There are certain things in the world I know very little about.
I am a very intelligent person. (OWN HORN TOOT TOOT.) I’m sure, if I sat down and studied and read and forced myself to read up on these things, I would be better informed, but I’m – ok, I’m going to admit this, ready? – extremely lazy.
There are things that interest me, so I am more apt to read up on those frequently. Science stuff. Some pop culture stuff (not so much “ZOMG JESSICA SIMPSON LOOKS AM-AYYY-ZING!” but more books, television, culture-related things.) Social issues. Geeky technical stuff. The arts. Weird news, like aliens and UFOs and Loch Ness monster sightings. Serial killer stuff (I know, I KNOW, I’m a huge weirdo.) Animal-related adorableness. Things like that. I’m very interested in them, so it’s easier for me to stay informed about them. They pop up in my news feed, I’m more apt to click on them.
However, there are certain things that, no matter what I read about them, I remain SO CONFUSED that I kind of just give up.
The two main things lately, to boil them down to their essence, are health care and money. (Oh, well, and sports, but I’m hardly alone in not caring about sports. There are a lot of people who don’t care about sports, and it’s not like being ill-informed about what’s going on in the world of sports is going to negatively affect you as you go about your daily business.)
First, we have the Affordable Care Act that just happened here. I guess you either are SUPER EXCITED ZOMG that the vote passed, or you are SO SO EFFING PISSED the vote passed. I think I’m probably happy? I feel like I should be. Overall, it’s providing health care to people who couldn’t afford it otherwise, right? And we have a lot of underinsured (or non-insured) people here in the States. Listen, when I lived elsewhere than where I do now and was very, very, VERY poor (unlike just the TWO “verys” of poor I am now) and the employer I worked for didn’t offer health care, I had to go to the free clinic for health care. Well, I don’t know if it was so much the “free” clinic. I think to see a doctor it was like $5, and medication was pretty cheap, like maybe also $5, or something. All I knew was, thank goodness for the free clinic, because otherwise, I would have had NO health care at ALL. I was making minimum wage. How the hell could you pay a typical doctor co-pay without health care coverage with minimum wage? You couldn’t, is how. Well, maybe you could, if you chose not to eat that month, or maybe not to pay your power bill. (Don’t ask. There were months I couldn’t pay my power bill.)
So if I was still in that situation, I think probably this would be good, right? According to this article I found today, it says that my healthcare under this plan (were I uninsured) would be 1% of my income (which goes up to 2.5% of my income by 2016) to have access to normal-human healthcare. I used to make approximately $360 a week before taxes took a bite out of it, back in minimum-wage days. I don’t know if that’s pre-tax or after-tax, but let’s assume it’s pre-tax. That would mean, for $14.40 a month (going up to $36 a month in 2016), I could have health care coverage. I pay more than that NOW for health care coverage, plus I have to pay co-pays. I would have paid that, back then. Totally would have. (Well, wouldn’t have had a choice – it’s mandatory – but still, the sentiment is there.)
The only thing I don’t think is all that great is that it’s mandatory – I don’t know, doesn’t it seem like, as adults, we should be able to make the decision for ourselves if we want it or not? There’s probably some reasoning behind this I’m not privy to as to why it’s mandatory, I don’t know. It just seems wrong to force people to do something. Am I off-base on that?
Now, people like my dad are FURIOUS about “Obamacare.” FUUUUUURIOUS. I have to listen to a rant about this probably on a weekly basis.
Things that make my dad furious and shouty:
Every small business is going to have to close because they can’t afford to insure their employees. EVERY SINGLE ONE! There won’t be any small businesses left, Amy! Not a one! Walmarts as far as the eye can see! THE COMMUNIST PRESIDENT HATES SMALL BUSINESS! (Just a side note, the last time my dad shopped somewhere that wasn’t a chain store was…oh…I can’t even remember, but I’m thinking never. Maybe when he was 5 and all they HAD was Mom & Pop places.)
No one should be FORCED to have anything! Including health care! Poor people don’t WANT health care, and this COMMUNIST PRESIDENT is FORCING them to have it ZOMG!!!!!1!!!! It is a PLOT!
This is all a scam the COMMUNIST PRESIDENT (who, by the way, isn’t even MERKAN! Because TRUMP said it! On the NEWS!) is perpetrating, because he is in CAHOOTS! With the HEALTH CARE COMPANIES! So they can all make ALL THE MONEY! On the blood, sweat and tears of SMALL BUSINESSMEN and POOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T EVEN WANT HEALTH CARE! Shout, shout, SHOUT!!!!
Um…I think they might actually want health care. Don’t you think they might want health care? I did, when I was poor x 3 as opposed to my current poor x 2. I was glad the free clinic was there, but I was sadface I had to use it, because I worked really hard, and I wished I worked somewhere that offered me health care. The doctors were really nice, but always gave you the pity-face, and the place was kind of run-down and filthy and I always left feeling like maybe I had contracted lice from the waiting room couch because it smelled weird and was itchy. I don’t know. I would have been pretty happy to pay my $14.40 a month and feel like I mattered and had real coverage.
But maybe I’m completely off-base. See, I might be completely wrong about all of this. I’m kind of not the most well-informed. Because I HAVE insurance. I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s expensive, and it’s not very good, but my office offers health care (for a premium every month, and a high doctor’s visit co-pay, and a co-pay when you get your prescriptions, but it’s better than some of the health care plans my friends have – or the fact that some of them don’t have any coverage at all, you know?)
So, yeah, I guess I’m pro the Affordable Care Act. Does this make me a dirty hippie? I don’t dare tell Dad, there will be SO MUCH SHOUTING and “how could someone SO SMART be SO STUPID” and “I DIDN’T RAISE YOU TO BE COMMUNIST” and I try to avoid things like this because they make me need a drink at 5:30pm on a Wednesday, you know?
And, now, money. No, not MY money. I know just fine about my money. I get paid, I pay my bills that are due in the next two weeks with it and some groceries and some gas, and I have about $14 dollars left over and that is my MAD MONEY and MAN do I live it up with that mad money! I go CRAZY with my $14. (I might be exaggerating a little. Sometimes I have as much as $20 left over, and on those days, I buy myself a pony.)
Dad’s latest thing to be shouty about is the state of Europe. Specifically, the state of the European Union, which apparently is having money issues and all the members are going bankrupt except for Germany, and Germany won’t bail out all the other members, so everyone’s all pissy with Germany about that, I guess. Re-read the sentence above, and you have the entire of what I understand about what’s going on with the state of the European Union’s money issues. I’m most completely serious. I don’t even understand what’s going on HERE with OUR money issues, how the hell can I be expected to understand what’s happening in EUROPE?
Because I have no money, and never have (the only reason I have any money saved for retirement is because of our office 401(k) plan, otherwise, I’d be Walmart greeting and living under a bridge abutment when I retire, and I can’t guarantee that I won’t be doing that anyway, because I think there’s like $132 in my 401(k) account right now or something, I don’t know, I don’t check that shit, I’m totally the grasshopper and not the ant, I don’t make enough money to be the ant) money remains this weird, incomprehensible thing to me. I think I need to take a 5th grade comprehension level economics class. I don’t know how exchange rates work. I don’t know how banks work. I don’t know how stocks and bonds work. I really, really don’t. YES, I’m well-aware if I got a book out of the library or read up online or SOMETHING I could EDUCATE myself on this, and it’s something I SHOULD understand, but you know how some people are dyslexic? I think I’m money-dyslexic. Is that a thing? I feel like if it isn’t, it might be a one-person thing, and that person is me. I’m like Patient Zero of Money Dyslexia. I look at something that’s trying to explain a money issue to me and all the words go wonky, I’m most completely serious right now. NO, I’m not asking you to explain it to me in the comments. Not at all. I’m just SAYING, I don’t understand what’s going on in the world with money, other than I think the whole world, except maybe China and Germany, is going broke. I blame borrowing. Credit card debt can be a bitch, I totally had to deal with that shit right after college and it was bad. I don’t even HAVE a credit card now. I don’t think they’ll give me one. My credit score is 4. What’s that? The lowest credit score you can have is 200? Like I said, I’m quite sure mine is 4.
I’ve read like seventy-six articles because this seems like a huge deal and I kind of like to be a citizen of the world, you know? And this is a thing that is happening and I know people that live in Europe and I worry about them. But the minute I start reading: MONEY DYSLEXIA. It’s like the whole article is written in Mandarin. Pretty much the only part I understand is that Germany’s doing ok (I’m glad, that’s where Ken is) and other countries aren’t (that makes me less glad, I want everyone to be doing ok. Because I AM A DIRTY HIPPIE.) I read a very interesting Wikipedia about the EU today that taught me smart things that I didn’t know. Wikipedia kind of fills in the gaps in my sad upstate-New-York education. Shh, don’t tell my teachers, they did the best they could with what they had to offer.
Anyway, so the other night on the phone, this conversation happened:
Dad: Where does the assassin live?
Me: Germany. You know that.
Dad: I want to talk to him.
Me: What? No.
Dad: He and I need to have a chat.
Me: This sounds ominous. Did one of your friends turn up dead or something?
Dad: No. I want to talk to him about the EU.
Me: Um. I don’t think…no. I don’t think that would be a good idea.
Dad: No, I think he and I should talk about what’s going on over there.
Me: That’s a terrible idea. Why would you want to do that?
Dad: I’ve been watching it on the news. I love Germany.
Me: Oh. Ok. You never liked Germany, even when you lived there, except you loved the beer. Why do you love Germany now?
Dad: Because they won’t help those other dirty hippie members of the EU.
Me: I don’t know anything about this. I worry about the people in those other bankrupt places. If their country goes bankrupt, will they go hungry?
Dad: I think that’s unlikely. They’re all communists, they’ll share their potatoes or something.
Me: I don’t know if that’s how that works.
Dad: It is, I saw it on the news.
Me: Oh. The news. Yeah.
Dad: Also, I want to warn the assassin that Merkel’s going to be assassinated. Probably he should warn her.
Me: There were way too many “assassins” and variants thereof in that sentence. Why is she going to be assassinated? Also, if Ken were to try to warn his Chancellor she was about to be assassinated, I think he’d be put in some sort of governmental looney lockdown. I wouldn’t like that at all. He’d never get to tweet from prison.
Dad: Well, they’d be sorry they didn’t listen to him, because she’s AWESOME and she won’t back down on this money thing. So they’ll send someone to kill her. That’s what they do.
Me: Who’s they?
Dad: You know. They.
Me: The communists? Or someone else? I’m confused about this nefarious plot.
Dad: All of them. She needs to be careful. I really need to talk to him about this. What do you think he thinks about this?
Me: Um. I don’t…we haven’t talked about it? I don’t know. He loves his country. Your politics and his couldn’t be more different, though. I feel like if you ever talked to him, you’d end up shouting at him, plus it would cost you a lot of money to do so because international calls are pricey.
Dad: I wouldn’t like him yelling at me. What kind of person yells at his friend’s father?
Me: I didn’t SAY he’d yell at YOU. He probably WOULDN’T yell at you. He’s very calm. I’m saying YOU would yell at HIM, and that would be distressing. I don’t want you yelling at my friends. Remember the time I invited someone over and we all played Monopoly and you started calling her a dirty cheater and threw houses at her and things got all awkward and heated?
Dad: I’m pretty sure you just made that up right now.
Me: Pretty sure not. Remember, I said I would never play Monopoly with you again, and I haven’t, ever since, because it makes you crazy and you start calling everyone communists and slumlords and capitalist pigs and then you roll the dice so hard they bounce off the board and bruise whoever’s in the way of them and when they complain you tell them to stop being a baby, that’s how the Game of Life is played, and when we tell you this isn’t the Game of Life, you say “that’s what you think?”
Dad: That assassin wouldn’t even be close enough for me to throw a Monopoly house at him. He lives in GERMANY, duh. I can’t throw a Monopoly house that far. Tell him I want to talk to him about the EU. I think he wants to talk to me about it.
Me: Yeah. No. No, that’s not going to happen. I’ll ask him what he THINKS about what’s going on over there, and I will tell you what he SAYS, but you’re not talking to him. No more shouting at my friends.
Dad: I WOULD NOT SHOUT AT HIM I LIKE THE ASSASSIN HE LIVES IN GERMANY IT’S THE ONLY COUNTRY THAT IS NOT FILLED WITH DIRTY HIPPIES OVER THERE.
Me: What are you doing right now?
Dad: Talking in a heightened and exaggerated fashion.
Me: I’m hanging up now.
Dad: Go Tweeter that assassin and set up a time for us to talk. Or is this the time he’s usually assassinating someone? You don’t want to interrupt him at work, that’d be rude.
Me: GOODBYE DAD.
So apparently, Dad’s version of what’s happening is that the other members of the EU are all communists, which led to them being lazy slacker dirty hippies, so they lost all their money (I like to imagine that Dad thinks they’re all sitting around playing dice on streetcorners in every European country except Germany, and losing, terribly) and now they want a handout from Germany, but the Chancellor of Germany, who seems to be Dad’s hero and also imaginary girlfriend, will NOT give them a handout, no no no AND nein.
I have the feeling that there are some facts missing from his facts. Ken, because he is BRAVE LIKE A HERO IN A MEDIEVAL TALE, totally said, “I’ll talk to him” but I put the kibosh on that but quick. THERE WOULD BE SO MUCH SHOUTING. I can’t even. I would die of embarrassment. Ken would never speak to me again ever. (Bee tee dubs, when I ran this scenario by Mom, who was not there for this conversation, she said, and I quote, “what the hell was wrong with your father. Was he drunk? Your poor friend would never talk to you again once your father was done with him.”)
So, now you know. I have MAJOR FAILINGS in IMPORTANT WORLD EVENTS. However, if you want to discuss story arcs of the characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or to compare and contrast Anne Sexton’s earlier poetry with her later work, I’m your woman. I AM NOT A COMPLETE VOID. We all have our places in this world. Mine’s just…um…more artsy and less useful overall, is all.