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Columns

June 30, 2009

Travels with Uncle Chet: Public option is a first step in health care

COLUMBUS _ I heard the truck crunching gravel before I saw it idling down the driveway.

It parked by the back door, and Uncle Chet got out.

``Down here!'' I hollered from the garden where Hon and I were weeding.

He glanced sharply, grabbed his rod and tackle box from the back of the truck and headed our way. We were sitting on moist, dark earth, hands stained greenish-brown from uprooting the invaders.

``Did that yesterday,'' he said, when within earshot.

I let him walk closer before responding, ``We've got an extra hoe.''

``Good for you,'' he said.

``We're almost done,'' said Hon.

``Looks pretty good,'' he walked up to the chicken-wire fence, stared down a row of tomato plants. ``But you'd better stake those.''

``The stakes and twine are in the woodshed,'' I said.

``Actually, I was going to take Buddy fishing,'' he said. ``Told him I would, the other night.''

``He'll love that; he's in the house,'' said Hon.

``Help yourself,'' I said. ``Five dollars a fish.''

``We'll throw them back in your pond,'' he said.

``Throw them back, that's another $5.''

``Now you sound like a health-insurance company _ `one for you, two for me,''' he said, and lowered the box to the grass. ``You don't have TV, so you haven't seen it, but the insurers, Fox Noise and their Republican lackeys in Congress are stomping on the public option.''

``Still, three-quarters of the people want it,'' I said.

``I think they'll come up with some kind of compromise,'' said Hon as she poured herself a cup of water from the orange Thermos.

``The public option IS the compromise.'' Uncle Chet waved his rod, a long flexing pointer, in emphasis. ``What we want is single-payer, like the best 35 health care systems in the world. And what the right wing wants is to keep the status quo: rationing health care by ability to pay.

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