The Fondue is a Lie

Since the political campaign season is in full swing, I thought now might be a good time to talk about lies. What I am referring to is the falsehoods, half-truths, misrepresentations of fact, and fabrications that have been handed down to us as Americans since we were children. From our first grade school history class to today’s front page of CNN, we are fed a line of bull that seems to have no end, and some of us keep believing it.

One of the biggest lies that we perpetuate as a nation is that America is a big “melting pot.” We want the rest of the world to believe that we are like a big pot of cheese fondue — a smooth and homogeneous mixture of cheeses of every color and cultural origin just waiting to be scooped up with a crusty slice of bread. In reality, we have more in common with Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey, with the privileged floating above the less fortunate on a milky white cloud. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mitt Romney.

Wage equality imageEven our founding fathers were serving us a crap sandwich when they wrote that “all men are created equal.” If that line read “all rich white men are created equal,” I might buy it, but alas it does not. At least they didn’t try to suggest that all men and women are created equal. That would have been a laugh riot. How would they even begin to explain how I can work as hard or harder at the same job as a penis-equipped individual and still make less money? The old excuse that a man needs to make more to support his family doesn’t cut it anymore, now that the number of single-parent families headed by women is at an all-time high.  The dirty truth is that equality in America is all talk and pretty much no action.

If all men are created equal, then why didn’t the US media provide equal coverage to a shooting that occurred in a movie theater full of predominantly white people and to the slaying of a group of foreign-looking people in their house of (non-Christian) worship? While the topic of the mass killing in Aurora, Colorado, was all over the internet, newspaper, and television news for nearly two weeks, the massacre of several Sikhs in their temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, an equally tragic event, received far less attention from both the press and those frequenting social media sites. Maybe it’s just a fluke. Maybe there were other things going on that were more newsworthy than the Oak Creek shooting. Or maybe most Americans just can’t (or choose not to) identify with people who don’t look or act or pray like them.  Perhaps we are all just weary of the gun-related violence in our nation and instead we would rather direct our attention toward something more pleasant, like the Olympics for example.

Olympic gymnast Gabrielle DouglasThe Olympic games provide hope and inspiration to everyone who attends the events or watches them on television or the internet (providing they have a really expensive monthly plan with one of the big digital television providers that includes NBC and MSNBC, otherwise you can’t watch — sorry!) The athletes have worked for years, in some cases decades, to master their individual sports, and it’s only natural that Americans would cheer for their hometown heroes. Why is it then, that when Gabrielle Douglas became the first African-American woman to win the gymnastics all-around gold medal, all anyone can talk about is her hair? Blacks and whites alike appear to have an opinion about whether Ms. Douglas’ hair is “too straightened,” “too kinky,” or just too black. Really? After watching her amazing performance at the games, this is what becomes news? Gabby herself put it best when she responded, “I just made history and people are focused on my hair?” Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see much attention given to the hairstyles of the other four American gymnasts who had their (Caucasian) hair pulled up in the same slightly messy ponytail/bun thingy. Again, we see the lie that is American equality. This fixation on Gabby Davis is not about her hair, it’s about her black hair. Her black girl hair that is somehow less than white girl hair, therefore making her somehow less than the white American gymnasts despite her incredible accomplishments.

Chik-fil-A hateThe idea that Americans have become less biased in the years since women marched for the right to vote and Martin Luther King championed civil rights for all is just that, a nice idea. Racism, sexism, and homophobia, just to name a few, are alive and well in the good old USA, we’re just a little more subtle about it — a little more subtle. The owners of Chick-fil-A don’t post “no gays allowed” signs on their restaurant doors, but by now everyone knows they are not fans of the fabulous. And the use of the “N” word, albeit with an “a” instead of an “er” on the end, has become common among white boys who wear their pants around their knees, demonstrating their lack of spelling skills and fashion sense in addition to their racist nature. Don’t even get me started on the “Jesus loves everyone except you,” believers.

