FOLLOW-UP: An Open Letter To Mr. Luis Lang of Fort Mill, South Carolina (UPDATED)


Yesterday I posted a rather scathing entry about Mr. Luis Lang of South Carolina, followed by another one about the hundreds of almost entirely liberal / progressive-leaning donors (including myself) who have, as of this writing, ponied up over $12,000 to save him from going blind due to a combination of his own irresponsibility and his political party's decision to throw nearly 180,000 SC residents--including himself--under the bus.

Today, Mr. Lang has responded to all the hubbub...mostly (emphasis mine):

First of all I would like to thank ALL of the wonderful people that have donated to help me in my time of need. And I do mean everybody. When I started this I never meant it to became a political war. I am a honest person and I have to give a big thumbs up to the liberal side. Even though you have crucified me in your comments but you spoke with your heart with the donations. I respect everybody opinion whether I agree with you or not. That is why we live in the U.S.A. home of the free and free speech. As far as the conservative side I wish they would step up to the plate and do there part. Again thank you all and i will be posting updates with my condition.

sorry one last thing I have to hand it to the liberal side you sure do know how to get the word out when you dislike something. I say shame on the conservative bloggers for resting on there laurels.

As one of those who coughed up a few bucks to bail him out of his self-created mess, here's what I have to say to Mr. Lang:

Dear Mr. Lang:

First: You're welcome.

Second: Thank you for acknowledging those who have stepped up to the plate to help, and especially for recognizing that it's been almost entirely those on the left/ liberal/ progressive side who have done so.

Third: I'm also glad to hear that you recognize that your fellow conservatives are refusing to assist one of their own in his time of need, even when simply following the conservative/ Republican/ Libertarian "bring yourself up by your bootstraps" philosophy of life is what got you into this pickle in the first place.

Fourth: Having said the above, your response, at least so far, still doesn't address some important issues:

  • Do you and your wife finally understand that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama and the Democrats were not responsible in any way for your plight?
  • Do you and your wife finally understand that the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as "Obamacare") was designed specifically to help people like yourself avoid falling into exactly this type of situation?
  • Do you and your wife finally understand that the only ones preventing the ACA from helping you avoid the situation you've found yourself in are yourself (for knowingly and deliberately avoiding enrolling for coverage during the strongly-advertised 3-month open enrollment period) and the Republican Party of South Carolina (for denying Medicaid expansion to the two of you)?
  • Do you and your wife finally understand that the conservative philosophy of "I've got mine, everyone else is on their own" only works right up until the day that you've no longer "got yours"?
  • Do you and your wife understand that there are tens of thousands of other people out there who are in similar circumstances to yours...or are in even worse conditions, as they may not have a fairly nice house/furniture which could presumably be sold or refinanced?
  • Do you (and especially your wife) now understand that arguing that you should suddenly be moved "to the front of the line" simply because you "aren't working" and "have medical problems" is a slap in the face to millions of other people who didn't deliberately wait until it was too late before taking responsibility for their health and financial well-being?
  • Do you (and especially your wife) understand the irony of her statement, given that when it comes to immigration, the GOP mantra is that it's unfair to allow undocumented immigrants legal residency when millions of other immigrants follow the rules when entering the United States?
  • Do you and your wife finally understand that while you "shame" the conservative bloggers for "resting on their laurels" and refusing to "step up to the plate", that in fact, according to your own political logic, you should be praising them for being ideologically consistent?

Do you finally understand that in the Ayn Randian-Libertarian-Republican-Conservative philosophy of today, refusing to show the slightest bit of compassion about a fellow human being who falls on hard times is not a bug, it's a feature?

  • Do you and your wife finally understand that human beings are, individually, frail, weak, absurdly vulnerable creatures, but that when we work together as a society to help build each other up, we can accomplish tremendous things...and that includes things like economics and healthcare?

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

As you're still suffering from serious medical ailments, I don't expect you to address all of these weighty issues all at once...but you should certainly address some of them at your earliest possible convenience.


Charles Gaba

UPDATE 8:50pm: Hmmmm...well, it looks like I have answers to most of these questions already. I just discovered this follow-up article in the Charlotte Observer from earlier today:

The Fort Mill, S.C., Republican who went public Tuesday with his plea for help paying for sight-saving surgery had raised almost $12,000 by Wednesday evening – most of it from self-described liberals and Affordable Care Act supporters saying they hope he’s learned a lesson.

Yup, that's a fair summary of most of the donors comments, my own included.

OK, first thing's first: PEOPLE CAN STOP DONATING NOW, he's received enough cash to resolve the medical issue:

That’s enough to ensure he can get the treatment he needs, said Dr. Andrew Antoszyk, an eye surgeon with Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates. After reading Luis Lang’s story in the Observer on Wednesday, Antoszyk said he’d work with Lang and with Novant Health to give him the care at reduced cost.

Glad to hear it. Now, about my questions...

I had warned Lang on Monday that his story was likely to spur criticism of him and his decisions, but neither one of us was prepared for the scope and intensity of reactions. While many commenters were gracious, others were abusive. Lang’s wife, Mary, says she got a threatening phone call at their home Tuesday.

Assuming that this is true, that's obviously out of line. However...

“It turned into a political thing,” Lang said. “That wasn’t my intention when I reached out. This is ridiculous.”

Mr. Lang, the reason it "turned into a political thing" is because you said that you blame President Obama and the Democrats for your own stupidity, and your wife demanded that you be moved to the front of the line.

So has he learned anything from this experience?

“I did,” he said.

Oh, good!! That's the $64,000 question (OK, $12,000 so far): What exactly did you learn from the experience??

Although there has been extensive coverage of the Affordable Care Act since it was passed in 2010, Lang, who gets his news from local TV and the Internet, didn’t know about the Medicaid gapor that income fluctuations can make it difficult to calculate subsidies. He believes his case has helped people understand that.

“I hold the whole government responsible for this, state and federal,” he said. Greed from medical providers and the government also add to the flaws in the system, Lang said.

Un-huh. So you still blame Obama and the Dems, but at least you're willing to throw a some of the blame towards one of the actual parties responsible. That's actually better than I was expecting...except that "the whole government" refers to both parties, when South Carolina is controlled by Republicans, and the GOP are also the ones who have been pushing to deny you coverage at the federal level all along.

(Sigh) OK, fine: You get a quarter point for at least acknowledging that the SC GOP has something to do with your predicament. Of course, there's one more person you should be pointing your finger at...

Does he hold himself responsible? There was a short pause.

“I do hold myself partly responsible because of the view that I had...


...I should have taken better care of my sugar,” he said. “Yeah, I should have had insurance.”

Oh. Um...never mind.

(Sigh) OK, well, what about the fact that it was progressives who saved your ass, while conservatives gave you the brush off?

He noted that some donors have asked what he thinks of the fact that liberals, rather than conservatives, are helping him.

“I look at a person as a person,” he said. “People are acting from the heart, just like I have done in the past.”

Oh for the love of God. That's...lame, at best.

Mostly, he says, he’s overwhelmed by the attention his story has gotten.

“The Charlotte Observer should give me a free subscription now,” he quipped.

I am the sound of Jack's jaw hitting the floor.

I'm done with you, Mr. Lang. Get your surgery, get your eyes fixed. Hopefully along with your eyesight, you'll also stop being so blind in other ways as well...but I'm not counting on it.