Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beautiful buildings can help you survive political debates

On Monday night Intern #4 and I went to a roundtable discussion about health care reform. The event was hosted by SLU's social work school and Center for Social Justice, so she knew everyone organizing it. I felt like a little bit of an imposter - as I always do when I'm surrounded by people with MSW degrees - until I remembered that my job at a health care non-profit totally makes me legitimate.

The panel was a combination of community organizers, lobbyists, health care advocates, and one health law professor. I walked away feeling like I had learned a lot about different health reform ideas, but I also felt like I needed to read A LOT more about single-payer vs. an "opt-in" government health plan. In the broad political landscape, the US has to decide which is worse - bigger government or a for-profit health system that leaves many people without care. Within the reform movement, there is also a lot of argument about the best way to change the system.

I'm not a hard-line conservative on this issue, but I decided at the meeting that many Single-payer advocates scare me. They are usually intense and determined, fired up with moral indignation. If you challenge their beliefs, then you are an idiot with no compassion for your fellow human beings. Their logic is often simplistic and questionable, too. "Every other country does this; we should too!" "Picture how much you pay for health care now. Under single payer you pay nothing! Woohoo!" They have no patience for gradual change that would accommodate the many Americans who fear "socialized medicine."

Luckily, the meeting was in a building full of lovely architecture. Il Monastero used to be a Presbyterian church. Now SLU has added several meeting spaces and rents it our for events. The longer I stared at the room in front of me, the more I noticed. Check out the picture - see how each chandelier is unique? And the Romanesque arches within the ceiling beams? And the perfect circles near the walls? The accent wall that's a different color from the rest? The only part I didn't like was the abstract-ish artwork. It was a little unnerving to have a female nude smirking at us in her voluptuous fertility. What exactly was the point of that tryptich, anyway? Intern #4 hates the gaudy carpet. I think that's her social worker frugality talking.

No comments: