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Breaking Bad on Health Care

Posted on March 21 2010 10:52 am
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The pretend “Demon Pass” vote in the House looks like it will pass Sunday. All the ifs, ands, buts and maybes seem to be breaking the Democrats’ way. It is fitting that AMC’s award winning Breaking Bad series has its season opener Sunday night. The show’s protagonist, average and ordinary high school chemistry teacher Walter White, has lung cancer. I always thought public school teachers had the best possible health insurance. Apparently there was some kind of glitch in his. Or New Mexico’s education board assumed he had a pre-existing condition.

The plot line for the first 32 episodes has centered on White’s desperate attempt to get money. He needs to pay for his treatments and leave some money for his family in the event of his death. What can he possibly do? He has a sudden insight. He will become a crystal meth dealer. But not just any crystal meth dealer; White uses his chemistry background to produce the finest and purest methamphetamine the DEA (who is led by White’s brother in law) has ever seen in the Southwest. Ultimately, White bungles his way toward a million dollar score. The fact that he needed to permit the choking death of his drug-addled partner’s girlfriend, (which in turn lead to a catastrophic airplane crash in the last season’s final episode) did lead to some misgivings. But not much.
The show is well timed as a perfect metaphor for Obamacare. The ends justify the means for White as it does for President Barack Obama. White’s former business partner was willing to pay for his entire treatment. This “private sector” option was rejected out of jealousy and spite toward his friend’s success. White, who had quit the company before it went big, believed his friends ripped him off. One of his friends is the current wife of the company’s CEO and also White’s ex-fiancé, whom he left.

His resentment toward their success drove him to reject their offer. One might even call it a twisted and inverted Nietzschean “will to power” moment for Walter White.  These television fantasies (The Sopranos, The Brotherhood and even Dexter come to mind) appeal to a presumed repressed inner desire to break all bourgeois conventions to achieve personal control and power. The audience is enticed to identify with the protagonist who willfully and unbelievably risks death while conquering other sociopaths and psychopaths. They are able, unlike us who watch them on our flat screens, to commit murder and do whatever else it takes to win. They have broken free of their bourgeois cocoon but as a diseased insect. The irony of Breaking Bad, of course, (as it ever has been since the “modern era” of such tales began with The Godfather) is Walter White breaks bourgeois convention so that his family can live the bourgeois dream. Who can forget Brando’s pathos as he realizes there will never be a “Governor Corleone or Senator Corleone”.

As episode 32 of Breaking Bad ended, we witnessed the horrific cost of White’s corrupt will to power gambit. His wife leaves him. As he reflects, while sitting next to his swimming pool, he witnesses the mid-air collision he indirectly caused. Part of the crash’s debris, a child’s stuffed animal, falls into White’s swimming pool. He stares at it dumbfounded and confused. But he did get his health care paid for. Success!

The Democrats, led by Obama, Pelosi and Reid, will likely get their health care requirements passed too. But the collateral damage to our political system and ultimately to our economy from its passage is just beginning. Get ready to continue to hear about health care 24/7 until Election Day. Sunday’s passage is just the end of the first season of this show. Economic illiterates with Socialist beliefs run the White House and Congress. The American public has expressed intense opposition to this bill. The public does not want this. The House will not even vote on the bill directly. Both Houses of Congress have relied on procedures previously used to pass small bills no one heard of or cared about. Direct and unmitigated lies have been told about its cost and the impact on how Americans will consume health care under this bill’s regime. Don’t count on Americans just bending over and taking it. Chaos will continue to increase in our political process.

Saul Alinsky lives in Barack Obama.

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