Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Elasticity of Empathy

Whenever people try to convince me to come out for a fundraiser put on for one individual's health care costs, I always find it a little off-putting. There are people all across the country with serious health problems that need money, and it's like they're competing with each other for everyone's disposable income. When the solicitations aren't made to be emotionally compelling, they can seem like popularity contests. The fundraiser for Adam O'Connor seems to have equal portions of both. The story of his illness could only be topped if it was happening to a small child.

This fundraiser stands out because it's "sponsored" by Adam's employer, Real(?) Detroit Weekly. It wouldn't surprise anyone that one of their employees doesn't have health insurance, but this guy is the editor. And check this shit out. The piece they did to promote the fundraiser includes the line "Many of you may be aware of the fact the hospitalization is not cheap, even for those with insurance". They don't come out and say that their editor has health coverage, but they allow you to arrive at that conclusion yourself. If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were giving him some kind of coverage, that coverage was so shitty that it's not enough to cover the cost of keeping him alive. That's right, keeping him alive. That basic thing health coverage is supposed to do.

Events like these should include some outrage. Something like "Why the fuck are still having to put on fundraisers to save people from medical traumas in 21st century America?". Before anyone tries to cite Obamacare in the comments section, let me remind you that most of that law doesn't kick in until 2014. In addition to that, employers with less than 8 full-time employees will be exempt from its new requirements. If Real(?) Detroit Weekly doesn't already slip underneath that threshold, I'm sure they'll finagle something so that they'll slither under it.

This Adam guy is no less deserving of your $10 than anyone else (except maybe sickly small children), so if you've got nothing better to do tomorrow night, go to that place in Ferndale that you always got confused with the Magic Stick when you first started coming out to shows. It will be all the same people you run into all the time anyway, and that's never bothered you before. The only exception will be that the people who think they deserve to get into everything for free will get the shaming at the door they rightfully deserve.


  1. just as a heads up, my three month vacation in the hospital will be costing upwards of a million bucks. while yes, that's the inflated cost to the healthcare provider (yes, i DO have insurance), it's actually not all covered by them. it's still ridiculously expensive. so, my beautiful wife and i will be struggling and will have to put our future plans on hold to pay all of this off. and the last time i checked, unless it's a sham, it's in pretty bad taste to critique a benefit. but i guess thanks for the ink either way.

    1. An editor that doesn't capitalize the first letter of every sentence? Shenanigans! (I almost forgot, this is supposed to be all serious and junk...)

      In that same week there was some kind of benefit at the Magic Stick or Majestic Theater for something on Friday, and a benefit at Corktown Tavern on Saturday for victims of Hurricane Sandy. It can seem like there's a lot of people playing on everyone's emotions all at once. The inundation of all these pleas is not that dissimilar from having three different homeless guys ask you for money as you walk to the Park Bar after parking your car. The very first time someone on the street asked you for money you felt guilty, but over time you became desensitized to it, and eventually you found it to be a nuisance. I'm sure that even you at some point had to say no.

      ( The list of expenses you're facing seems daunting and all, but I'm sure there were people just down the hall from you in that hospital that are facing similar bills. Why are some stories put in front of us, while others aren't? At some point long in the future, even you and your wife will be desensitized to the plight of other people's problems.

      All critiques aside, good luck in your recovery.

  2. Also, by the way, as the author of that article, there were never any veiled attempts at not disclosing whether or not Adam and Stephanie have insurance. If you choose the see the negativity in something, I suppose you will. And, yes, Real Detroit Weekly put on a benefit for Adam. As the people who are closest to him, it only seems right that we would want to do everything we possibly could to make his life that much more comfortable after having spent three months in the hospital and nearly dying. No one was forced to come to the benefit, yet people showed up in droves on a freezing cold Thursday night. And more than anything, more than an occasion to raise money for a couple of people who truly deserve it, who have ALWAYS been giving and wonderful and kind and loving and gracious people, it was a chance for everyone who's missed Adam and hoped for the best for him for the past three months to finally get to see him. I think there are worse crimes happening in and around Detroit right now.

    1. "a couple of people who truly deserve it"
      Compared to other people with 3 month hospital stays that aren't as charming? Talk about bad taste.