Life has gone back to its ho-hum existence since my trip to Munich; however the pressure of the next project is already on. In April I will be attending two conferences and will have to go to DC for four days and then Chicago for four. I should probably start writing that paper now. What is it that they say about no rest for the weary?
Of course there was something in the news this week that caught my eye.
Give me a second . . . what was it . . . oh, yeah, health care.
I thought long and hard about what I have to say about the US health care bill. You either like it or you do not and there is not much that I can write either way that will change your mind. The overwrought rhetoric from those opposed has made me so nauseous and confused, that frankly I tuned out and turned away. I still cannot figure out what exactly it is that so many do not like about the bill.
How can you oppose:
- Children being permitted to remain on their parents' insurance plan until their 26th birthday (Boy, do I wish I had had that when I was in graduate school!)
- Individuals affected by the Medicare “donut hole” will receive a $250 rebate, and 50% of the gap will be eliminated in 2011
- Insurance company spending caps will be restricted, and completely prohibited by 2014
- Insurers are prohibited from dropping policy holders when they get sick
- Providing tax deductions for small business so that they can get health insurance for their employees
- Possibly extending health care coverage to 32 million Americans
So what is the problem with the bill? After looking at a few news outlets today I determined that cost (a quite legitimate concern which deserves more thoughtful discussion and not yelling) and the federal mandate to have health insurance were the thorn in many a side.
“Federal mandates are unconstitutional!” This quote was from Mitt Romney, who thought that mandates were constitutional when he was governor of Massachusetts. “The government cannot require you to do anything!” Wish I had known that when I had to register my car, pay taxes and get car insurance. Guess I should have sued. I keep looking for the part about mandates in the Constitution, but cannot find it. Could someone help me out? This is not tongue in cheek, seriously, as a scholar I would like to understand the argument better.
Germany has a federal mandate, and has had one for a VERY long time. Boy has it led it down the road to ruin. (Yes that last sentence IS tongue in cheek.) I asked the German why this mandate goes unquestioned in Germany.
Health care reform in Germany goes back to the days of Otto von Bismarck. In 1883 Bismarck oversaw the passage of the first German Health Insurance Bill. Health care was but one of many programs that his government pursued which helped to establish the German welfare system. Otto von Bismarck was not a socialist. However, he did recognize the power of the socialist and worker movement. These laws were enacted in order to appease them and to preserve the capitalist system. Bismarck did this because he recognized a fundamental truth of politics.
If you kick a dog often enough, he will bite you.
You have to hand out a bone every now and again.
I find this to be an intriguing way to look at the issue. Health care was not a grand socialist experiment, but necessary to maintain political order and power.
The German also pointed out to me that health care is necessary because it is bad for the economy to have a sick county. If everyone runs around sick then they are not productive at work. Also, they could get “me” sick, which I really do not want, or they wind up getting so sick that they go into hospitals and I wind up paying for them anyway. As a self-interested individual pursuing my goals and enjoying my freedom, I also have an interest in making sure that the people around me have affordable health care.
The German is smart, huh? That is why I keep him around. He is also extremely brave. He firmly believes in listening to and examining all sides of an argument and so he downloaded and listened to Glenn Beck last night. He looked at me completely bewildered after awhile, “Did this guy actually go to school? And why does he keep talking about trading in gold?”
There is one last thing that has really bugged me. Something seems to have gotten lost over the cacophony of noise in the US media the past few months.
There actually ARE Americans that want health care reform. They, as well as I, believe that good health should not be for the rich, dying for the poor and the middle class is left to go bankrupt.
And that is my two Cents.