Vail Daily letter: Our double standards
Vail, CO, Colorado
Of the many arguments against health-care reform in the United States, two recur in your pages with numbing frequency. There is the view that any system of universal (and compulsory) health insurance is evidence of “creeping socialism” and therefore automatically abhorrent to right thinking, freedom loving people everywhere.
Incidentally, the same right-thinking, freedom-loving people who very reasonably agree that penalizing drivers who do not carry car insurance is in everyone’s interests. If the socialist bogeyman isn’t convincing, there is always that old canard that the government will get this wrong, like everything else they do.
Far better to leave these decisions in the hands of individuals and the market place. Intelligent self-interest will assure efficient and prudent choices. (And we all know from recent experience how reliable that notion is!) All the nations that have national health-care programs have also elected center or right-of-center governments in the decades since their countries adopted those programs.
Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government in the UK, for example. The most zealous proponent of Reaganomics to ever hold power in Europe. Who was ever better placed to restore responsibility for health insurance to individuals and the private sector?
Yet none of these anything-but-socialist governments have attempted to dismantle their national health insurance programs.
The reason? Imperfect as the programs may be, voters overwhelming agree that they are necessary and desirable elements of a modern society.
So forget the “socialism” argument. It’s only worthy of John Birch Society holdouts who still see Reds under every bed. (And of course, health insurance company CEOs.)
As to the unique ability of the federal government to get everything wrong, waste money, reward all the wrong people, drive us all into national bankruptcy, mortgage our children’s futures, etc., consider the following. Total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt): is $864.4 billion, as of January 2010 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit). That equates to an average credit card debt for every household with credit card debt of $16,007. Just to be clear, these figures only cover credit card debt! It doesn’t include car loans, home mortgages, student loans, and all the other ways people find to get themselves in hock to the moneychangers. Isn’t there a profound double standard at work here? Why does anyone expect the federal government to be more efficient and fiscally responsible that the population at large? Fact is, it would be hard to do any worse.