October 11, 2013
Before assuming everyone in the country is blindly furious with the partial government shutdown and not about anything else, I'd like to relay some thoughts from middle America. I had a chat today with the least political person I know--my manicurist. (Yes, makes me sound like the 1 percent. I'm not, but I do like pretty nails.)
I'm going to call her Liz, because if I use her real name, the IRS (aka: Thought Police) might come knocking at her door. So, Liz is ticked. And that's putting it mildly. Not at the government shut-down. She couldn't give a rip about that. She's furious about Obamacare.
This is a 38-year-old woman who works hard every day to provide for her three children, and to try to build a better life for them all. She describes herself as part of the middle class. As she says, "I pay my bills. No one pays them for me, and I don't ask the government to take care of me."
Liz doesn't have health insurance. She says, "I know I need it. But right now, I'm healthy and I can't afford it." Last year she went to the doctor once. She paid $80 for the visit, and about $20 for medication. That's $100 she spent last year on her healthcare. (Her kids have coverage through their father's employer.) The last time she saw a doctor before that was six years ago.
So now Liz is being forced to buy something she doesn't want. Something she has made an informed decision that she will go without That's the key: she is informed. She does not have Barack Obama's Ivy League education--she didn't go to college. But she is nobody's fool. She is a smart, savvy, working mom who takes full responsibility for her future.
This is not someone who makes over $250,000 a year. Nor is she someone who would likely qualify for a subsidy because she makes a living. And she is definitely not someone who has a couple hundred bucks left over at the end of the month. If she has anything left over--which isn't much--she socks it away in savings to pay for college for her kids or a down payment on a home someday.
I'm going to stop the commentary and let you hear directly from Liz:
"The system is corrupt, and it's screwing people...Obama can take off that $6,000 suit he's wearing and help pay for my healthcare. Why is it okay for him to tell us what to do with our money, but no one can tell him what to do with his?...If Obamacare is so great, why doesn't he have it? Why don't they all have it?...What happened to our right to decide what we want to spend our money on? Who are they to tell me what to do with my money? Can I tell them what to do with theirs? How about this? I'll send you my W-2 and my monthly bills. You tell me what bills not to pay so I can pay for health insurance...People are going to lose jobs. Businesses can't afford to keep them and pay their insurance...I want to protest in front of the White House. Until the whole world comes, too. This is crap! You can't make us do something. It's our right not to have health insurance. It's our right as Americans. That's why people want to come to America."
So Liz is going to pay the penalty. In part as a protest. But primarily because she can't afford the alternative. And she will just hope that Congress can make a change before the penalties become prohibitive.
But if you see a hard working lady in front of the White House holding a sign over her head that reads: "This is crap!", I bet you anything, it will be Liz. The least political person I know.
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