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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1977189  
Subject: Re: Question for Libs Date: 5/25/2013 8:21 AM
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I appreciate the honesty. Other than what the Constitution says about what the Federal government is authorized to do, do you really believe that the Federal government can provide medical care better than the private sector? And do you believe that a single payor system is the desired end result? I don't ask these questions to be judgmental.

Sure you do, but I'll answer anyway. But I hope you'll give me a few sentences to provide you with some background.

In the early 1900’s the automobile appeared in some numbers, driving over dirt streets and paths as had previously been used by horses and buggys. Some people thought that government should pave the streets, so as to improve conditions for all, but many - even most at first - thought government had no place interfering in such things, but with the advent of the car it became a serious political movement.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Roads_Movement

The idea of a canal to move cargo from the Atlantic Ocean to the interior or the country was one as old as the first explorers of the continent, but in spite of private entrepreneurs' dreams and even corporations chartered to make it a reality, the project languished for generations. Finally, after a half dozen failures, a century of frustration, and bankruptcies which cost hundreds of investors their fortunes, the Erie Canal was built with government backing, connecting Lake Erie with the port of New York. The immediate result was the transport of foodstuffs from Ohio to the East, and of settlers and farming material to the West. Some food prices dropped by 90% within a year.

Finally, the idea of old age pensions was as old as the Republic, but no one had ever made it work. There were a few half hearted attempts, such as pensioning survivors of the Revolutionary War and Civil War, but other than that not much. Systems developed in other countries (notably Germany) and even a few private companies provided, but largely when people's ability to perform the mostly menial labor of the 19th and early 20th centuries was exhausted, they were forced to live with family or to be shepherded into poor houses and charity wards. More than half the population, including nearly all elders, lived in poverty.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says the Federal Government should pave streets, or build canals, or set up a scheme like Social Security - but (and this is important) there is nothing that says they shouldn't, either. Did you go to a public school? At one time that was contentious, as though only the wealthy should be educated, and girls hardly at all. The Constitution doesn't mention the words "Air Force" and yet we have one, nor, even does it speak to "banking" and yet the first thing the Founding Fathers did - the same ones, I point out who wrote the Constitution - was create a national bank, which quickly paid off the debts of the Revolutionary War and stabilized the economy of the new country.

So. I view the role of the Federal Government the same way the Founding Fathers did: to do things that promote "the general welfare", consonant with keep as much personal freedom as possible. I don't think building the Panama Canal with taxpayer funds, hiring teachers and organizing schools, building roads, providing regulatory oversight of markets and workplace conditions, or a host of other functions is at all outside the purview of that mandate. Indeed, we hardly think of it - although things as obvious as "building roads" was at one time contentious enough to launch political movements and win elections.

So it is, I see, with a health care system which has become dysfunctional. Is it really so bad to require banks to hold reserves enough to pay off depositors, or to make them subscribe to the FDIC? Is it the road to serfdom if we require medicines to be effective and prohibit anyone from promising miracle cures for some sludge they slipped into a bottle in the back room? Is there a diminution if "freedom" if we don't just allow anyone who wants to call themselves a doctor?

We tried the private insurance system of health care for almost 100 years now, and for whatever reason it spreads the benefits terribly unequally. Capitalism and the Constitution are wonderful at allocating limited production of material among people, but there are some things which, for a stable society, need to be near-universal. Water. Clean air. Education. A minimum level of food. And now, yes, health.

I find nothing I the Constitution which specifically prohibits the creation of a system which gives citizens, all citizens access to the health care system, any more than the education system or the workplace safety system. Do you?

P.S. We wouldn't even be having this conversation if the market hadn't failed, and dramatically. That's always how it works. If paved roads, or education, or pensions, or medicine was successfully created and universally by the private sector, nobody would be asking "isn't there a better way?" That's worth thinking about when you say "Why are they doing this?" They're doing it because no one else is.
 
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