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Dane: So Yuji, what’s with this yuai thing Hatoyama keeps talking about?

Yuji: Who knows? I ‘m not interested in Japanese politics. It’s boring.

Dane: Usually I’d agree with you, but this time it looks like it’s getting interesting.

Yuji: Yeah, maybe so. I might have an answer for you in a week or so. Right now I’m really interested in what’s going on in your country.

Dane: Oh, you mean Ichiro!

Yuji: Ichiro? Forget-about-it! I know all I need to know about the Mariner slugger. What I don’t understand is this crazy stuff about health care. What‘s going on with that?

Dane: Obama is trying to improve it.

Yuji: What’s wrong with it?

Dane: It’s one of the worst of all the advanced countries. W.H.O. ranked the U.S. No. 37.

Yuji: I thought America had the best medical treatment in the world.

Dane: They do. The rich get the best treatment in the world, the insured get decent service, but the poor and uninsured are lucky to get any treatment.

Yuji: So what’s wrong with the system?

Dane: It’s pretty confusing.

Yuji: Make it simple for me. What is health care reform?

Dane: Very simply, its a plan to make medical care available to all Americans.

Yuji: What kind of health insurance do Americans have now?

Dane: Private insurance companies, mostly through their work place.

Yuji: What’s wrong with that?

Dane: If they lose their job, they lose their insurance and they can’t get health care.

Yuji: Can’t they buy it on their own?

Dane: Yes, if they’re rich enough.

Yuji: But people who have insurance are OK, aren’t they?

Dane: No. The insurance companies charge a lot and they cut payments.

Yuji: What do you mean, cut payments?

Dane: They have something called “pre-existing conditions”.

Yuji: What’s that?

Dane: They won’t pay for anything you had before.

Yuji: What are you talking about?

Dane: For example; If you had a serious cough when you were a kid, and now you get pneumonia they refuse to pay for your treatment.

Yuji: How do they know you had it before?

Dane: They have lots of investigators who look everywhere for that information.

Yuji: If they don’t find anything they pay, don’t they?

Dane: It depends. They only pay what they think it should cost, not what the hospital actually charges.

Yuji: Who pays the rest?

Dane: The patient. And… they can stop payment any time they think your treatment is getting too expensive.

Yuji: What happens if you can’t pay?

Dane: You die. And that’s the situation for people who have insurance!

Yuji: How many people don’t have it?

Dane: Forty-seven million.

Yuji: 47,000,000? Since when?

Dane: Since forever. Several presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have been trying to make a law guaranteeing medical coverage for everyone.

Yuji: Since World War Two?

Dane: Not that Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt, in 1912.

Yuji: Good God, that’s a hundred years! So what’s the problem?

Dane: Every time they try to make a new law, congress kills it.

Yuji: What kind of monsters would be against health care?

Dane: The insurance and medical industries, the Republican party and the Rednecks.

Yuji: Who are the Rednecks?

Dane: Low income, white, radical Christians, mostly in the countryside.

Yuji: Most of the people I saw protesting on TV sure looked like Rednecks.

Dane: Yes, those are the Town Hall Meeting mobs.

Yuji: What’s a Town Hall Meeting.

Dane: During the summer, congressmen go to their home districts and meet the people at town halls. This year they’re explaining Health Care Reform.

Yuji: Why would poor people be against it?

Dane: What do you think?

Yuji: Cost? They don’t want to pay more taxes.

Dane: Yes, that’s one reason.

Yuji: But if they’re poor they don’t pay much tax anyway. I can maybe understand why the rich people would be against it; but these guys?

Dane: Yeah, that’s the crazy part.

Yuji: And what are all those slogans?

“Down with Big Government”?

Dane: They don’t like big government. But they do support a large military.

Yuji: “Don’t Mess With My Health Care”?

Dane: They don’t trust the government to do a good job. Quality will go down.

Yuji: Pictures of Obama dressed like Hitler or Stalin?

Dane: Obama is trying to take away their freedom with health care reform.

Yuji: “Stop Socialism”? What’s wrong with socialism?

Dane: In America socialism and communism are the two great anti-Christian evils – like Islamic Jihad.

Yuji: What’s Health Care Reform got to do with socialism?

Dane: They agree that government police, firefighters and military are all democratic institutions, but for some reason they believe government health care is socialist.

Yuji: “We Won’t Support Slackers”?

Dane: Hard working taxpayers (whites) would have to pay for lazy welfare people (blacks).

Yuji: “Terrorist in the White House”?

Dane: Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.

Yuji: Pictures of Kim Jong Il?

Dane: First government health care, then something else, and then one day America will be just like North Korea.

Yuji: “You lie!”?

Dane: That’s what a redneck congressman yelled out in congress when Obama said there would be no health care for illegal aliens. Heckling the president in congress is a big taboo.

Yuji: “Obama Baby Killer”?

Dane: They say Christians would be taxed to pay for abortions.

Yuji: “Death Panels”?

Dane: Obama wants insurance to pay to consult with the doctor when a patient is near death.

Yuji: So, what’s wrong with that?

Dane: They say he wants to decide who can live and who must die.

Yuji: But that’s all crazy talk! Except for maybe the government not doing a very good job.

Dane: Exactly!

Yuji: How many Americans are against reform?

Dane: Probably about half. 45.6% of voters chose McCain.

Yuji: Do you think Obama can get it into law?

Dane: Not unless he stops trying to reason with madmen.

Yuji: Are your boys OK? Do they have medical insurance?

Dane: No, but they have a good ambulance system that guarantees them affordable health care.

Yuji: Ambulance? What kind of ambulance?

Dane: A 747 Jumbo jet that will fly them straight to Japan if they ever get sick.

© Dane Degenhardt, Monde Dane, 2009