Monday, November 9, 2009
The Health Care 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 defense, 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. -Preamble, US Constitution I have been struggling with some of the debate I hear on the issue of health care reform. I am especially concerned with the voice I hear coming from those who tend toward Libertarianism. I take the preamble as a reminder that in order to have personal liberty we must also have general welfare, the societal conditions under which each individual has the opportunity to shape his own life. The founders felt that there was a need for a strong national government in order to promote the common good. We have a health care system based on the capitalistic system, not the socialistic system. That makes it more difficult to promote the common good over the making of a profit. So be it. But in order to secure the blessing of liberty for all, there must be government regulations to keep the profit motive in check. Our current health care reform move is more about insurance than medical treatment, coverage rather than care. Medical care is expensive, so we collectively attempt to reduce the risk of high cost by buying insurance. Some say "Why should I be forced to buy insurance? I lead a healthy life. Why should I have to pay higher taxes so that moochers, lazy fat people, illegal aliens can reap the benefits of those who are honest worker/tax payers?" I find an analogy in the fact that we pay taxes to fire districts for fire protection. Maybe you don't smoke or light candles and have smoke detectors. You don't think you should have to pay the tax. But your neighbor's house could still catch fire, and when the fire truck pulls up, they'll have to say "Sorry, you didn't pay for our protection. We can't put any water on your house." A nation is a society in which the condition of the few affects the many. A nation has an aspect of collectivity. The biggest block to health care reform is coming from people who are happy with their situation and are taking care of themselves. They don't want anything that can't guarantee that their premiums will go down. But satisfied as they are, they are still vulnerable, at the mercy of insurance companies. There is no guarantee that rates will go down. But left to their own devices, unregulated profit motivated, rates have steadily gone up. What we get from health reform is reliability, predictability, protection from being financially wiped out. And if we can also promote the common good by covering people less fortunate without raising our costs, why wouldn't we be happy to do it?