Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Sometimes people recognize my name and ask if I am “the writer.” Sometimes I say, “Yes.” Sometimes they then say things like, “Don’t you think it’s a tragedy when they teach our children about 9/11 and don’t even mention that the terrorists were Muslims?” Sometimes I look down at my cooling slice of quiche and keep quiet so as not to ruin a perfectly delightful brunch for those around me. Sometimes when further provoked I even nod my head a little, just to shut them up.

Sometimes after something like this happens I end up kicking myself around the rest of the afternoon for not standing up for what is decent and saying something like, “They don’t mention that the terrorists were Muslim, you damn fools, because it has no more relevance than would teaching that Timothy McVeigh was a Republican and that, because Republicans are advocates for smaller government, he did his part in reducing the size of government by eliminating a federal building in Oklahoma city and 168 people inside of it, including 19 children, because he believed that is what his political affiliation demanded of him.”

Excuse me for ranting, but stupidity is rampant, and appears to be ramping up. I doubt there is a person alive who can explain to me what sense there was in parents keeping their kids out of school so they didn’t have to watch a television address from the president of the United States encouraging children to stay in school and take responsibility for their education.

OK, so you don’t agree with the man on social programs, environmental programs, deficit spending to save the economy, and hosts of other political issues. I’m cool with that. I support spirited, if not informed, discussions on matters of governance. After all, this is what supposedly allows us to get it right eventually, most of the time, in this country. But, raising hell over the president talking to kids about the importance of going to school?

If part of your idea of being a good parent is to be so paranoid about a 30-minute address on national television by the president to be broadcast in schools that you’re willing to risk spreading your neurosis to your kids by yanking them out of class to shelter them from some perceived evil that you aren’t even sure is going to be uttered and don’t feel confident that you could explain its moral defects of to them, if it should be uttered, over the course of the rest of their childhood, I am convinced that texting recipes for blueberry tarts from memory while driving over Independence Pass in a thunderstorm is far safer than listening to talk radio.

This is not to say that I don’t understand why some parents were terrified about what the president was going to say. Everyone knew what was coming. The president’s speech on education was going to be great. This was an eloquent man making an inarguable appeal to kids over what most of us feel to be at the root to solving most of the world’s problems – education. There was not going to be any opportunity for spin. There were not going to be any gaffs in the delivery. There would be no controversy in the points raised.

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The one certain thing to come from the president’s speech was inspiration. And that was the bad thing that some feared. In this instance, without any doubt, the leader of the free world was going to succeed. In case you haven’t noticed, nearly half the country doesn’t want that to happen. Ever! And despite what many on the other side of the fence think, it’s not because the man is black, either. It’s because he is blue.

So why do I, a man with doubts about the charted plan of escape, find myself skeptical about the red people’s opposition to Mr. Obama’s health plan? It’s at least partially because many of his opponents don’t believe he is a U.S. citizen and many more don’t think he should publicly encourage our kids to get educated. If these are the ideas they have neatly arranged in the dessert counter to whet my appetite, I am concerned about what kind of meat is being smoked out back and prefer to dine across the street.

What little I know about the current health care system could fill volumes in places, as Yogi Berra would describe, that nobody goes to anymore because they are too crowded. But, I do know that the wealthy are already paying a huge share of the freight for health care for the nation. In that regard, the debate appears to be about what to call this subsidy: premiums (as now) or taxes (as proposed). Even if you prefer to call it “humanitarian,” this isn’t going to change.

I also know that with any plan the sick get subsidized and the healthy get soaked. Hard workers who have “paid their way” don’t believe this, but it’s true. Is there a recipient of an artificial hip anywhere who has paid for the entire cost of the operation through his insurance premiums? It’s doubtful. Most likely, his care is subsidized by the other hard-working people who paid their premiums, too, and didn’t need new joints.

Health care is expensive, and everybody wants the best health care available. Agreed? But, nobody wants to pay for it. Do you get it? Even though the problem with health care is primarily its cost, the debate is focused primarily on who will pay for it. Huh? Is it any wonder that most Americans now wish that politicians had skipped fewer days of school and taken more responsibility for their educations?

I am grateful to be one of the healthy ones this fine late summer afternoon, maneuvering my mountain bike through the Jardin de las Piedras section of Government Trail, writing this column in my mind and storing it in the hopper for publishing later. Amidst the hard rocks and slippery roots of this arduous path, I make my only vow to the health care system: I’ll never be a hypochondriac. If anyone asks my opinion about health care, I’ll tell them the truth: I will bitch and grumble about whatever health care premiums the system extorts from me, until such day when I might need an operation.

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