Yesterday, Marc Kutter came by for a visit. He’s always such a breath of fresh air. We shared some good things. For me, the best was the reminder that I have good men like that as friends.
Marc is in the Healthcare-oriented business, and legislation is going to be pivotal to his company’s success. And, we talked about how life and work should be fun. Meaningful.
This got me to thinking of a fairly recent press conference President Obama lobbed in our general direction. Ironically, he’s fighting with the House over a viable healthcare plan for American citizens. But, they’ve already exempted themselves from having to suffer it themselves. So, I think Obama is fighting a losing battle here (and, we’re going to pay dearly for it). I’ve made this point in an earlier post. You can read it here: healthcare is not for You.
Nonetheless, Marc has inspired me. You should meet him. I suspect he’ll have the same affect on you. So, I’ve crafted and sent a letter to President Obama. I was, in part, also inspired by a not-quite-similar effort, that, in fact, had significant results in it’s own right. You can read here: Berkeley’s Contribution To Terrorism.
In any event, here is my letter. You should feel free to do the same. Cut and paste if you must.
Dear Mr. President,
I watched your recent press conference with great interest – but also dismay. So, perhaps that makes it morbid fascination. But, a direct result of my own agonizing efforts must now include me making a few observations on the healthcare debacle debate that is currently raging in Washington. There’s obviously a lot of limp-writed hanky waving concern over to make healthcare affordable. And, for very good reason. This nation of ours is arguably the wealthiest on the planet, but almost a third of it’s citizens can’t afford decent healthcare that could, at least, be on-par with second-world countries (like Canada or Sweden).
One metaphor you leveraged over the course of your speech, in comparing what we have now, to what some of our allies (Sweden, Great Britain, for example) have, was to talk about how, if my neighbor bought a car and I bought a similar car, and then found out my neighbor’s car cost $6,000.00 less, I’d want to know how I could get that deal.
…wait… Before I get too far down this road, I have to wonder why you don’t compare the average citizens healthcare options as they relate to your own, and those of the House and Senate?
In any event, that analogy got me thinking about the cars that I’ve owned, and why and how I came to own them. From there, I started thinking about my Dad, and the cars we had when I was growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My Dad always used to say that his mother, my Grandma (not to be confused with my Nana 0n Mom’s side), apparently always knew the precise moment to get rid of her car and buy a new one; just before every major system in the car needed to be repaired or replaced. He knew this from personal experience, because as a young man in a large family he was the “beneficiary” of the old car, and those expensive repairs ended up being his headache.
Dad had some interesting stories about some of Grandma’s older cars. There was the car with the hole in the floor of the back seat, through which he and siblings liked to drop pebbles through as they drove. There was another that didn’t make left turns, so they had to plan all of their shopping trips very carefully so they could get home. And, there was another car that had no reverse gear, so that he had to leave a note on the car windshield politely asking to be given an exemption from tickets due to this extenuating circumstance.
That type of experience had a profound experience on my Dad. When he first entered the Air Force he bought a brand new sports car. But, it broke down a lot. So, he sorted out it made more sense to buy used cars, of certain makes and models, after someone proved they were reliable.
In listening to those stories – and, I really listened carefully, I worked hard to not have my own “Grandma’s Old Car” experience. I always had a job. In fact, I’ve an entrepreneur most of my life, starting when I was twelve, with my own lawn care company. That makes for great experience. You should have tried that yourself – having a real job (before you were handed the Presidency), I mean. It probably would have come in useful in terms of being able to make solid decision, based upon example. So, I’ve always save my money and learned to appreciate it’s best uses. I bought all of my own cars, including an 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. And, I took care of them.
