I was comforted to learn in "Making sense out of cents," last week's installment of My Thoughts by Bill Atwood, that "Tea Party folks aren't crazy and they don't want to harm, deny people health care or have dirty drinking water and air."
I happen to agree that Tea Party folks do mean well and have legitimate concerns. I emphasize that I am talking about the 'folks.' That, in my lexicon, emphatically excludes its leaders, its politicians, its funders and its pundits.
To convince Tea Party 'folks' that denying health care and tolerating dirty water and air is unavoidable in order to control spending and debt requires that they are persuaded that the latter is more harmful to them than the former. Ted Cruz and his 66 member Tea Party caucus led that charge backed by the phalanx of deep-pocketed donors (Koch brothers, thousands of conservative talk radio personalities, FOX, Heritage foundation and fellow think tanks, FreedomWorks, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots and right wing bloggers).
Let's say you were hit with an illness and you had inadequate health insurance or worse still no insurance. Depending on the severity, it may only deplete your savings, if you have any. It may only affect your cash flow so you can't afford to pay your rent or mortgage. You have to live somewhere and eat, so you may opt not to pay your medical bills. So it destroys your credit and you are hounded by creditors. Your car is kaput but now you can't afford to fix it. You don't have any transportation to get to work. You lose your job and now you can't even pay the rent or mortgage. What's more pressing, that or the rising debt?
The Central Valley has some of the dirtiest air in the country. Asthma is widespread. If you or any of your children have asthma you know this is serious business. Many other dirty-air related respiratory problems plague our health and finances. There was a time when we didn't think twice about drinking from the tap. Today bottled water is a multi-billion dollar business. Depending on the container size, we are now paying more per gallon of water than gasoline. Which is immediately affecting your quality of life and pocket book more dirty air and water or rising deficits?
The irony of this false dichotomy is that making health care affordable and cleaning up the environment actually reduces the debt and deficit while not doing so increases it. How, you say? One example is that Obamacare provides for free preventive health screenings. How less costly is it to use a doctor instead of the emergency room as your primary care physician? That and so many other cost reduction provisions in the Affordable Care Act will considerably reduce spending.
How much spending will be reduced if we prevented the pollution of our air and water instead of having to clean it up after the fact? So you see, what is presented is a false choice. The Tea Party grassroots 'folks' didn't come up with this political tactic. It is people like the Koch brothers and the industries that benefit from the health care status quo and dirty air and water.
Insurance companies love it when they can drop you when you get sick. Oil, gas and coal companies love it when they aren't held accountable for polluting the air and water. Bottled water companies love it when the water is undrinkable. Health care and medical device businesses love it when more people are sick.
I'm speaking to real Tea Party folks now. If the debt is your primary concern, shouldn't your first inclination be to look at what contributes most to the debt? A picture is worth a thousand words.