A year ago, I left a career in California to return to Maine, because this is truly my home. I knew that finding work in Maine would be challenging, and I made sure that I had enough savings to see me through the transition. What I didn’t count on was the cost of health care.
My COBRA health insurance coverage will run out in April. For the first 10 months of the coverage my employer paid 60 percent of the cost, but now it is entirely up to me to come up with $630 a month.
My friends are in the same boat, struggling to find permanent work they can feel good about doing. They are self-employed carpenters, artists, and refugees from a tumbling global economy. There is the shared feeling that whatever security we enjoyed previously is now gone.
All of us want to contribute to society, but how can we do this effectively if we are in a constant struggle to find good, affordable health care?
America has enjoyed a reputation for being a place where people can create their own opportunities, but the fact that health insurance is so wedded to employment is crippling our ability to make our own way.
Both the House and Senate versions of the health care reform bill, though imperfect, will work to address this and other issues.
We have to start somewhere. Job security must start with health security.
Use honest language
In response to Peter Rees’ letter (BDN, Jan. 16-17), I would respond that embryo and fetus are words that describe various stages of the life of a human being — just like the words child, adolescent, and adult do later.
A human egg like a hen’s egg is only an egg if it is unfertilized — but whether we are talking of hens or humans, a life that has begun is not just potential — it is in an early stage of being what it is becoming — a chicken’s a chicken, no matter how small.
I agree, an honest discussion requires honest language.
Sarah M. Menkin
Happy talk vs. truth
Editor’s note: On Jan. 21, the BDN printed a letter from Ellie Light who said she lives in Bangor. She does not.
A year ago, if we had read in the paper that employers were hiring again, health care legislation was proceeding without a bump, and Afghanistan was a nice place to take your kids, we would have known we were being lied to. We recognized that the problems Barack Obama inherited wouldn’t go away overnight.
During his campaign, Obama clearly said that an economy that took eight years to break couldn’t be fixed in a year, that Afghanistan was a graveyard of empires, and would not be an easy venture for us.
He didn’t feed us happy-talk. He never said America could solve our health care, economic and security problems without raising the deficit. He talked of hard choices, of government taking painful and contentious first steps toward fixing problems that can’t be left for another day.
After Obama’s election, we seemed to grasp this. We understood that companies would be happy to squeeze more work out of frightened employees, and would be slow to hire; that the banks that had extorted us out of billions of dollars, were lying when they said they would share their recovery; and that a national consensus on health care would not come easily. Candidate Obama never claimed that his proposed solutions would work flawlessly right out of the box, and we respected him for that.
Today the president is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never made such a promise. Governing is hard work, and a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything.