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, it’s 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.
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