My night started by heading over to the Old Labor Hall in Barre (diatribe: if you’ve never been, the Old Socialist Labor Hall in Barre is an absolutely amazing building: opened in 1900, it hosted some of the most radical thinkers of the early Twentieth Century and served as Barre’s central community space for decades).  There, the Vermont Worker’s Center was hosting a form on “Health Care as a Human Right” as part of their build-up to May 1st- for which every Vermonter is urged to call in sick to work and rally at the State House in Montpelier for universal health care now!There were a number of moving testimonials from community members and then reactions from a panel of community “leaders”.  Before I left I got to hear Barre Rep Topper McFaun (R) take his turn on the panel and give an impassioned call out the the 60+ people in attendance to get in touch with their local representative’s and enact universal health care now… Rep McFaun, along with almost everyone else in attendance, was openly disgusted by the waste and greed and heartlessness of the American health care system and pleaded- pleaded- with everyone in attendance to “demonstrate outside the Statehouse” on May first, but also be in touch (“every chance you get”) with our local legislator’s to let them know that- like the rest of the industrialized world- we view health care as a human right that should be provided to every man, woman and child in this country
 

There were many, many a moving speeches at the Old Labor Hall, but coming from an elected Republican, Topper’s was by far the most poignant to me.  Having heard the tales and woes of the previous speakers (as well as many others during his time in the legislature) Topper seemed just downright angry at the state of our health care system, and only passingly mentioned his recent “removal” from the Senate Health Care Committee (having, of course, nothing to do with the fact that he favors the immediate adoption of universal health care).Summing up most of the evening’s speaker’s was Traven Leyshon of Middlesex, who noted (and offered to back up with cold, hard stats) that over the next three years a universal health care system in Vermont could save us “$240 million” merely on State employees and school system related costs.  “That’s not counting retirees” said Leyshon. 

 

It was all very exciting and if you, like the rest of the industrialized world, consider health care- the chance to life a long and healthy and meaningful life- to be a human right like fire departments and running water and electric lights than you should join thousands of other Vermonter’s who will “call in sick” on May 1st and rally at the Statehouse in Montpelier.  If you do, and if you tell your friends that you’re going to do it, it will be meaningful and amazing and effective.

But so then later in the evening, on my way home, I stopped at Charlie-O’s for a beer or two, because hey, the ol’ lady is working overnight in Burlington.  And who should walk in but a local Senator who shall remain nameless (rhymes with “Will Rot”).  The (drunk) guy next to me sees him in his suit and tie and asks “So…. you’re a legislator?” to which he answers “yes” and introduces himself.  The patron asks the Washington County Republican “So… what’d ya say? if it was a Democrat in the governeor’s office, would he be proposing 600 layoffs?” (good fucking question, I thought) to which the Senator replied “Yes, you’ve got to do something, and there’s just nothing else to do; but hopefully you aim high and start a dialogue and what gets agreed upon isn’t so drastic…..” “Yeah, it’s bad out there” says the patron and “There’s just no other option” says the Senator, to which I say (loudly) “unless you want to close the capital gains tax loophole or otherwise tax the rich assholes in Stowe” to which the Senator smiles and turns around for a game of pool with his blond companion.

Shortly after, it was just time to come home to see the dogs and feed the fire.  But I still can’t help wondering: could the rest of the industrialized world be right? Do I really have a right to a chance at surviving illness debt free?  If I call my Senator’s and Representative’s and call out sick on May 1st will someone finally do something?

It’s worth a shot.

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