Monday, September 21, 2009

Hair Salon Debate

I went to a Hair Salon today. I usually wind up doing so when I have reached the very last shred of patience with my crazy hair. I decided to get a loose perm for body which will be directed in a more controlled direction--I have a natural wave and a few natural curls but it all goes in every possible direction, and no amount of product, irons or blow dryers can change it. So, I resort, every now and then, to chemical warfare in order to subdue it.

Just to make the day even more worthwhile, I took Minnie (our 15 year-old bichon/maltese mix) to the pet salon to have her own fuss-session; I signed her up for the full "spa" treatment. No doubt, at the end of the day, we will be two mature ladies in the house with poodle dos!

But, what makes me write about the hair salon this morning was the conversation I overheard. "Overheard" is putting it kindly. There was no way not to overhear this lady holding forth with her very strongly held views.

She began with her contempt for President Obama, which was deep and uncompromising.

Then, she moved on to the health care reform effort. She wants none of it, no way, no how. The health care system we have is just dandy, thank you very much. She has Medicare and she can get her health care when she needs it or wants it and doesn't want anything at all changed.

The young woman doing her hair murmured, "but isn't the point of the reform to help people who do not have what you have?"

At which point the woman expostulated, "Well let them get insurance then! People only have themselves to blame if they don't get insurance! I'll tell you what--if this (blankety blank) health care reform goes through, there will be riots in the street! Good people like you and me will have to pay for all the rest of them!"

There was a little silence, and the hairdresser tentatively offered, " But what about poor children and people who just cannot afford health insurance?"

At which point the woman shot back, "That's just too bad. If these people tried harder, they would have health benefits, too."

I felt like there was almost no air left in the room, so toxic was this woman's tirade. There was a lot more, and it got uglier, but you get the idea. NO change is acceptable.

Never mind that, as a Medicare patient, she is already on a public health system.

Never mind that Medicare is already running at a deficit and costs the country billions yearly.

Never mind that little children cannot "try harder" to get health benefits, and many poor people can try all they like, it is simply unaffordable.

And I think most of all what made me want to put my head in my hands and hope it was all a bad dream is this: this is not a minority opinion. This is how a significant per centage of the population feels.

Bottom line: People just don't care if other people have no health care. A few pay lip service to hoping that somehow health care can be made available to children and the very poor, but not if it means one iota of change to their own arrangements or even to the general system, in case that might trickle down to less advantage for themselves. If health insurance becomes available to more people, then perhaps the wait for me to see my doctor will be longer! I don't want that! I don't care if people get more health care, but not at my doctor's office!

OMGs. We just don't care. It's enough to make you cry.


  1. First: that woman is a hypocrite. She's on public healthcare--crippled public healthcare no less--and she clearly fails to realize that if we don't have healthcare reform one way or another, Medicaid is going to disappear, too, and she'll be one of the ones who is clearly not 'trying hard enough' to get private (read: through-the-roof-expensive) healthcare.
    I can, to an extent, understand the 'majority' concern about the CURRENT proposed healthcare reform. There is no way private insurance companies can compete with what the gov't is currently proposing: healthcare so cheap, it runs all the other companies out of the market. While I don't believe that health care should be dependent on the ups and downs of our capitalist market, I do believe that forcing those who work for private insurance companies out of jobs, and forcing their clients out of insurance (and thus, subsequently, forcing them to choose the gov't insurance b/c there IS no other alternative) is not just a bad idea, but will be detrimental to us as a society in the long run.
    Health care reform is desperately needed, that is for sure. I am uncertain, though, that THIS particular reform is the right one.

  2. You've made some excellent points! Thank you!

    I think, like a lot of other people, she considers her Medicare to be an "entitlement" and not public healthcare or government-run healthcare, even though it is.

    I completely agree with you that the proposals so far seem vulnerable to the very scenario you present---I think perhaps insurance reform would be a better way to go than government getting into offering insurance itself.

  3. Did it not occur to her (okay, so it's obvious, not much occurs to this woman outside her own experience) that the hairdresser herself was quite possibly among the un- (or at least under-) insured?