Today is Sunday. And Father’s Day.
Believers who celebrate Sabbath on Sunday will go to church and hear exhortations about living a good and moral life. Depending upon the denomination, the focus will be on love and compassion, charity and social justice.
In most families, Fathers will receive sentimental greeting cards from their children thanking them for their patience and love and support. Some will get sweaters or ties or sporting gear; others will have a family dinner.
These Norman Rockwell experiences make us feel good about ourselves. We’re good people, family people, caring citizens.
So here is my question: how many Americans will go to work tomorrow for an employer who has cut his or her hours in order to avoid paying for health insurance? If we are to believe the media reports, it’s not an insignificant number.
At Indiana University, where I teach, there’s a new rule that Graduate Assistants–already poorly paid–cannot work more than 29 hours a week, because then they would be eligible for health insurance. The Indianapolis Star recently reported that several Indiana school districts were planning to cut back hours for many staff positions, so that they could avoid insuring the people in those positions. Private employers, of course, have been engaging in such practices for years, in order to avoid compliance with a number of regulations that apply only when employees work a certain number of hours.
This response to an effort–however flawed–to extend basic health services to people who currently can’t afford those services tells us something about our culture. And what it tells us isn’t consistent with that Norman Rockwell version of ourselves.