Posts Tagged health care

The Mechanisms of Gender Inequality in Health Care

Do you suffer from erectile dysfunction? Do you have a hard time getting hard and good? Do you need a penis pump, also known as a “vacuum erection device” because you cannot go the pill route? (something which can also, quite conveniently, serve as a masturbatory aide. *wink*). Do you maybe need a penile implant because pharmaceuticals and penis pumps cannot get you hard and good? Are you done with having kids or simply do not wish to go down that route and need a vasectomy?

Well, worry no more as all of these procedures are covered by health-insurance, no questions asked- in case you missed that in all the cacophony surrounding  the things that health insurance should not cover (or does not cover) for women, such as birth-control and abortions. Some of them, such as the penis pump, are even covered by your handy Medicare.

If, as a man, you did not know that these items, devices and procedures are covered by most private insurances (and Medicare) then, quite frankly, I don’t blame you. After all, what reason would you have to question a society that so perfectly suits your needs?

Where your mere sex does not render you a ‘liability”, a “pre-existing condition” as far as insurance and access to medical care is concerned?

A society where you get to make your own health care decisions (within the confines of privately-run health-care schemes) for yourself without entities such as employers, a dusty clergy and legislators constantly feeling like they are entitled to step in and make those decisions for you, thus taking away autonomy over your own body and, crucially, the freedom of choice with regard to what you want to do with that body.

You don’t have to worry about someone questioning or taking away your choices, treating you like some object for which and over which others can make decisions as opposed to treating you like an autonomous, rights-bearing human being deserving of full equality.

As a man, your autonomy, agency, and the ability to consent—as your  own best decision-maker, your own best advocate, and your own best protector – are respected and never questioned.  You are born into a world in which your humanity, agency, dignity and autonomy are not in question – both philosophically and legally.

You don’t navigate a world in which everyone believes that policing your body and reproduction is an acceptable recreation. You don’t have to navigate the institutional misogyny that underlies the anti-choice movement where everything about it serves the interests of those who want to limit choice, and those who want to marginalize women.

While religious employers are choking to death at the idea of having to “pay” for a female employee’s birth control pills or, flying spaghetti monsters forbid, abortion, arguing that doing so would somehow compromise their delicate morals and religious convictions, they have no problem shelling out money to make sure you get to have an erection and a penis pump and penile implants and so on so you can fuck a woman, get her pregnant and make her have all the babies she may or may not want. That is irrelevant.

Even the government, even Medicare, is more than willing to pay for penis pumps and no one ever questions why tax-payers have to pay thousands of dollars to make sure a man can have an erection.

Your employer, the government, the clergy, some suit sitting at a mahogany desk in Washington do not have a problem tasking insurance companies to pay for a vasectomy that results in all these babies they all love so much to not be born.

Of course not. Those things are not an issue. They have not been an issue in major court proceedings, at state legislatures, with employers, insurance companies or even in the media and the public. In fact, it is a non-issue. As women’s reproductive choices are being eroded one by one, step by step, the national debate centers about the same few garbage notions about the alleged “rights” of fetuses, morality and god.  Be it Republicans or Democrats, ultimately it is about making women bargain away autonomy over their bodies to whoever feels entitled to them – in some sort of a insincere, deceitful “both sides have a point” false equivalency argument. As if people with uteri somehow owed the world control over some significant function of their body

No one talks about the duplicity inherent in the national debate we have on women’s agency where one group is systematically robbed of personal autonomy because another believes that they can make, and are entitled to make, better decisions for you than you can for yourself.

As a man, you get to make decisions about your sexual and reproductive health for yourself without anyone questioning their necessity, cost, or even morality.

Your personhood is not subject to inescapable, incessant and insistent debate. You are not made to feel that you are nothing if you don’t use your body to have children, where you are merely seen as a uterus with some vague female parts attached in service to its reproductive capacity.

 Women, on the other hand, have to stand by and let everyone decide on those things for them, everyone but the woman herself.

It is terrible to have to navigate a world in which you, as a woman, are made to feel that you deserve less respect,  less dignity, less autonomy, less opportunity, less agency, less voice, less ownership of self and ultimately less of your humanity.

A world in which you have to negotiate away the concept of absolute autonomy over your body to accommodate, please or else appease some privileged class/entity – be it a man or a church or whatever other institutions out there that believe they are entitled to make decisions about your own life and your body, for you.

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Just Get A Job At McDonald’s and Let the American Dream Begin

slide_266839_1822572_free

When people are struggling financially, such as being unemployed, on welfare, on disability or in any other circumstance that has rendered them poor and without income, the stereotypical, go-to phrase of bootstraps bullshittery is always “go get a job at McDonald’s, buddy“. Usually this phrase is uttered by people who themselves never have worked at a place like McDonald’s (or Burger King or any other similar fast food joint) and who view not working at a shit-hole like that as a contemptible refusal by alleged “lazy freeloaders” to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to finally stop mooching off of hard-working, honest, supposedly bootstraps-pulling individuals.

Oh you know, if it were me I would totally lower myself and go work for McDonald’s”  says some dipshit one percenter who was escorted out of government offices with seven figure bonuses made entirely possible by a tax-payer funded bail out for an economic meltdown he and his colleagues caused across the financial world, in collaboration with the majority of the US Congress.

The rhetoric here is “you work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible“blah blah blah.

The irony of this type of callous, rancid rhetoric, of course, is that people who do work at places like McDonald’s or Burger King etc,  do not even get paid a livable-wage which they then could supposedly use to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to realize their American Dream.

Striking McDonald's worker Bartolome Perez, 42, protests outside McDonald's on Hollywood Boulevard as part of a nationwide strike by fast-food workers to call for wages of $15 an hour, in Los Angeles

Earlier this month, McDonald’s employees in California, Michigan and New York have filed class-action law suits against McDonald’s alleging that McDonald’s has engaged in systematic wage theft.

“The suits allege that McDonald’s has forced employees to work off the clock, not paid them overtime and struck hours off their time cards.

We’ve uncovered several unlawful schemes, but they all share a common purpose — to drive labor costs down by stealing wages from McDonald’s workers,” said Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon LLP, an attorney who represents California workers.

The employees in Michigan allege that they would start getting paid only when customers walked into the restaurants, even if they showed up to work hours earlier.
New York McDonald’s workers, who filed their case in federal court ,claim the fast food chain did not reimburse them for the cost of cleaning uniforms. They say it drives some workers’ real wages below the minimum wage, which is a violation of federal labor law.

Since 1985, the Labor Department has found that McDonald’s and its franchises have had to pay back wages more than 300 times for Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.

These types of exploits are not just confined to McDonald’s, however.  Burger King, most notable among a myriad of companies out there, is another avid exploiter.

As the truly sad and somewhat harrowing accounts of fifty-year-old Glenn Johnson who gets paid $14,000 a year (that is $1,166 a month) working at a Miami-area Burger King, just minutes away from the fast food company’s corporate headquarters, show, even if your company does not actively steal from you, as a regular employee in the fast-food industry, which many, including the Burger King spokesperson believe to “provide an entry point into the workforce for millions of Americans,” you still cannot make ends meet despite working full-time and working hard.

Note how the bootstraps rhetoric is not just about working but working hard. “You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible” it goes. Thing is, that is just not how it always goes.

Glenn Johnson is a man who, much like many other men and women out there, does work hard, to the point of exhaustion, yet is still struggling.

Come work for us for scap wages and the American Dream can happen to you, too!!

Come work for us for scrap wages and the American Dream can happen to you, too!!

He gets paid $7.93 an hour, no benefits, no health-care. When he gets sick or feels sick, he gets some Tylenol or VapoRub or some other over-the-counter medication as even going to the hospital will cost him $1,000 off the bat. This means that Mr. Johnson is also not having access to preventive care and thus is not getting routine physical check-ups, which are especially important for someone his age.

His rent is $765 a month, which takes up more than three weeks of his paycheck, and he also has to pay for utilities and food as well as gas to put in his car so he can get to work. This does not leave much for anything else, including paying for his health-care.

An individual like Mr. Johnson, with his level of income, may, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, be eligible for government subsidies of his premiums but he is not eligible for government subsidies of his deductibles and actual health-care costs (because that would have actually been a policy helping people, so, naturally, it was voted away).

fast food 2

Note that someone who only makes $14,000 a year does not even qualify for the low/zero deductible Gold and Platinum plans under Obamacare, he only qualifies for the Silver and Bronze ones, both of which have, relatively speaking,  astronomically high deductibles, from $5,000 to $10,000.

