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Another man homeless, thanks to county code 

If you don’t get pissed off about what’s in this week’s paper, you need to turn down the dial on the Propofol you use to keep yourself asleep.

The county code enforcers, not content with their attempts to bankrupt and jail him for housing the homeless, have told Dan DeVaul he can’t go in his own damn home. DeVaul lives in a rustic little apartment above the barn where he keeps some of his cars and a small office. The code enforcers sauntered in the other day, presumably wearing their ever-ready flak jackets, and posted a sign warning him he can’t enter the barn or even his own home anymore.

Of course, they didn’t begin or end there. They’ve also shut down the kitchen where residents are fed, and pretty much every other building except the Victorian farmhouse where most of the residents sleep.

I don’t care what you think about DeVaul or his mission. Just think for a minute about the sheer gall of the well-fed, well-pensioned, well-paid county code enforcers telling a 65-year-old man whose family has lived and ranched in the area for generations that he can’t go back home, can’t get a change of clothes, can’t cook his own dinner, without violating their order and therefore subjecting himself to more fines and potential jail time.

There’s no doubt about it any more: The code enforcers want this to be personal, want him to suffer, and are doing everything they can to make him squirm. We need our civil servants to be cool-headed and impartial, even when they’re dealing with a tough character. These folks clearly can’t fill that role anymore. It’s time for someone to step in and take this out of their hands. They’ve shown they can’t do the job right, and I’m convinced a bad end is coming if the board of supervisors doesn’t step in and make a change.

‘Don’t improve my health insurance. Now!’

The teabagging protesters-without-a-cause have seemingly found a cause. They’re for business-as-usual on the part of the nation’s health insurers. Don’t insure more people! Allow insurers to kick people off as soon as they get sick! Let them increase their prices at will! These are their messages.

It’s the sort of ginned-up daft stuff that would never well naturally from the public, yet this is exactly what we’re expected to believe when we see the protesters, with their pre-printed signs, at health care reform rallies.

People get naturally mad about lots of stuff related to health care talk. Don’t raise my taxes! Don’t make me wait for treatment! Don’t tell me which doctor to see! Any of this, I could well believe if these were the messages on the signs or in the chants.

But “Don’t implement a public plan option as part of health care reform that would take power away from the insurance giants!” I don’t buy it. This isn’t a natural. To use medical terminology: This is an implant.

People who have health insurance (which is still most people, despite the huge numbers without) and who don’t have huge health problems (which, again, is most of those people) may well be satisfied with their coverage. But, really, what the hell do they know about it?

Everybody’s satisfied with their insurance until they need it. And that’s been the problem, so the poll numbers that the reform opponents boast of, showing how many people are satisfied with their current coverage, are essentially meaningless.

This focus on the public option is the sort of message that would get you kicked out of a debating contest, but that doesn’t mean it won’t carry the day in Washington, as lawmakers head to the hustings on their summer break to hear from the voice of the people—which certain people will be happy to regurgitate as soon as the Washington interest groups tell them what to say.
Funny, though, how these messages can go wrong. At a recent rally, a man angrily declared that he was worried the government was going to take over his Medicare! (Hint, hint: The government already runs Medicare, which almost everybody loves.)

His complaints are a symptom of the insurance oligopolists being so worried about their businesses that they’ve tapped into the loony pipe for a steady flow of support. Among the messages they’re trying out:

• Illegal aliens will be gorging (engorging?) themselves on taxpayer-funded sex-change operations.

• Clipboard-wielding bureaucrats will be going door to door making the elderly decide how they’d like to die when it comes time to euthanize them.

• At a recent health care reform rally the protesters held signs calling would-be reformers “traitors.” Elsewhere, they’ve compared reformers to Satanists and Nazis.

• That Lou Dobbs was born in America.

Skip that last one—that’s left over from another column.

I’m all for keeping the government out of our personal lives. Keep the code enforcers from targeting their enemies and end the useless cell-phone law. But when it comes to keeping the insurance companies in check so they don’t kill and cheat more people, that’s exactly the sort of thing we need the government for.

Shredder can be reached at shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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