I know, I have shamefully neglected this poor blog, committing a Cardinal Blogging Sin. Came home from a twelve-day trip that was wonderful in many ways but almost devoid of moments of leisure, particularly leisure moments that came equipped with internet access, to find the poor blog wilting in its pot from lack of attention. Bad Blogger, Starhawk! No treats for you!
On my trip I was in Canada, that land suffering under the strangle-grip of a government run health care system. Now, in my professional calling I feel an obligation to educate, illuminate and occasionally inspire people, which I did with great purpose and stamina on the trip. But deep inside, I still harbor an unrehabilitated adolescent delight in shocking people. When I was an adolescent, right on that liminal edge when the early sixties of beehive hairdos and masklike makeup transformed into the Sixties, shocking people was easy. I remember walking down Santa Monica Boulevard in West L.A. one spring day in 1966 in a simple poncho I had whipped up myself on my mother’s sewing machine. My curly hair was loose, unrated, natural—and people were stopping their cars to stare. Or standing on Highway One near Big Sur in the Summer of Love in a black, lacy Mexican blouse, a long, blue wools skirt (also made by moi) dotted with scorch marks and burn holes, and a black pea coat from a thrift store. Tourists from Missouri pulled over to take my picture, first carefully locking all their little children into the car.
Now, in the post-Sixties, post punk era, shocking people is really tough. As a graying, middle-aged woman, I just can’t compete with the pink Mohawks, nipple-ring displayers, tattooed and scarified youth that roam the streets looking for the alien space bar in Star Wars. But in Canada, I found an infallible way to bring out goose bumps.
All I had to do was tell my Canadian friends how much I pay for health insurance each month. “My health insurance costs $850 a month,” I would say, and jaws would fall open, forks would drop and flesh grow clammy.
And then, to follow it up, I could show my scar. My scar is a delicate line across my right knee. Last May, I tripped and fell in the chicken yard up at the ranch, and split my knee open. David, my partner, went all manly and paternal and insisted on bundling me into the car and taking me to the nearest emergency room, a mere hour and half away. I’m been in Himalayan villages with closer health care facilities—but hey, we didn’t have to go by yak! The doctor gave me five stitches, and the knee healed quickly and cleanly.
The bill? A mere $1200.
So, on this morning when I finally have a moment to revive the blog and when the Senate has finally voted a health care bill out of committee, I can rest easy knowing that our fearless legislators will protect me from that evil—a nationalized health care system, like my poor Canadian friends, who get treated for free. Granted, they pay for it their taxes, and we all know that taxes are evil. If I paid for my health care through my taxes, I might pay less when my income goes down, whereas in our system my insurance company can exercise its constitutionally protected freedom to raise my premiums as it did this year by $100 a month whether my income goes down or up. And I’m free to continue paying, on top of the insurance costs, for my eye care, dental care and all my medications, independently and with none of that pesky government interference.
And my friends who are less fortunate than I? They are free, too. No one can force them to go get their teeth cleaned, their eyes checked, to spend their hard-earned cash getting a dermatologist to look at that questionable mole that seems to have expanded or to waste their precious time getting yearly pap smears or blood pressure checks.
Just as long as they don’t decide to refuse that new swine flu vaccine…