At 8:30 PM my father was being rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. By 11:30 PM he was opening his eyes in the recovery room, feeling semi-normal. The fresh stent they put in his one blocked artery got his blood flowing correctly again. And as of this afternoon, he is home and living without any restrictions.
This, my friends, is a modern, medical miracle.
40 years ago my grandfather had a similar, although admittedly more profound, problem. Still, it required weeks of drama and a multi-hour surgery that included ripping open his chest, cracking open his his ribs, taking arteries from his leg and and moving them to his heart, and days and days of waiting and hoping and praying he would recover.
I know we like to trash the healthcare system here in America. But whatever system has allowed us to go from major open heart surgery to a simple, two-hour procedure, followed by joking and laughing in the recovery room and a discharge from the hospital in less than 48 hours – in less than a generation – is doing something right. And I, for one, am excited to see where it goes from here.
Our problem isn’t the CARE part. The CARE is getting borderline Star-Trek worthy. It’s the “how do we pay for this?” part.
If you don’t like the current financial structure of our healthcare system, remember one thing: it was given to you by the government. It even bears the name of one of our most popular presidents.
Personally, I haven’t been able to afford healthcare for about two years. Fortunately, my children are covered under a state, S-CHIP program. Because they are both high risk patients. But they weren’t always covered and who knows how long they will be.
What I can tell you is that they have been on half dozen other different plans, depending on which way the governmental winds have blown. And as it stands now, this is their best option. For my wife and me, the best option is actually to not get insurance at all and pay the fine.
“Why,” you may ask, “would a hotshot songwriter, who has written over 20 number one songs, broken chart records and earned millions of dollars not be able to afford health insurance?”
The answer? As it turns out, that same government that messes with and tinkers around with healthcare, COMPLETELY CONTROLS my profession. The songwriting trade is the ONLY trade in American history that has always been completely regulated and controlled by congress and the courts. And so, me and my songwriter brothers and sisters are losing income, losing houses, losing our life savings and losing our minds, because technology has blown past the government’s ability to keep up.
What I do now – what I have spent my life honing and shaping and perfecting and sharpening …is now worth nothing. That is not an overstatement.
I recently sold my entire catalog (a catalog is ALL the songs I own that I have written) to my current publisher. And I sold something that at one point might’ve been worth millions …for thousands. All the while, I keep getting told over and over again how lucky I am to even be getting paid ANYTHING to do this and how little I’m worth on the open market. Why am I worth so little? Is it because I suck? Maybe …but Billboard, R&R, the radio and nearly every critic of note say no. It’s because the value of what I make has been driven so low, that no one can figure out how they would ever get their money back for investing in such a thing. And why is that? Because the government “fixed” everything for songwriters 108 years ago. Yay! So while everyone else is participating in the biggest music boom of all time, the ONE small area of the music business not doing so is the ONE completely run by the government. Coincidence?
And so, now I can’t afford the healthcare THEY fixed, because THEY fixed my profession. If I could tell the government one thing it would be this: PLEASE STOP FIXING THINGS.
If you think you want the government to run healthcare, take it from someone in the only profession completely at their mercy …no you don’t.
The best thing the government could do is write an ACA repeal bill that says:
1. All that stuff in the ACA is now null and void.
2. You can now sell health insurance anywhere in the country. Hell, anywhere in the world, for all we care.
3. If you put high risk people on your rolls, we’ll give you a dollor-for-dollar tax write-off.
4. If you don’t follow through on paying what your contract says your supposed to pay, it will be a ten million dollar fine and minimum 20 years in federal prison for everyone working in your office.
Bye …we’re now out of the healthcare business!
The best thing they could do for songwriters is write a bill that says:
1. This bill nullifies all other copyright law preceding it.
2. Content creators own their work outright and have full and free rights to negotiate rates on any and all media formats.
3. We will enforce whatever agreements are entered into by all parties, provided ALL parties have been allowed to sit at the negotiation table.
Bye …we’re now out of the songwriting business!
Look, I’ve met with these congressional leaders and they are actually good people on BOTH sides of the aisle. They sleep in their offices and they work 18 hours a day, and we force them to become experts on everything from tractors to scalpels. They are overwhelmed and overworked. Because we the people keep asking them to fix our lives. Somehow, in the grand experiment of self determination and free will, some of us still need a king to tell us what to do and how to act. But there are some things – hell, A LOT of things – the government just isn’t good at. Me and every other songwriter alive are living proof.
Our particular government wasn’t designed for micro managing. It was designed for broad strokes; guaranteeing liberty, personal rights and a fair shot for everyone. Getting it involved in managing mammagrams, strep tests and heart procedures is a really, really bad idea. Take it from someone who has to live with them involved in royalty rates and copyright procedures.
Henry the eighth had gout. He put sugar in his wine and ate exotic meats to try and get rid of it. 500 years later, we know that THAT was probably causing his gout in the first place. It’s like going to the doctor for lung cancer and them telling you you’re just smoking the wrong brand of cigarettes. Maybe the cure is actually killing you.
One day people might begin to realize that the reason the government hasn’t been able to fix their particular problem is because, well, maybe …just maybe …the government caused it in the first place. Even if they had the best of intentions.
Take it from a songwriter. We know first hand.