Sunday, December 27, 2009

define that word

A quick break to fume, then back to the OT.

Of course, I'm thinking about health care. And, in this season of gimme, about I'm thinking about needs.

The Eldest is lusting for a GameBoy sort of thing - there are three types, he informs me. And proceeds to offer loving, cilia-numbing detail about each. I don't need it, he says, wisely preempting me. But I really, really want it. Later, he'll forget himself in a moment of passion, and tell me that but Mom, I really need this! but he's laid his foundations well.

Still. Does he need this thing? Should the kid who loses his sweatshirts (daily), be trusted with a hunk of electronics? Will the kid who has to be called for dinner five, six, eleven times (hey! stop reading! it's time to eat!) do better/worse/none of the above if his book is replaced with a gizmo? And if there's one electronic thingie and two loving but not-quite-jostling small boys, how will this go? And why am I even pretending that these are rhetorical questions?

Want. Need. Gimme. No, don't give him - give ME.

(okay, stepping back now.)

Health care legislation decides, to an alarming degree, what we need. The private insurers get to dangle, alluringly, what they think we want. Neither tend to be accurate, and there are any number of explanations, more or less poetic, as to why this is so. Setting aside for the moment the doctor and hospital's challenges , from the consumer's perspective, the simplest explanation is that what we need can be a moving target. You might not need infertility treatments, but you'll be appalled to discover what they can do to people who want them. And I would hesitate to decide whether that want is a need or not, until you've watched clumps of blood and hope drop from between your legs. Want? Need? If you are in Massachusetts: right.

You have to live it to understand, maybe. Maybe not.

From the NYTimes:

We are, in a sense, being punished for our own charity,” Gov. David A. Paterson of New York said last week.

Paterson is talking, of course, about the New York state efforts to expand health insurance coverage. And perhaps he ought to know whereof he speaks, as someone who has relied on the, um, charity of others. Well, on Hempstead's charity, when Long Island's failed.

Perhaps Paterson knows something that I do not, about the nature of want, need and the generosity of charity. Perhaps he understands something that I'm failing to grasp, about what it means to provide for others, and to give from your generosity where there is an opportunity for giving, rather than quietly providing what should be there.

Perhaps. And I wonder, if the Eldest lived in his house, would Paterson buy the computer game thingie?

Either way, a fair warning to us all. Coverage for health care might be a right, it might be a privilege, but oh must you pray for blue skies and plump budgets, should it be a charity. Because when you need it, you might just call it a necessity.


dykewife said...

if you choose to get him a gameboy (or some such thing) limit his time on it to an hour a day. it will cut into time that he would use being occupied in more intellectually stimulating activities like his reading. also limit the number of games he can have.

as to health care...i'm eternally grateful i live in saskatchewan.

J.G. Fellow said...

That's a fair description of the problem with the Libertarian position that "people are being forced to buy insurance they don't want." Coverages frequently mentioned as being unwanted include abortion, alcohol abuse treatment and therapy. These coverages are unwanted until they aren't.

That's why it's called in-sur-ance.