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Home of the brave and land of the bankrupt

Jeffrey Bergeron
Biff America
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My side lost the last two major elections. I can live with that.To the victor go the spoils, tax cuts and defense contracts; the rest of us must wait. But the beauty of democracy is that, though my party is not in a majority, we will get another chance. In the meantime we must stay involved, be good citizens, and “think globally and act locally.” I used to assume the issues – and those who supported or opposed them – were either black or white. One thing local public service has taught me is that there are honest, well-meaning and intelligent people on both sides. I would imagine that is also the case in national and international politics. Another thing I’ve learned is that seldom is a cause served with anger.You can disapprove of a policy without hating the policy makers. For instance, I never supported the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but there were many leaders I normally agree with who initially did. Perhaps this was mere political survival, or perhaps they knew something I did not. By the same token, I feel that wars and tax cuts go together as well as bathtubs and electric appliances. Though I still feel that way, I will concede that there is much I don’t know about both subjects.And though there is little debate that the ozone is getting as thin as my hairline, there is still some debate (albeit small) about the cause.The good news for my side is, like the changing of the seasons, politics is cyclical. For those of us who would like to see a change of direction, there is always hope and a means to effect the changes we would like to see. We need to be civil and wait our turn.But, for me, all that touchy-feely, nonjudgmental, pabulum fell by the wayside last week; I’m so disgusted with this country I could spit. It all started with a phone call asking for money. This wasn’t from a telemarketer but from a friend of a friend.My friend Danny’s daughter, Nicole, is very sick. Because of that he might lose his home. Here is what I know for a fact about Danny and his situation.After he left Colorado, about 15 years ago, he moved to Oregon. Danny got married, had two kids and started a business. He was happy, his business was successful, he has a nice home and was well insured. His kids were athletic and healthy until they weren’t. Nicole, age 10, normally very energetic and high strung, began to get weak, lethargic injury-prone. Three months later, she was diagnosed with bone cancer.You can guess the rest. The gap between Danny’s insurance and Nicole’s medical costs were close to a quarter of a million dollars. The college tuition saving went first, then his boat, and now my old friend is faced with taking out a huge second mortgage on his home and business. Whether his daughter recovers or not, much of what Danny and his wife have saved and worked for will be sucked up by medical bills.What has happened to my friend is not unusual. I’m guessing all who read this know of similar tragedies. In this country, only the very wealthy, very poor or those who work for the government, can survive a health tragedy. The rest of us, even those with insurance, can be devastated by a serious accident or injury. How is that possible in a country as wealthy as ours?How can we spend over $300 billion on a war and leave our children and middle class exposed to financial ruin? How can 44 million Americans be uninsured and an even larger number be at risk of losing everything? How can our leaders spend so much time and energy debating flag burning, same-sex unions, stem cell research, abortion and the morning-after pill and little to no time on a national health care system. I can tell you for a fact that flag burning is not a big concern to a young girl with cancer or her dad who is on the verge of bankruptcy. At the start of the first Clinton term, a national health care system was studied and proposed. It was defeated by a Republican congress with the help of medical and insurance interests. Opponents of a socialized health care system claim that if one was implemented that the quality of care would be diminished. I’ll concede that might be the case; but with the wealth and power of this country it doesn’t have to be.Any parent would gladly suffer financial ruin to keep a child healthy. But in this great nation they should not have to.Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.


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