Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Modest Proposal:: Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

My post from yesterday, titled "It could happen to you, it could happen to me/I don't want my insurance to pay for your stupidity," which I also posted at HuffPo, generated a lot of comments over there, many quite negative.

That's OK, I have a pretty thick skin, and can debate with zeal. But I think that quite a few folks missed the forest while looking at the trees. If I wasn't clear, I accept responsibility. After all, it's my words with which I try and persuade folks.

I almost titled the post "A Modest Proposal" but I thought the reference to Swift would be too obvious. And don't think for a second that I flatter myself by comparing myself to him. He was the Jimi Hendrix of satirists, while I'm just a guy with a guitar.

My point was actually manifold. Here's a story that might help explain:

My grandmother, who died a few years ago, experienced the Depression. It left her, as I'm sure it did many people, with a keen appreciation for going without. She and my grandfather retired comfortably, yet she waited every month for the Social Security check. No problem, she paid into the system. But she also took home cheese and other food products that were government handouts intended for poor people. And this bothered me, especially when she would complain often about "welfare cheats". Her sense of entitlement came from the depression, I guess, but it made me uncomfortable.

And it's that sense of entitlement I was going after. Football player Ben was a dope for going without his helmet, and assuming that other folks in his insurance risk pool would cover his butt. And yes, that's the way insurance works, spreading the risk cost.

But there is an implied contract, that one is going to do one's part, in order to be eligible for recovery. And it pisses me off that injuries like Roethlisberger's, clearly avoidable, make my, and your, insurance premiums go up.

Here's another example of this kind of hypocrisy. I used to have as a client one of Southern California's largest evangelical churches, who made no secret of their right-wing leanings. And in private, many of the folks I knew would talk about Jews, Catholics, other "unsaved" protestants, as all headed for hell. Yet publicly they would acknowledge the scripture that says the Jews are God's chosen people. Why? Because in case they're wrong, and the Jews are indeed going to Heaven, they wanted to hedge their bets. Sheer hypocrisy.

So that was my point about stem cells. If you don't believe in it, that's fine. You can't have any.

And I consider myself a proud liberal. I have certain expectations and beliefs in what a government should do. That includes providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare, among others. And I believe in wide and broad personal freedoms. If you're gonna climb a tree, be careful, don't fall out. If you do, and get hurt, clearly that's what insurance is for. Because stuff happens.

But rights incur responsibilities. The right to drive a car is tempered by the resonsibility to not drive drunk. If you do and get caught, you'll be spanked, deservedly so.

So that was my point. Act as responsible as you are able, and don't take advantage of stuff you don't support.

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