Cruelty has a human heart,

And Jealousy a human face;

Terror the human form divine,

And Secrecy the human dress.

William Blake[1]

[J. the Jokester called the other day with a story I hadn’t heard. It seems there was this guy – could have been a girl, I suppose – who walked into a doctor’s office one day complaining about a rash. It was a bad one, running from the fingers on his/ her right hand all the way up the arm to the right shoulder. Well, the doctor ran all the tests permitted by the patient’s insurance, but couldn’t identify a cause for the rash or a treatment the insurance would pay for.

But he did notice, hidden way in the fine print, that the policy might cover surgery “necessary to treat an otherwise incurable condition.” So he raised that issue with his patient, just as an option, of course.

“You know,” he said, “we could solve your problem simply by removing the infected arm.  The rash is confined to that area, so no arm equals no rash. And you might even qualify for disability after the operation.”

The patient was horrified. “Oh, no!” she said; “I need my arm. You see, I work for the circus, and my job is to take care of the elephants. Elephants are very sensitive, and when they’re traveling or on display they tend to overeat and have digestive problems. They get constipated. So I give them enemas to clean them out. To do that I have to reach way up inside and, since I’m right-handed, I use my right arm for that.”

The doctor exploded: “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? It’s obvious now that your rash is job-related. Just leave the circus and move on to something else.”

“What!” she said: “And quit Show Business?”

J. suggests that if you substitute “politics” for show business in this little anecdote, you might get some insight into why John Boehner retired from the House last month. It was really hard to get anything useful out of those Republican elephants, wasn’t it? Perhaps he left for health reasons. That kind of job would make me sick, for sure. Let’s see if the new Speaker, Paul Ryan, has any better luck.

Since we’ve started this blog on a medical note, we might as well continue. Phil called to remind me that it’s open season for Obama Care again, and eligible people have to sign up or face a hefty penalty. Already there are stories out there about folks who can’t afford to opt in or opt out. I haven’t seen any statistics, probably because there aren’t any yet, but I have no problem believing this is the case. While today’s unemployment rate is down to about 5%, many of the employed don’t make a lot of money. When the price of anything big – like healthcare – goes up, it can crush a family budget.

Phil says he doesn’t expect Conservatives to change their tune about Obama Care any time soon. It has to go. That’s not because it’s too expensive for families; instead, many Conservative activists are simply jealous of this new entitlement for the not-so-well-off. That’s kind of harsh, so I’ll let Phil explain himself.]

I don’t want to make a big deal out of this but I think some Conservative activists are basically selfish and jealous of any benefit poor people get at the expense of the rich.

[Oops. Let’s unpack that a little bit. My dictionary says a person is “jealous” if he or she “is envious of someone else’s achievements or advantages; or [has] a resentful suspicion that [his or her] partner is sexually attracted to or involved with someone else.[2]” You’re not saying that Conservatives are sexually jealous of poor people, are you?”]

No, I’m not saying that. I don’t know enough to have an opinion about the personal lives of most Conservative activists. Nor am I interested in researching such things. Rather, I’m more focused on their philosophical position which, in dictionary terms, is that Obama Care offers an “advantage” to the less well-off that they really shouldn’t have. If people don’t have the money for adequate health care, they should simply work harder until, by hook or by crook, they have enough to pay for it. They shouldn’t whine at the doors of the well-to-do for a health care handout.

[Come, now. People on the Right don’t say it quite that way, do they?]

You know the old saying. If it walks like a duck, quacks like one, etc., then it’s a duck. If you recall, back when Obama Care was first being debated, some of the windbags on AM Talk Radio criticized it as Communist inspired. That, of course, pretty much was a falsehood. Marx and Engels, the founders of Communism, would never have approved of a program like Obama Care.[3] They were waiting for a workers’ revolution, sparked by economic dislocation, the gradual impoverishment of almost everybody and the massive accumulation of wealth by the few. Safety net programs like Obama Care might soften the workers’ plight and delay that event.[4] This is the opposite of what Communists, if there are any left, should want. “Communists everywhere [should] support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things,”[5] not attempt to shore up existing structures.

Today the argument has changed somewhat. We’re no longer lectured [incorrectly] about Communism; instead we’re told Obama Care must be repealed because it infringes on our “liberty” as citizens. And what “liberty” is that? The liberty to die for lack of medical attention when we don’t have the money to pay for it?

Anatole France, I think, understood this kind of inequality. When he talked about the law, he said: “They [the poor] have to [labor] in the face of the majestic equality of the law, which forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”[6] Liberty, as that notion is used by the Right, is similarly democratic. It allows everyone who has the money access to health care, regardless of their race, religion, etc. Poor people need not apply.

[Phil. You haven’t really answered one question. Why in the world are people on the Right so indignant about Obama Care? To me the whole ruckus looks to be overblown. It’s really only a small expansion of a public/ private system we already have in place.]

Yes, but it’s an advantage given to the poor, not to the rich. Of course, the rich don’t need it, because they have money; but I think some are jealous anyway. “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.”[7] And, it looks like Conservatives are obsessed. They can’t leave Obama Care alone, and that’s a danger. Before they’re done in 2016, they’ll either succeed in repealing it, and thereby deprive a lot of folks of health care coverage before an election, or fail and look foolish.

Neither sounds like a good option, but who can tell them that? John Dryden, I think, pretty much described their current mental state. “Thou tyrant, tyrant Jealousy, Thou tyrant of the mind![8]” I don’t think he was talking about health care but still, it fits. Conservatives are locked down, into an unalterable position, with no prospect of change. The tyrant is in charge.

[They do look obsessed, don’t they?  But if we’re going to end with quotes, I’ll stick with Shakespeare: i.e.,

“O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock [t]he meat it feeds on.[9]

Is jealousy a green-eyed monster that feeds on the jealous? What other “meat” could there be? So does that mean jealous politicians, or their sponsors, may destroy themselves? That would be an interesting political trend, don’t you think?]

Forget it, G. You’re too hopeful. Shakespeare didn’t know everything.

[1] See Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (6th Edition, 2004) (henceforth ODQ at ___) at William Blake, p. 122, 123, n. 22.

[2] See Compact Oxford English Dictionary (3rd Edition, 2005) at jealous, p. 544.

[3] Do you want to know more about the Communist Manifesto? Take a look at the blog of 04/23/2012, What Did Marx and Engels Really Say? It’s available at

[4] See Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848, English Edition, 1888, Progress Publishers 1969), currently available at  The internet version is paginated, so in the future we will cite it as Manifesto at ___.

[5] See Manifesto at p. 34.

[6] See ODQ at Anatole France, p. 331, n. 19.

[7] See ODQ at H.G. Wells, p. 828, n. 18.

[8] See ODQ at John Dryden, p. 288, n. 29.

[9] See ODQ at William Shakespeare, p. 713, n. 27. The quote is from Othello.