There was a full page ad in the Dayton Daily News today, which had the ominous headline "This wheelchair is my future once the U.S. Treasury stops my GM Health Care". The ad goes on to enlighten us to the plight of one Debra Turner, who has multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. She is a 51 year old retiree who pays $3400 a month in medications (well, her insurance pays for it actually). Debra goes on to tell us that when GM emerges from bankruptcy she will lose her health benefits, as well as 50,000 other retirees. Poor Debra will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her natural life.
I'm sure that you think I'm probably going to venture off into a frantic plea on Debra's behalf. That I'm going to say how terrible this state of affairs is and how we should be doing everything we can to make sure this woman isn't left without the chance of a full life.
And I Could do that. But it Would Be Wrong.
The fact is, Debra elicits almost no sympathy from me at all. Her travails are almost inconsequential in the big scheme of things.
Let's narrow down the source of my cold hearted indifference, and why it is a symptom of today's political and economic climate.
Debra is thoroughly unemployable, seeing as she has 2 major debilitating genetic diseases. At 51 she could've led a fully functional working life for the next 15 years or so, but the fact she cannot move her joints and has a degenerative condition means she would've been a functional vegetable anyway, health benefits or not.
The concept that the United States Treasury is forcing her off the rolls of permanently disabled is nothing more than a calculated attempt at deflecting from the real cause--the insolvancy of the corporation that employed her, General Motors. Lost on most everyone is the fact that GM steered billions of dollars in profits into the pockets of the upper management, shareholders and various sham enterprises, while they deferred payments into pension and benefits plans for their employees. When the chickens came home to roost, GM was caught with their pants down. And now Debra has to pay for their malfeasence.
I wonder if the IUE-CWA, the union which paid for this particular piece of advertising, ever considered what would've happened if we had just let GM go along their own merry way and go broke. There would have been a meltdown on the proportions of an economic Nuclear Winter. No one in their sphere would have jobs, benefits or pensions.
It's beyond the comprehension of anyone with a moderate amount of common sense to expect that you will be taken care of for the rest of your natural life with free health and dental care. The whole idea of providing health care to people who retire at age 50 after 30 years of work, and live for another 25-30 years is outside of the bounds of rational business (or societal) principles.
We've gone crazy with the idea that we should be trying to extend the lifespan of human beings to the point of taxing the medical industy to the breaking point under the current system of most economic models. There are a lot of people out there who are being kept alive for no good reason other than the fact that we can actually do it. Is that a good reason for continuing to do so?
This has nothing to do with being anti-union, anti-GM, anti-American or anti anything else. Except for the fact I'm tired of subsidizing people living beyond their evolutionary life cycle.