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What’s in a name?

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
- from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”

A lot of incorrect phrases get thrown around.

“What you don’t know can’t hurt” makes no sense at all. Of course it can. If you have cancer and don’t know about it, you’ll most likely die.

Another one, coined by the always cheerful Friedrich Nietzsche, is “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Are you really stronger if you contract gangrene and have a leg amputated?

Another one is “Never say never.” How is that right when you’ve already said it twice just in uttering the phrase?

And now to the phrase coined by the great bard Shakespeare. In the scene, Juliet, woefully talking to herself on a balcony, wonders why the last name of her love Romeo is all that keeps them from being together. She thinks a name, what we call something, should be meaningless, and only the nature, the substance, should matter.

Brandon Evans

Brandon Evans

It sounds sensible enough. Unfortunately she’s very wrong. Preconceived notions created from words and language hold powerful sway in the human psyche. Take this recent CNBC poll of Americans.

The poll asked respondents if they opposed ObamaCare. Forty-six percent opposed it. However, when they conducted the poll again and asked people if they oppose the Affordable Care Act, only 37 percent did.

It doesn’t make sense, does it? ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act are only different names for the exact same law. Just the attachment of the word “Obama” in the title aroused greater opposition.

But it gets worse. In the same poll, 30 percent of respondents didn’t know what the Affordable Care Act was, but only 12 percent claimed they didn’t know what ObamaCare was. Somehow, when the name Obama is in the title they suddenly know what the law is.

Sadly, many of us are still victims of the same prejudices that separated the Montagues from the Capulets. Rather than understanding what the law actually means, they just hear a name they don’t like and automatically oppose it.

The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, is far from perfect, but it seems like a law the Republicans would support considering it’s a market-based approach to providing health care coverage to more Americans.

Something had to be done. Texas has by far the highest percentage of uninsured people in the country at 33 percent. That’s 6.3 million of our fellow Texans, including 1.3 million children, with no health care coverage at all.

Given that the average across the country is 10 percent, doesn’t it seem like this would be a critical issue for the Lone Star State?

I don’t think ObamaCare went nearly far enough. We needed to go the way of universal health care, or to use bugaboo language, socialized medicine (can’t you just hear someone saying this in an evil voice followed by maniacal laughter). You know, the same type of health care system used in every other first-world nation on the planet. The same type of universal health care coverage plan first championed by U.S. presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

I hope the Affordable Care Act is a first step toward that direction. But until people can get past mere emotional language, and into the substance of an issue, millions in this state will continue to suffer from an inability to pay for even the most basic health care costs.

But heck, what’s in a name?

Brandon Evans is a reporter for the Messenger.

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