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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yeah? Well, Yo' Momma!

By Adrienne Ross

Debating health care these days elicits the same kind of response as saying, "Yeah? Well, Yo' Momma!" in New York where I grew up. Just ask Governor Palin. As one who is on the front lines of this debate, through the use of Facebook, she knows all too well what kind of response one can receive when she takes a stand, but she takes it nonetheless.

I just returned from Long Island where I was visiting family the last couple days. I have to tell you--and some of you can relate--there is nothing like watching someone you love grow old and battle illness. It's painful to see deterioration in a person who was once so full of vivacity and strength, once involved in every organization in a 50 mile radius, once incessantly bossing around everyone who was smaller and weaker--and that was all of us. That pain is only magnified when that person is someone who raised you, who made you who you are today. That's what I see when I go home to visit family.

This is the first time some of you have read my work, and already you know more about me than some people I work with everyday, and I want you to hear me as I echo Governor Sarah Palin's heart on this issue.

Seeing my aunt this time brought a plethora of thoughts to my mind. This is due, in large part, to the concerns that have been voiced by the American people regarding President Obama's plan for health care reform. Governor Palin, more than any other, brought to the fore an issue that needed addressing, and, as you know, she did so with a relatively brief statement. As I spent time with my family, I was reminded of one particular aspect of the governor's statement that received quite a bit of attention:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

I was hit hard by this the first time I heard it, but it hit me even harder while home with my aunt. I watched her, very much in her right mind, very aware of her surroundings, but certainly not the woman she used to be. What I thought about was this: Do I want the government determining her "level of productivity in society"? Does it have the right to weigh her worthiness to receive care in this her hour of weakness? The answer is unequivocally no. This is a woman who must go to dialysis three times a week. When she returns, she is content to sit in her living room chair, eat scheduled meals, take her medication, and make those around her smile. Is this a sufficient "level of productivity" for people elected to serve in the America that I, like Governor Palin, know and love?

Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to that question anymore--and this is precisely what Palin is saying. We don't know, and we should never have to try to figure it out. Government has no right determining who should have a pill instead of surgery, who has first dibs on that trip to the doctor, and who has exhausted their usefulness and is now ready to receive end of life counseling.

See, where a bureaucrat says my aunt's "level of productivity" has expired, those who love her see a woman who spent her life working her tail off. I see a woman who used up a large part of that life raising other people's children--nieces and nephews--because their parents weren't up to the challenge. I see a woman who came home from one job, cooked for and ate with her family, grabbed the kids (yes, that included me), and went to another job where we cleaned a medical building top to bottom. I see someone who was strict and drove me up a wall, but taught me to be respectful, instilled in me faith in God, encouraged my love for sports, and impressed upon me the value of education--and that is why I, as a teacher and a coach, have been able to do the same in the lives of young people.

So for government to even think about weighing her productivity level now is indeed wrong. It would not just be playing unfairly; it would be playing God--and that's a game it simply cannot win. See, what government may not recognize is that my aunt's productivity is alive and well, even as she sits in that chair, heads to dialysis, or just looks out the window. Why? Because it lives on in the lives she has influenced--people like me, my sister, and my brothers who continue to live out what she poured into us. And our "thank you" to people like her cannot be rationing their health care and putting a monetary value on their lives.

So Governor Palin has hit the nail on the head once again. Many in America do not want President Obama putting his two cents into life and death decisions of people we love. He has tried to refute Governor Palin's comments by saying he would never "pull the plug on Grandma." Pull the plug or not, his apparent desire for government takeover of the health care of people we love is a serious concern. He argues it won't be Yo' Grandma. Maybe not, but will it be Yo' Auntie, as in my case, or Yo' Momma? Again, where I grew up those are fighting words, and that's exactly why Governor Palin came out swinging--and why ordinary Americans are swinging with her.


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