Healthcare thoughts from March continued

Everyone seemed to have something to say about healthcare. Here are some more of their comments, and my reply.

KS – “Exactly – the same president passed the recovery act to bail out all those banks. Disaster #1 and I am confident this is Disaster #2. I’m not saying our healthcare system was perfect – but I am fully confident this reform is not the answer.”

JG – “Almost any mainstream economist says that the bank bailouts were necessary, AND we are getting all of money back anyways WITH interest (excluding AIG and the auto companies). Thus, I am not sure what the issue is.”

CS – “this is rather condecending and padantic to assume that people who are against the health care bill automatically want poor peoples children to go without food. They don’t go hand in hand. Bottom line is the country (taxpayers) can’t afford the “change” at this moment in time. Did you take Comm. 333? Cause you’re pretty good! I know we talked about this earlier, but I had to say something after reading. ♥”

CW – “Couple-o-comments:
The bank/auto bailout was not entirely necessary if the companies were able to give executive bonuses. Also the government will get SOME of the money back, but only by penalizing ALL of the banks, even the ones that weren’…t foolish and didn’t need the money. Unfortunately in the US you get penalized for being responsible. Personally, I think there should be a lot more Wall street brokers in prison for shady business practices, but as always, with enough money you can buy your way out of just about anything (Remember OJ Simpson?).

As for the main topic of Heath Care reform…
I agree that health care should be available to everyone. I myself am self employed and cannot afford health care for myself, so I do without. Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to survive the last 4 years without incident. I’m all for the government providing health care for people that cannot afford it, but I am AGAINST them requiring it by law. This is where the difference between car and health insurance comes in. With vehicles, if I get into an accident, most often it involves another vehicle with other inhabitants. I agree that drivers should have coverage to sufficiently take care of any accidents they cause and that their rates should be directly tied to their driving style (as best as possible). However, if I get sick or break my arm, that only affects ME and my family (which I don’t have right now). So long as affordable health care is an option, I should be legally able to choose to abstain from coverage knowing full well the consequences I may face.

I think it is the government’s responsibility to look after their citizens, but not to FORCE them to look after themselves. If people choose to be foolish and stupid, then let them face their own consequences. That’s why I am against seat belt laws of persons over 18. If they choose not to wear it and get thrown from a vehicle then they will have faced the consequences of their choice. Inform people of the dangers, but let them choose for themselves. People would wise up real quick, and those that didn’t wouldn’t last long.

Lastly, I am all for taxing the populous to cover the health care for the poor, BUT I think people should be charged based on their lifestyle. I’m sick and tired of seeing poor people in the grocery store buying TV dinners and soda. No wonder they are getting sick. I think the government should send these people back to HS to have some cooking (Home Ec) classes. No wonder people are so unhealthy. A balanced diet will do WONDERS for the nation’s health.

Ok, my rant is over.”

JG – “While I too disagree with bonuses using taxpayer money, to claim that the bailout was not necessary because “they can afford bonuses” is silly, since a $10 million bonus would do little to help a $50 billion issue.

In any case, back to healt…hcare. This package is a step in the right direction, but there really should be a single-payer system. Access to BASIC, preventative healthcare for the entire population would do wonders to cut down on costs in the long run.

This, of course, should be implemented with a “Junk-Food Tax,” in order to discourage consumption of “bad foods” (just as there are cigarette and alcohol taxes).

I am not sure what the point of that was. Hmmm. ”

AH – “wow all very intresting and i agree with this man up above me! a man chooes his path and is forced to walk it. now that is either with pride or with shame. obama is walking his path to running a burntout country, and we are walking our pat…hs to making our lives better for each of us. this is what our “country” has decided for us and we can fight big brother and go down throwing or we can roll with the punches and find the positives:)

now are you that person i see giving money to that homless man on the corner? well if your not i am.

all this might be random but i guess it makes sence to me :)”

CW – “I don’t give money, I give food or whatever they need. It’s interesting how many turn you down though.”

