August 19, 2020

Where's Dante when you need him?


Botticelli's version

I've spent a lot of time reading Dante's Divine Comedy but I'm having trouble figuring out, purely as a literary exercise, what circle of hell Dante would assign to people who want to take away health care from millions of Americans. As in goodbye to protections for pre-existing conditions and completely killing Medicaid expansion in the 39 states (including DC) that have adopted it. 

Last time I checked there were around 160,000 West Virginians covered by the expansion and over 700,000 non-elderly state residents had some kind of pre-existing condition.

In the Inferno, hell is kind of like a funnel, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. The best place is Limbo, where virtuous pagans reside, There's no punishment there beyond desire for the divine vision without hope of attainment. Then comes the places of punishment first for the intemperate, then the violent, then the fraudulent and those who betray. Things tend to get worse as you go down.

That's where it gets complicated. It seems like in this case, it's a combination of intemperate greed, ambition and ideological zeal that wants to impose economic violence on a wide swath of the population while making fraudulent claims about the Affordable Care Act and betraying the needs of their fellow citizens. Oh yeah, and doing all this in the context of a deadly pandemic that has already killed over 170,000 Americans.

If Dante was around today, I'm guessing he might add another canto or two.


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