Against my better judgement, I’m going to hurl myself into the breach of rational debate regarding the proposed reformation of health care in the US. This action I deem necessary due to the total lack of rational debate on the subject. Demagogues and pundits on all sides are substituting volume for facts.
Please take a moment and review the Constitution of the United States, particularly Article I. This article identifies the powers and limitations of Congress. Please note that this was written a long time ago by men who were among the intelligentsia of their place and time. They realized that they could not possibly foresee every aspect of future life in their newborn nation, and accordingly wrote the operating instructions to be a broad as possible.
This particular section (Section 8, appropriately enough) of the article seems to be the operative one:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Note that there is nothing specifically written permitting Congress to deal with something as complex as modern health care. Congress was never intended to be so deeply enmeshed in the private lives and businesses of the citizens. This was originally assumed to be a power relegated to the States. That said, the first paragraph might contain a loophole, sufficient for Congress to interfere in the day-to-day lives of the citizens.
provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States
Here’s where the baby goes out the airlock: Congress is empowered to provide for the general welfare of the United States.
The Founders made their Constitution deliberately ambiguous to allow for changing circumstances in a future they could not foresee. Many legislators are lawyers. Lawyers just love to make hay by wringing whatever meaning they can from ambiguous legislation. And therein lies the problem today.
Looking at the offending paragraph one way, Congress must provide for the general welfare of the United States as an entity. Therefore, Congress should not have the power to get involved in health care. On the other hand, the citizens are part of the United States, so one could use the exact same paragraph to justify Congress getting mixed up in private health care decisions. It is the nature of Government to create more government. Given that, Congress will interpret their operating instructions (the Constitution) in such a way that suits Congress’ purpose.
I am personally horrified at the idea of the US Government providing health care. I have lived through that while I was on active duty and since then through the Veteran’s Administration. Due to my service-connected disabilities, I am entitled to “free” medical care from the VA. And yet, I have private health insurance. I pay roughly five thousand dollars a year to a health insurance company because government-managed health care sucks donkey balls.
It is a truism that Congress is the opposite of progress. The US government is patently incapable of efficiency or cost-effectiveness. It is not possible for the Government to make a profit- government is inherently wasteful. It is often, however, useful and necessary.
Let us now cut through the layers of bullshit being tossed about by everyone involved in this alleged “debate”. There are US citizens who- for a variety of reasons- do not have access to adequate health care (however one defines “adequate”). Most of those citizens are living below the poverty line or are otherwise on government assistance of one sort or another. The government programs put in place to help those people are so badly managed that they risk bankrupting the entire nation and still fail to deliver adequate health care to those dependent upon it. We, the People, have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves. It is an inherent responsibility in our status as citizens and as humans.
If Congress insists upon trying to “fix” health care, let them create a program to help those who need it. The vast majority of Americans do not need the Gummint’s help to get adequate health care. Junk the Medicare program and replace it with a program allowing people making less than the poverty line to get medical care for a nominal fee per month. This care would be in the form of an identity card issued by the Government which would allow the card holder to get whatever medical care is required at any hospital. Card-holders who manage to get themselves out of poverty and no longer require the card will be required to maintain the nominal fee until any costs incurred while in the program are repaid.
As for the rest of us, we’re going to have to pay into this program as well. The hundred and fifty million or so workers in this country are going to pay a little more in taxes to cover this program. Done properly, this could take care of the so-called “health care crisis” without violently ass-raping the Republic to death. All of the various bills being bandied about in Congress are horrible examples of legislation. Here’s a clue to everyone in Congress: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Because the current “debate” is making me sick and tired.
Current status: Annoyed
Current music: Bad Day by Daniel Powter