But it didn't just snow. It dumped snow in record quantities. The storm rushed in pretty much with little warning, but with overwhelming effect. And caught in the storm were a couple of kids on their way home from school for the holidays -- Mike and Erin.
Mike is my son. Erin is a friend who lives in Hawaii, but was on her way to her grandparents house. She caught a ride with Mike. They planned their itinerary not knowing that Mother Nature was going to be in a very bad mood this trip.
So when I learned about the storm's possibilities of snow, I called Mike to warn him. He hadn't run into any bad weather at that time, but he told me he would keep a look out for it. It didn't take long. By the time he got out of Ohio into West Virginia, the bad weather had caught up to him. He made it down to Charleston and ventured South on 64, only to find out at a toll booth that the road was closed and he would have to turn back.
He and Erin were in a bad situation. They had counted on returning to North Carolina that night. Money was tight. They didn't have much on hand. Everything but what had been reserved for meals had gone into the gas tank. Now they had to turn back to Charleston, and it was getting cold. Fortunately, they found a motel and Erin's grandfather in North Carolina convinced the motel to accept his credit card over the phone. He told the clerk, "You are not going to make my granddaughter go out and freeze in the cold!"
I really like Erin's grandfather. He convinced the motel that their piggish rules made no sense in the situation at hand. I would venture to guess that the clerk felt that he might come after them if they refused Erin and Mike the rooms based on their rules. I think he might have! We need people with such spunk and conviction not to let people run over others while hiding behind "the rules."
So today Mike and Erin got in the Jeep and started south again. It was slow going and treacherous. And they are stranded once again, a few miles further south in a town named Beckley. It took them over 6 hours to traven the short distance between Charleston and Beckley. Mike reported lots of jack-knifed tractor-trailors, confused motorists, and people who needed help. The fire-stations at Beckley prepared a place for people to come, then moved the shelter to a couple of churches. They provided a place to sleep and some hot food for all who needed it.
Mike is 20 years old. He is my second son, and what an adventure he is having!
But let's think about this shelter idea a bit. If it was structured like the current health care proposals in congress, we would be having to check whether everyone was insured to get into the shelter. If not, they would pay a fine. Even if you were insured, you would pay a copay. So if you had spent the last of your money on gas and food before getting stranded, and you didn't have the copay, then no shelter for you!
The shelter for all concept is that it is a general public good. It is for the general welfare, even if not everyone is among the traveling public. Furthermore, the communities are putting up shelters for those who don't even live in their areas! It is still for the public good!
Shouldn't health care be that way as well?
Why go through the whole rigamarole of the insurance system anyway? We could simply cut them out. Oh, we could offer their clerical staff jobs at competitive rates as clerical workers for our own single payer plan. But the single payer plan would be dramatically more efficient, and the plan would be looked at as being for the public good, not as a profit-maker to line the pockets of the CEOs.
Health care should be for the public good. A simple example like the emergency shelter can teach us that. But we do not treat it that way. We do not see it that way. We don't appear to want it to be that way -- or at least some of us.
In which case, the opponents of health care should find themselves stuck outside the shelter, exposed to the cold and the elements - at least until they come to see that the public welfare is not the place to make a killer profit.