In 2002 I ran for a seat in the Indiana statehouse. This area is very red, as in conservative. If you don’t have an (R) next to your name you don’t stand much of a chance, and I fully understood this. I did it mostly to hope to get some ideas heard and as a civics lesson for my daughter. I took her with me to campaign events, debates, speeches and to shake hands at the poll.
Another person named Bob Garton was running for State Senator. He had been ‘Senate pro tempore’ for a number of years. He lived here in my little home town of Columbus, Indiana, mostly famous for Cummins Diesel Engines, (ask any truck driver), and NASCAR racer and backside smacker Tony Stewart. Mr. Garton had asked the senate for $30 some million dollars to build what he call ‘the learning center’.
Then Oprah Winfrey started it all. She had a show about some states who have backlogs of rape kits 12-18 months. A few days later there appeared a story in the Indianapolis Star about a young lady from Evansville that had been raped and she wanted to know why she was still waiting after a year and a half. I wondered the same. The next thing that happened I couldn’t believe. I called the Star offices and asked if I could have the girls phone number. They gave it to me.
I talked to her and she told me her story. She was in her early 20’s and riding a bicycle when her attacker pushed her over and drug her into a nearby wooded area where he ‘allegedly’ raped her. (Just to be on the safe side I had to say allegedly.) She said he continues to harass her to that day when I was talking to her, trying to get her to drop the charges. She was relentless, the system was not.
I wrote a letter to the editor to the Indy Star and I couldn’t believe they published it on the Sunday before the last week of budget wrangling in the house and senate. Here is pretty much what I said:
“I think Senator Garton has got his priorities a little mixed up. Just before an election he’s trying to bring 30 some million dollars worth of bacon home to his district while ignoring all the rape kits that have been setting on shelves for as long as 18 months. Wouldn’t it better to get these people off the streets of our state? I think so. These women and girls have suffered enough. The system should work for them.”
The next day, Monday, I got an email from Senator Garton that just said:
“Mark, we could have just talked about this.”
The next day he added $12,000,000 to the Indiana state budget to reopen 3 shifts at the state police labs to get that backlog caught up. I asked the local ABC affiliate to do a story on it just a month ago and they did. The turnaround is now 30-60 days. A huge improvement over the old ways. So, if you want to get politicians to do something it takes a combination of shame and good writing.
I had an Idea for a great new health care system, without any mandates
Here’s how it works. No one would ever pay more than 20% of their gross annual income for their healthcare in any one year. Example: Married couple with 2 kids, breadwinner makes $50,000 a year, they would be responsible for the first $10,000 of healthcare bills for that year. The government pays for everything over that amount. They would likely get insurance to cover that first 20%. Those policies would be very inexpensive for one unique reason.
The insurance company would already know what is the most they would ever have to shell out for any one policy holder in any one year. That’s not the case now. Even if people didn’t buy the insurance they would most likely be alright. I would garnish wages up to 10% if they have health care bills they need to pay for out of pocket.
This program could completely replace every government health care scheme we now have, including the VA. If your income is zero, then you pay 20% of zero,..which of course is nothing. I’m thinking the streamlining of the system would save a lot of money.
The point is this,…Half of all bankruptcies are healthcare related. This program would eliminate that. There are many other things we could do, but this would be a good start.
Hey, they’re not all gems, but I’ll give it a shot.