Common Sense Health Care; Individualism or the Commonweal

CmmnSns

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Democrats dance in the streets and declare success.  An ABC News-Washington Post poll released on October 18, 2009, found that only twenty percent of the population defines themselves Republican.  Progressive assert this result will work in the their favor if the public option is to pass.  However, the now ecstatic portion of the electorate discounts the “disconnect” discussed in the aforementioned study and also addressed in a Pew Research Center report published only a week earlier.  The overjoyed overlooked the Independents (42%), the leaner’s, Left and Right (39%), and the less than inspirational number who proclaim themselves proud Democrats (33%).   For these individuals, the topic of health care reform is a complex issue.  Trust in Congress is near nil.  People are engaged in the subject, albeit a bit overwhelmed.  Sixty-six percent (66%) say they do not understand the proposed policies.  Personal matters move most people, more so than Party politics does.  Possibly, that is the problem, or the predicament that precludes authentic medical insurance reform in America.

Health care concerns consume every American and $1 out of every $6 [six dollars] citizens and the country spends.  Currently, in the United States, 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is devoted to medical costs.  In 2007, a national study, revealed more than sixty-two percent of bankruptcies were the result of expenditures related to illness and injury.  This total reflects a twenty percent increase in financial defaults due to medical bills since 2001.   Eighty percent of the persons who filed insolvency claims had health insurance.

Nevertheless, countless citizens cry our; our current health care coverage system is the “best in the world.”   Several of those who think medically speaking, the American people are not well-served say reform would make matters worse.  All crave what they believe to be common sense.  However, there are as many definitions of good judgments as there are people, politicians, pundits, and regular people.  Personal preferences have power over our opinions.  Perchance that is why so many believe “common sense” in the health care coverage debate is crucial.

When Senator Max Baucus, and the Finance Committee he chairs, unveiled their version of a Bill, they titled the remedy a common sense cure.  However, hours before the measure passed, uncommonly candid assessments appeared.  “Unfortunately, the bill would leave 17 million citizens and legal residents without insurance in 2019.”  Authentic appraisals frequently conflict with assertions.  Consider the notion called common sense.

For months, in town halls, tea parties, and at kitchen tables nationwide talk of health care reform triggers cries for “common sense.”  America’s Chief Executive asserts a need for it.  Cable News Correspondents and Commentators, such as Glenn Beck calls for it.  Magazine Publisher Larry Flynt offered his thoughts on the topic. Columnists Peggy Noonan states, “Common Sense May Sink ObamaCare.”

Entrepreneurs’ enter the fray. Whole Foods Chief Executive Officer, John Mackey addressed the common sense axiom as it relates to our wellbeing.  “Every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.””  Then, there are the American people.  They too are very familiar with what passes for lucid logic.  However, few ponder the variance in veracities.  The subject that supersedes sound judgment is the slant, “Individualism or the Commonweal.”  The two contradictory “ideals” together in a single mind cause conflict, or cognitive dissonance.

Recent Realities

Still, some “truths” remain solid.  Statistics show the rise in health care costs is steady.  Those families and individuals unable to acquire insurance for medical treatments has also increased.  Only two short years ago, measured data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that there were 46 million Americans without health insurance in 2007.  Newer research released by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine stated that in January 2009 almost 52 million Americans were uninsured.  These numbers do not take into account the persons with inadequate coverage or those whose policies are canceled retroactively.  .  Recission is profitable and the preferred practice for many insurers.

Cancelation of policies is a popular notion. Employers consider personal compensations to be of greater value than the health of their personnel or the wellbeing of the common folk.  Perhaps the philosophy in practice explains why, in late 2007, Employer-provided insurance continues to decline.  Poverty is on the rise.  The median income is less than in the past.  Job-based health insurance has become but a dream.

Employee contracts are also now easily eliminated.   In a fifteen-month span, from February 2008 through May 2009, employers have shed 5.1 million jobs.  Many of these laborers cannot expect to be re-hired.  Professionals and business personnel are not exempt from these numbers.  In what was once the most prosperous country on the globe, the losses are great.

Only six months ago, Americans learned, in a single month “more than 320,000 Americans lost their employer-provided health insurance.”  This “amounts to approximately 10,680 workers a day.”  The authors of an investigation analysis avow, “Middle Class families, frequently collapse under the strain of the health care system that treats physical wounds, but inflicts fiscal ones.”   Possibly, that is why in Common Sense 2009 Larry Flint argues, “Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich . . . decide our fate.”

Thus, the average American struggles with a sense of destiny.  Those who think themselves stable and secure, gainfully employed and covered, are happy with the current health care system.  For the few who believe they are solid citizens, the uninsured as merely careless.  Their thought is, control is best when it is in the hands of commoners with common sense.  Hence, with posters held high in their hands countless have chosen a path of civil disobedience.  Protesters rally.  Everyday people rant.  Collectively, throngs of citizens who oppose the “ObamaCare” chant words first penned by writer Thomas Paine.  However, much is lost in the translation.

Thomas Paine; Reflections From the Past

Essayist, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor, and intellectual Philosopher Paine, some say, is the only voice of reason. Voters resolve Paine speaks to the rights of individuals.  He understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Perhaps, in our shared hours of physical and fiscal pain we might wish to recall the words Paine penned when the New World was young, rather than rely on what in recent years has become the New World Order.  Our forefather, Thomas Paine stated a need for government,.  He understood; human frailties, such as greed, necessitate rules and regulations.  The role access to authentically adequate medical treatments plays in the broader community, would not have been lost on a man who recognized we all share responsibility for societal ills.

Paradigm of Perception; Thomas Paine Text Transformed

Today, those who rant against an official health care policy reason that in this republic elected officials are the enemy.  A person has rights, they shout. People who rage in opposition to plans that would transform the insurance cartel frequently quote Thomas Paine as though he would have supported their contentions, “We are all responsible for our own lives.”

