DISCLAIMER: The Zamboni Lady is not a doctor, nor does she play one on TV. She is, simply, a busybody who wants to know everyoneelse’s business. The advice, while well-meant, is not meant to substitute for legal advice or protection, indicate a definitive way to live one’s life, or in any way imply that you should take her advice any more seriously than you would the advice of the bestie of your bestie, given out over a long and tear-soaked evening of nachos and margaritas.
Dear Zamboni Lady,
Do Zamboni drivers need a license?
Signed, Not a Scofflaw
It depends on what you want the Zamboni driver to do. A Zamboni driver needs a license to:
- Have a pet
- Cut and/or color hair
- Sell liquor
- Mass-distribute software
- Sell real estate
- Broadcast media
- Drive a car
But, a Zamboni driver doesn’t need a license to drive a Zamboni. For that, you simply need grit, determination, and the willingness to see a job through to its brutal, bloody end.
Dear Zamboni Lady,
How can we make people understand that universal health care is not part of a communist plot to undermine American values?
Signed, A Komrade
Many versions of universal health care—particularly in Europe—evolved after the end of World War II, when Europeans had to rebuild their various societies from the ground up. Governments looked at what was left standing and who needed help in what way and realized, rich or poor, young or old, employed or un-, the devastation of war affected everyone and everyone deserved, if nothing else, the right to medical treatment. So the violent dismantling of society caused society to remantle (yes, I made it up) itself with compassion and concern for the larger concept of community. These traits seem to be lacking in modern America’s value system.
The problem with the word “community” is that it sounds an awful lot like “communist”, largely because they are derived from the same root, the Latin communis ”in common, public, general, not pretentious, shared by all or many.” Universal health care requires a broad sense of community-mindedness, broad in its fundamental principle that all people ought to have access to health care if for no other reason than that a healthy citizenry means…well…a healthy citizenry. And, it’s non-judgmental and non-discriminatory. With universal health care in place you can’t say, “Hey, if you wanted to engage in high-risk behaviors, you should have known what the potential consequences were.” Under the current American system you should never smoke, drink, engage in unprotected sex, rock-climb, swim in an ocean, drink from aluminum cans, have a troubled youth, use fluoride toothpaste, escape from an oppressive political regime, eat tainted peanut butter, get a yeast infection, use a band saw, paint the window sills on the second floor of your house, drive, fly, or have a baby unless you can find some way to obtain health insurance OR pay for it all out of pocket. Not all medical incidents come about as the result of risky behaviors and even if they did…so what? Our lives are not about sitting in a stress-free environment all day, subsisting on a nutrient drip. Our lives are messy; people fall down, fall ill, have hammers fall on their heads, need glasses, chip teeth, get high blood pressure, and it’s often through nobody-in-particular’s fault. Who am I to deny someone the right to medical treatment, for whatever ills befall them? In the greater sense of community, is it better to make sure the person with the hammer sticking out of his head gets proper treatment, or is it better for him to try to function—work—drive a car—with a gaping head wound-slash-concussion?
And, we engage in community-based behavior all the time, even if we don’t realize it. For example, I am childless, by choice, and part of that decision was made thanks to my internal realization that I don’t want to surrender my autonomy to the demands of a child. However, that doesn’t mean I resent any portion of my tax money going to support the local school system. Why do I care if the schools are in decent condition, since I don’t have any kids there? Because it’s better to have an educated society. I drive, but I’m not expected to keep my portion of the street patched—the local government does that for me. And I’m happy to contribute to farm subsidies that help keep food reasonably priced and smaller farmers in business. These are all functions that serve the betterment of the community at large, even if they bring me no personally profitable benefit.
I’ve heard all the rhetoric, that universal health care is Big Government, and Sarah Palin was word-vomiting about death panels a while back, but here’s the thing: this logic? Is ass-backwards. Death panels already exist in the health care system, thanks to the committees that approve or deny coverage for treatments. They hide behind the statement, “We don’t deny care, we deny payment.” As though, for the significant portion of the American populace who can barely afford a doctor’s visit without insurance coverage, there is any difference. And Big Government is the government that limits freedom of movement by binding people to their jobs because employers provide health insurance—and even if it’s crappy, in today’s America bad insurance is better than no insurance at all. Bad Government is the government that resigns its citizenry’s well-being to the dictates of an industry, because that industry has lobbyists that put money in government’s Big pockets.
Would there be insurance cheats under a universal system? Sure, probably, though the total expenditure of fraudulent claims would probably be nowhere near the $85 billion paid to just one insurance company, AIG, in bailout money in 2008. Would non-US-citizens benefit from a US universal health care system? Sure, probably, much like Americans benefit from cheap drugs from Canada or an efficient health system when travelling abroad (true story: friends were in Paris when their little girl got chicken pox; a house call from a doctor and all necessary medicines set them back something like 30 euro, or about fifty bucks. Can you imagine a house call costing fifty bucks?). But what would also hold true is that there will be more opportunity for people to get treated with dignity, as the question of the ability to pay is removed.
Much of the espoused American value system stems from the Declaration of Independence, which says that “…all men are created equal, that they have been endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…[of] life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Universal health care would support these values, not undermine them. Life: OK, that’s pretty self-explanatory. Liberty: Health care would remove the invisible chains that bind a person to a job in order to retain their health benefits, which could then allow them to Pursue their Happiness. If we are to hold as true that all men are created equal, then we should also hold as true that all men deserve equal access to medical care, not just the ones with the most staying power in a job, or the ones with the most money. That undermines the aforementioned value system much more thoroughly than universal health care ever could.
Dear Zamboni Lady,
What pretension to knowledge or supreme ego do you have such that you believe that you can dispense advice to the rest of us?
You certainly give me much to think about. Why do I think I’ve got answers? What sort of ego has coaxed this out of me? How can I justify making these sorts of presumptions? And the more I thought about it, the more it boiled down to just one thing:
‘cause it’s my microphone, bitch. BOO-YAH!