My daughter left this morning. She’s in flight now, to her home in Fairbanks, Alaska.
We are a close family.
I thought my mother kept close tabs on me when I was her age (or slightly younger) and lived a distance away. She sometimes called me more than once a week.
Thanks to our cell phone family talk plan, unlimited text plan, Facebook, and email, our family (as do many families) stays in touch on a daily basis.
Two parents. Three children. We see pictures and videos and status updates and listen to voice messages and talk in the car.
Nevertheless, Sarah has been awfully generous about using her savings to make trips home — and we’ve learned to really appreciate the time we have with her when she visits.
Each time she leaves, it’s sad, and usually quite dramatic.
In Fairbanks, it stays below zero all winter. Here in North Carolina, in early December, it’s a little cool — but still a perfectly pleasant day for golf or tennis.
It’s also a long, expensive flight.
So of course, when she visits, the subject of her moving closer to home comes up.
She’s been there three years and has her reasons for staying there. There are relationships, people, community, meaningful work — all the things that add up to “a life.”
But there are other reasons that one could call economic, even political.
The unemployment rate here is high. In Fairbanks, there are jobs — and she has one, with a non-profit that helps protect women who are victims of domestic violence. The work is meaningful and challenging.
And it provides health insurance.
This Sunday afternoon, as C-Span airs the U.S. Senate debate on health care reform, my daughter’s ability to move closer to her family in North Carolina — were she to choose to do so — hangs in the balance.
She has a need for health care — as we all do — and she sometimes uses her benefits.
It’s doubtful she could get a job here that provides health insurance. And it’s doubtful she could make enough money to pay for her own.
Nobody realistically expects true, socialized medicine any time soon, but the public option — obviously needed and such a hot topic — would be a good start.
Then, people could move where they want, do what they want, and buy health insurance they could afford.
People could try a different kind of work if they wanted — or start a business.
Presumably, the health insurance would be actual insurance, rather than what many people have now — partial insurance, overpriced, that can be cancelled at any time for those who use it.
The arguments against socialized medicine, and the public option, are “free marketplace” arguments.
Yet, this free marketplace limits the freedom Americans have to choose work and make changes in their lives.
The free marketplace is excellent when we’re talking about products and services that are optional — that people are free to buy or not buy, shop or not shop.
But health care doesn’t fall into that category. We’re not free to choose whether or not we need it. We all need it.
Wouldn’t health care for all — paid for by all — provide more flexibility (a.k.a. freedom) to us all?