Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pro-Reform, but not this reform

It is a curious tendency in today's politics to conflate opposition to a particular action or policy of the government with rejecting the principle that the policy is supposed to address outright. That the rejection of a bill in Congress to, say, reform federal welfare is to be against welfare reform in principle.

It is thus the curious tendency of those who support the current health care bill(s) in Congress to label those who oppose the bills as wanting to keep the status quo. That the current bills before the legislature are the only way to fix the current mess that is the U.S. health care financial system.

However that is not the case. In fact I think it may be one of the few things that all Americans agree on is that the financing system is in desperate need of reform. Whether you are Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, etc. you are under the thumb of a horribly inefficient and costly system. The quality of the care itself is second to none, yet you may go bankrupt by breaking a leg. Such a system cannot be sustained.

It is however the HOW that we are currently arguing over. What the current debate shows is a clash of political ideologies. Private market vs. state run. Centralized control vs. private ownership. Single-payer vs. private financing. Those on both sides of the fence know that with 17% of the economy on the line, who wins the debate over health care will more or less ultimately decide the course of America's political operating philosophy in this country for years to come.

As a small government conservative I have grave doubts about the ability of the U.S. government to control costs without restricting care. I also am skeptical of the ability of the national government to manage the financial system of 300 million people with the diversity that this country possesses. Other countries with far less geography and differences in culture experience great problems in state run care. This is not to say that there aren't benefits to a centralized system. But given that Western Europe's problems with state run care (France, England) with their spending of 11% of their GDP on average, state run care is far from a panacea. Thus while I acknowledge the problems we have I don't feel the current legislation is the way to go.

I am all too aware, as most of the opposition is, about the problems in the current system. But the unfortunate tendency to label those who disagree with us and stuff them in an ideological box so we can dismiss their argument is far too easy these days. If we are to solve the health care financial problems we will need to come up with a solution that we can all be comfortable with. The political left and right have the right to have a say. I am thankful that the wisdom of the founding fathers has shone through again and that sweeping changes cannot happen in this country unless both the minority and majority have a voice.

For homework today I suggest an excellent article about why our system is neither a free market or state controlled system, but a horrid hybrid of both. I welcome all comments and discussion provided that they are conducted in a spirit of charity.

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