This morning I woke up and puttered around as usual for a Saturday. I settled down for my morning read and came across this little gem right there in my morning feed, placed there by an old friend who thought they were being witty. I thought WTF?
I let this go with a shake of my head this morning. This is a typical thing I get from friends and family every day. I ended up coming back to it. This has nagged me all day.
This "story" is worth picking apart.
But you have to read the "story" before I go further. It starts like this:
WANT A FREE HOUSE ?First off, ....I'm not sure where to begin. Is it the obvious red meat sure to appeal to any conservative where these "young" people (synonymous with fools in this case) refer to President Obama as Jesus like? That's a sure fire way to get the religious to go for the false god meme. Or, maybe it's supposed to trigger the Obama is the anti-christ meme? Moving on to the intentional misuse of the term, free market which plays up the young people's "ignorance" in this story. Maybe the mistaken belief that libruls think that Republicans want to "inherit all the power" when the real issue is the economic damage income inequality is doing to our country.
I was in my neighborhood restaurant this morning and was seated behind a group of jubilant individuals celebrating the coming implementation of the health care bill. I could not finish my breakfast. This is what ensued:
They were a diverse group of several races and both sexes. I heard a young man exclaim, “Isn’t Obama like Jesus Christ? I mean, after all, he is healing the sick.”
A young woman enthusiastically proclaimed, “Yeah, and he does it for free. I cannot believe anyone would think that a free market wouldn't work for health care.”
Another said, "The stupid Republicans want us all to starve to death so they can inherit all of the power. Obama should be made a Saint for what he did for those of us less fortunate.”
At this, I had more than enough. I arose from my seat, mustering all the restraint I could find, and approached their table. “Please excuse me; may I impose upon you for one moment?”
They smiled and welcomed me to the conversation. I stood at the end of their table, smiled as best I could and began an experiment.
“I would like to give one of you my house. It will cost you no money and I will pay all of the expenses and taxes for as long as you live there. Anyone interested?”
They looked at each other in astonishment. “Why would you do something like that?” asked a young man, “There isn’t anything for free in this world.”
They began to laugh at me, as they did not realize this man had just made my point.
“I am serious, I will give you my house for free, no money whatsoever. Anyone interested?”
In unison, a resounding “Yeah” fills the room.
“Since there are too many of you, I will have to make a choice as to who receives this money-free bargain.”
I noticed an elderly couple was paying attention to the spectacle unfolding before their eyes, the old man shaking his head in apparent disgust.
“I tell you what; I will give it to the one of you most willing to obey my rules.”
Again, they looked at one another, an expression of bewilderment on their faces.
The perky young woman asked, “What are the rules?”
I smiled and said, “I don’t know. I have not yet defined them. However, it is a free home that I offer you.”
They giggled amongst themselves, the youngest of which said, “What an old coot. He must be crazy to give away his home. Go take your meds, old man.”
I smiled and leaned into the table a bit further. “I am serious, this is a legitimate offer.”
They gaped at me for a moment.
“I’ll take it you old fool. Where are the keys?” boasted the youngest among them.
“Then I presume you accept ALL of my terms then?” I asked.
The elderly couple seemed amused and entertained as they watched from the privacy of their table. “Oh yeah! Where do I sign up?”
Maybe it was how the disrespect the "young" people gave the older man read like a bad script where it is implied that I was supposed to envision disrespectful gang members or maybe jocks. The cliche of implied racism of dumb minorities or dumb athletes being set up by the "wise" white guy plays well with fearful whites. Maybe the old guy isn't white. I'm just biased enough to think so. Anyway, I could see how my old friend who lives in a very white segregated area of America could fall for this story. It was created to play to her fears, memes and bias.
Zeroing in on Health Care
The supposed point of the story was to point out the open ended result of Obamacare, but it doesn't hold up. Healthcare in the United States isn't "free". You pay for it. You either pay cash at the time of service or you purchase an insurance policy to pay for it. You might "qualify" for a public assistance insurance policy that pays for it (then you have to find someone who will accept that public insurance policy - another diary). Your taxes and government fees help pay for those who have government insurance. Healthcare in the United States isn't "free" and it won't be after Obamacare is fully implemented either.
The "free" part of this story may simply relate to the appeal of birth control being designated as preventive medicine. The mistaken belief that preventive measures are "free" is rampant. They aren't free, they simply don't have a copay over and above the premium payment and cannot be subject to deductible calculations. Maybe the "free" part refers to the Medicaid expansion. Where the people who qualify for it are highly likely to be in minimum wage jobs that don't allow them to participate in their employer's insurance plan.
Although the story doesn't explicitly talk about premarital sex, the implication is there. Perhaps the idea that these young people are happy to have "free" birth control so they can enjoy their bodies is too much. I'm not sure what "free" part the young woman in the story refers to but it is a red flag to any conservative. Free is bad unless it's some free subsidy given to a multi-billion dollar corporation or a member of the top 1%. Why don't my "friends" see through this bullcrap? I can only surmise it's because they want to be misguided.
The set up of relating a "free" house to the "free" healthcare offered under Obamacare doesn't bear scrutiny, but that doesn't stop this fiction writer from continuing with the story below the orange squiggle.
I took a napkin and wrote, “I give this man my home, without the burden of financial obligation, so long as he accepts and abides by the terms that I shall set forth upon consummation of this transaction.”The Punchline is Fiction
I signed it and handed it to the young man who eagerly scratched out his signature.
