The idea was given to me by the charming Alex Lange, who lives with his clever parents in Colorado. As many of you will recall, Alex was the cause of his parents' being turned down for a health insurance policy because Alex is " too chubby." As of this morning, Alex's family is about to become the proud owner of a new insurance policy because the insurance company, after seeing the story on NBC News, realized that that wasn't what they meant at all, thanked the Langes for drawing the matter to their attention, and said they could sign them up after all. Yay!! Mission accomplished!
Now, why did this ploy work? For several reasons: Alex himself is extremely cute and clearly healthy as a horse. The inherent silliness of the insurance company's position was so obvious that even network executives could perceive it. But even more important, the story fit beautifully with network news organizations' insatiable appetite for human interest vignettes. We all know that the media stopped reporting news long ago and went into the business of entertaining its audience with a long-running, cast-of-thousands soap opera. So, if the networks need characters and plot lines for their soap opera, and we all need a rational national health care plan, why not send lots and lots of little stories to NBC News, and see if we can inform the media and embarrass the heck out of our Congresspersons at the same time?
So that's the idea: scour your family and friends for similar incidents and situations that illustrate the need for everybody's health to be covered, without qualification, and cheerfully. I realize that not all of you have new babies, but if you do, work the kiddies into your message, and pose them on your knee as you tell your story. Send email to NBC News, attach photos, and if you can use video tape, include a link to your story on YouTube, or wherever. Keep the message short, simple, and to the point. Everybody, make your own tiny Sicko, and email it right in. Sample dialogue might be, "My employer would like to hire me full time, but she can't because she couldn't afford health insurance for me. Cindy and I [smile down at baby on knee] would really enjoy it if I had health coverage just for being alive." For those of you without current babies, you can use older people, but make sure they smile wistfully as they describe their health or employment problem, and how it would change for the better with single payer health coverage. If you're an attorney or a medical person, mention H.R. 676 and grin like a maniac. Whatever your medical/employment problem, perch a baby on your lap or shoulder as you make your pitch. If you absolutely can't find a baby, borrow a puppy.
I envision all this as a sort of Better Baby Barrage of information and human interest to our newsmakers and lawmakers. Be sure to mention that you voted in the last election unless you didn't. In that case, say you might vote for a strong advocate of single payer in the next election. What's the worst that could happen if large numbers of Americans put this plan into action? The worst that could happen would be that NBC News's email could crash and cause them some annoyance. Does this bother us? I feel that they should accept a little inconvenience as a small price to pay for lots of real news that they didn't have to pay for themselves.
What's the best that could happen? Oh, lots of things: we could get some attention to this enormous problem that could be solved so easily. We could embarrass the network news and Congress itself. Look up the Blue Dog Democrats and send them a copy of your message. Send a copy to Teddy Kennedy's replacement. Send copies everywhere. I guarantee that the 75% of the populace who already favor a single payer plan all love babies already. I'll bet the remaining 25% find it fairly hard to resist them too.
Workers: if you can email, and can send photos or videos, you have the means of production in your hands! Seize the means of production and make the news yourselves! Shame your elected representative! You have nothing to lose but, perhaps, an unreliable and costly private health care plan, and everything to gain! Let the babies lead us into a bright new health care future!