I Talked Healthcare With Howard Schultz. He Doesn't Have Any Good Ideas

I Pressed Howard Schultz On His Plans For Healthcare. His Answers Sucked

Why shouldn't the government eradicate a broken, exploitative industry?

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On April 10, 2019, the former CEO of Starbucks — and possible Independent presidential candidate — Howard Schultz visited my hometown of Wichita, KS for a town hall. I was particularly surprised by someone like Schultz going to a town in Kansas to openly take questions that aren't previously vetted. For that, I certainly give Schultz credit. Schultz has said that he will only run if the Democrats don't choose a moderate candidate, so it's very possible he could be a spoiler to help Trump. Thankfully, I had the chance to ask him about his very anti-Medicare for all stance.

Below are the exact words of Schultz and I for you to evaluate on your own. Of course, I will splice in some of my opinions here and there.

If you're unsure of what Medicare for all is, it's a policy presented by some Democrats and Independents such as Bernie Sanders that propose to expand the current Medicare program to every American citizen to ensure that every person has the right to healthcare, including those that currently can't afford private health insurance.

Before we start, I'll say that while I certainly disagree with him on healthcare, there are a few stances I agree with such as the need for serious reform on prescription drug prices. I also think Schultz himself is a good guy that is well-meaning. Just because I disagree with him on policy does NOT mean I don't like him as a person.

Anyways, let's talk healthcare with Howard Schultz.

So recently you had quoted that you felt Medicare for all was "un-American" and "unaffordable." So, we already pay double the amount in healthcare insurance premiums compared to every other developed country, and there's also a study from the American Journal for Public Health that 45,000 people die [every year] from lack of insurance. [According to other studies] Medicare for all would actually save Americans money, as the estimated cost is $32 trillion, and Americans pay $34 trillion a year for their private health insurance. So, I'm just wondering, why do you feel that Medicare for all is "unamerican" and "unaffordable?"

Schultz: Thank you for the thoughtful question, the homework you did. I'm not gonna agree with the math. I think you're citing almost chapter-verse the Bernie Sanders Medicare for all program.

(Schultz rejected the math and studies that I have cited here. One of my pet peeves is the rejection of claims or stats without a proper or alternative explanation, which is clearly what's going on here.)

I'll also add that [the cost] was estimated by a Republican think tank study, of $32 trillion, which I would assume is somewhat inflated due to partisan politics.

Schultz: The beginning is the ACA (Affordable Care Act). It was then and was proven to be imperfect. The idea was to provide access as much as possible to 20 to 30 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Since then, two bad things have happened. Premiums have doubled, and 20 to 30 millions Americans are uninsured.

(Schultz is right. The ACA was watered down and wasn't fully what it needed to be. Its original intention was great, but compromise and the Democratic Party's inability to unite forced a very weak version of the original bill.)

Those insured under Obamacare?

Schultz: Yes, those insured under Obamacare. (...) But now we get to you. Medicare for all (...), there is a big downside to the disruption of that. The government hasn't really demonstrated running anything well, let alone a healthcare system for America.

(This is where I'm a bit concerned. The government does, in fact, run two public health systems, Medicare and Medicaid, and they're both viewed favorably by large majorities of the public. Polls also indicate a high level of support for government being responsible for healthcare coverage. It's concerning Schultz didn't realize this.)

Schultz: 180 million Americans get their insurance from their employer. The disruption is massive. (...) You've heard Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and other Democrats say, "We're gonna eradicate, we're gonna remove the insurance industry from America." That is what is un-American. I don't think the government has the right to eradicate an entire industry.

(The eradication of an industry is very much needed and possible when it is exploiting Americans or affecting Americans in a negative way. Take for example the banking system pre-Federal Reserve. Before the central bank was established, there was a private currency system that was different for every state bank. You had different bank notes from different states with different volatilities. To solve this, we instituted the Federal Reserve which made sure to have a central currency that could be accepted everywhere.

One could also say that the measures the government has taken against for-profit college were made to specifically take down that industry.

Plus, 180 million Americans getting insurance from their employer is irrelevant. Under "Medicare for all"... ALL have coverage.)

Schultz: So what're we going to do? Every American should have affordable access to healthcare. (...) What we need is more competition, more choice. Then, (...) I would change the corporate tax rate to 25%, then [incentivize] companies with a tax break to provide all of their employees with health insurance. (...) But, I wanna move back in and fix the ACA.

(First off, "access" is very different from actually getting healthcare. I currently have the right to purchase a Rolls Royce, but I'm not going to be able to buy one. Also, when you take into account how expensive it is to provide private healthcare for employees — way more expensive than paying them elevated wages — it would have to be an incredibly hefty tax break.

Schultz earlier in the town hall talked about compromise and working with both parties in Washington. I thought the ACA would be an excellent example to ask him about his stance on compromise in certain situations.)

I agree with you. I think the ACA is a bit of a watered-down policy. You talked about moderation and working across the aisle, I feel that the Democrats with a supermajority in the Senate worked too much with Republicans and they didn't get a good version of the ACA passed.

Schultz: You are 100% right.

So, I think moderation in that sense wouldn't be a good idea. So, are you pushing for moderation in all cases, or just a few?

Schultz: (...) It's not a question of moderation, it's a question of bipartisanship. We should not be passing bills on the basis of one party's ability to have a supermajority, we should be passing bills that are in the best interest of the country.

(While this quote sounds nice, it really is just a soundbite. This doesn't really answer my question either. It was all about the fact that even with a supermajority, Democrats compromised too much, and it hurt a very good bill that would have done a lot more good for Americans.)

* * *

Based on his responses, Howard Schultz is somewhat mum on healthcare in America. He's completely fine with private healthcare because getting rid of a broken system would "cause too much disruption." What he doesn't (or perhaps does) understand is that insurance companies are not in the business of helping people. It's about the money. He proposes to give an assumed HUGE tax credit to corporations to pay for corporation employee healthcare, as well as a rework of the ACA. There needs to be a serious change regarding healthcare in America, and that begins by giving Americans healthcare as a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it — and I don't believe Schultz is the candidate to do that.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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