AH – “food is a safer way to go but that also goes to show you even the poor will lie to get what they want so then why wouldent the goverment do the same…..?”

CS – “Something to remember is that the peoples money, is not the governemnts money. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what the government wants to do with the money, it’s not theirs to use.
Also, if all Americans decided to roll with the punches and l…et the government take care of it all, you would be greatly disapointed with all of the privileges you would be relinquishing.
Since when is America the place the rewards bad decisions, and is held responisble for the happiness of ALL of it’s people?
It’s not governments job to keep the peaople safe. Not to take care of all of their needs.”

The following is my reply and follow-up note:

A couple of points I would like to make in response to peoples’ comments, in no particular order.

CW: You said that cars and health are different because cars can hurt other people, but your health only hurts yourself. I don’t think that is entirely true. If lot’s of people are unhealthy because they have unhealthy diets, the cost of healthcare for everyone goes up. So while one may think her bad choices only affect herself, really everyone is connected in a multitude of ways, and health becomes about more than just the individual.

I think what this debate boils down to is a debate about CHOICE, and in some sense, freedom. There is a trade off for between freedom/choice, and security, and I think everyone tends to draw the line at a different spot. People should be allowed to have choices, but in what ways is the government allowed to influence those choices? Should the government be allowed to raise the cost of unhealthy choice through options such as a “Junk Food Tax”. Is such a tax more acceptable than legally requiring people to have health insurance? In both cases the government is constructing the situation to get people to act in the way it sees as most fit, so why is one option acceptable and another not? I think if we could find the answer we would know a lot more about ourselves as a society.

I think this is relevant to what CW was saying, he writes both that the government should not be able to “force” people to buy healthcare, but at the same time, people should be penalized for unhealthy lifestyles. Isn’t the penalty for living as you choose, healthy or unhealthy, just another way for the government to limit peoples’ choices? By penalizing people for eating unhealthily, isn’t the government just forcing its own opinion on those people? Why is it okay for the government to manipulate the situation to raise the costs of eating unhealthily so that people make the choice to eat healthily instead, by taxing poor choices and not okay for the government to manipulate the situation by making it illegal to buy foods made with high fructose corn syrup? In the end I wonder if it is the manipulation itself we really object to, or rather the manner in which the manipulation occurs.

Basically what CW has said is that he does not think it’s okay for the government to force people to BUY health insurance, but it is okay for the government to force people to take home-ec/ cooking classes. Is this fair? In both cases the government is forcing its will on people. CW is opposed to seat belt laws because if he wants to assume the risks and take his life into his own hands, he thinks he should be allowed to do so. Yet at the same time, he does not think that people have the same right when it comes to choosing what they eat. The government should limit those choices by requiring home-ec courses and punishing people for unwise choices and risky behavior. Is this fair? And who decides what is “risky” and what is not? Rock climbing is healthy, but it is also risky. Should athletic, sportsy people be punished for partaking in sports because it makes them more likely to sustain some sort of injury? Even though the sport or activity makes them healthier overall? (If you’ll pardon the pun because I just CAN’T help myself: I hope that’s some food for thought. Hahaha, sorry.)

CW and AH: In regard to homeless people: My good friend ND once said to me, it’s not his place to judge, it’s God’s. I’m not a particularly religious person, but this made me think. Basically, ND‘s view is that regardless of the other person’s motives, whether they really need food or are actually trying to scam you, he’s going to give them the money. Because even if they are running a scam, they still need the money for something. Something about their life has put them into the situation they are in, and ND cannot know all the circumstances, but he’s okay with not needing to. He’s not going to judge them for it. Because who is to say that if you were put in the same situation, you would act any differently? I’m sorry that’s not really a fair question, because we really have no way of finding an answer for certain. But maybe that’s the answer in itself: because we DON’T know what the outcome will be, we still have no room to pass judgment.

