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I think maybe part of the reason you’re so angry is you keep demanding that you get screwed and then, not surprisingly, you keep getting screwed

Hey you. You there in the Glenn Beck T-shirt headed off to the Tea Party Patriot rally.

Stop shouting for a moment, please, I want to explain to you why you're so very angry.

You should be angry. You're getting screwed.

I think you know that. But you don't seem to know that it doesn't have to be that way. You can stop it. You can stop it easily because the system that's screwing you over can only keep screwing you over if you keep demanding that it do so.

So stop demanding that. Stop helping the system screw you over.

Look, you can go back to yelling at me in a minute, but just read this first.

1. Get out your pay stub.

Or, if you have direct deposit — you really should get direct deposit, it saves a lot of time and money (I point this out because, honestly, I'm trying to help you here, even though you don't make that easy Mr. Angry Screamy Guy) — then take out that little paper receipt they give you when your pay gets directly deposited.

2. Notice that your net pay is lower than your gross pay. This is because some of your wages are withheld every pay period.

3. Notice that only some of this money that was withheld went to pay taxes. (I know, I know — yeearrrgh! me hates taxes! — but just try to stick with me for just a second here.)

4. Notice that some of the money that was withheld didn't go to taxes, but to your health insurance company.

5. Now go get a pay stub from last year around this time, from January of 2009.

6. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld for taxes in your current paycheck is less than the amount that was withheld a year ago.

That's because of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, which included more than $200 billion in tax cuts, including the one you're holding right there in your hand, the tax cut that's now staring you in the face. Republicans all voted against that tax cut. And then they told you to get angry about the stimulus plan. They didn't explain, however, why you were supposed to get angry about getting a tax cut. Why would you be? Wouldn't it make more sense to get angry at the people who voted against that Obama tax cut?

But taxes aren't the really important thing here. The really important thing starts with the next point.

7. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld to pay for your health insurance is more than it was last year.

8. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld to pay for your health insurance is a lot more than it was last year.

I won't ask you to dig up old paychecks from 2008 and 2007, but this has been going on for a long time. Every year, the amount of your paycheck withheld to pay for your health insurance goes up. A lot.

9. Notice the one figure there on your two pay stubs that hasn't changed: Your wage. The raise you didn't get this year went to pay for that big increase in the cost of your health insurance.

10. Here's where I need you to start doing a better job of putting two and two together. If you didn't get a raise last year because the cost of your health insurance went up by a lot, and the cost of your health insurance is going to go up by a lot again this year, what do you think that means for any chance you might have of getting a raise this year?

11. Did you figure it out? That's right. The increasing cost of health insurance means you won't get a raise this year. Or next year. Or the year after that. The increasing cost of health insurance means you will never get a raise again.

That's what I meant when I said you really should be angry. That's what I meant when I said you're getting screwed.

OK, we're almost done. Just a few more points, I promise.

12. The only hope you have of ever seeing another pay raise is if Congress passes health care reform. Without health care reform, the increasing cost of your health insurance will swallow this year's raise. And next year's raise. And pretty soon it won't stop with just your raise. Without health care reform, the increasing cost of your health insurance will start making your pay go down.

13. I wish I could tell you that this was just a worst-case scenario, that this was only something that might, maybe happen, but that wouldn't be true. Without health care reform, this is what will happen. We know this because this is what is happening now. It has been happening for the past 10 years. In 2008, employers spent on average 25 percent more per employee than they did in 2001, but wages on average did not increase during those years. The price of milk went up. The price of gas went up. But wages did not. All of the money that would have gone to higher wages went to pay the higher and higher and higher cost of health insurance. And unless Congress passes health care reform, that will not change.

Well, it will change in the sense that it will keep getting worse, but it won't get better. Unless the problem gets fixed, the problem won't be fixed. That's kind of what "problem" and "fixed" mean.

14. Sadly for any chance you have of ever seeing a raise again, it looks like Congress may not pass health care reform. It looks like they won't do that because they're scared of angry voters who are demanding that they oppose health care reform, angry voters who demand that Congress not do anything that would keep the cost of health insurance from going up and up and up. Angry voters like you.

15. Do you see the point here? You are angrily, loudly demanding that Congress make sure that you never, ever get another pay raise as long as you live. Because of you and because of your angry demands, you and your family and your kids are going to have to get by with less this year than last year. And next year you're going to have to get by with even less. And if you keep angrily demanding that no one must ever fix this problem, then you're going to have to figure out how to get by on less and less every year for the rest of your life.

16. So please, for your own sake, for your family's sake and the sake of your children, stop. Stop demanding that problems not get fixed. Stop demanding that you keep getting screwed. Stay angry — you should be angry — but start directing that anger toward the system that's screwing you over and taking money out of your pocket. Start directing that anger toward fixing problems instead of toward making sure they never get fixed. Instead of demanding that Congress oppose health care reform so that you never, ever, get another pay raise, start demanding that they pass health care reform, as soon as possible. Because until they do, you're just going to keep on getting screwed.

