“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I was having a friendly debate the other day on facebook about a quote by Ayn Rand and indirectly about the health care debate that is raging in this country. One of the participants placed this quote from the preamble of the US Constitution into the conversation. I suddenly realized that the current polarization that is occuring in this country is when stripped of its emotionalism of fear is based on how we interpret this preamble.
I personally believe that healthcare needs to be a right or privilege given to the citizens of this country as one of the benefits of being a citizen. It is part of the process of establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquilty, of promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. For me this seems clear cut and a logical extension of these principles that this country was founded on. From my perspective providing health care as a right given as a benefit of citizenship will reduce many of the domestic problems we have; reduce bankruptcy, reduce crime (Think the story of Les Miserables), reduce infant mortality, increase life expectancies, increase quality of life across the board.
My friend in this debate believes that government should not interfere with the lives of people in any way, benevolent or otherwise. His perspective claims that there would be a loss of self-sufficiency if the government was given the power to dole out health care provisions. He bases this on the dependency he sees in generational recipients of welfare assistance. How it seems that once a person is on welfare not only do they remain but their children and grandchildren remain on welfare. His perspective points out the need for reform in many arenas not just healthcare. In short his perspective emphasizes what he sees as the primary goal of government which is to provide for the common defense of the nation. Period. If this is done, he believes that the rest is assured or made possible by the ingenuity of private enterprise.
I now have a better understanding of his position. However, I still disagree and for this reason. President Reagan proposed what became known as trickle down economics. The notion that if the government de-regulated various industries and reduced government taxation on corporations that the money earned by these industries and corporations would trickle down to the working class. President Reagan believed that government should be smaller and less involved in the daily operations of corporations. It is an argument that has been debated repeatedly and it presumably is the main difference between two political parties. Whether the answer to various problems lies in government intervention or in no government intervention is the core debate.
Well, Reagan’s theory of trickle down economics was an interesting one but unfortunately nothing trickled down. The top 1% got richer and the bottom got poorer faster than ever before. The middle class shrunk and continued to shrink as the policies instituted by Reagan’s administration were emulated by the administrations that followed. In fact, the current recession / quasi depression is the result of policies begun in the Reagan trickle down econmic era.
To be fair to President Reagan, I need to add that the current health care debacle is based on policies instituted not by Reagan but by President Nixon. President Nixon allowed for deregulation of health care insurance companies allowing them to become predominantly for profit industries. This was when the shift from the doctor making the decision with the patient on a particular plan of action to the health maintenance organization making the decision took place. It was supposed to cut costs and not allow doctors to perform unnecessary treatments. The HMO’s however were formed to be in it for profit and so denying a treatment saved them money and increased their profit margins.
The question remains how do we form a more perfect union? Is it through private enterprise and if so how do we ensure that private enterprise serves the best interest of the people and not their own coffers? Or is it through government regulation and offering a public option of health care and the risk of making a people who are ultra dependent on a government?
I believe the debate is anchored in this preamble. There in lies the question of who we are as Americans and how we see ourselves as citizens not only of this country but also as citizens of this world. Blessings,