CS: A few points
My point in presenting some information about American spending habits was not to say that all people against the health bill are in favor of starving children. My point was merely to put the costs of healthcare into some sort of perspective. I just think that it is ironic what people are willing to spend their money on and what they are not willing to spend their money on. I think that universal health care is affordable, in strictly monetary terms, considering how much people are willing to spend on other things, but it is not affordable in the terms of what people are WILLING to spend their money on. And I think it is very important to make the distinction between “willing” and “able”.

Secondly, not to throw myself out there as a commie or anything like that, I’d like to color things with a little bit of Marxism. You said it is the people’s money, not the governments, but without the government to protect private property, there would be no money to be had! Money (and therefore profits) owe their existence to the government. So it is in the interest of the capitalists, those people profiting from the existence of the government, to make sure that the government continues to exist. They show their appreciation by paying taxes. In this sense, the government does have a stake in how people spend their money. If captialists up and decided never to pay taxes again, they would ensure their own downfall because as the government failed, so would all meaning associated with money, and without money, the capitalists would fall as well. Point is that the relationship between the government and people, in terms of money, is reciprocal, with each having a stake and interest in the other. The government itself turns into a huge bureaucracy interested first and foremost in its own survival. Its survival depends on protecting private property and spending its money in ways which give it the most support. In this way, it ends up operating in the “best” interests of the capitalists.

Also, you ask, since when is America held responsible for the happiness of ALL its people? I will quote to you from the earliest of documents pertaining to the American government. Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” The Declaration does not say that government should make sure that some people have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but that ALL men should. And it is commonly interpreted today that “men” means “humans” rather than men or women per se. It is the purpose of government to ensure that people are able to have these rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Powerful terms, not fully explained. Life is a highly contested term, especially considering the nations debates on abortion, but if healthcare does not fall under the category of “life” then I don’t know what would! Jefferson goes on to say that people have the right to establish a government which will promote their safety and happiness. I think a healthy life qualifies as a factor contributing to happiness. It’s not the only factor, to be sure, but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier to be happier when you are unhealthy. And there is no doubt in Jefferson’s writing that it is the government’s responsibility to take care of these things.

And from the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a morre perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.”
Clearly, the government’s responsibility is to do more than just deal with issues of national security. I’m not denying that national security is a major responsibility of the government, but just saying it is not the ONLY role laid out for our government in our Constitution. The government should also promote and insure domestic tranquility and the general welfare. If the government continues to not give people access to healthcare, there will not be domestic tranqulity. People will begin to get upset, and then perhaps start taking action and lashing out in anger at the system. With enough people, the situation could lead to the overturning of the government itself, something certainly not in the government’s interest. The other responsibility is the general welfare. A general, suitable, and accepted definition of welfare is “wellbeing: a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous.” People’s welfare includes their health, so people’s health falls under the responsibility of the government. And if the US is supposed to stand for equality, then the standard for providing health does apply to ALL people.

Anyway, I hope this discussion continues, but this is all I could come up with for now. I’ve got to get to bed!

And of course I have to also include the last few comments and responses.

KH – “I don’t think it’s the govt’s responsibilty at all. You’re assuming that health care falls under ‘general welfare’ but who draws the line and decides what falls under that? All this is is a scam for the govt to have more power. Do you reall…y believe that health care is gonna be more affordable?
I have been uninsured and have a child with a pre existing condition, shouldn’t I want this? Isn’t this for me? But I have no desire whatsoever. When the they decide to have govt run health care available, let’s say about 20% of people are gonna want that. That means 20% losses for ins companies, which means an increase in rates for everyone else.
I don’t want this and I don’t understand being forced to buy a product that I don’t want and if I don’t buy it being penalized. That’s not right. Something needs to change, but this isn’t the answer. They’re trying to take away the free market which is what makes us America. Take that away and that changes what our country is and what it stands for. I didn’t mean for this to be long…sorry.”

RL – “That’s ok…when you’re on a roll it’s hard to stop!”

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