And it's going to be that much worse knowing that you brought this on yourself — that you demanded it.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. — I didn't mention this because I'm trying here to be as patient with you as I can, but you might also want to keep in mind that in addition to screwing over yourself and screwing over your family and screwing over your own children by demanding that Congress oppose health care reform so that you will never, ever see another pay raise, by doing that you're also demanding that I never, ever see another pay raise, which means that you're also screwing over me, and my family, and my children. Not to mention the millions of poor and uninsured and uninsureable people
I didn't even mention above because they don't seem to matter at
all to you. And for that, let me just say the only appropriate thing that can be said to someone so determined to do direct, tangible harm to the welfare of my family: Fuck you, you fucking moron.

  • Laura

    So who do you think is going to pay for the insurance (the government???) Who pays the government??? (you do!!!) So now, instead of the money coming from my paycheck and I get to decide who has I have my healthcare coverage through, the government gets to decided. Don’t you people realize the more control the government has over you the less freedom you have.
    NOTHING is ever FREE!!!! Someone is always paying for it!!!

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    Laura: The discussion is not about getting something for free. It’s about not paying for overpriced crap. American health insurance is like having an Edsel that goes 9 miles per gallon, needs costly repairs every month, does 55 mph on a good day and has no seatbelts, when everyone on your street is driving a Prius, and then let the repair shop owner convince you that your car is far superiour to theirs and you should keep it.

  • Lori

    The real problem with the HSA + catastrophic insurance plan is the HSA, not the insurance.

    I don’t agree that catastrophic insurance isn’t a problem, but I do agree that the HSA is a bigger one. In addition to the things that Kelly K mentioned I see one overriding problem with them—they’re a tremendously regressive tax.
    There is variation in how much you pay for things like doctor’s visits (Park Ave/Beverly Hills office vs the local clinic), but a lot of other medical expenses, like medication, cost what they cost. Even if the free market miracle happened and prices dropped tremendoulsy (I think the chances of that approach zero but I’ll let that go for the sake of argument) saving to cover even rock bottom costs is much more of a burden on people with lower incomes than on those with higher incomes. Naturally the plan doesn’t address that in any serious way, either as a practical matter or as an issue of fairness. As we have discussed again and again, this is an inescapable feature of all free market plans–a narrow notion of “justice” values paying your own way, by a very specific definition of that, above all else.
    In other words the HSA + catastrophic insurance idea might work for the financially comfortable, but no matter how much you dress it up it’s just another version of “Oh well, sucks to be you” for everyone else.

  • Launcifer

    It’s about not paying for overpriced crap. American health insurance is like having an Edsel that goes 9 miles per gallon, needs costly repairs every month, does 55 mph on a good day and has no seatbelts, when everyone on your street is driving a Prius, and then let the repair shop owner convince you that your car is far superiour to theirs and you should keep it.

    Although that does sound a little better than a Prius, to my mind. Now, swap it for a Veyron and I might just agree.
    I jest, of course, though I am wondrously confused as to why certain of these trolls seem convinced that everyone who’s for serious, root-and-branch reform of the US healthcare system expects it to be free, or made out of waffles, or whatever. And what is it about the terror of the government getting hold of any part of someone’s pay-cheque. You’d think you guys don’t pay taxes or something. Hell, at least the goverment’s a democratically-elected scalper, unlike the companies.

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    Launcifer: Not an expert on US cars ;-) — from my observation, Toyotas in general are inexpensive to run and get the job done.

  • cyllan

    So now, instead of the money coming from my paycheck and I get to decide who has I have my healthcare coverage through, the government gets to decided
    I’m curious. Do you actually get to decide who you have your healthcare coverage though? Because I don’t. My human resources department spends several months each year submitting forms and getting bids and generally wasting a lot of time and money, before they tell us who won the price war this year. Then we all get a new health insurance carrier for 12 months before it starts all over again.
    I suppose I could buy a policy on my own, but the price for that makes the idea laughable.

  • Launcifer

    Inge: Nor am I – I just watch too much Top Gear, which seems to have a pathological hatred of the Prius ;).

  • Lori

    Not an expert on US cars ;-). Toyotas in general are inexpensive to run and get the job done.

    @inge: The Veyron isn’t a US car. It’s an extremely cool, but mind-numbingly expensive model put out by Bugatti. Launcifer is expressing a preference for speed over fuel efficiency–which would totally have defeated your analogy.
    In general Toyota is inexpensive & reliable. Not right now, but usually.(Right now Toyota is doing a massive recall because a whole bunch of their cars have a design defeat that could cause the accelerator to stick with no advance warning.)

