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What May Motivate Joe Soptic

Over at Human Events, John Hayward has a piece today titled “A Word on Joe Soptic.”  It’s well-reasoned and well written as his work always is, but I think there is a bit more to what moves Joe Soptic.

Having your wife die is about the worst thing that can happen to you. Not even waking up unable to move my arms and legs with a machine breathing for me through a hole in my throat matches it. I’ve experienced both, losing your wife sucks more. She’s your WIFE. You’re supposed to provide for her and protect her. When your wife dies you feel like you have FAILED, no matter how irrational it might be.

Years later, I’m haunted by “If only ….” and it was a heart problem that took my wife. If only I had tried harder to get her to see a doctor. If only I had gone to the house sooner when she didn’t answer the phone. “If only…” Those things still haunt me today. I’ve been over it thousands of times in my mind, and intellectually I know there was nothing more I could have done. But that doesn’t stop the feelings when I’m alone at night, or when I think about it too much.

Now think about Joe Soptic. He apparently isn’t terribly bright, as his phrasing when talking about the buyout offer he declined was “they tried to buy our jobs out from under us.” He has failed to understand that those jobs were going away, no matter what. The questions were whether enough people would take the buyout offer to avoid layoffs, and whether the buyout and other efforts would be enough for the company to survive. (If he does understand this, then it’s something else to add to the burden of guilt, which I’ll talk about shortly.)

Joe gets a layoff notice. Unless the buyout had reduced the number of employees that would be jobless when the plant shut down to under 50, Federal law required a 60 day notice. (This is the same WARN Act that the White House is telling defense contractors to ignore so that mass layoff notices don’t arrive days before the election.) Joe has two months to begin his job search. He said nothing about searching for a job before the layoff, just that it took him six months after the layoff to find a new job. So he blew an opportunity to get ahead of everyone else at his steel mill in the job search.

Joe’s new job doesn’t pay as well, and he doesn’t buy health insurance for her. No problem at this point, she has insurance through her employer. But a couple of years later she gets injured and can’t work any more. Unless he had an unusually generous insurance plan, he can’t add her until the next open enrollment period. Open enrollment typically rolls around once a year. It was over two years until she was diagnosed with cancer, and then died. That means he went through at least one, and probably two open enrollment periods.

Then she got sick. He probably worried, but when he finally took her to a doctor it was too late. 22 days later she was dead.

“If only….” haunts me, and my wife died due to a heart problem. Given the string of decisions (including not signing her up during open enrollment after she lost her job) “If only” must be a demon beating Joe Soptic with a cruel lash. The only alternative is to find a villain somewhere. Soptic found a villain, in the form of Mitt Romney.  It’s not his fault, he didn’t fail his wife, it’s that rich Romney bastard. His life was fine before Romney’s company came along and bought the place where he worked.

Joe Soptic isn’t using his dead wife. He’s driven by pain, guilt, and hatred of the villain he conjured to deflect his feelings of guilt. The people using the death of Soptic’s wife are the Obama supporting Priorities USA Super PAC, and the Obama campaign.

Cross posted from Beregond’s Bar.

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