How can someone whose yearly income is $14,000 ever come up with a $10k or even $5k deductible?  That $10k may as well be a million because he doesn’t have that either. Affordable, I think not, Mr. President.

In addition to the fiscal strain, Mr. Johnson also has to content with the emotional strain of working such a minimum-wage job without having the means to do anything else beside work. He just does not bring home much to do anything else with, such as go on vacation. He seems just like another indentured servant. He often comes home tired and exhausted, unable to do anything but eat dinner, take a shower, watch some TV and go to bed, just so he can start the same thing tomorrow.

He does not get any benefits, therefore, he is also not eligible to go on vacation or take a week off or even afford to get sick – not that he could afford going on vacation if he wanted to. Additionally, he has to content with abusive bosses and managers.

It is just a demoralizing existence. And he is not the only one.

All the while, Burger King has been posting a 37 percent in its quarterly gains.

The comment section of the Huffington Post, where Mr. Johnson’s story was first published, reeks of the same old garbage, out-of-touch bootstraps narratives and other associated Gordon Gecko prosperity dribble blaming Mr. Johnson for the fact that he is getting paid scrap wages without benefits or anything else and that he clearly seems unwilling to pull himself up by his bootstraps.

gop-bootstraps-5

Some people state that it is Johnson’s fault for being 50 years old, working in the same place for the past thirty years and still making about the same amount of money. “Why was he not promoted?” they ask or “does he have bad work ethics? A bad attitude?”

People blame him for being a “loser” who is merely choosing to work at Burger King. As if Mr. Johnson was offered a host of opportunities for a better job and income yet inexplicably chose to work a minimum-wage paying slow death.

As if the ability to make the best choices in life was not often dependent on one’s socio-economic situation in society as well as race, gender, bodily ability, abuse and a host of other factors that systemically place certain people on trajectory-fucking paths and disadvantaged positions vis a vis people who enjoy a host of privileges – such as being born white, straight, able bodied and wealthy or any combination thereof.

Privilege gives people freedom of choice, it gives them options, which, in turn, allow making good and prudent decisions possible. And isn’t that what poverty is ultimately about? That one’s choices shrink in proportion to one’s wealth whereby the less you own, the fewer choices available to you?

Poor people are often blamed for their situation, as if they were born into privilege and wealth and always functional, loving, non-abusive families with a myriad of choices available to them while inexplicably making the bad ones to their own detriment.

minimum-wage-protesters

As I have mentioned before, this delusion – or lie may I dare say – that sheer will power can make individuals transcend barriers, the glass ceiling, and overcame systemic inequalities, is precisely the kind of misleading bullshit that the likes of Romney (and even the President) and other one percenters regurgitate when speaking to the masses of people who are navigating a tedious existence of one paycheck/crisis away from destitution without any real prospects for improvement in sight, thanks to a host of middle-class busting policies by both of our parties and a practically non-existent social-safety net.

These are the things that, contrary to popular (and it appears even professional belief)  cannot be ameliorated with mere sheer individual will-power, as individuals cannot be tasked to solve and overcome systemic issues.

That Burger King is paying its employees scrap wages without any benefits whatsoever, and is not required to do so by law, is a systemic issue.

fast foodPeople who admonish Glenn Johnson and millions of others like him for not having made “better choices”, for having “chosen” “loser vocations” thus not working a great job with great pay, are missing the point, which is that a) not everyone is born into the right set of circumstances and that regardless of that b) not everyone in society can be rich.

Professions in hospitality and janitorial services are, traditionally, not the kind of jobs that make people rich.  Especially the fast food industry is notorious for abysmally low wages and as generally being in the lowest paid job category. People are often not expected to remain in them for long and only be taking on such a job if all else fails (unless, of course, you are in a huge recession where even skilled workers cannot find jobs in their trained professions so they have to work for such places). This high turn-over in employees has played to the advantage of the fast-food industry that is bringing in record profits, because labor leaders often have not made an effort to organize these workers into unions to increase their collective bargaining power. Given the immense advantage owners can take of this situation, it is unlikely that they will support for changes to occur.

Yet, they are professions that are both needed and do require hard work.

However, without a meaningful social safety net in place as well as meaningful labor laws and protections, people just eek by an existence, slide down the ladder until they hit bottom, or in this case Burger King and McDonald’s – the go-to employers people evoke when admonishing and vilifying  welfare recipients and the poor in general.

