Around the time Margo and I started dating, her mother found out she had cancer. She had surgery and radiation treatment over the next several years. She still has to go to the doctor to deal with some of the lingering side effects of the radiation and whatnot, but she’s been cancer free for seven or eight years now. She was lucky. They had health insurance. She was a stay at home mom, and her husband worked in a G.E. factory for 35 years. It’s a running semi-joke in the house that she’s not allowed to get sick again because there’s a lifetime maximum on how much the insurance will pay out. It’s not entirely a joke, however, the factory started shipping out more and more jobs to China. He figured his job would be gone any day, so he took the early retirement offer and the cut in pension that led to so he could be sure and keep his health insurance. They were lucky.
He started work at the factory soon after high school and kept that job his whole life. Those sorts of jobs aren’t really around much anymore. That’s why his sister works at Walmart. That’s why her children work at Wal-mart and Rent-to-Own. These sorts of jobs pay half as much, they don’t include benefits, and they won’t let you work full time. They’re also just about the only jobs left in Selmer. What if he had been born a bit later, and ended up working at Wal-mart out of high school instead of G.E.? Without insurance would she have gone in to the doctor early enough to catch the cancer before it was too late? What would have happened to them when the costs for the surgeries and radiation and checkups mounted? What would have happened to them when she fell down and broke her leg in three places last night because the radiation weakened her bones?
They were lucky. They have health insurance. I know others who aren’t. I know people who let their Diabetes go mostly untreated because they can’t afford care. I know people who’ve gone bankrupt because they got cancer. There is something wrong with someone working a 40 hour week for years and years and losing it all because of a disease they can’t control. There’s something wrong with a country whose biggest “moral issue” is who people have sex with in their own homes when people are sick and uncared for, when people are homeless and unsheltered, when people are hungry and not fed. I wonder which issues Jesus spent his time talking about? Certain pastors who are up in arms about a bill to increase funding for “hate crimes” should stop and think about their congregations. They should stop to think about their city. Are more people suffering in this city because of lack of healthcare or because someone wants to prevent hate crimes? Are more people suffering because of poverty or because we happen to have a white guy in Congress? Far be it for me to tell pastors a damn thing about religion, but it seems to me someone might have their priorities a little mixed up. The God I pray to is a God of love and caring for those less fortunate, not a God of politics and condemnation and self-righteousness. But what does this sinner know?