Big brouhaha over health care and a public option for medical insurance. I’m wondering why no one has pointed out that the fear over “socialized” medicine is actually corporate fear of losing one of the shackles that keep people at wage slavery. One memorable moment I had in Holland was talking to this 40-year-old fan of John Cheever (he was fascinated that I had met Mr. Cheever) who was preparing to quit his job to contemplate “serious questions about life.” Having a public option might just tempt so many people to forgo work designed to enrich CEOs and retire to contemplate the meaning of existence.
My doctor is so overworked I try to make appointments only once every two or three years. It’s because he accepts the cheaper kind of medical insurance, so his office is always full of “ethnics,” as it were. His doctor-partner just left, he tells me with sorrow; and did I know any doctor who would be willing to partner with him? His home, he tells me, is on the other side of the city but he opened his clinic close to my neighborhood because he wanted to serve his people. He is Argentinean. I tell him I had a friend who was a “disappeared.” He says me, too. Eight of the medical personnel rounded up with him during the bloody coup were killed.
So I tell him about being in Camp Crame during the Marcos dictatorship. Then, as I was leaving, having completed my check-up, he says, I’m pleased to meet you. He’s been my doctor for a while but I knew what he meant.
Big brouhaha over the $20,000 dinner hosted by de-facto President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at Le Cirque on 58th Street, Manhattan. The dollar amount translates to some one million pesos – quite a price for a country where four of ten Filipinos go to bed hungry. My response is a little off; I keep wondering what the hell they ate – human flesh? Was Hannibal Lecter the chef?
In any case, the gustatory connoisseur among us go to Shanghai Joe’s in Chinatown, where the soup dumpling tastes like it’s worth its weight in gold but considerably cheaper.
The $20T dinner made me feel so embarrassed over my preferred comfort food, arroz caldo – eaten when I’m distressed – which cost like $5.95 in any Pinoy joint here that I uncorked a bottle of ice wine, a gift from the last time I lectured in Canada and which I’d learned since then cost $50 for the equivalent of two glasses of wine. Ice wine comes in teeny-weeny bottles. As it went down my gullet, I thought: well, jeez, I worked so very hard for this ice wine, I might as well drink the thing, considering that those who don’t work as hard spend $20T for a meal.
Conspicuous consumption being contagious, it was a good thing there was only one bottle of ice wine. Do you now understand why the Philippines is always in massive debt?