The cliché “power corrupts” is wrong. Power reveals. It reveals the true character of those who possess it.
If you really want to know a person’s character, watch how he relates to those over whom he has power. Almost everyone treats their peers and those above them well. But watch how your friends and colleagues treat their waiter, the retail clerk, the receptionist or secretary, or their spouse and children. Then you’ll begin to understand who that person really is.
Last year, Matt Blunt assumed the power of the governor, and his true character has started to show through. If you want to learn about the type of man the governor is, I suggest you watch the film “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” Produced locally by Rhonda Cleeton and Bill Helvey, this film explores the impact of the governor’s Medicaid cuts on some of the state’s most powerless people.
Unlike previous treatments of this subject, the film doesn’t deal in the hypothetical or abstractions about budget forecasts. Instead, the filmmakers went directly to those affected and let them speak in their own words. Consequently, you will learn a lot in this film that you will not learn elsewhere.
For example, you will learn that a disabled couple who have worked hard to make something of themselves, own a house and contribute to society will be required sell their home and live at the most subsistence level to meet the pay-down on their medical expenses. You will hear several similar stories of the disabled overcoming so much just to have the rug pulled out from underneath them.
You will learn that the barriers to routine and preventive care have gone up to the degree that people are getting sicker and waiting longer until they end up in emergency rooms. You will learn how the fear and anxiety of not knowing what will happen to them tears at the psyche of those people who are, in fact, “out of sight and out of mind.”
What you will not learn, and what I can’t figure out, is the outcome the governor and his friends want from these changes. Do they really believe Missouri churches will be able to cover a $400 million gap in coverage? Or that private insurance will start offering or subsidizing in-home assistant care?
Some think the goal of the Republican “ownership” society is to make the ill and infirm “own” their illnesses and reduce them to abject poverty as punishment for their maladies, taking away their homes, work lives and personal goals.
Most disturbing is that the cuts might well cost us much more in the long run. The cost of health care is not about to decrease, and the number of people who need care and cannot care for themselves is not about to decrease either.
So what do we get with this plan? University Hospital has only recently started operating in the black. With all the cuts for preventive care, including those to the MC-Plus program for children, public hospitals will have to treat these folks after they become deathly ill. The emergency room is the most expensive way to treat someone, and it is the most traumatic to the human body. How is this fiscally conservative?
The filmmakers invited Ed Robb and other local Republican leaders to explain their vision in their own words. They were invited to explain why their plan makes economic sense, why it is so important to our state. But not one member of the majority party had the courage of his or her convictions to stand and answer.
Only when a person has power can he reveal his character. While seeking power or high office, a man might have to hide what he would do with it. As a gubernatorial candidate, Matt Blunt said he would not eliminate people from the Medicaid program but instead would make the system more efficient. Now in power, his true character is revealed.
For your own understanding, watch “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” which is airing on the Columbia Access Channel (Channel 3 on MediaCom). Check out www.cat3.tv for exact air times, or contact the channel at (573) 876-7137.