Choose Life

xray

I don’t want to say that the opponents of universal health care are lazy.

Then again, the 4th of July wasn’t that long ago, and I assumed that any red, white and blue-blooded American would have brushed up on the Declaration of Independence in between sips of Heineken. Even if you just read the Spark Notes, you’d see what I’m talking about.

The intentionally incomplete list of unalienable rights starts with Life. It starts with that right, not for alphabetical reasons, but because the others depend on it. Liberty and happiness are typically hard to pursue from the grave. (Granted, I’m rejecting the existence of zombies, which may be unfair considering some of our senators.)

If Americans have the right to Life, then they have a right to basic and necessary health care – without a trail of crippling debt. Leadership in this country – the richest in the world – disgraces itself every day that it denies this fundamental service to its people.

Yesterday, Democrats in Congress unveiled a plan that would finally make health care a right for all Americans. While this is one of the first times I’ve supported an effort from Congress, it’s worth noting that it’s almost guaranteed to fail.

It’s doomed because of people like Thomas Szasz, who argue that the “concept of reimbursable health-care service rests on the premise that the medical problem in need of servicing is the result of involuntary, unwanted happenings, not the result of voluntary, goal-directed behavior.”

Szasz’ comment reminds us of former president Ronald Reagan, who infamously said that people were homeless by choice – a convenient explanation considering the appalling rise in poverty and homelessness during his presidency. Like Reagan, Szasz treats the downtrodden with callousness, abandoning any sense of rational context in his pursuit of a self-serving end.

He goes on: “Rich and educated people … tend to take better care of themselves and their possessions, which in turn leads to better health.” In other words, Szasz (who fits in the category of “rich and educated”) doesn’t want to contribute money to pay for the dirty masses in the United States whose illnesses are the result of voluntary choice. So, if you find yourself unhealthy and without insurance, you should probably hurry up and decide to be rich so you can pay for it.

President Barack Obama has spoken about the need to find a “uniquely American” solution – that is, a solution that can work its way around the uniquely American domination of power and and wealth by a concentrated elite. Turns out that the opponents of universal health care aren’t lazy, they’re greedy.

I think it’s clear that we’re not going to win guaranteed coverage on the strength of arguments alone. We have to take our interests into our own hands and demand it.

It’s our right.

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Flickr image by nullalux

8 Comments

  1. Jordan

    Good thoughts Clint. I do believe in universal health care and lower costs in our country but I do waver on some aspects of how far government can work on the preventative side of health care. Freedom to choose our lifestyle is a right that we all claim as Americans. So, choosing to be a smoker or eating fast food every day is a right, I guess. But, if my taxes are not only covering my healthcare but that of smokers and morbidly obese people, should I be in favor of government (and even non-government) intervention in those industries to stop the health crises that they have started? Where does the chain begin with our rates of obesity and diabetes correlating highly with poorer people in this country? Is it because the fast food industry keeps prices low and do they keep prices low because of our corn subsidies? But those subsidies keep farmers employed and food prices in general low. People know smoking is bad for them, that French Fries and a burger every day isn’t any better, but for some, it’s all they can afford and, for some, it’s what they enjoy eating. But, to combat the costs to health care that that presents, where are the governments rights to say ‘No, you can’t have that’ ?

    I do think these bills are a good first step for the US. The idiots who mock the European health care system or our neighbor Canada’s seem to not know what they’re talking about and only trying to garner political points. If we have self-nominated ourselves as the top country in the world, why are we ranked 37th by the WHO ? With a large portion of our tax money going to the military-industrial complex, one would think we could sacrifice a few pet programs there to help keep our nation healthy.

  2. Chris

    From a purely economic perspective it also makes sense that a healthy workforce would be a more productive one.

  3. Ian

    Heineken sucks. I have nothing more to add since I generally agree with Clint.

  4. Chris

    Ian,
    That raises the larger question of why a True ‘Merican would drink a crappy beer from Germany… or was Clint trying to be funny?

  5. Clint

    “if my taxes are not only covering my healthcare but that of smokers and morbidly obese people, should I be in favor of government (and even non-government) intervention in those industries to stop the health crises that they have started?”

    That’s a good question. For one thing, I think universal health care will give more people more access to doctors for check-ups and the like. That increased interaction would hopefully educate patients so that they’d be more likely to live healthier lives (and thus require less attention.)

    I also think it will generally produce beneficial outcomes if I have a stake in everyone else’s health and well-being.

  6. Clint

    Chris,

    “That raises the larger question of why a True ‘Merican would drink a crappy beer from Germany… or was Clint trying to be funny?

    “Trying” appears to be the key word 🙂

  7. Clint, It seems we think the same about the Szasz piece. I hope your commenters will look at my reaction to Szasz is Can You Explain This?

    Chris is correct that a healthier population will be more productive, therefore increasing economic growth. I would be interested to see empirical research that can estimate the level of economic growth that a healthier workplace can generate.

    I share Jordan’s concern for the inevitable free riding of any public system. I have not seen any proposed structure that would allow a program to differential premiums for people with preventable risk factors. Education is great but a monetary incentive works faster. If we are not going to have universal single payer we need to address the free riding. we probably have to address is with universal single payer.

    Thanks

  8. Clint

    TheObservedBlog,

    (Your link wasn’t working (an extra slash at the end), so I changed it in your comment.)