Dear Freedom-Loving Americans

Dear Freedom-Loving, Constitution-Upholding, Socialism-Hating, Red-Blooded Americans,

I'm 'Merican.

I love freedom. I char steaks on a giant propane grill during the summer. I have a shrine in my living room dedicated to Tom Jefferson and Jimmy Madison. I own a truck AND an SUV simultaneously. I think nationalizing a country's means of production is an inefficient way to run an economy.


This is an actual picture of me on the cover of the June/July edition of this year's American
I was really excited to be featured in the "Working with Cow Dogs" edition. Although
I'm primarily known throughout the cowboy world as a pioneer in the field of horse whispering, my
second passion has always been cow dogging. And I guess I might as well answer  this question
before you guys blow up my inbox with emails; yes that is the new Resistol Crosscut B felt hat
that everyone raves about on page 74, yes it is as breathable and wind resistant as everyone says, 

and yes they did let me keep it after the photo shoot!

But as much as I love setting off illegal fireworks and unloading a 12-gauge into the sky in a highly-populated, suburban area, there are a couple of freedoms that I'd rather not have. I gladly give up the right to gun down my loud, obnoxious neighbor for example, in return for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that that same neighbor has also agreed not to lob grenades over the fence into my garden when my BBQ outings get too loud. Tax is a burden, but one that I gladly take up when it's going to pay for firefighters who might one day save my house if my aforementioned neighbor changes his mind about lobbing grenades over the fence. And he might. Today I called him a tit-licker.

Another freedom I'm not particularly keen on keeping is the freedom to die like a dog from preventable/curable medical ailments, just because I'm a self-employed horse-whisperer and can't seduce enough horses to afford proper medical insurance. How could I? It costs like a billion dollars per month and my clients pay me in carrots and sugar cubes. Medical insurance would probably be easier to afford if I didn't smoke eight packs of Marlboro reds a day, but what can I tell you; that's just one of the occupational hazards of being a cowboy.

I've heard a lot of folks bitching about Obama's new healthcare legislation. Unconstitutional, they call it. I guess they mean that the only rights our government should be giving out are the basic, "God-given, inalienable rights" that we find in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Stuff like "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Oh, and guns of course. But what if God isn't the one granting the rights? What if there's no such thing as an in-born, inalienable right? Tell some little girl born with a terminal, inoperable heart defect about her inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, that God cheated her out of. 

The rights we have are the rights we've agreed to give one another, not some birthright bestowed by nature. If you want to see the kind of rights nature gives out, turn on the Nat Geo channel sometime and watch all the little critters eating each other.

Now it's true that there's no socialized, universal healthcare in the Constitution. Of course healthcare didn't really exist in 1787 either. Doctoring was more of a hobby than a profession in the 18th century- a hobby that included knowing how to properly administer leaches, how to wear a beak mask, and most importantly, how to tactfully break bad news to patients' families and friends.

"Is your son sick? Well I'll try sneaking into his room tonight and scaring the hell out of him, but if that doesn't work, then he's probably going to die."

A lot of the stuff we do today isn't laid out in the Constitution. Universal public schooling, for example. That doesn't mean that free, mandatory, publicly-funded schools are unconstitutional.

Thomas Jefferson fought for a public school system in his home state of Virginia. But his radical, expensive, big-government plan was defeated, and public education wouldn't spread across the U.S. until sixty years later. I assume the voters of Virginia felt that Thomas Jefferson's socialist views were out of line with our founding father's original intentions. And maybe they were right. Where in the Constitution does it say that I should have to pay for someone else's kid to go to school, or for somebody else's expensive, public-library reading habit, or for somebody else's retirement? And only the old and the weak need police protection. If somebody tries to steal my wife's purse, I'll blow them away with my Colt .45, so why am I paying for some granny's publicly-funded security team, a.k.a the police? Stop sucking on the government's teat, women, children, and seniors, and hire a couple of Blackwater boys if you're so worried about someone breaking your brittle, little bones. It's called the free market; have you heard of it?

Everyone hires their own private security in Haiti. If they can solve
 their  security needs via the free market, then why can't we?
Maybe it's because Obama's a socialist who wants us all to be dependent on
the government.

But then again, maybe Thomas Jefferson was right. Maybe the constitution that he helped write and the basic, publicly-funded services that he promoted are somehow compatible with one another, and within the original intentions of our founding fathers. 

One thing that I don't understand is why the same people who protest universal healthcare are so accepting of universal education. People do a lot of bitching about public schools, but I've yet to see people parading around with signs that equate free public schools with socialism, or suggesting that we shut the public system down and tell the families that can't afford a private, K-12 education for their children that they should just suck it up. It vexes the mind why publicly-funded healthcare is an outrage while publicly-funded retirement, police, fire protection, military, roads, education, libraries, postal service, museums, parks, universities, FUCKING CORN, and a shit-load of other stuff that's less essential than healthcare are generally accepted as things that should be funded by taxpayer dollars.

A big argument against universal healthcare is that it's too expensive and doesn't work. America currently pays more healthcare dollars per capita than any other country in the world, yet its citizens enjoy a lower average life expectancy than Cubans, so the "too expensive/doesn't work" argument is like the fattest man in the room declaring that he doesn't want to change his diet to what everyone else around him is eating, because it might make him fat.

Still, it's not quite as bad as it sounds here in America. A full 25% of us already enjoy high-quality, government-funded healthcare via Medicare, Medicaid, or military/veteran benefits. And for those of us who aren't lucky enough to be old, destitute, deployed, or have one of those dwindling number of jobs that provide medical insurance, there's always the emergency room. Of course the emergency room only handles emergencies, so that means we have to forgo cheap, easy, preventative care, and wait until our diseases turn into really expensive, life-threatening conditions. At that point we can show up to the emergency room of our choice, be admitted, and rack up thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt. If we can't pay these staggering bills, then we have options. Bankruptcy is the most popular one. That's why medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S.. Hospitals lose $49 billion per year to unpaid bills, but it's alright, because they get their money back by raising rates on all the people who do pay... which sounds kind of like... HEY! That's god-damned socialism!

Everybody in the U.S. eventually gets healthcare, and it's paid for by all of us. So you see, we already are providing a kind of socialized, universal healthcare to every citizen. We're just doing it in the most expensive way imaginable, with the added bonus of poor health outcomes and personal bankruptcies.

Just like you, my fellow freedom-loving, constitution-upholding, socialism-hating, red-blooded Americans, I was appalled to discover that we've already been using an inefficient, extremely expensive, under-cover version of socialized, universal healthcare for years now. The liberals must have snuck it in sometime during the mid-eighties while Reagan had us lured into a false sense of security. I think we can all agree that the secret, sneaking socialism that slithers in unnoticed is the most sinister socialism of them all.

Help me root out this crafty red menace, my fellow Americans. We need to replace it with something less bureaucratic, bloated, and wasteful... like real universal healthcare.

Sebastian Braff

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