"Build a better mousetrap.", "The Ant and the Grasshopper"- Aesop, 1789, Black Market, Capitalism, Civil Rights, Declaration of Independence, Double-Speak, Double-Think, Free Markets, Healthcare, Scarcity, Socialism, Thomas Jefferson, unalienable rights, Universal Medicaid, US Constitution, Wellness
Just as taxpayer funded projects and places are not “free,” Healthcare is not a “Right,” and to describe something that costs trillions of dollars as “free” is misleading at best. Taxpayer funded education, highways, parks, needle exchanges and healthcare are extremely beneficial and can be great uses of tax dollars but when someone gets a “free” condom or other “free” birth control it just wasn’t. Free that is.
Do I support taxpayer funded healthcare and birth control for economically disadvantaged people? You bet! But double-think, double-speak duplicity that glosses over reality is a disservice to all, as is calling Healthcare a Right. It’s not a Right, at least not as the word was used by the founders of our nation. When Tommy J. wrote our Declaration of Independence Rights were understood to be naturally occurring; things like Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not socialized medicine.
Traditionally, Rights were things government should not take away, not trillion dollar services that may or may not benefit citizens. The preamble to the United States Constitution says:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Constitution does not present these needful actions as Rights and portraying them as such is certainly a departure from the USA’s 230 year rule of law under the Constitution. Classifying projects and policies that may promote general welfare as Rights is disingenuous, especially those whose costs, both abstract and financial, may disenfranchise as many as they will franchise.
Declaring Healthcare a Right is a glossing over of reality. A need by one is not a Right to see said need met by others. If I have a need you do not have a responsibility to fill my need. It’s not my Right to force you to meet my need. Healthcare is not a Right, but meeting the needs of the suffering is both the right thing to do and wellness among the population is an effective strategy in keeping both costs and demand for services down.
When implementing any program cost is a very pertinent question. Cost of goods sold, market economies, for profit business, supply and demand, scarcity and price are all concepts embedded in Western thought. “Build a better mousetrap!” is an idiom declaring that we are financially rewarded for brilliance, hard-work, creating either a better or cheaper product. We are taught to buy low but to insist that we are paid high. Western Society is centered on the concepts and precepts of Capitalism and we value ourselves and our environment accordingly. For most, it is an ingrained paradigm, a model accepted as valid.
Except it’s not of course. Capitalism and commerce are simply philosophies to which we are inculcated from birth, models so ingrained that we fall into acceptance of Capitalism without asking if our thoughts and actions are true representatives of reality. The answer is no. Capitalism is blind to reality just as are other “isms,” Capitalism is an approximation, a working theory of reality, it is not reality. So what does that have to do with the “Right” to Health Care? Everything.
Under Capitalism and Free Market those with means purchase premium products and those without financial wherewithal make do with less. If my better mousetrap has brought me riches then I am free to purchase luxury homes, cars and healthcare and those who chose to be Aesop’s grasshopper must make do without because they have chosen to play rather than work. Both Aesop and our model assures us that hard-work will be rewarded and that sloth will be punished.
Our model lies.
The laws of our society were created to benefit the wealthy and the lawmakers. The last thing the wealthy want is “equality.” Capitalism teaches us that rich equals good, meaning the goal of the rich is to be rich. We have no level playing field, no equality, we have no assurance that hard work will allow us to provide for ourselves or our families.
Both my father and father-in-law were able to advance economically via the GI Bill, a wonderful merit based hand-up that was certainly not as available to their age-mate 1920’s era “colored” brothers at arms as it was to two white guys who attended private high schools. Though there is greater equality in non-white’s ability to rise in the Twenty-First Century than there was in the Twentieth our system still allows the wealthy to remain so far more readily than for the disenfranchised to rise.
The USA is a socially and economically mobile society. We are taught that rewarding innovation, making rich our builders of “better mousetraps,” will lead to a better more prosperous nation and to a great degree I believe this true but I cannot help but ask if Capitalism is the best model for Healthcare, especially in light of the fact that Healthcare in the USA is most decidedly not based on a free market and the demand for Healthcare already exceeds the supply, a circumstance that Capitalism tells us will drive up cost and possibly lead to innovations in the field, two things that have occurred.
In a Capitalistic system those with more money can afford scarce items while those without cannot. Your expensive Tesla is rare, my economical Corolla common, but is this the model we wish to use for essential services? Do the lives of the financially disadvantaged have value?
Contrariwise, should those who have negotiated the system, those who use Health Savings Accounts and/or who have negotiated Gold Quality Insurance as part of their employment compensation, those who are able to afford wellness checks and receive health extending visits to doctors, should they lose the benefits they were promised and have paid for? How equitable is a system that prioritizes people who have failed to care for self? How unfair is a system that compounds the hardship of poverty by exacerbating the tragedy of illness and inaccessibility to proper medical care?
The demand for healthcare is large and growing in direct proportion to the United States’ obesity and inactivity. Do the needs of the sickest outweigh those who keep morbidity low through proper lifestyle and just plain good luck? The demand for healthcare is nearly infinite while the supply is decidedly finite.
Socialized medicine provides coverage for everyone, a great social good and morally imperative action, that ignores Market Realities that accompany shortage. High demand, low availability items create Black Market economies and Healthcare coverage that does not recognize this reality is a Healthcare Wish rather than a plan. The accompanying deficits of Universal Medicaid will help level the playing field between the rich and the poor but will Medicaid for all create a healthier nation or merely a more uniformly ill one?
I do not know, nor do you.
We do know that Healthcare needs reform, we do know that Healthcare must serve more people more equally; the question remains “How?” If Medicaid For All is a “ones size fits all” program then I fear it will be ineffective in raising the quality of life in the USA. Spelling “equal” s-a-m-e is naive at best and a likely recipe for disaster.
I know our system is broken. I know our system puts nearly a third of our population at great risk of illness and/or bankruptcy and I know we can and must do better, that We the People need to uplift those in need, that we need to provide paths to wellness regardless of economics but I am very leery of plans that refuse to consider supply and demand realities and ignore promises already made in order to deliver on campaign promises that involve blue sky wishing rather than rainy day planning.