Mr. Johnson deserves to be working in a job, whatever that job may be, that pays a livable wage, that offers him benefits in the form of vacation and sick leave, that accommodates disabilities, that requires mandatory minimum wage increases in regular intervals. He deserves to not find himself a paycheck away from destitution, he deserves to have something to show for after a life-time of working hard in a vocation of his choice (or not of his choice, but out of necessity) instead of destitution, poverty and exhaustion while the company he works for posts record profits with a few on top reaping all the benefits.

There was a time in this country, not too long ago, where if you worked full-time, no matter what you did, you could afford to live like a human being. Now, it’s almost impossible for an unskilled worker to get a full forty hours, lest their employer have to fork over their paltry ‘benefits’ package. Even if they did, minimum wage is not enough to pay the bills or live the kind of dignified life resembling that of a human being. This is why the middle class is dwindling and why our economy can’t get back on its feet.

Poverty is destabilizing on many levels and the health of any society is generally measured by the existence and health of its middle-class. A healthy middle-class is indispensable for the smooth functioning of a democracy.

But sure, let’s blame the poor and dismiss them by suggesting they shut up complaining and just go work at McDonald’s to make their (American) Dream come true, even though the wages places like McDonald’s and Burger King pay are not fit for a dog,  while playing the violin for the “poor” billionaires who feel threatened and whine about having to endure bad press.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

twitter4

Yes, because trying to give people access to affordable health care is definitely the same thing, if not worse, than committing genocide by burning and gassing people alive or blowing them up into little pieces to be scraped off the ground and walls. In fact, it is worse than all those things combined. You hear that, fools? As far as Senator Rucho is concerned, genocide would be better than Obamacare.

The idea that this willfully ignorant asshole with his violence instigating rhetoric is in charge of making the law of the land is not only distasteful but at this point right out scary.

Martin Bashir had to issue apologies and resign his position at MSNBC for having called Sarah Palin out on her vitriol and suggest she eat the same kind of excrement she spews, but this Senator – who is a lawmaker – gets to say that attempts at giving people access to affordable health care are worse than genocide, and he is sitting pretty and no one can touch him.

Priorities (and apparently competent leaders). We got them.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Rush Limbaugh Is a Vile, Unevolved Swine

Calling him a pig is an insult to the pig

Everytime I think it is impossible for the Republican Party and their spokes-whores to degrade themselves and those they offend any more, something like this happens, reaffirming my notion that there are no holes deep enough these sanctimonious right wing nut jobs won’t sink into.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh sunk below the deepest layer of prehistoric frog shit at the bottom of a New Jersey scum swamp when he, on Wednesday, called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, a “slut” and a “prostitute” for publicly advocating that employers cover contraception in their health plans.

Sandra Fluke

Fluke’s testimony in the hearing was not, as Limbaugh claimed, about the fact that she’s “having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives.” Fluke told the story of her friend who had an ovary removed because the insurance company wouldn’t cover the prescription birth control she needed to stop the growth of ovarian cysts.

Limbaugh concluded his vile rant by insisting that if his tax dollars go to provide health care to citizens, they should be forced to also make sex tapes to provide him with plenty of jerk-off material.  I don’t even really want to repeat the despicable words that came out of his mouth, I am sure people can look it up everywhere.

Obama Calls – Republicans Reluctantly Follow Suit 

President Obama ended up calling Fluke on Friday, thanking her for speaking out on the issue.  Apparently cry baby John Boehner took a brief break from lying and also condemned the remarks. But at this point it seems more like an afterthought, like something he was compelled to do because the Republican PR machine advised him on this strategic move that would make Republicans appear less like barfinating biles of vomitous bigots. It is almost like he is checking off a pesky task from his to-do list so he can move on already and stop being bothered for apologizing for his beliefs. And I have no doubt that Boehner probably has more in common with Limbaugh than with Obama. They are all made of the same canvas.

What I don’t understand is why Obama did not make an official public announcement condemning what that worthless human being said and instead just sort of only called her up. Why not also publicly declare in a press conference that such behavior is unacceptable. I have never understood what virtue is to be found in being a doormat giving credence to hatred and bigtory. What is so heroic and classy about that?

Limbaugh, who has made a career and millions out of insulting people and spreading hatred, defamed this women in the worst possible way and those words of defamation reached all of his 20 million listeners, not to mention that he – together with fascists like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman – have been the unofficial spokespeople for the Republican party, and in particular the Tea Party, for the past four years, setting the direction and tone of the debates and policies we are having right now.

