During the current health care debate, hardly a day goes by that we do not hear from those who believe they are morally superior to the rest of us, that this issue "concerns more than material things"...that it is "above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."
Indeed, the moral choices we the people make on this issue will say a lot about the character of our country.
So let's consider the American character in the context of the issue of health care. Two recent articles are relevant. In an op-ed at Real Clear Politics, Troy Senik makes an astute observation.
Healthcare isn't failing because of Obama's weaknesses or his opponent's strength. It is failing because the proposal misapprehends the American character. On a moral level, there are sacrifices of both liberty and responsibility that the American people aren't willing to make. And on a practical level, citizens who enjoy a world of instant convenience in everything from their music downloads to their airplane tickets aren't willing to entertain a debate about whether it's better to ration health care on a Soviet model or a Canadian model.The Founders understood very well that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" require that government be kept small and limited in its scope, otherwise it will inevitably encroach on these natural rights that define the American character. If individuals do not take personal responsibility for their own life; if government is allowed to make most of the important choices for you, then you have either voluntarily and willingly relinquished your natural rights; or they have been taken from you against your will.
A revolt is afoot in the nation. The media and the political class might not understand the appeal of the Ron Pauls and Glenn Becks of the world. But even many of those who disagree with Paul and Beck on the specifics understand the draw. Something is resurfacing. Americans are increasingly unafraid to say the word "liberty". Politicians who don't share that trait may want to start updating their résumés. [emphasis mine]
In either case, you will eventually realize that you are living under a tyranny--perhaps a soft, comfortable and infantalizing tyranny--but a tyranny nonetheless.
This choice--voluntarily relinquishing the natural right to your own life; your liberty; and the pursuit of your own happiness; versus standing against tyranny (even soft tyranny done "for your own good") defines the American character.
Mona Charon posts a response from a reader on her discussion of 'market failure', which I think says something important about character:
Having seen the response from one of your correspondents that health insurance is too expensive for recent graduates, I thought I would check to see if much had changed in the last 15 years. When I finished my graduate degree, my first employer in Richmond did not provide health insurance, but I was able to get an Anthem (formerly Blue Cross) policy in Richmond, VA for about $75.00 a month. According to a brief internet search, a 25 year-old non-smoking male living in Richmond, Virginia can get a basic Anthem policy (much like an employer is likely to offer) for $111.00 a month with a $500.00 deductible and $30 copays or $79.00 a month for a $2,500 deductible and $30 co-pays. Thus, your other correspondent is not stretching when he referenced "Cable TV". Give up the Comcast Triple Play and get health insurance. Alternatively, give up one or two nights out a month, and cover your health insurance. What the correspondent seems to miss is that he cannot logically maintain that health insurance is so important that it is a moral obligation for the government to provide it to all of its citizens, but it isn't worth two dates at TGIFriday's a month for an individual.
The sentence which is in bold (emphasis is mine) captures the essential point here. The health care debate is not fundamentally about health care; or even health insurance. It is about freedom. It is about choices. It is about deciding what is most important to you; whether it is to go out on the town a couple of times a month or choosing to get health insurance instead.
Your life, your values, your freedom, your choices.
And the responsibility of accepting the consequences of those choices.
In the case of those Americans who truly cannot afford health insurance--perhaps we should begin to ask the question of what impedes the market from providing solutions to for that situation?
Health insurance policies are expensive. But this is not a "market-created condition." Most state governments have larded on mandates — insisting that companies cover IVF and alcohol counseling, for example. Government has also forbidden interstate competition in health insurance. Further, private insurance policies are charged an extra premium to cover the shortfall in what Medicare and Medicaid pay providers. We should reform insurance laws to permit the sale of cheap, high-deductible, catastrophic-only coverage for the young, healthy population. If such products were available, most of the healthy uninsured would buy them. This is one reason the analogy to car insurance is inexact. There are high-deductible, catastrophic plans available.
As for the needy uninsured who would still not be able to afford health insurance, we could offer subsidies at a fraction of what it would cost to create Medicare for all, which is what the Democrats are aiming for. Tort reform would also bring down costs.
Why is it so hard to believe that it is the government that has been the source of all the limitations on health care insurance choices? There are many people in government who would have you believe that it is eeeeevil capitalism that is to blame for the "lack of options" available for those with limited incomes.
Thus, having mandated the limitations and forced the system to evolve in the way it has, we are now led to believe that government is the "only solution" and that the "public option" gives people more choices. This is deceptive at best, and an outright lie at worse.
It is a little like putting a wolf in sheep's clothing in among the sheep. A "public option" will eventually eat up all the other choices available, because it has no intention of acting like just another docile sheep once it gets into the herd.
The "wolf" in the health care debate is merely another meaningless neo-Marxist concept ("social justice"--i.e., the redistribution of wealth and the endless promotion of identity politics and victimhood) that is disguised to deceive. It is not capable of never enhancing your choices, but only limiting them. Whenever government intrudes into the intimate aspects of your life and compassionately relieves you of making all those tough decisions; or prevents you from prioritizing according to your own specific needs; how you deal with it defines your character.
Many people want to be relieved of personal responsibility for making choices and are perfectly willing to give up liberty and the responsibility for their own life to pursue their whims at your expense. They will rationalize to themselves that this is what the Declaration of Independence and Jefferson really meant in his opening statement; and that they are entitled--even have a constitutional "right"--to have your wealth redistributed to them.
If that were the case, then one of the greatest documents in history would be known as the Declaration of Dependence.
So it comes down to this in the health care debate: Independence and Freedom vs Dependence and Tyranny.
Choose. Your character depends on it.