As the parent of two daughters who do not share my race or ethnic background (and yes, those are two different things!), I can only continue to teach my girls that they can grow up to achieve anything they want in life. They just have to be prepared to fight like hell for it. Now pass me a chunk of that pumpernickel — my fondue is getting cold.

You Don’t Get What You Pay For

It’s a crappy time to be an American. The economy is in the toilet, and despite what a few obviously over-medicated cheerful economists are saying, it’s not going to change any time soon. Poor Kim Kardashian may even have to sell some of her Birkin bags on ebay! Certainly the downturn has most consumers looking to get the best bargain on every purchase. I’m not much of a shopper myself, but I when I do crack open my wallet I want to get the best possible deal, which is why I get really irate when I spend money on something I can’t use. Something like… health insurance.

Now, I know you thought I was going to say one of those fancy-schmantzy smartphones that are supposed to do everything but pick up the dry cleaning and instead make it impossible to even make a phone call, but no. I’m talking about the hotly debated subject of American healthcare. You see, I have a job that fortunately puts me somewhat above the poverty line (although it usually doesn’t feel like it), and each and every time I get paid a nice chunk of my earnings goes toward health insurance. Health insurance that I can’t afford to use. Yes, I realize I’m lucky to even have health insurance. Nearly 50 million Americans have none (yet). Still, I’m left wondering if I’m getting what I’m paying for.

Gel capsules filled with shredded currency

Photo by Lisa Yarost via Flickr

A few months ago, I tripped going up the stairs to my condo (it’s Snark Diva, not Graceful Diva, you know). I came down directly on my right knee and bruised the heck out of it. A couple of days and lots of swearing later it stopped hurting, so I forgot about it. That is until I went to kneel down to pick up my kids’ toys off the bedroom floor a few weeks later and an excruciating pain shot through my entire leg. Realizing this was not a good thing, I made an appointment with my doctor who charged me a twenty dollar co-payment to “manipulate” (torture) my knee and order an MRI, since she was fairly certain that I had torn a ligament or something equally as ominous.

I took the order for the MRI, called the radiology facility and made an appointment. Two days before my appointment they called me to tell me the insurance company had denied the MRI. Okaaaaayyy. Now what? I contacted the doctor’s office and they suggested I come back in to have it looked at again. Hmmm. What was she going to see now that she didn’t see before, besides another twenty of my hard earned dollars? I politely declined and decided to simply not kneel down ever again. That should solve the problem, right?

A month or so later I found myself again shelling out co-payments for my “well woman” exam (such fun!) and a mammogram. While I was in the office I again asked about my knee. This time I was given an order for an x-ray. If the x-ray was negative, the doctor would again order an MRI. Of course the x-ray showed nothing, and the insurance company still won’t pay for an MRI (presumably because I am not yet to the point where an amputation is imminent). So apparently what I have to show for the many dollars I pay each month for health insurance is a bum knee that isn’t going to get better anytime soon. American healthcare at its finest.

This is the situation many low to middle income families find themselves in. If they are fortunate enough to have health insurance available to them, they often cannot afford the copayments, or even more commonly the prescription costs. As a result, appointments are canceled, medications are left on the pharmacists’ shelves, and we as a population become sicker and sicker until we can no longer avoid seeking care. Of course, by that time the costs are likely to be exponentially higher than they would have been if we had been treated much earlier.

The truth is, no matter how well we take care of ourselves (and admittedly many of us don’t), people are like cars, they’re gonna break down once they get some miles on them. We get injured, we age, and sometimes we just want to prevent ourselves from getting sick in the first place. Our government has finally been pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st century by passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but just how “affordable” will it be? Will Americans actually be able to use the health benefits for which they have fought so dearly, or will we remain just as unhealthy despite having coverage? Just thinking about it is enough to drive a Diva to seek therapy. If only I could come up with the forty dollar per session co-payment!