The heart of the debate

“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,

Published in: on September 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm  Comments Off on The heart of the debate  
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Socialism, Healthcare reform, and Fear

I am trying to wrap my head around the fear that is being sounded across America and in Alabama about healthcare reform and socialism.  There have been town hall discussions on health care reform and people are shouting angrily not so much about health care reform but about socialism.  People have said their number one fear is not about health care reform but because they are afraid of Obama because he is a socialist.  WHAT? 

What is this about?  This doesn’t even make sense.   First off, Obama is not a socialist, not even close.  His health care reform is not a single payer system which is what socialist countries have.   And just what is so bad about socialism?  The countries that are socialist democracies last I knew were our strongest allies and friends in the world.  These countries tend to defend our most outrageous decisions like invading Iraq.   I mean they are our staunchest friends not enemies.  Friends can learn from friends.  Perhaps we could learn from them about how to better care for our citizens. 

These socialist countries  have better life expectancies than we do and lower infant mortality rates than we do.  Better than we do, the self-proclaimed greatest country in the world.   We are 50th in the world for life expectancy with an average of 78.1  Some country I haven’t even heard of, Macau, is number one with 84.36.  Singapore has the best infant mortality rate of 2.31 per 1,000 births.  We are 45 nations behind Singapore with 6.29 per 1,000 births.  Cuba has a better infant mortality rate than us. 

Why?  Maybe because all of their citizens regardless of income or station in life have access to health care.  Our current system of a free market health care system is not, I repeat, is not in our best interest.   It is in the best interest of the insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical industries.   We have missed the mark  on this one.  We have placed these industries on a higher value pedestal than the lives of our children and grandparents, even above our own lives.   That to me screams of idolatry. 

We have people being denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, conditions that in order to live a full and productive life needs medical treatment.  They cannot afford the treatments and therefore are not treated and then they die an early death because of it. We have people with life threatening conditions being denied hospital care because they do not have insurance being sent to hospitals hours away that will take them. If we are to be afraid, be afraid of a country that allows, no wills its citizens to die than remain healthy and productive.  How screwed up is this thinking?   

We need health care reform.  I personally believe that the best answer to ensure that all Americans  regardless of income regardless of medical conditions need to have access to a single payer system.  It is the only system that I have seen that has resulted in increased longevity of people, decreased the infant mortality rate, and contained health care costs across the board.   But that is not what  Obama’s administration is advocating for.  He is advocating for a middle ground between what we currently have a free market system that has run amok and is crushing the backs of the American people and a single payer system.    Will it work? 

I don’t know.  But it is not something to fear.  It is something to get behind and work towards a solution.. so that our lives, the lives of our children and children’s children can be healthier and more productive. 

To quote FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Fear is irrational and is usually based in rumors and innuendos and not in facts or reasonable thoughts. 

Wouldn’t we rather live in a country where we do not have to worry about how to pay to treat our diabetes or high blood pressure ? Or worry that our new employment site’s benefit package is not going to deny coverage for our pre-existing condition of high blood pressure?   Wouldn’t we rather know that doctors are going to be guiding our treatment plans rather than some insurance company that doesn’t know us and is more concerned with its bottom line of profit than our well -being?     

Isn’t this the country that we fought hard to protect so that we are free to live out our inalienable rights to  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  Shouldn’t these values be expressed consistently and equally across the board in how we govern and work in this country?   Blessings,