In general, I think that the new health care bill is an improvement over the old order. I hope it is not repealed, but I’m sure that some adjustments will be necessary.
Does this make America a more compassionate nation? I don’t think so. If anything, it proves that we are not, that we need the government to do this. And I hope the role of philanthropy and of charitable and “free clinics” is not squeezed entirely out of the system. I believe the same about welfare states in general. I am not rigorously against welfare states, as I was in my youth, but they do not prove a society to be more compassionate, but less; just as if I go into a neighborhood where there are wrought iron bars on the windows everywhere, and powerfully visible police and security guards everywhere, I suppose I am justified in thinking of that neighborhood as one with strong respect for the rights of private property and “Thou shalt not steal!” (lol) And in a country where the women are kept in the house and wrapped up tight so that they show almost no skin in public, are we really to view such a society as one where women and sexual morality are really respected by men? (I owe this last example to the writings of Vishal Mangalwadi.) I still do not believe that health care, or any other form of welfare (and that includes Medicare and Social Security) is a moral entitlement. The nearest thing we have to entitlements are property rights. When there is a potentially infinite demand for a finite resource, you cannot have the demand for the resource be a “right” unless it is a property right to a share of the resources that actually concretely exists.
That said, I hear that some people are launching a suit to declare the provisions requiring people to buy insurance unconstitutional. If this suit is upheld by any court, I have only two things to say:
i) When I’m in the emergency room on the weekend for my hangnail, and you come in all bleeding from a drunken brawl, don’t try to cut in front of me in line!
ii) If such an idea passes muster with any court, I shall stop paying my Social Security Tax. Recall that the other name for the Social Security Tax is OASDI, which stands for Old Age, Survivors, and Disability I*N*S*U*R*A*N*C*E, just in case you were wondering.
I guess I shouldn’t stop my car insurance. After all, I don’t absolutely have to drive a car, and it is a privilege, and all that. But then again, this is the OC. I don’t absolutely have to have a car. For that matter, I don’t absolutely have to go to a doctor or a hospital when I’m sick. I’m sure there are plenty of curanderos and faith healers and herbalists available, and if not, as Lord Keynes said, “in the long run we are all dead,” anyway.
I am glad, however, that the public option was not passed. And I will admit that, whatever I think of Republicans, which isn’t much, it wouldn’t be bad if they won control of Congress in the 2010 election. The reason I say this is that I remember the last time we had a Democratic President and a Republican Congress (i.e., 1994-2000) we had one of the better and more all inclusive booms we ever had. Even some of the people we would usually consider unemployable were getting jobs. This is a better record than the reverse, which prevailed 1980-92. The boom of that period was less all-inclusive and the deficit continued to increase radically during that time. I will admit that the Republicans will not fight as hard against socially liberal judges, but I have reached the conclusion – reinforced by the results of the Prop 8 election – that social conservatism is a bipartisan cause, not a Republican one.