"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Universal Health Care: the Left's Smug "Gift" Pt.2

Given the many demonstrable problems with both the implementation and practice of socialized medicine (covered in my last post), and the extreme expense of it (and estimated $1.5 trillion-- that's $1,500,000,000,000-- over the next decade), the question of why such a policy should be enacted is obviously raised.

Oftentimes the answer is the vast amount of uninsured individuals in the US. Fair enough. But what exactly is the number of those who cannot afford health insurance? Notice that I do not ask how many are uninsured. Those who can afford health insurance and then unwisely decide to buy a new SUV or a house they cannot afford instead of purchasing health insurance should not be counted. You have lower taxes due to private health insurance options, if you decide to not take this extra money and use it for insurance, you don't get counted.

The number I see most often, inspired by a Michael Moore propaganda piece disgracefully labeled a "documentary" Sicko, is 47,000,000 uninsured. But that number is hugely misleading. As Julia Seymour at NewsBusters.org points out and is again reiterated by the Business & Media Institute (that Julia Seymour is an assistant editor for) "The Census Bureau's 2007 report on the uninsured found that of the 45.6 million people who are uninsured 9.7 million of them are non-citizens, 7.9 million of them are under 24 years old, and over 9 million could afford insurance because they make at least $75,000 a year. That leaves roughly 19 million uninsured, a much smaller problem than the media and some politicians admit [slightly over 6% of the population]."

Even those numbers do not provide a complete picture, since the Census Bureau admits that 'health insurance coverage is underreported' in the survey, meaning that more people have insurance than the report suggests."

Can it seriously be suggested that the US spend $1.5 trillion over ten years to insure less than 6% of the people? That's $1,500,000,000,000 to begin with. What government agency has not had its' budget increased beyond that of inflation? Historically, once government agencies are initiated they become kudzu, growing at various rates but generally unstoppable except by drastic actions. They have no economic or fiscal reality to counter-balance their financial demands, and are restricted only by the assumed limitless wellspring of tax dollars that finance them.

But money, and ineffectiveness, and the inevitable drop in health care for the majority of Americans is beside the point. As is the fact that government bureaucrats' fiscal opinions will guide patients' treatment to a greater degree than doctors' medical knowledge. What drives the Left's socialized medicine campaign is much the same motivating factor that drives the Left's mascot racial politics.

While reading Shelby Steele's excellent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, I was struck by his linking of ineffective government programs with the need to demonstrate racial innocence. Steele writes, "When redemption became a term of power, 'redemptive liberalism' was born -- a new activist liberalism that gave itself a 'redemptive' profile by focusing on social engineering rather than liberalism's classic focus on individual freedom. In the '60s there was no time to allow individual freedom to render up the social good. Redemptive liberalism would proactively engineer the good. Name a good like 'integration,' and then engineer it into being through a draconian regimen of school busing. If the busing did profound damage to public education in America, it gave liberals the right to say, 'At least we did something!' In other words, we are activists against America's old sin of segregation. Activism is moral authority in redemptive liberalism."

To me, the issue of socialized medicine reads much the same way, though divorced of an overtly racial bent. The point of instituting the Left's "do-gooder" governmental policies is not the effectiveness of the policy, nor the good or harm it ultimately does, nor, at this point, does it even matter whether the issue in question actually exists. It is a matter of exercising and reaffirming moral authority. Many individuals on the Left believe it is the job of government to exert moral authority onto the citizenry, and not for the citizens' morals to be exerted upon the government (as is essential in both direct democracies and republics).

Back in January I wrote in a previous post here about the dangers of a government's superior moral authority dictated to the masses, and the differences between a moral government and morally superior government. I won't restate the complete argument here, but I will restate that it is antithetical to democracy to have, or even crave, a government considered morally superior to the citizenry.

Yet, it is just this sort of motivation that pushes so much of Obama's policies and political goals. This smugness and arrogance that so many people feel he displays both in manner and action is, I believe, directly related to the moral superiority he believes he possesses. Thus we are left with a government whose policies are not directed by effectiveness nor even need, but by a sense of "moral" purpose, a need to "uplift" its citizenry for personal moral satisfaction.

In his essay Shelby Steele stated "In a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience." I would say that in a liberalism that wants to redeem the present, it necessarily reduces its citizens to mascots and pets-- things on which to haughtily demonstrate their moral superiority.

The simple fact is, universal health care won't work. It can hobble along in the US for maybe a decade or two (Britain's has lasted almost sixty years supported by neighboring countries and foreign medical innovations), but it will ultimately fail. So we'll probably get a massive increase in public health services-- taxes will significantly rise, quality of care will decrease for the middle and lower class, doctors' freedoms of diagnosis and treatments will be restricted, technological innovation and research will suffer. And the elitist rich who will have implemented and foisted this downturn on the lower and middle classes will slap each other on the back and be reassured at how wonderful and humanitarian they are.

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