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A Funny Story?

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A member of my family who (IMHO) listens to too much conservative hate-talk radio told me a story yesterday that I was supposed to accept as true and that I was supposed to think was very funny. It turned out that I seriously doubt that it is true and I found it funny in the sense of odd rather than hilarious. You can be the judge, but I suspect (since the writers are on strike) that the story was invented in some right-wing think tank and is being distributed over talk-radio and by word of mouth.

Let me tell the story before I go any further:
This guy happens to own some kind of generic uniform.

When he has some medical emergency that requires him to go to an emergency room, in a panic he takes the time to go to his computer and download a logo to paste on his uniform. When he gets to the emergency room the room magically clears out and they call him after only a brief wait.

The logo? Oh, it was an INS logo.

First, why don't I believe this supposedly true story? For one thing, I have to wonder how realistic a logo that is downloaded from the internet might look on a uniform.

Secondly, I have to wonder how many undocumented immigrants are ever in an emergency room at one time and of those how many would be carefully examining the logos on the shirt of everyone that enters the waiting room.  I suspect that if emergency rooms were really filled to the brim with undocumented immigrants then INS officers would already be sitting in emergency rooms.   Finally, this story just fits too well with the story-line that the right-wing fear-mongers are trying to promote to scare everyone about the "illegal alien problem".

If you have bought into this story-line then you believe that immigrants are streaming across the Mexican border at a steady rate in order to take advantage of the fantastic medical care available in our emergency rooms. You probably imagine that the bulk of the people in emergency rooms are "illegal immigrants" (they are illegal because they have committed the illegal act of entering our country). In this regard it is interesting to note that the fine American who scared away all of these "illegal immigrants" also just committed the much more serious illegal act of impersonating a federal law enforcement officer. 

The World Health Organization recently issued a report comparing health systems of various countries and it is true that Mexico was in 61st place while the U.S. was in 37th place. However Costa Rica found itself in 36th place, so you would think that Mexicans seeking better health care would be sneaking into Costa Rica in preference to the United States. Who knows, maybe they are.

The reality is that Mexicans come here looking for work, not health care. In the current political environment they are probably reluctant to go anywhere in public unnecessarily, so if they do go to an emergency room it is because they are quite desperate for medical help. So it is supposed to be funny that this guy should scare away a room full of desperate people by impersonating a federal officer. I guess I just don't have a good enough sense of humor.

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Attended college thanks to the generous state support of education in 1960's America. Earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois followed by post doctoral research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. (more...)

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