Opinion Columns & Blogs

Unemployed? Need health care? Join military

Times being what they are, I have decided to become a conservative commentator.

Some people will doubt my credibility. Frankly, based on what I've seen and heard, credibility is not the issue. Money is — conservative commentators make a whole lot more money than I do.

The audiences for cable news and talk radio skew to older white men, who tend to be conservative. Financially, you can't go wrong by telling people what they want to hear.

Fortunately, I've found the perfect vehicle for my transformation into a conservative gasbag: Bill Caudle of Watertown, Wis.

In March, Bill Caudle lost his job as a raw materials coordinator at a plastics company. Did he whine that banks were getting too much money? Did he demand a bailout? No, he got to work beating the bushes for a new job.

But he knew his severance money would run out in September and the cost for his COBRA health care benefits would triple. In January, it would triple again. Did he whine that he needed socialistic health care? No, he did not.

On the other hand, neither did he purchase a private health insurance plan. It seems his wife, Michelle Caudle, has ovarian cancer. Talk about your exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

So Bill Caudle did what many Americans do when they can't find jobs and need health insurance for their families: He joined the Army. On his 39th birthday.

This is an American hero. He got laid off after 20 years at his job, but he did what all patriotic Americans who want government-paid health insurance should do: He signed up to carry a rifle and hump a pack in Afghanistan to help extend the blessings of freedom to the Afghan people and their president, Hamid Karzai.

This is what the all-volunteer Army is for: Making sure that those born to certain privileges don't have to serve unless they want to. The Army is for people who (a) want to go or (b) don't have a lot of other good options. Now, thanks to Bill Caudle, we'll have to add a (c) category: 39-year-old unemployed men whose wives are suffering from ovarian cancer.

Now the liberals (I wish my future bosses at Fox News could discern my level of disdain as I say the word "liberals") will tell you that Bill Caudle's story is not a happy one.

They'll tell you, boo-hoo-hoo, that it's a "tragedy" that a 39-year-old father of three has to leave home for several years so he can pay for cancer treatments for his gravely ill wife. They'll tell you that Michelle Caudle should have a "right" to expensive, taxpayer-paid cancer treatments even if her husband isn't humping a pack for Uncle Sam.

Michelle's prognosis isn't good. She doesn't expect to live. She was too sick to undergo the chemotherapy treatment that was scheduled for Oct. 6, the day before Bill left for basic training. Their 14-year-old daughter is devastated, but fortunately she has an older brother and sister who can help pick up the slack.

That's the way it should be. Families should pitch in to help one another, not expect the government to do it for them. Churches and private charities will help. Besides, if worst comes to worst, the family can move to wherever Bill winds up getting stationed and live in base housing.

This is a hopeful story: Anyone 18 to 42 who's out of work and wants government-paid health care should join the military. There's plenty of money for that.