Saturday, September 12, 2009

Health Care Debate – Part 1

I’ve been watching with interest this health care debate, which seems to have the whole nation in an uproar. One positive aspect of all this is that the people are engaged. Health care hits close to home – everybody is affected by it. For the first time in a long time, people are actively participating in the political process.

Emotions are running high, and there seems to be a deep mistrust of the government in general, and Obama in particular. Why? I think there are several possibilities:

(1) People mistrust what government tells us because government has lied to us and let us down. Bush led us into war in Iraq because there were, we were assured, WMDs in Iraq. Went in, and guess what? No WMDs. The government spent billions to bail out banks, assuring us it was the only way to stave off financial collapse and get the economy going again. Yet the banks did not use much of the money in ways that helped the economy, making us wonder if the billions were wasted.

The people are not convinced that any government agency can do anything particularly well. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, government agencies, helped precipitate the financial crisis. Medicare and Medicaid are rife with fraud and corruption. VA hospitals are not well maintained. Why should we trust the government with our health care?

(2) We’ve all seen the unintended and unanticipated consequences that result from government programs. Health care is too important for us to suffer such consequences, especially when government (meaning Congress) is usually very slow to fix these problems.

(3) We know about the problems with the universal health care programs in other countries. Canada had severe problems, and I wonder how many people died there. I believe their system is doing pretty well now. Of course the system we come up with will be uniquely American, something a lot of people forget.

(4) Regarding mistrust of Obama, he came into office with ridiculously high expectations that no human being could meet. Many voted for him because of the Republicans’ failure to govern properly. Bush was an idiot, while Obama seemed like a breath of fresh air. The Republican-dominated Congress did little, so why not give the Democrats a chance?

Everybody knows that Obama is a liberal, but many moderates voted for him for the reasons mentioned above. Now that he has a chance to implement a liberal agenda onto health care, a lot of people who voted for him are getting nervous. Liberal rhetoric sounds good, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, many tend to back off. Liberal plans are usually utopian and full of unintended consequences.

It appears that many of the proposals floating around Washington are trying to build on what we already have, providing a “government option” for the uninsured. That sounds good, but what if companies drop coverage to their employees, dumping millions of people into the “government option.” The next thing you know, we have a “single payer” system run by the government. That’s what a lot of people are afraid of.

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