Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Reform What's Broken?

I've been asked a couple of times why I've generally stayed out of the health care debate on my blog. There are many reasons. First, I don't feel sufficiently educated to provide a slew of opinions on the matter. Until I feel otherwise, I will remain hesitant to offer much on the subject. Second, what I already have come to decide upon many others have written. These opinions are not that difficult to predict, if you are aware of my political background. I think the disinformation campaign against the proposed health reform is some of the most disgusting propaganda I have ever seen in American politics. (That is not hyperbole. I truly believe that. I believe that this disinformation campaign will be indirectly responsible for the degrading, if not terminating, health of thousands upon thousands of Americans.) Third, I want to see a bill on the table before I comment on it. So far, that hasn't happened.

For what it is worth, here is what I feel about health care today...

1) I don't ever want to be in a situation where I need to go to a doctor but feel I cannot afford to go to one. I don't want to think twice about seeing a medical professional to talk about my health because it will cost me money.

2) Without Medicare, my grandmother would very likely be dead.

3) I believe health care is a fundamental right. To even associate health care with the word "privilege" is fundamentally unsound and morally objectionable.

4) Those complaining that the currently proposed proposal would eliminate choice from American citizens appear to be incapable of defining the word "option".

5) Life expectancy in this country is lower than almost all western world countries with universal health care. Although health care differences are undoubtedly not the only explanation for this statistic, it is very likely a major contributing factor. Essentially all industrialized countries have universal health care besides the US.

(See, as a start, Wikipedia for these statistics: and -- there are many good links available from these sites)

6) The idea of euthanasia, death panels, death books, or any other completely nonsensical, doomsday, paranoia-flaming lie regarding public health insurance is out-of-touch, dishonest, and ethically reprehensible.

7) I believe Democrats are not completely forthcoming with the fact that public health insurance would require higher, perhaps much higher, taxes. I'm also uncomfortable solely taxing the wealthy with public health insurance. This is a tax that I would be very willing to pay for and should be willing to pay for, and I think Democrats should stop hiding behind the popularity of "lowering taxes". It's financially unsound to assume that taxes would not be raised in these circumstances.

8) I believe that the optimal solution to the health care problem is, indeed, socialized medicine. However, any quality reform is doubtful since that was not even on the table when the debate began. Obama's, and many Democrats', desires to work with Republicans, despite the obvious political tactics used to undermine any plan, have ensured that very little good will come from any bill passed by Congress. The bitter irony of bipartisanship with this issue is that it will ensure a less effective system that will very likely be considered victories by both parties. Well, as long as they politically look good.

9) I think "the people" have a poor idea of how their beliefs in government interference clash with their favorable attitudes toward public health insurance policies currently in place (e.g., Medicare). Most people shout out against bureaucracy without realizing they're actually very satisfied by it.

10) Corresponding with (9), it amuses me how much "the people" say they do not trust government, but how willing they are to believe whatever people in government positions tell them when what they are saying is what they want to hear. Do you really think people like Sarah Palin and Chuck Grassley are well-informed on the mechanics of health care? Listen to them, and tell me they could answer basic questions on how health care in our country works. Correspondingly, just because a representative was employed in a medical position does not automatically make him/her qualified to speak on the subject. Consider Tom Coburn's ridiculous answer to a very concerned Oklahoma citizen at a town hall meeting recently. Why can't neighbors help a woman and her family cover thousands upon thousands of dollars in medical expenses? (Actually, the public "option" would be a way of doing just that.) Listen to what people say, and see if it makes intuitive sense.

Politicians lie all the time, and that's reprehensible. But, people who trust officials who have been known to lie about issues need to remove the gullibility cloud and the lazy attitude toward believing whatever they hear. And what you want to hear does not make it true. Look things up. Do research. It is not hard to find out what's true and what isn't about our current and our potential future health care systems. Avoid obviously biased websites. Look up the "about us" links and find out for yourself. You may not like what you find, but at least you won't look like an idiot shouting talking points without a shred of evidence to support such positions. (A corollary here is that evidence that supports a position opposite to you does not automatically make the evidence, or the people providing it, biased.)


Finally, I'd just like to mention I join others in commending Sen. Ted Kennedy for his service to this country. He was an incredibly important politician in an incredibly important period of our nation's history. His death will leave a void in our government that I can only hope others will strive to fill.