12.02.2006

responsibility

More crazy shit from my country of origin.

People in three West Virginia counties will be asked to sign a pledge in order to receive "enhanced" Medicaid benefits, linking so-called "personal responsibility" to receipt of health care. Idaho and Kentucky are planning similar programs.
Those signing and abiding by the agreement (or their children, who account for a majority of Medicaid patients here) will receive "enhanced benefits" including mental health counseling, long-term diabetes management and cardiac rehabilitation, and prescription drugs and home health visits as needed, as well as antismoking and antiobesity classes. Those who do not sign will get federally required basic services but be limited to four prescriptions a month, for example, and will not receive the other enhanced benefits.

In future years, those who comply fully will get further benefits ("like a Marriott rewards plan," Ms. Atkins said), their nature to be determined but perhaps including orthodontics or other dental services.
Did I hear that right? A Marriott rewards plan? How useful will that be be to a West Virginian poor enough to qualify for Medicaid? (And as a side question, is there anything, anything in the US today not linked to a corporate marketing plan?)

Before you say it's a good idea to link benefits with responsibilities, I'd ask you to indulge in a little daydream. Imagine yourself a Medicaid recipient in West Virginia. Chances are you are a child. Your parent is either unemployed or earns minimum wage: $5.15/hour. A working automobile and a tank of gas are precious goods, not quickly used or easily replaced. Your parents, like you, have had little or no health education. And now your receiving improved health care will be linked to your parents attending classes and making lifestyle changes that are difficult even under optimal conditions. It's very difficult to attend classes if it uses up the gas you need to get to work.

After that daydream, reflect on your own comfortable life, where you receive health care whether or not others approve of your habits and life choices, and where you are free to meet whatever standards you set for yourself.

And finally, imagine the recipients of the largest welfare program on the planet - the US corporate welfare network - where members receive vast subsidies, pay no taxes, and are not held to even minimum standards of social responsibility.

Personal responsibility is an admirable concept. By why is it only the poor who are asked to have any?

If you want people to change their lives, give them the tools they need to do it: jobs that can actually support their families, and public education that actually educates.

All this comes down to is yet another way to punish people for being poor.

* * * *

A few states away in Tennessee, people too lazy to "press 1 for English" are trying to make Nashville an English-only town. Because, dontcha know, "No nation can withstand the antagonism, tension and conflict brought about by multilingualism and multiculturalism." Then why did my high blood pressure disappear when I moved to Canada?**

Of course, Nashville Councilman Eric Crafton, the author of the bill, says that his English-Only plan will "allow [people] the dignity of taking responsibility for their own lives and actions." Yes, it's all about responsibility.

To its credit, the city's Chamber of Commerce opposes the idea.
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, no liberal bastion, opposes the English-Only ordinance. In the view of the Chamber, Crafton's ordinance would "constitute an official policy by Nashville against inclusiveness. Such a policy would have a direct and negative effect on Nashville's ability to attract and retain companies that have an international or multi-ethnic workforce or customer base."
However, the bill may pass over their objections - and soon.

Thanks to Egalia for the news and the link. I love being the all-purpose link to Canada!

What reason number is this again?

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** It's true. Although hypertension and cardiovascular disease run in my family, my high blood pressure has disappeared since I emigrated. During a bad allergy attack in the spring, I suspected my blood pressure medication was contributing to a persistent cough, which is common. I stopped taking the meds - and discovered I no longer needed them. It's been seven months now, and my blood pressure continues to be normal. Not a scientific study, but...

21 comments:

redsock said...

Meanwhile, the US is spending $2 billion in Iraq -- every week.

Hell of a way to run a country ... straight into the ground.

James said...

A large part of this "personal responsibility" thing comes from the influence of various Protestant beliefs -- most especially the "if you're poor, God is punishing you, and if you're rich, God is rewarding you" approach some sects take. Poor people are poor because their sinful, so you can't help them by alleviating their poverty -- that's cutting into God's punishment! You can only help them by making them more virtuous (hence "Personal Responsibility").

Of course, the "virtuous" people are folks like Bill Bennett, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Baker, etc, whose idea of taking "personal responsibility" for their sins is to announce that God's forgiven them, so it's time to move on. (Besides, their rich, so God must approve of them.)

The portrayal of poverty as practically a cardinal sin in and of itself is one of the more interesting perversions of the original Christian preachings.

L-girl said...

James, very good point.

The portrayal of poverty as practically a cardinal sin in and of itself is one of the more interesting perversions of the original Christian preachings.

Yes, and an old one, too, it seems. It's a frequent theme in the novels of Charles Dickens - the hypocrisy of Christian crusaders who blame the poor for their own poverty. Swift wrote about it, too.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.

OK, that's it. Time to go.

L-girl said...

OK, that's it. Time to go.

No comprendo. Time to go back to Canada to lower your blood pressure?

Anonymous said...

No comprendo. Time to go back to Canada to lower your blood pressure?

Something like that. It's time for a change in scenery. So, I'm moving. Maybe things will improve while I'm gone.