This man is a driving force behind all the bigotry and hate Republicans have been cultivating like a malignancy and which has ultimately been translating into public policy; he is not some minor player whose words are inconsequential. It’s bad enough that there has not been much Republican criticism and rebuke of this, they have stayed mum on the issue more or less and only “condemned” it as sort of a pesky afterthought, like it was a chore to get over with;  but it is just incomprehensible to me why Obama would not take his balls out of his wife’s purse and just make a public announcement already, stating firmly that as the President, he does not condone such behavior.

There is nothing honorable in staying really low-key and silent when you see injustice and hate against another human being. Limbaugh is a contemptible, sorry excuse for a human being and he should be fired for instigating and spewing such despicable hatred. This isn’t even an issue of free speech, this is pure, cold, unadulterated hate-speech and slut-shaming of a person who has had the unmitigated temerity to assert her right to participate in the public sphere.

Remember How We Thought We’d Have Flying Cars by Now?

Who would have thought that in 2012, basic contraception would be the major election issue.

There is a war going on against women and it is happening on all spheres and levels, subtle and overt, small and big, large scale and small scale.

A few days ago, in my review of the Season 2 episode of The Walking Dead, I recited the offensive nature with which women are and have been portrayed throughout the show, such as a bunch of incompetent bimbos and doormats incapable of tying a shoelace apparently without a big strong man around to guide and supervise them through it.  In this very last episode, Lori, who I am going to nickname Michelle, based on her role model Michelle Duggar, was giving Andrea shit for basically possessing insufficient skills to be dude property and every woman on the show who has made her own decisions this far has ended up regretting it five minutes later.

Women – Doing Laundry Even During the Zombie Apocalypse

A couple of weeks ago, the biggest doormat of them all, Michelle Duggar published her advise list on how to basically be a functioning doormat for your husband (the fact that women themselves advocate misogyny is disturbing and subject for another post).

And just last week the Virginia senate approved the ultra sound abortion bill, setting a precedent for other states to follow by requiring that a woman be probed with an ultra sound prior to getting an abortion, thus not only creating an unnecessary barrier between women and a lawful medical procedure but to also, in the finest tradition of oppression, humiliate a woman by patronizing her into taking a look inside, as if she didn’t know what she was doing and had to be sort of reminded.

Women are being knee-capped everywhere and all this is nothing but an underhanded attempt by men and religious people to shame and humiliate a woman into carrying a pregnancy they chose to abort, to term (remember how Rick shamed Lori into not getting rid of that baby from hell?).

Republicans piss and moan about government invasion into their lives and infringement upon their religious beliefs all the time, but they have no problem shoving their backwards religious beliefs, literally, up my vagina and uterus. It is like the King saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them.

Truth is that it in fact has been religious people and their beliefs that have been infesting the public sphere and public policy for decades now to unimaginable levels, such as defunding stem cell research  that could provide a cure for a myriad of currently incurable diseases, insisting on school prayer and  on teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design in public schools, infringing upon a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body and reproductive organs, prohibiting gay people from exercising their civil rights to get married and even going so far as to putting it on a ballot for others to vote on. The recent debates with respect to defunding Planned Parenthood, whose primary role is health promotion and disease prevention, and finding ever newer ways to shame and humiliate women at every turn they can, slowly eroding their rights, are just a couple of examples to the point.

Rick Santorum’s rant on how sex for any purpose other than procreation constitutes some kind of a moral problem in our society and Limbaugh’s recent slut-shaming of Sandra Fluke  and calling on her to make a sex video for him already to give him his money’s worth (and Ari Fleischer’s shameless defending of Limbaugh in some sort of a “what’s the big deal?” way)  are just the tip of the iceberg with respect to the kind of infestation of public policy we’ve had to endure at the hands of these self-proclaimed pious, god fearing people.

Liberals, atheists, feminists and gays are being constantly held responsible for the moral decay and all the ills of our society, when in fact it has been religious people and their beliefs that have caused a lot of grief for everyone. Until the devil makes himself known, we’re always a handy substitute and there certainly is nothing like an unembarrassed hypocrite from the Right.

I conclude this post by acknowledging that, of course, not all religious people are bigots. But if you are a bigot then chances are you are religious.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments