Guest Editorial by Miriam Mondlin
The Milwaukee Times
Update: The statistics in this article about wage gaps, poverty & women’s health may be different in 2015 from 2001, when this editorial was published in Milwaukee, but the cause and solution to the basic problem is the same. There needs to be Universal Health Care, not the compromise that is the Affordable Health Care Act, which continues to be based on profit first for corporations, and does not address the REAL needs of health care for American men, women, & children. As I say at the end of this article: …”this will come to be when this urgent question stated by Mr. Siegel is asked and answered honestly: ‘What does a person deserve by being alive?”
I was outraged to learn from the article in The Milwaukee Times (“Wage Gap, Poverty, Bias Harm Women’s Health,” by Melinda Voss 1/4/01} that there are millions of women living in poverty whose health and well-being are seriously affected by the lack of medical services. It is a national disgrace. She quotes from a recent study, “Making the Grade on Women’s Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card” issued by the National Women’s Law Center. It is reported that not one state received a passing mark on women’s health.
Millions of women’s lives are endangered because they do not have health insurance and almost one in ten Americans (9.6 percent) live in an area where there are few or no health care providers. Wisconsin ranks 13th and received an Unsatisfactory mark. According to the Report:
“More than 13 percent of the nation’s women live in poverty – about 18 million. And, in many states, nearly a quarter of women live in households below the federal poverty level… The gap between wages of men and women also reflects the particular economic hurdles facing women even when not living in poverty. Disparities in income levels and educational attainment are strongly associated with disparities in the occurrence of illness and death.”
Behind every statistic is a real person—a woman who worries every day about how she will cover the rent, food and clothing for her children. She may have to choose to neglect her own health so her children can eat. My own mother didn’t go to a doctor when I was a child because she could not afford it, and her health worsened. This was more than 50 years ago and it is unconscionable that Americans are still being deprived of what is a fundamental right.
It is contempt for the life of every citizen that there is not universal health care. Eli Siegel, the great American philosopher, historian and founder of Aesthetic Realism, defined contempt as “the addition to self through the lessening of something else.” He explained that contempt is the basis of our economy, where people are paid as little as possible so owners or stockholders can reap as much profit as possible.
The profit-driven sky-rocketing prices for prescription drugs force people to go without the medications they so desperately need. Mr. Siegel stated with beautiful passion:
“Nobody should ever have to pay for having his body [cared for], even if he wanted to pay…The idea of people worried about their health [and] worried about money is barbarous. It’s ego corruption.”
In the international periodical, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, explains:
“Economics based on some few persons using the needs and labor of others for profit, has continued these decades only through making Americans work under conditions more painful, agitating, insulting than before. Americans have had to work longer hours, increasingly without benefits, without job security, millions are unable to afford medical care…”
To be just to every person, our economy and our health care system must be based on good will, which Mr. Siegel has defined as “the hope of a person that good things happen to things (things include people); with the desire to know what those good things are.” And this will come to be when this urgent question stated by Mr. Siegel is asked and answered honestly: “What does a person deserve by being alive?”
Aesthetic Realism is taught in New York City at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation; 212.777.4490. AestheticRealism.org
This article has been published in other newspapers, including the African Herald in Texas.