My Dad was one of the highest decorated Air Force Officers of his era. Military officers in the 1970′s did not make a lot of money, by any measure. Dad decided to retire from the Air Force in 1980, mostly because Mom was on her last legs (so, we thought), and dying of cancer. She managed to hang-on for awhile (no thanks to our insurance company). However, Grandma did decide to pass away around that time… and, left us a car. I did not care (about the car, Grandma was cool enough). But, Dad would no longer have access to his Command Staff vehicle, so he needed a new (or different) car. My brother Greg, did not like to work, and college for him would be looming soon. So, Dad had to save money. He asked me for my beloved Karmann Ghia. In return, I became the “lucky” recipient of Grandma’s old car. I was just in college at Radford University the time (on a Cross Country scholarship), and the only thing lucky about that car was that my dorm was across across the street from a kind and extremely honest auto mechanic, who very quickly became one of my newer best friend. By the way… Freshmen at Radford were not supposed to have cars. But, never mind that. That was only a rule. In any event, the the car was a 1966 Cadillac that got about 5 miles to a gallon of gasoline, and required a major repair approximately every 100 miles. After about ten months (and countless adventures I’ll never dare recount in writing), I came to the same realization that my Dad had come to years earlier: a free car is not necessarily a bargain.
Even my auto mechanic was thrilled when I bought a Fiat X-19 (but, for different reasons).
Mr. President, you’re a busy man. Keeping Oprah entertained and Michelle and her own Mom out of the Oval Office is distracting, I’m sure. So I’ll just cut to the chase here… When you became President of the United States (or, “POTUS”), you became the proud owner of responsible for the “Grandma’s Old Car” of healthcare systems. No matter how you try to fix it, it’ll be a broken-down, worn out, more dangerous than useful, and more costly to fix than a useful replace system. It will cost us buckets full of money. It will cost you boat-loads of political capital. It won’t get you – or more importantly, United States citizens – where we need to go in terms of improving the health. And, you’ll end up having to replace it anyway. Or – it could very well kill your Presidency, and you’ll be the guy who didn’t get healthcare for the American people because you and the Congress were just too attached to the old system. Or, worse, you could not lead by example, and were followed by the House and Senate.
In a way, I actually understand. I see things in ways others don’t want to look. Oddly, I loved Grandma’s Old Car (I loathe what our healthcare system is killing people around me I’ve protected all of my life), but it was killing me financially, and quite frankly, it could have gotten me killed literally if it had broken down in the wrong place at the wrong time (well… It did do that a number of times. But, each time was another road to a great adventure. But, most citizens don’t need that sort of drama in their lives). So I did what was necessary. I gritted my teeth; did my homework; junked the old car (and, the Fiat); and, allowed me to stop living my life as an indentured servant to my car.
Mr. President, the American people can learn to work with a new system. You and Congress need to drive the same car we do. And, we need to stop living our lives as indentured servants to our insurance companies. We need you and the Congress to grit your teeth, do your homework, and get rid of our old, broken-down, worn out, more dangerous than useful, and more costly to fix than replace healthcare system, and introduce something entirely new. The old system with a few cosmetic changes just isn’t going to get us where we need to go as a country. Yet, as I prepare this letter, the headlines are screaming: Democrates begin discussing smaller health Bill.
You are not leading us. Certainly not by example. By the way… The next letter you get from me is around the way you are letting veterans (and, their families) be treated by the Veterans Administration.
You know it, Congress knows it, and the American people surely know it. We elected you because we wanted that “Change We Can Believe In” you thumped your chest over. Look… If the Republicans and the Blue Dogs want to moan and cry about the cost of a public option Mr. President, then call their bluff and give us a single payer system like my Canadian friends, for example, and cousins have. It works (certainly better than what you have on the table for us), they love it – actually no, they don’t love it, they take it for granted. It’s something they feel they are entitled to as Canadians. And everyone is covered for what you already know is a very reasonable and affordable cost. It might help if we we weren’t financially bailing our criminal bankers and a scandal-wracked financial system. How about re-directing a lot of those funds into quality of life systems.
Once people experience health CARE as opposed to health INSURANCE, the debate will be over and the people who made healthcare for all a reality for the American people will be national heroes.
Lead us. First by example. Then by executive decision. It’s what Thomas Jefferson designed the Constitution around.
You can do it Mr. President. “Yes You Can”.
Patriotically – and, on behalf of my Brothers and Sisters. Because this is what Prudent but Optimistic Gentlemen do.
Brian Patrick Cork