Sunday, December 20, 2009

The health care bill that became sick

This bill needs to either change or die.

Those who support the health care bill basically fall into two categories:
  1. You are a Democrat looking for reelection
  2. You are a Democrat who thinks that the merits of the bill outweigh the bad stuff
So, what are the bill's merits? Health insurance companies wouldn't be able to deny people based on preexisting conditions. More people would have health coverage when all is said and done. Government subsidies would help people who can't afford their plans.

BUT...the bad parts are striking. So striking, we need bullet points:
  • No public option or medicare buy-in. Medicare/Medicaid plans aren't expanded nearly enough for average people looking for federally-backed insurance to get what they want and need, and this fact will cost us $25 billion extra. Also, this hampers any plans for single-payer, which is what would get us on par with the rest of the industrialized world.
  • Mandated health insurance from private corporations. People are going to be forced to buy health care from private companies, feeding into the broken system we already have. This is exactly the opposite of what single-payer and even the public option was trying to accomplish. Although government subsidies would aid those who can't afford insurance, it will still be financially stressful on the underclass.
  • While the preexisting conditions part would apply to children immediately, adults would not be put under disease-discrimination protection until 2014. Health care expenses are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States, and with the economy the way it is, waiting five years is not an option for many people.
  • Insurance companies would be able to charge 300% more based on age. The bill leaves older people who are struggling financially with little help besides band-aid subsidies for payment for insurance. This is blatantly legalized ageism.
  • While it does not outlaw abortion, the bill significantly restricts a woman's right to choose because it mandates that no federal funding will help cover abortion procedures. Also, each state needs to offer at least one form of insurance through the exchange plan that does not include abortion coverage. Essentially, poor women will not be able to get abortions at the same rate that rich women can. Gender-class warfare anyone?
Women's rights are being exploited through the bill, but I think the main argument against it is that it equates getting more people covered with a path to universal health care. Just because someone is allowed to get health care doesn't mean they can afford it, and if they can't, it doesn't count as having affordable health insurance. It sounds obvious, but this is the same logic that George W. Bush used when he declared that Americans have universal health care (you can go to an emergency room for free!), and it's the same logic being used now by centrist Democrats.

I will leave you with this blog post from Glenn Greenwald. He does a great job connecting this bill with the steady corporatist culture in Washington, DC. Oh the city in which I live!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Suburban Radical Moves to the Big City

It's been a long time. Way too long.

OK, so the last time you saw me I was:
  • a high school student
  • still hopeful about Obama
  • a suburban resident
  • devastatingly handsome.
A few months later, some stuff has changed. Now I'm:
  • a college student
  • disillusioned to the point of despair about Obama
  • a resident of Washington, DC
  • devastatingly handsome and a little bit taller
But I'm still the same suburban radical at heart. You can take the Marxist out of the suburbs, but you can't take the suburbs out of the Marxist.

Actually, that's a little depressing. The suburbs suck. But anyway.

So where to begin now? It's been a while since I've posted, and there's so much to talk about! Whether it's the birthers, teabaggers, other white supremacist groups marching around, it's apparent that the ultra-right is having their way with the left-of-center mandate that was voted for last year. The Democrats are spineless as always, but I guess anyone could have seen that coming.

I suppose as a suburban radical, I'll talk about the suburbs for a bit--namely New Jersey, which is my home state. The governorship of Jon Corzine (D) wasn't a terribly successful one; in fact, he's mostly known for the motorcade accident he got in and the fact that he raised Turnpike taxes. He lost to the Republican candidate Chris Christie, who carried a strong majority even though the third party, relatively conservative Chris Daggett (I) could have acted as a spoiler. Obviously, the voters did not want Corzine, but of course, they'll soon realize that Christie, who is famous for tapping phone lines and forcibly gutting public schools to create charter schools, is no better. Shame it has to be this way. It's not like the Corzine campaign cared a whole lot. According to my suitemate, who canvassed for Corzine on a College Democrats trip, the campaign was one of the worst-run he's ever seen.

So the ultra-right won in Jersey and VA, they won when Maine and New York rejected gay marriage, and they won when Obama just escalated the war in Afghanistan. Same country, same politics, same reactionary forces, same bourgeois capitalism, same imperialism, different face.

This health care business has been a debacle, and the astroturf-teabag-Glenn-Beck-ites are getting in the way of progress. We can't even get a fucking public option. Unbelievable.

