Equality in Health as Social Justice (and some on the Affordable Care Act)

The United States recently passed the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”), and more than ever, I am fighting others with the argument of whether health care should be a universal right to every American. Though educated economists and doctors may or may not agree with whether the Affordable Care Act was truly the best decision for the medical economy, the passing of this act raises the very important conversation of health care as a basic human right. 

Universal health care seems to be the perfect example of the struggle between social and market justice. Should every human have basic health rights in order to take advantage of the opportunities of life, especially when they have no control of their circumstances? Most would say so. But it seems this is nearly impossible to ensure while also fighting for the American ideal of market justice. I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to read the brilliantly explained balance struggle, available free here: “Public Health as Social Justice”, Dan E. Beauchamp.

With a basic background in homelessness I have gained certain opinions of my own about the rights of individuals in such a position as poverty. After watching the great documentary, “Poor Kids of America” (available on Youtube.com) I found myself in a disagreement with a loved one of mine regarding the rights of impoverished populations in health-related issues and health care. My opposition’s argument, “Those in extreme poverty have much bigger things to deal with than their health.” This is a flawed philosophy I see showing more and more in the argument for market justice against the Affordable Care Act here in the United States. The fact is, kids in poverty are 7 times more likely to be in poor health than kids above the federal poverty line here in the United States. 

Anyone who has found themselves or a loved one in poor health could attest to the difficulty of taking advantage of the opportunities of life that accompanies a poor health status. This can be an unending cycle; poor health-> unable to take advantage of life opportunities-> finding self and family in poverty-> poor health. If a child is 7 times more likely to find themselves in poor health because of their parents’ income, there is a clear disadvantage in life present; a vast inequality in opportunity and a clear violation of social justice.   

Now, I do not claim to be an expert in what could be the right economical choice to close the health inequality gap in the United States, but I know we need to take action on this issue. I stand by any actions we take as a society to close this health inequality gap, even if it means violating the American ideal of unlimited market justice. My heart aches that so many disagree with the way the scales should tip in the social versus market justice, especially when it comes to health in our nation. 

Though I surely am no expert in the economic issues at stake, I hope I have offered a skeptic a new perspective to contemplate on this issue. 


Carlson Wedding Day Part 1

I married my high school sweetheart this summer. As many of my past posts suggested, we had a budget wedding. We ended up spending less than $1000 on a beautiful wedding day. My hope in posting our story is to encourage other brides-to-be to not feel the pressure to spend huge money on one day (especially if it is just not in your budget). I absolutely feel that you should splurge where necessary in making your big-day a special one, but there are so many “traditions” that others feel the need to impose on people getting married. We had a beautiful day while throwing many traditions out of the window. Enjoy our story!


This was the dress’ original style. I ended up cutting off the sleeves and making it strapless, and altered it to stay up better that way.


My dress after alterations to better fit my body. I loved it way more, and the fixes were rather easy. Could not have been happier with my spend of $100.

I purchased this dress online (see my top cheap dresses blog), and ended up altering it myself because of fit difficulties from my pectus excavatum. I was very happy with the dress quality I purchased. It was made from my own measurements, which is not rare in online dress shopping. I would have had to also alter a dress I purchased in a store (I have a special medical issue with my body causing this) and I am happy I did not spend the $600 on dress and alterations through a company like David’s Bridal, like several of my budget bride friends. I had a better experience with my dress purchasing online than my reception dress I bought in a store. I saved a ton of money and got the widest selection. I would absolutely encourage a bride on a budget to shop online for her dress(es).

The outfit details turned out perfect for me. I picked rose buds right from my grandma’s 40 year old rose bush the morning of the wedding to add to my hair. I did my hair in an updo I practiced once before the wedding (I wear my hair up a lot, so I am good at that sort of thing). It is also practical to ask a sister, friend, or cousin who is good at hair to do yours for free. I gave those people that helped a simple thank you gift, but saved much more than hiring someone.


My wedding day “assistant”/honorary bridesmaid helping me put my grandma’s roses in my hair.


Something borrowed/blue/old- a brooch from WWII

I did my own makeup, also. I got together with my bridesmaids and a couple friends to do nails and pre-wedding pampering a couple days before the wedding for under $20 (this is where my inexpensive “will you be my bridesmaid?” gift came in handy).

My jewelry matched our wedding day style also, being only $10 from an antique shop. I especially love the brooch that I asked if I could borrow from my step mother (which was her grandmother’s in world war II) that matched my garter, which I added to the middle of my gown.


Getting ready for the wedding- beautiful faux pearls from antique shop. Easy to find, inexpensive, and beautiful.

Our bridesmaids dresses were also a fun and cheap detail we had at our wedding. Who says those need to be from a bridal shop, where they are usually upwards of $80 for an ugly dress? We got ours for $20 from AX Paris. Many stores have cute dresses that can be used for semi-formal bridesmaids looks; some suggestions I like are Forever21, Maurices, Macy’s, JCPenney, and Target. I would suggest to browse the website before heading to stores to save energy, since dress shopping can be exhausting.


My bridesmaids and I!
I found novelty sunglasses for photo-ops at orientaltrading.com for only $10 for a dozen; they were a hit! If it weren’t for the budget, I would have gotten more!

Our overall budget for clothing (between groom, bridesmaids, and myself) came to about $200.

Enough about looks…

We had a backyard wedding at my in-law’s house. For seating, we used chairs from back yards, we borrowed from the church, and used hay bales for overflow seating that my father had on the farm. Our overall budget for seating came to $0. To add to our laid back feel, we had random seating. We also used some of our chairs for dinner, which cut down the amount we needed.


Hay bales for seating covered in old blankets

For ceremony decorations, we used burlap strips (about $5 a roll at the craft store) to line the aisle and used rocks from the property to hold it down. We used white light, white stringed Christmas lights I collected from thrift stores all year as lighting. Price for this came to about $15.Image

Mason Jars for table decorations

Mason jars wrapped with twine as table decoration- we included our wedding favors in these after pictures (chocolate mustaches and lips)

©Chelle Photography

Antique style frames with song and lyrics to play dismissing table of guests for dinner

Our reception was the most expensive part of our big day. Our biggest money savers included not renting a venue (since we had a backyard wedding), catering from a local italian restaurant rather than a wedding caterer, and not serving alcohol. Decorations included mason jars with twine from my grandmother and dismissal-for-dinner picture frames that I purchased at a thrift store which my sister/bridesmaid printed lyrics of songs for.

©Chelle Photography

Helping the little ones with milk for toasts

One of my favorite parts of our wedding was our cookie and milk toasts that stood in for alcohol. Milk and cookies are cheaper than alcohol, and we used mismatched stemware I searched around at thrift stores for.

I loved our guestbook. We chose something that we already had that meant something to us  in order to both save money. We met during worship and music is still a big part of our lives, so we used one of our guitars, and grabbed some colorful sharpies for our guests to sign it with. I guarantee I like this idea more that a book that we most likely would not see for decades. We see it all the time and can even use it to play. ©Chelle Photography

This is not nearly everything from our wedding day, but these were a few ways we made the day our own while saving money. I hope to at least inspire a few budget brides out there to stick to what they want on their wedding day while saving money.