I’ll begin to explain my political transformation, by trying, in my own small way, to bridge a bit of the understanding gap that exists in our nation. I’m sure plenty of my conservative friends saw their facebook news feeds light up after this week’s Supreme Court ruling with comments about how we hate women and children and poor people and how we just want rich people to get richer (and while apparently it’s not cool to be offended by anything, I’ll freely admit that I am offended by the obnoxious name calling that goes on in the name of politics). At the same time I know it’s tempting for conservatives to think that liberals just want to take everything they’ve made and spread it around to everyone, until the entire country is bankrupt.
I think a good starting place in creating understanding, is to begin by giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Neither side is trying to destroy our country. However we do see the same problem and we’ve come up with very different solutions to that problem.
Liberals, in the United States at least, tend to see problems and see a government solution to that problem. Conservatives tend to look at the same problem and see a more local solution, or a private sector solution.
Let’s take the problem at hand: the sorry state of health care in our nation.
I doubt there are many on either side who are going to deny that there is a problem and that something has to be done. However the solutions are quite different. Obviously a number of people, although according to every survey I’ve seen, less than 40%, believe that government funded health care is the solution.
Once upon a time, I would have agreed wholeheartedly and thought that the Supreme Court ruling was the greatest thing to happen in our country in a very long time. Yet after spending half of my life paying attention to politics, I have to say, I wouldn’t trust our government to take care of my cat, much less my health. I do not believe that health care should be managed by a government that has proven over and over again that the only thing it really excels at is giving scandal and partisan bickering.
I’m actually not against Medicaid or any number of other state run programs that help the poor (even those that receive federal funding). I do believe that there should be a safety net for those who have fallen upon hard times. But having experienced Medicaid first hand when Paul lost his job after Sadie was born, and having marveled for a year and a half at the mind boggling level of incompetence that was repeatedly demonstrated (it took me a year and a half to get a person to talk to me, despite my repeated calls…), I have to say I’m not enthusiastic about turning over the health care of the entire nation to our federal government.
You see, I think that we could come up with alternative solutions to the problem at hand that wouldn’t involve creating a giant bureaucracy, which is bound to have the same flaws our current government has. I think our country would be much better off if the government didn’t continually kneecap charities who are working to serve the poor. And, I believe that we might have tried encouraging interstate insurance competition to drive down prices, along with legislative action to crack down on frivolous lawsuits that drive up malpractice insurance prices, and drive up the cost of health care. Because let’s face it: my c-section didn’t cost $64,000 and the fact that that was what our private insurance was charged (they passed on a $17,000 bill to us) was ridiculous.
I also don’t believe that excessive taxation is going to stimulate our economy and send us, as a nation, in the right direction. I don’t see individuals having less to spend, and the federal government having more, as something that’s going to send businesses hiring back the workers that they laid off 4 years ago. And I do believe that a thriving economy is the best way to help the people in this country who are struggling to survive and put food on the table each month.
So the next time you encounter someone who is against the mandate you might consider that it isn’t because they enjoy seeing children without access to medical help. It’s much more likely that they believe the old saying: “you can give a man a fish so that he can eat for a day, or you can teach a man to fish, so he can eat for a lifetime,” has more than a little truth to it.