I suppose you'll want to know about my adventures within DC now, right? OK, well here it goes:
  • During the week of the National Equality March, I saw Cleve Jones and Sherry Wolf (from the ISO) talk about LGBT liberation and the new movement for equality. That same day I saw the Solar Decathlon and the HRC center where Obama gave his almost-equal-rights-for-gays speech. Also, I saw Bo the Dog Obama being walked.
  • The National Equality March was something else. Absolutely wonderful. So many people, so many groups--I even walked right in front of Lt. Dan Choi!
  • Guess who saw Michael Moore! He came to give a town hall about Capitalism: A Love Story, which has to be my new favorite documentary. Fantastic.
  • Oh, I totally met Amy Goodman and got a signed book from her! Then I asked her to shake my hand, forgetting that due to a degenerative disorder, she can't move her right hand that well. Oops!
There's so much more to say, but it's finals week and I'm really tired. I'll hopefully keep updating regularly. That was a hiatus that was much too long.

Oh, before I forget: I'm a Women's Studies major now! Feminism FTW!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gender Equality and Religion: Using the Burqa Ban as a Jumping-Off Point

A little over a month ago, The Huffington Post put up an Associated Press article entitled “Sarkozy: Burqas Are ‘Not Welcome’ In France.” The gist of the article was that French President Nicolas Sarkozy used “some of the strongest language against burqas from a European leader at a time when some Western officials have been seeking to ease tensions with the Muslim world.” Burqas, for those unaware, are a type of Islamic religious garb for women that cover the entire body. Burqas have a nasty reputation for being a hindrance to female equality in the Muslim world, and also apparently in France. Thus, some in that country would like to see them banned from being worn.

I saw this as an affront to the basic human right of freedom of religion, or more importantly, freedom of expression. It was in this spirit that I wrote this in the comments section of the article:

This is absolutely ridiculous. A woman can choose to where [sic] whatever she wants. When a burqa is a symbol of subservience, it is when the woman is forced to wear one.

Sorry about the dumb spelling mistake. And using the word “the” before “woman” doesn’t sound right, deconstructively. My bad.

Anyway, now that I reexamine what I wrote, I think I only agree with about half of what I commented. I still think that the burqa ban is ridiculous, and that a woman has the right to wear whatever she damn well pleases. However, I think I’m going to have to take back the second half. The burqa is still a symbol of subservience, even if a woman is forced to wear it or not. This is because the religious institution it comes from is sexist.

Some of you are probably offended right now. Wait, keep reading.

My beef isn’t with Islam specifically. Rather, it’s with the Abrahamic religions in general. I’m not a Muslim, but I am a member of another Abrahamic religion—Judaism. The sexist commonality, at least for me, came in the realization of the similarities of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Most people point to specific verses in the Bible/Qur’an when they think of sexism (and homophobia and heterosexism) in the major monotheistic religions. From the Torah’s story of the fall of humankind from Eden due to woman, the execution of gays, the “impurities” of menstruation and seminal fluid, to the New Testament’s call for wives to “submit” to their husbands, and to the Qur’an’s implorations of women’s modesty. These are all pretty damning (yes, pun intended), but not what I see as the most basic cause of these religions’ problems with sexism.

Really, the dilemma is that all three religions seek to assign gender roles to how people should live. Wives are still sex objects, but only to their husbands. Husbands must fulfill the role of provider for the family. In each religion, this concrete separation evolved into intensely patriarchal systems. Oh, and don’t even think about trying to do anything differently, lest you be stoned to death.

Just like social superstructures imitate economic bases, so do specific aspects of religions imitate their simplest principles. Within the confines of religious law, burqas, as well as other religious clothing mandated only for women, like Jewish sheitels, are oppressive in nature.

The trick is, though, that you have to introduce choice into the matter, which is what feminism is all about. Women who are able to choose what they want to wear are not oppressed in that manner. Even though religious garb still may carry oppression symbolically, the woman who wears it is not necessarily oppressed in this particular area of her life, as long as she has chosen her outfit.

In conclusion: a burqa is still symbolically sexist, but a woman who chooses to wear one is not proclaiming subservience to men. This goes for all religions with gender-clothing. Religions are sexist when they assign gender roles, since overcoming sexism means choosing what role you want regardless of sex. France’s burqa ban eliminates that choice, and is thus a dumb law. I should never be allowed to ramble.

Hopefully no one is too mad over what I’ve written. Who knows, I may not agree with this entire post in a month.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A blogging surprise

If anyone out there actually reads this blog, I'm going to be posting on a certain more famous blog very, very soon. I'm really excited.

As soon as it's up, I'll link to it.

OK, here's the link:

The FBomb is a teenage feminist blog that has been featured on websites like Salon's Broadsheet and Jezebel, started by Julie Zeilinger, a teenage feminist who is not afraid to fight the patriarchy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

That's the name of Michael Moore's new movie.

I am REALLY EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moore on the movie:

It’s got it all — lust, passion, romance and 14,000 jobs being eliminated every day. It’s a forbidden love, one that dare not speak its name. Heck, let’s just say it: It’s capitalism.