L-girl said...

Ah-ha. Interesting. I won't pry further. I'll look forward to updates on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Er, ah, hmm... Perhaps I should clarify. When I said Maybe things will improve while I'm gone I meant in the USA. Me, I'm good. :)

Though, true enough, my blog is the place to go for all those teflonjedi updates.

Maybe, if/when I return to the USA, they'll have regained enough common sense to not harass people putting up peace wreaths...

L-girl said...

When I said Maybe things will improve while I'm gone I meant in the USA. Me, I'm good. :)

Heh. I got that. :)

Maybe, if/when I return to the USA, they'll have regained enough common sense to not harass people putting up peace wreaths...

Then you'd have to be gone a long time. Although it sounds like the China move is semi-permanent?

M@ said...

The portrayal of poverty as practically a cardinal sin in and of itself is one of the more interesting perversions of the original Christian preachings.

Polls have shown that many Americans think "God helps those who help themselves" is in the bible.

Kind of funny for a place where a congressman swearing on a copy of the Koran is a controversy, because America's book is the bible.

Anonymous said...

Then you'd have to be gone a long time. Although it sounds like the China move is semi-permanent?

Yup. A couple of years is the duration of the contract. Maybe that's long enough for things to turn back 'round. One can hope.

James said...

Yes, and an old one, too, it seems. It's a frequent theme in the novels of Charles Dickens

It goes back quite a way. I've seen it often identified with certain sorts of Calvinist, though to be fair the Catholic Church has encouraged the view as well. After all, what's "the Divine Right of Kings" except an extreme form of "wealth=virtue".

And these days we have people claiming GWB was appointed by God. Nothing much has changed.

L-girl said...

Polls have shown that many Americans think "God helps those who help themselves" is in the bible.

Kind of funny for a place where a congressman swearing on a copy of the Koran is a controversy, because America's book is the bible.


Hey, just because it's their book, you can't expect them to have actually read it! I mean, come on.

I've seen it often identified with certain sorts of Calvinist

I associate the attitude with Calvinism, and various Protestant sects. Another Puritan import.

L-girl said...

Maybe that's long enough for things to turn back 'round. One can hope.

One has to hope. Either hope, or move to Canada.

Lone Primate said...

So, I'm moving. Maybe things will improve while I'm gone.

Funny, that's what all your friends say, too! Wah wah wah!

Ahem... sorry. :)

M@ said...

I remember starting an American Literature course in university where the prof compared English and American literature. He pointed out that the first great English writer (definition of "great": discuss among yourselves) was Chaucer, a comic writer. The first great comic writer in US literature was Mark Twain, and he came centuries after an American literature was established.

That really hit home with me. I had never realised what a strong puritan tradition there was in the USA -- and when you think about it, it's another of the country's fundamental national myths.

Interesting how the subject comes to a logical conclusion in the stories you quote, L. But I'm glad to hear that your blood pressure has dropped so much after moving here. Canadian health care at work (i.e. -- if you gots your heath, who cares, eh?)

L-girl said...

The first great comic writer in US literature was Mark Twain, and he came centuries after an American literature was established.

That's a very interesting point. Not a lot of humour in Melville and Hawthorne, as I recall.

I had never realised what a strong puritan tradition there was in the USA -- and when you think about it, it's another of the country's fundamental national myths.

Yes, and it's in direct contradiction to the reality of American pop culture - not just in modern times, but always. So there's always been this tension between the puritanical and the licentious.

But I'm glad to hear that your blood pressure has dropped so much after moving here. Canadian health care at work (i.e. -- if you gots your heath, who cares, eh?)

Thank you! It amazes me. Could it be I never realized how much tension I was carrying around, by being so alienated and stressed by my surroundings?

I wish everyone who wanted to leave, could.

M@ said...

Well, I actually found Melville pretty funny at times, but yes, he's no comedian. Emerson, Irving, Poe, Thoreau... hard to call any of them humorists even if they wrote humorously at times.

It's interesting to cast American society in terms of that tension etween puritan and licentious impulses -- it's sort of encapsulated in cases like Janet Jackson's nipple and the reaction to it. Plenty of room for a grad thesis, there, if only I'd thought of it. Dang.

It's funny that it's hard to characterise Canada in the same way -- somehow it doesn't seem like our literature fully represents us. I don't think Canlit really represents my perspective, anyhow -- with one notable and obvious exception. :)

L-girl said...

somehow it doesn't seem like our literature fully represents us.

Margaret Atwood (a-ha! there's something we don't agree on :) ) says when she was growing up, the words "Canadian writer" were an oxymoron.

with one notable and obvious exception

:-D

Anonymous said...

So, I'm moving. Maybe things will improve while I'm gone.

Funny, that's what all your friends say, too! Wah wah wah!

Ahem... sorry. :)


(sticking tongue out)

M@ said...

Margaret Atwood (a-ha! there's something we don't agree on :) )

Ah yes, I forgot about that. Well, I'm always in the minority on that one. We'll see who they're reading in 100 years!