system. It is rotten at its core, because the value is placed on the bureaucracy, on the pie, rather than on the lives of the people. We ultimately need a one-for-all system, call it socialism if you will, for a simple reason: Only a system overseen by the government, which in these United States means by all of us, will put people before profit.

As the insurance industry’s own report has recently demonstrated, anything less means a for-profit industry will raise its prices to maintain or increase its profits, patients be damned. A for-profit insurance industry dealing with a fee-for-service care industry must work this way, because the bank balance, not the mortality rate, is the measure of success.

Let’s not be so caught up in costs that we forget the price. We have just spent hundreds of billions of dollars to save dying businesses (we’ll not discuss whether they were crooked, suicidal or otherwise unworthy of salvation), but now we want to watch our pennies when it comes to saving dying people?

Today, as I think lovingly of one good man, I hope his memory will help keep the family of man in my heart.


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