“Where are the keys to my new house?” he asked in a mocking tone of voice.
All eyes were upon us as I stepped back from the table, pulling the keys from pocket and dangling them before the excited new homeowner.
“Now that we have entered into this binding contract, witnessed by all of your friends, I have decided upon the conditions you are obligated to adhere to from this point forward. You may only live in the house for one hour a day. You will not use anything inside of the home. You will obey me without question or resistance. I expect complete loyalty and admiration for this gift I bestow upon you. You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm, no matter the nature. Your morals and principles shall be as mine. You will vote as I do, think as I do and do it with blind faith. These are my terms. Here are your keys.”
I reached the keys forward and the young man looked at me dumbfounded.
“Are you out of your mind? Who would ever agree to those ridiculous terms?” the young man appeared irritated.
“You did when you signed this contract before reading it, understanding it and with the full knowledge that I would provide my conditions only after you committed to the agreement.”
The silly punchline is a groaner. It is true that signing a contract before reading the Terms and Conditions is a bad idea, but equating this ludicrous fictional deal with Obamacare is a false equivalency. The Affordable Care Act isn't anywhere near as intrusive as this fictional agreement. Obamacare doesn't ration care; it is specifically prohibited from doing so. No where is it required for us to give up our individual moral code to accept Obamacare. If your religion forbids you from using birth control, then you don't have to use it. Obamacare does forbid you from requiring your employees to adhere to your religious beliefs (which ironically is more similar to the old man's unreasonable conditions to his "binding contract"). You don't have to swear blind obedience in all things to receive Obamacare. And, it's illegal to require someone to consign their vote to you in exchange for material goods or money. The only accurate portrayal is that parts of Obamacare rules haven't been written yet, but that doesn't mean the unwritten rules won't have to conform to the parameters detailed in the ACA law.
The absurd fictional agreement begins and ends with patronizing arrogance. I'm sure the author thinks they were clever, but it codified to me how many Republicans view the Affordable Care Act as an onerous overreach of government - facts not withstanding. This isn't a new idea. It never ceases to amaze me how far people will go to pervert the intentions of the Affordable Care Act until the hapless conservative quivers in irrational fear and loathing. There seems to be no way to reassure the conservative that this bill will actually help a lot of people while requiring people who've had a free ride for a while finally pay their fair share.
Ok, so the old man got the drop on the kid, but oh, no; the story goes on:
The elderly man chuckled as his wife tried to restrain him. I was looking at a now silenced and bewildered group of people.The amoral, "moral" to the story
“You can shove that stupid deal up your a** old man. I want no part of it!” exclaimed the now infuriated young man.
'You have committed to the contract, as witnessed by all of your friends. You cannot get out of the deal unless I agree to it. I do not intend to let you free now that I have you ensnared. I am the power you agreed to. I am the one you blindly and without thought chose to enslave yourself to. In short, I am your Master.”
At this, the table of celebrating individuals became a unified group against the unfairness of the deal.
After a few moments of unrepeatable comments and slurs, I revealed my true intent.
“What I did to you is what this administration and congress did to you with the health care legislation. I easily suckered you in and then revealed the real cost of the bargain. Your folly was in the belief that you can have something you did not earn, and for that which you did not earn, you willingly allowed someone else to think for you. Your failure to research, study and inform yourself permitted reason to escape you. You have entered into a trap from which you cannot flee. Your only chance of freedom is if your new Master gives it to you. A freedom that is given can also be taken away. Therefore, it is not freedom at all.”
With that, I tore up the napkin and placed it before the astonished young man. “This is the nature of your new health care legislation.”
I turned away to leave these few in thought and contemplation -- and was surprised by applause.
The elderly gentleman, who was clearly entertained, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, “Thank you, Sir. These kids don’t understand Liberty .”
He refused to allow me to pay my bill as he said, “You earned this one. It is an honor to pick up the tab.”
I shook his hand in thanks, leaving the restaurant somewhat humbled and sensing a glimmer of hope for my beloved country.
1. Remember... Four boxes keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.
2. THIS SHOULD GO AROUND THE UNITED STATES SO PEOPLE CAN SEE JUST WHAT IS GOING ON. MAYBE EVEN THE POLITICALLY BLIND ONES WILL LEARN SOMETHING FROM IT.
"Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous
by letting the American Government
take care of him;
better take a closer look at the American Indian."
The most galling part of the entire story is the arrogant preachy end. As parables go, this one sucks. It doesn't promote the idea of a teachable moment. It conveys a series of ugly moments of rudeness, trickery, greed and deceit followed with a chaser of Schadenfreude and arrogance. As if that wasn't enough negativity it finishes off with a saccharine warning that the Men in Black are coming for us all and will force us all to do their bidding. Our final defense is for us to cling to our cartridge box? What utter nonsense. The author can't resist a parting shot and cherry picks a Henry Ford quote warning us on how the American Government has treated Native Americans and has amnesia about a Ford quote that said: "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."
No one will change their mind after reading this story. All it is meant to do is offend progressives and fire up conservatives. It doesn't teach anybody anything. It's irritating, not illuminating.
I keep getting these types of messages that cry out to me to "wake up" and look and see what's going on in my country and some how they assume that I see what they see. I don't get this bullcrap. I don't want to get this bullcrap. I see things just fine. I don't understand how or why they believe this bullcrap. What they don't want to hear is that I'm quite awake and see things just fine; but I don't agree with their assessments of what the problems are nor what the solutions should be.