The Collegian
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Political Face Off: "Hey let's be fair!" v. "But at what cost?"

Hey, let's be fair!

Richmond College '09

Republicans have complained endlessly about Charlie Gibson's unfair treatment of Sarah Palin during a primetime television interview last week. It baffles me that Republicans decry the unfairness of TV anchors while they pooh-pooh the unfairness of the American health care system.

There's a lot of unfairness to ignore. Over 47 million Americans are uninsured, roughly nine million of whom are children. It's difficult to imagine the tremendous amount of illness, mortality and anxiety signified by such statistics.

Paul would reply that there's nothing inherently unfair in those numbers. After all, if there were simply 47 million lazy adults and children looking to mooch health care from all the earnest, hard-working Republicans in the United States, I'd agree that all's fair. Throw in a paean to the free market and the 'ownership society' and -- voila! -- you have the ignorant Republican narrative, which is printed to my right.

The problem with the Republican narrative -- and this is often the problem with Republican narratives -- is that it misconstrues how and why the worst off end up as the worst off. To Paul's shock, members of the uninsured didn't decide to quit their jobs, register as Democrats and wait for free chemotherapy.

The wide majority of uninsured adults either can't find a job at all, can't find a job with adequate health insurance whatsoever, can't work due to illness or injury in the family, or experienced a dose of bad luck that had little or nothing to do with personal irresponsibility. While it's probably true that a negligible percentage of the uninsured are simply slouches, it's ludicrous to assert that many uninsured earned their plight.

Given these facts, it becomes clearer that the United States should have a health care system that insures everyone (i.e. a "universal" system). If the overwhelming majority of the uninsured don't deserve their suffering, we should help them. Considering that health care is necessary for basic survival, the moral obligation is all the more pressing.

This is exactly when Republicans step in to remonstrate with me: "John, if you're so concerned with fairness and justice, by what right does the government confiscate my property to pay for everyone's colonoscopies? I've earned my money, and my secure job, through hard work. How is it fair to let the government decide how to spend my money?"

Although this view is more reasonable than the 'personal responsibility' nonsense, it has many faults, only one of which I can discuss here. The argument that the free market's competitive distribution of earnings is the fairest possible distribution (which is a necessary premise to the above Republican counterpoint) assumes that everyone starts the competition with the same equipment, at the same starting point. This is demonstrably false.

A child born into a low-income, single-parent home clearly does not begin at the same starting point as a child born into an affluent family. According to a report by the London School of Economics, the majority of today's lower-class Americans were born into lower-class families. If some people start out ahead at birth (which no one "deserves"), those same people cannot cry bloody murder when the government tries to level the playing field down the road.

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It's clear that the United States is a very unfair place. As conscientious and moral citizens, we should strive to correct injustice. Universal health care, unlike the Bush Doctrine, is a huge step in the right direction.

But at what cost?

Richmond College '09

Many Democrats and liberals run and try to govern on a platform of making things better for everyone through the engine of government, which sounds like a Marxist utopia. I would not ignore the fact that so many millions of Americans are without affordable health insurance or 'pooh-pooh' their condition and write it off while coddling with pharmaceutical companies. I have a problem with 47 million Americans unable to afford health insurance.

However, let's think outside the box for a minute. Regardless of whether or not you could come up with the money to afford health insurance, would you want the same federal government that screwed up Katrina running the provision of your health care or how about the same one that sent our soldiers to Vietnam with two hands behind their backs? How would anyone feel about the same federal government that had to fight a civil war to free slaves and make such an abhorrent practice illegal providing your health care?

This is exactly where many conservatives come from on this and practically every other issue in regards to policy - humans are fallible and we can't expect to construct a perfect government or system from imperfect beings. A government-run health care system would cost much more than some believe, also creating a precedent to universalize other services while continuing to drain everyone's wallets to the point that we can't afford anything. I'm sure Mr. Calhoun would still think capitalism is an unfair distribution method when he can't afford his family's vacation because his extensive taxpayer dollars pay for someone's chemotherapy.

I think Mr. Calhoun misses the issue entirely; the problem is bigger than just finding a way to make the current system affordable to everyone. Why did health care become so expensive in the first place? The problem with our health care problem in the United States is the fact that Western medicine is mostly reactionary. If you have blood clots, get a bypass. If you have back pain, have back surgery.

The Republican Party itself has not come up with a response to the health care issue, which has me convinced entirely. That's why I have a different idea. Government at all levels should work to implement policies and practices that legitimize alternative and preventative medicine, such as licensing for practitioners. I'm talking about naturopathy, homeopathy, enema and the works.

Here's what the benefit is: Let's say you develop gallstones. You really have two choices. One: You can spend thousands on surgery to remove your gallbladder, having to go through consultations with surgeons, be placed on a waiting list, deal with the health insurance company (or the red tape of your government), and spend time recovering from surgery.

Two: you can spend a couple hundred dollars on some remedies with a strict diet, eliminating your gallstones through the alimentary canal. Which one is simple and much more economical? Of course, you picked the second choice. With more people picking the second choice, healthcare costs would decline dramatically, easing the costs on the American populace.

Seeing that the costs would decline, health insurance wouldn't be such a big hassle (or even big business in the derogatory sense). All this can be accomplished with minimal involvement with the government at all levels in America. This way, I wouldn't have to pay for Mr. Calhoun's colonoscopy in 30 years.

Conservatism simply at its best.

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