Today is the First of Breastober. This month brings a relentless storm of pink ribbons, with all that the pink ribbon entails.
This entry actually has nothing to do with the They Might Be Giants songlet "Stormy Pinkness." I just like the title.
I've never been fond of wearing pink. It's really not in my color palette. It's not a "feminine colors" issue either: I have always loved purple, and I have a lavender shirt and tie that I wear with pride. If you know me, you know that I gravitate toward "winter" colors, the colors that unfortunately make me harder to see when I'm cycling at night.
Today I am wearing a pink necktie to work—solid pink, not bedecked with little pink ribbon logos. I am wearing this cravat not because I support the mighty Breast Cancer Awareness Industry, but because my ladyfriend Kayleen gave it to me to wear.
Kayleen and I are both very aware of breast cancer and its impact on women and families, and we don't need any Susan Komen types to remind us. We have both had women in our families diagnosed with breast cancer. Kayleen's mother just died from it this year. My own mother's stage one breast cancer was diagnosed and treated several years ago; she has been cancer-free for more than five years now.
Yes, there are other diseases and problems in this ever-shrinking world that affect more lives and deserve our attention. Breast cancer awareness does not mean that one is unaware of those other diseases and problems, although for some it seems the only issue worthy of discussion.
Even if white-woman's-nipple pink were not the symbolic color of breast cancer awareness, it has long been symbolic of socialism—although that's a deeper, rosier shade of pink than this necktie. There are some aspects of public policy wherein socialism makes sense, and health care is one of those.
Dozens of nations have already demonstrated that a single-payer national health plan is superior in every measurable way to the US "health care system." Under single-payer plans, health outcomes improve, preventive care is taken seriously, life expectancy increases, and costs decrease dramatically. No patient ever goes bankrupt due to illness or injury.
Yesterday Kayleen made use of her new health insurance for the first time since starting her current job this summer. Among other things, she had a mammogram and a bone density scan (all clear), and she received a prescription for a medication to keep her blood sugar (high, not diabetic) under control. It was a bureaucratic nightmare every step of the way.
The complaint that bringing the government into health care means bureaucracy, strangling actual medical care, forgets that our current system is multiple interlocking bureaucratic boondoggles. This system routinely denies care to those who need it, or makes it prohibitively expensive. Just one example: Without insurance, that month's worth of blood-sugar meds (requiring prior approval every single month) would cost $480. That's $5,760 a year.
Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein, an internal medicine specialist, would like to implement what she calls Medicare for All. It wouldn't be complicated, legislatively: Just change the existing Medicare law to remove the 65-and-up age restriction. But it would be difficult, because our Congresscritters have this bizarre fear of anything with the slightest flavor of socialism.
In the 1960s, conservative legislators howled that Medicare would bankrupt the nation. Congress passed it anyway, President Johnson signed it...and 50 years later we have an obscenely immense national debt, but that's mostly from our gigantic "defense" budget, NOT from giving seniors access to health care.
For me, breast cancer awareness also includes awareness of how corporations are allowed to poison our air, water, and soil with carcinogens like the multiple nasty chemicals in fracking fluids. Remember last year's kerfuffle about Baker Hughes and its pink drill bits? The Green Party is all about regulating corporate behavior in order to maintain human health and happiness. This includes switching as quickly as possible to renewable energy sources instead of desperate attempts to extract and burn Earth's remaining fossil fuels.
Some of those same corporate polluters pump millions of public relations dollars into the Komen Fund and my former employer MD Anderson Cancer Center. You may notice that these beneficiaries of corporate largesse seldom say anything about the environmental causes of any type of cancer. They'll advise you just to eat right, quit smoking, get your boobs squeezed and prodded once a year, and be wealthy enough that you don't have to live downwind of a refinery.
So free the nipple...not just from societal standards of modesty and needless sexualization of the breast, but also from cancer. Wear your pink, but know what it means. And carry your magical pink umbrella to shield you from all those ribbons falling from the sky.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.