I haven’t done one of these in a few days. Unfortunately I rather unloaded it at a friend – and pretty much out of nowhere at that. (Sorry, John.) Guess I better get it off my chest.
I strongly support a major health care reform. I am ashamed at my nation which has so many people whining that we can’t do it when so many other nations have successfully provided for the general welfare of their citizens. And under the whining of how much it would cost us to improve the lot of at least half our nation is the excuse that we’re not going to do so because some of us would have less money.
If we look to the “founding fathers”, I’m probably most in line with the writings and thoughts of Madison. I’m not a “classic liberal”, but rather believe there is also a social contract. The ‘classic liberal’ often takes the defensive liberty position as more important than the offensive – that is, “freedom from” is more important than “freedom to”. Responsibility and obligation are muted. The Social Contract to which Madison and Jefferson (and many of the others) subscribed said that the members of a society have responsibility and obligation to the rest of the community.
Incidentally, some of our greatest times of growth as a nation – economically and politically – have happened when we followed our social contract. In complement fashion some of the times of our greatest failure have been when significant portions of our nation have concentrated more on what was good for them over the good of all. I realize there is a danger of total suppression of liberty – the good of the many over the good of the one taken to the extreme – but in general we’re a long way from that point.
I’ve digressed. Look, the simple fact is that 45% of the nation’s population has a drag effect on the nation’s performance. Fear of getting ill and significant penalties when illness occur cause a lot of our population to not go boldly into life. Providing health care insurance today is THE single largest employer expense beyond base salary. Employees who do not receive health benefits will pay a third of their take-home salaries by the time deductibles are included. That needs justified. OK, Kaiser does an annual survey of medical expenses. It determined that the average expense for employees and employers, deductibles included, for 2007 was in the vicinity of $13,000 per year. The median household income for that year was ~$48,000, of which a the norm is that at least 25% is removed for basic benefits and taxes. $13,000/36,000 is a bit over 1/3. I’ll pause just a moment to note this is household, but ‘of course’ in a multi-income household (over 50% of them) it’s not necessary for both to get insurance. (Well… There are some very nasty clauses in a lot of insurances these days. One of them boils down to: if your working spouse COULD have insurance and you choose not to do so the insurance MAY reduce coverage a bit.)
Making health care accessible to as close to everyone as possible is economically and morally a good thing. Not doing so because it would reduce (not eliminate) the profits of certain industries is a peculiar argument for anyone who is not a plutocrat.