We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The "health care" war - and it is a war - attests to the extent to which Americans are divided on the proper role of government in their lives, not to mention in the most personal and sensitive areas of their lives.
I had a professor that used to poll his class — he would ask them if they would prefer a society where the gap between rich and poor was narrower but where the poor were, on an absolute basis, worse off than in the less equal society. He reported the vote almost always split about 50/50. (of course the is a purely utilitarian formulation of the question. Adding in individual liberties issues makes the question far more stark, as to achieve an egalitarian society one must give up both wealth and liberty.)
As a more-or-less Conservative person who was raised in the heart of the American Revolution, my instincts are to distrust centralized power (power is a zero-sum game, unlike money and wealth) and the wisdom and trustworthiness of politicians - and to trust the people to figure out their own lives as best they can (while providing the abundant safety nets we have now for those who stumble and fall).
I know that Lyndon Johnson's Medicaid and Medicare (for the poor, the chronically disabled and the old - imagine considering 65 to be old!), were viewed as first steps towards universal government medical care. Those measure took care of those people that everybody felt badly about.
The Left, which pretends to see "market failures" everywhere as an excuse to place as much as possible under the control of the State (see Dr. Clouthier: Simply put, the government needs to relearn its place, who notes the Left's tendency to promise the sun, moon and stars for free, for all.)
Does Government Know Best? I doubt it very much. There are few people in government, I believe, who are as educated, honest, informed, or thoughtful as I am (and that's not saying much). Regan at American Thinker asks Does Government Know Best?. One quote:
Frighteningly, team Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress -- who have taken on the role of the prudent parents of juvenile Americans -- have proven to be more than occasionally wrong for the country. In their desire to completely control American lives, they have progressed from losing their tempers to losing their way. Americans are now living in a nanny state in which the Democrats in power are implementing policy after policy designed to reduce freedom of choice and increase government control. Big government, socialized institutions, and sharing the wealth are policies supported by the Democrats - the party whose membership includes academics, Hollywood pseudo-intellectuals, and community organizers. The members of the Democratic Party are those who believe that they are smarter and wiser than the average American and that government intervention in all aspects of our lives is necessary in order to prevent social and economic catastrophe.
William Anderson at Weekly Standard says what I wish to say much better than I can in his Who Owns Your Body? One quote (my bold):
We are berated, ad nauseam, with imprecations that America is the only advanced nation that fails to have universal health care. This statement is often followed by the rueful remark that the debate over government controlled health care has been going on without progress for 60 years and, ipso facto, it is time to settle it.
All right, let's do that. Let's look a little deeper. Why is there no settlement of the issue, and why is America unique in its obstinate reluctance to follow the example of our older cultural brothers in Europe?
When a debate continues for decades without resolution, it is prudent to consider the deeper underlying assumptions. Principles which underpin the arguments are likely being ignored and marginalized rather than addressed in a forthright manner.
America is the only advanced country whose founding assumption is popular sovereignty. This is a proposition that stands with hardly a seconding voice throughout the contemporary international community. Yet it is the taproot of American exceptionalism.
Even here, however, the principle of government subordination to the people is by no means universally accepted. It has never been firmly ratified by our political class, those spiritual descendants of Europe's nobility. Our soi-disant elite appear to view with dismay their countrymen's continuing preference for self-rule.
Thus arises the question of corporal ownership. For Americans, the answer has been settled. Since the terrible bloodletting of the Civil War, and now excepting military service, ownership of one's body is a matter between the individual and God, with no intermediation by government.
Yet assertions are now being made that government should have responsibility for, and thus authority over, the maintenance of our bodies. It necessarily follows that government must have the power to approve or withhold care. This concept collides destructively with the founding principles of individual responsibility and autonomy upon which popular sovereignty depends.
This is the reason that the debate never ends. It is also the reason that any resolution of the question will necessarily either confirm or deny the original intent of the Founders.
I have occasionally posted here about the sad, if not pathetic, willingness of some to sell their American birthright of individual sovereignty and freedom for a bowl of lentils. This is especially sad for a shrink because part of our job is to help people emotionally mature. It is no help to a shrink's job for government to be an enabler of perpetual childhood and dependency. Read Anderson's whole good essay (link above).
Bravo! To my mind this is exactly what George W. Bush meant with his coinage of the phrase "compassionate conservatism".
As usual, the memorable phrases that will live in our history are viciously mocked when first uttered. I have the patience of the grave, cross fingers and toes, that he will find his place in history. After all, Harry S Truman, yes I remember him on live TV, is taking his place among the greats.
Right now I see only one person in our country who might stand on the shoulders of Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush to guide this precious land of ours - Sarah Palin. I'll even suffer the indignities of tubes and catheters to see the day. If that doesn't work out I'm heartened by a stanza from the Marine Corps Hymn - "If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scene, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines".
Roy ... You have great taste, as far as Palin is concerned. "From your mouth to God's ear," the saying goes. I was thinking about her tonight, as the FoxNews Allstars panel was chewing over the news, and Juan Williams was being a spectacular jerk about "torture" we perpetrated on our Gitmo prisoners. That man simply doesn't have the discipline to do any research, or he would know that 'waterboarding', while temporarily uncomfortable and frightening, is not torture. Folks don't die from it. And it is part of SERE training, through which thousands of our own military have gone, with no lasting bad effects. Torture, on the other hand, leaves the tortured permanently damaged, by limb dislocation or amputation, burning, beheading and other kinds of brutality.
Juan may not know this, but Sarah does. She knows the difference. She knows how to research, and she's a bearcat at getting the facts. And, incidentally, she defined the healthcare mess in only two words that still resonate in the halls of power: "death panels."