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A Path to Priorities

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People are able to find mind-boggling ways to misplace priorities. We are all guilty of it to some extent: watching the baseball game rather than doing the dishes and then complaining about the dirty dishes and the team’s loss the next morning. And we use the attribute of rationalization to placate our more rational side: “I have never seen Lincecum pitch before.” However, sometimes our priorities become so deranged that, in some people’s eyes, we forfeit our sanity.

Last year during the extra innings game that was the healthcare debate, people got vocally involved in politics again, and that was refreshing to see. No matter what your politics are, I respect you for knowing the issues and putting in your two cents, whether or not we agree. The problem is, when you don’t know the issues and you put in your two cents you look like, for lack of a better word, a moron. I emphasize the phrase “look like” because everyone who does this is most certainly not a moron, they have simply not prioritized. They should have learned the issues before they opened their mouths.

We have all seen the signs at ball games that exude pithy witty remarks in the hope of catching the camera man’s eye and getting on TV, and there was no shortage of them at any of the protests for, or against health care reform. One sign that caught a camera man’s eye–and subsequently my own–read “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” I’m sure there were many signs with this phrase and many mouths reciting it (a scary thought, I know) but I remember one sign that was bedazzled in red white and blue sequins, lovingly crafted like a quilt one would give to their grandchildren. Now, I think that it is a fair assumption to make that the woman who fashioned this flamboyant sign was not the one who came up with the inherently flawed phrase, but she is a good example of misplaced priorities. If she would have researched what Medicare was instead of meandering down the aisles of the local craft store, maybe she would have realized that Medicare is a government program and if the government were to “keep their hands off it” it would cease to exist.

Linus Van Pelt was once brave enough to amend the old adage “never talk about religion politics or money” when he noted “There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” Politicians may have trouble following that advice, but there is one taboo subject that they would be wise to ignore and that is Medicare.

It is shameful that for a politician to even discuss potential changes to one of the largest single components of the federal budget has become akin to altering the smile on the Mona Lisa. Republicans are dealing with this right now. At town hall meetings with constituents in their districts, Republicans, many of whom were elected on a fiscally conservative platform to bring down the national debt, have found out that they have made a major breach of etiquette by mentioning the M word.

Paul Ryan is a courageous soul and I give him all the credit in the world for tackling the issue. I am not saying that I agree with the proposed voucher system but something has to be done. Hell, I will lower my standards here, something has to be discussed. The Path to Prosperity points out some serious concerns about waste in the system with regards to Medicare and it deserves to be seriously discussed.

No matter what your individual politics are, if you research the issue, if you have been to a doctor while using the program, if you have spoken with friends or acquaintances, there are undoubtedly a plethora of stories about unwarranted tests, redundant medical check-ups and questionable billing. I am not necessarily advocating an overhaul of the system. What I’m saying is that we all know that something that cost $519 billion in FY 2010 can be improved, and that it must not be considered sacrosanct when it comes to putting our collective financial house in order.

This is a problem that people of the younger generations will face, as we will be the ones stuck with the bill. In the health care reform debate, we were assured that nothing would change for those of us who are 55 and older. Yet the most vocal opponents are older individuals who vote in larger numbers and who the politicians feel beholden to. Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials, where are our priorities? Let’s at least make this not risqu? to discuss anymore.


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