Individuals intolerant of government have a great support system.  The Press, who loves to stir the pot, pours out prose to incite.  Glenn Beck, who thinks himself inspired by the original work of Thomas Paine makes “A Case Against an Out-of-Control Government.” This independent maverick ignores the words written by the man he, and other anti-Administration protagonists, thinks a prophet.   Perchance, the Broadcaster missed the passage,

“Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all lovers of mankind are affected, and in the event of which, their affections are interested., is the Author.”

A fondness for one’s fellow man is rarely found in Mister Beck’s rhetoric.  Indeed, he has arguably fueled the flame of fury, divided the people, and contrary to the case for a central government, Glenn Beck has ignited a fire in defiance of the Paine doctrine.  In the name of a need to preserve and protect the public’s rights, the modern Author misconstrued Paine’s original text.  Announcer Beck has chosen individualism. He ensured that his economic future is secure and rejected the reality of the commonweal.

Writer Peggy Noonan, on the other hand while not a supporter of causes that advocate for the common welfare, did at least speak of the public as a whole.  She muses; American’s are reluctant to accept reforms.   “Resistance” explains the disdain for a policy change.  Countrywide the mood has been altered.  “The crash gave everyone a diminished sense of their own margin for error. It also gave them a diminished sense of their country’s margin for error. Americans are not in a chance-taking mood.” Perhaps, Ms Noonan is [politically] correct.  Ostensibly, it would seem the former Ronald Reagan speechwriter is “right.”

Today, few Americans have faith.  What they once thought was common sense has proven not to be the case.  The people trusted what earlier Administration’s proclaimed.  However, contrary to what a past President and authoritative candidates said, all was not well in the United States. The Economy (was not) Strong Enough to Handle Turmoil.   The number of uninsured Americans increased by nearly 8 million during the Bush Administration.  Perhaps, cognitive dissonance is contagious.

The Commonweal Crumbles As Individualist Chide

Citizens live in a country.  The American people reside in communities, and yet, most are concerned with only me, myself, and I.  People ponder their personal circumstances, and those of their corporations.  What is truth for persons in the business world affects us all.

No longer willing to believe in government, let alone a new Administration, proprietors who invested in smaller companies think to save themselves from Federal control.  Shop owners say they do not want Uncle Sam to oversee or own insurance options.  For these tycoons, competition in the private insurance industry is preferred.  As individuals these Chief Executives ignore the veracity that they too will pay for the pain they reap onto the public and their personnel.  The cost to companies will be nearly $2.4 trillion dollars for workers health care costs in the next decade.

The decision to emphasize earnings will have other effects. The Congressional Budget Office concluded “Employers who offer to pay for health insurance pay less in wages and other forms of compensation than they otherwise would, keeping total compensation about the same.”

The phenomenon known as “job lock” is also often lost in critical conversations related to health care reform.  The American people, supervisors, and subordinates are disconnected from the details until the day when thy suddenly are affected or afflicted.  A healthy staffer rarely thinks of the time when he or she might become ill or be injured and feel imprisoned by a job that provides health care benefits.   Professional passageways may be closed when insurance coverage becomes more important than the quality of life.  Nor, does a vigorous staffer remember medical care coverage can be retroactively removed.

Recipients Receive Government Medical Care and Reject Reform

Recipients of Medicare also disregard associations.  Rather than think of the generations they gave birth to people who benefit from the Federal plan speak loudly of their opposition to government managed health care programs. This seems contrary to common sense,, since these same individuals are joyous with what they receive.  This dichotomy offers little but a larger puzzle.  Where is the Common Sense? Many love what they have and loathe the possibility that others may profit from a similar or identical program.  

In America, our countrymen have adopted an alternative democracy, one devoid of universal concerns.  Unlike centuries ago, when a now popular Pamphleteer professed the need for a collaborative collective, in recent decades, by design, Americans have come to think of “me” first. Citizens are critical of the text that advocates for the commonweal, while they embrace its original author, Thomas Paine.

How might this have occurred?  Children in the “United” States no longer study civics. The subject has been removed from schools curriculums..  The cost of such classes was thought too high. The lessons were not learned at home.  Parents had to pay the price for a culture that does not cultivate a strong sense of community.  Much of our common history, and perchance, common sense has been lost.

Awareness for the predicament of our fellow Americans is absent.  Frequently,, people in this “affluent” country are detached from what they rather not believe exists.    Prosperous people, those who are, for now, content with their health care coverage, believe that those who lack medical insurance are impoverished.  The general public presumes people who do not work are by choice without coverage. Few can fathom what occurs when a free clinic opens its doors for a day.  In Houston, thousands of employed individuals turned out in search of medical treatment that they could afford.

Salvage Common Sense

If Americans are to embrace common sense as they say they wish to, we, the people must decide.  Does duplicity define us?  Will we choose to work as one; or we once again serve only our self-interest.  

Reform can expand the options for all and sacrifice none.  If Americans again hold dear the notion of the social equality, some citizens could state, I am happy with my employer-provided health care plan.  Others may prefer to opt for a government program.  A few could conclude, I will cover myself, eat well, exercise regularly, and escape most every illness.  It matters not which plan individuals choose.  When we work together we serve the commonweal and act on the axioms Thomas Paine set forth.

In America, should we decide to conserve the commonweal, retain consumption as the rule, establish that indeed we are rugged individualists, or reform our ways.   Will Americans waste not and want not?  Could the original thought transcribed in Common Sense once again be our greater truth? What will 2009 bring; more rants, rallies, or reason?  Only the approved insurance reform Bill will reveal which common sense approach Americans are willing to adopt.

Health Care Reform References . . .