  • Jeff

    [[ then let the repair shop owner convince you that your car is far superiour to theirs and you should keep it.]]
    I couldn’t believe that the slime who delivered the slime response to the SOTU said that “America has the best health system in the world”. And not one of the Tea Baggers or slime supporters booed him or said “You lie!”, even though we all know it is a flat-out lie.

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    cyllan: Do you actually get to decide who you have your healthcare coverage though?
    Actually, yes, I do. More than a hundred insurers to choose from. (Bismarckian system). And I’d prefer single-payer. Because you do not want to see the amount of regulation it takes to combat adverse selection between insurers, and it’s still a game of whack-a-mole, with the customers as the lawn.

  • Lori

    @inge: I think cyllan was asking about Laura’s situation. Since she’s USian unless she’s very rich she doesn’t have anything like free choice of her insurance. If she’s buying coverage on the individual market she can pick only from the plans that she can afford. I’ve never known anyone who had to buy individual insurance who ended up with more than a 2 or 3 providers that were even a possibility.
    The reality is that she probably has even less choice than that. It sounded from her post like she has employer-based coverage. If that’s the case then she has no effective control over the provider and only limited choice about the specific plan.
    Of course asking her anything about it is probably pointless. Given her rather overwrought use of CAPS and exclamation points and the talking point nonsense about people thinking that coverage is free I assume she was a drive-by, like most of the rest of this week’s troll invasion, and that we won’t hear from her again.

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    Lori: Yes, I suspect so. But a) I suspect Laura to be a drive-by, and b) even if you *can* choose it does not mean that it’s a good thing, if it’s in a field where the safest way to compete is to offer the worst service you can get away with.
    (Also, I’m bored…)

  • Jeff

    Can you imagine Bush having any where near this conversation with Democrats:
    Obama’s Q&A w/ Republicans
    He won’t get ANY credit for it, I guarantee you.

  • lonespark

    Thanks for posting that, Jeff. I’ve been dying to watch it, but that’s the first link my work computer allows.

  • lonespark

    Oh, that wasn’t the whole thing. That’s ok. I read the transcript, and now I want to hug the President. Laying out the facts and taking no bullshit. Let’s have some more of that, please.

  • cjmr

    Does Jeff’s link have a link to the transcript? I can’t process unless I’m reading text lately–a video will do nothing for me.

  • Lori

    @cjmr: Yes, the link is to the Washington Post & they have the transcript up.
    WaPo requires a login. If you don’t have/want one bugmenot always has ones that are current.

  • cjmr

    I used to have a WaPo login cookie…wonder if it is still around…

  • ako

    Yes, that’s more what I meant. Only that the eyelash-medicine ad really annoys me even more than most of that ilk, because it’s conflating a legitimate but rare medical condition with a cosmetic preference, making it sound like everyone who doesn’t have mascara-model lashes is suffering from a disease. As if there’s only one normal eye appearance, even though it’s one that most of us aren’t born with. And then turning around and marketing the “cure,” a prescription-strength drug with potentially uncomfortable side effects, with exactly the same kind of ad that Revlon uses to sell eye shadow.
    This kind of thing. The problem is not having medication for Restless Leg Syndrome or Social Anxiety Disorder or insufficient eyelashes or anything like that (being able to medicate those conditions is a good thing). It’s that the ads put out a lot of information blurring the lines between Restless Leg Syndrome and being a bit fidgety, Social Anxiety Disorder and being a bit shy, dangerous eyesight-threatening lack of eyelashes and not having thick model-like lashes, Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder and being a bit crampy and hormonal, and generally conflate major medical problems and minor human variations, so people don’t know what’s what.
    And it pushes people towards unhealthy extremes in more than one way. You get people convinced by the ads and the ‘informational’ websites that they have a serious condition that needs treatment. And you get people who are trying to hard to be sufficiently skeptical and not get taken in that they ignore a problem that is serious in their case, and let their PMDD or Social Anxiety Disorder or whatever go untreated even when it’s causing serious problems because “Everyone knows that’s a made-up disorder the drug companies invented to sell pills.”

  • Jeff

    [[WaPo requires a login. If you don't have/want one bugmenot always has ones that are current.]]
    I didn’t need a login. But you might need one now.

  • Lori

    @Jeff: WaPo has been behind a login firewall for years now. Are you sure you don’t have a cookie for them?
    Also, how good was the Obama Q&A? Good enough that GOP staffers are saying they should never have allowed cameras in the room and FOX News cut off the broadcast 20 minutes before it ended, that how good. That’s hilarious.

    White House officials told the Huffington Post they were absolutely ecstatic. MSNBC’s Luke Russert, who was on the scene in Baltimore, relayed that a Republican official and other GOP aides had confided to him that allowing the “cameras to roll like that,” was a “mistake.”

  • Lee Ratner

    Obama just showed us how to do hardball politics with class. I hoped he would get to this point earlier but now is a good time to.