I believe that Man is a pleasure seeking animal. Humans have a strong biological desire to do what makes us feel good in the moment. Of course, often what makes us feel good is contrary to what is good for us. This is why pain is a “gift.” I do not like pain. To state the obvious, pain hurts, but pain’s job is to encourage us to not do things that are harming us. It is nature’s red flag that says, “Stop! Do not proceed!”
Pain is a primal learning tool and natural consequence can be a highly effective teacher. I hold pain’s ability to teach in such high regard that in 1992 I allowed my belief in its pedogeological properties to endanger my then toddler son. (Before you call the appropriate government agency in charge of politically correct child rearing be assured that I did not understand the scope of the lesson that I was watching unfold before me. )
Three decades back my wife, sister, brother-in-law Paolo and not quite two year old son Kevin were visiting a children’s zoo in Atlanta. (This is a zoo for children featuring young animals, not a cut rate baby sitting arrangement.) Kevin kept putting his fingers through the wire mesh fence that separated we human animals from the nonhuman ones. After repeatedly telling him to stop poking his fingers to the other side of the fence while plucking his hand from its position of vulnerability I stopped doing so. Kevin again put his fingers through the mesh where the geese were and my sister and her husband got big eyed when I did nothing to change this.
Paolo said, “You know, those geese might bite his hand: Aren’t you going to stop him?”
“No,” says I. “I’ve already stopped him enough times and if the goose bites him then maybe he’ll learn to listen to me.”
“Uh, you know the goose could bite his finger off, right!?” was Paolo’s quick retort.
“Nope,” I say as I grab Kevin’s hand away, “I didn’t know he could lose a finger, I just thought he might get a pinch.”
I had an inclination to let nature take its course and have Kevin suffer the natural consequence of pain, not because I was a sadist, but rather because pain is a tool for learning. However, the natural consequence of permanent disfigurement, disability and easily prevented handicap was far too dear a price for Kevin to pay so I snatched his hand away from the mesh, explained why, and monitored his actions as any “normal”/sane parent would.
My 28 year-old recollection of possible life altering damage due to following the pleasure seeking proclivities of a toddler leads me to our current health care situation. I am absolutely in favor of Universal Health Insurance. Our family greatly appreciated the change in health insurance that allowed us to keep our two sons on my wife’s policy until they were 26 regardless of whether they were full time students or not. This and many other changes are wonderful improvements from the bad old days where young adults had to sink or swim. Universal Health Insurance makes great sense on all levels and in all regards.
Of course some aspects of universal healthcare do not make as much sense. It is important to understand who is responsible for our selfcare. Are citizens children who require a nanny to snatch their hands away from the bite of geese and other potential disasters or is it the job of each of us to engage in proper selfcare under the guidance of medical personnel?
Have we devolved to toddler status that requires a Nanny State? If healthcare is a “Right” does that make healthcare practitioners our servants? Healthcare providers worked hard to get where they are and far too often they are helping people who have not cared for themselves for so long and to such an extent that resources are focused on those who wait until the natural consequence of pain comes screaming at them at the top of its lungs to teach its “lesson” before beginning good selfcare.
The demand for health care is nearly infinite while the supply is very limited. Calling Healthcare a Right and demanding that it be provided for free flies both in the face of how the word “Right” has been defined traditionally as well as supply and demand/market value. Universal Healthcare is vital as is selfcare. With every Right comes the reciprocal responsibility and conflating Universal with “free” is a prescription for failure. Resources are finite, money is finite and it behooves all of us to engage in selfcare to reduce everyone’s financial and personal burden and thereby allow healthcare providers to attend to everyone’s needs in ways that prevent pain, disease and morbidity while providing longer, healthier lives for far more people.
We know that proper care of self can lead to a much higher quality of life and reduced dependence on medicine, all of which helps keep costs down for everyone. Ideally a healthcare system would promote good choices by using both a carrot and a stick. Shortened lives and poor health are far too dear a natural consequence for self neglect but we must focus on promoting and rewarding better selfcare. Financial incentives for complying with best selfcare practices must go hand-in-hand with any demands for Universal Healthcare. We must reward those who do not engage in horrendous health care habits in order to free healthcare workers to attend those in greater need while simultaneously increasing the health of the nation.
I am pleased as punch that ACA/Obamacare ensures more folks are insured than have been in the past. It would be great if insurance coverage went hand-in-hand with proactive healthful life choices such as proper diet, exercise, limiting or eliminating drug usage including tobacco and alcohol consumption as well as sexual practices that protect self and partner(s). Much of our health and well being is in our hands and we can partner with healthcare providers to create a healthier population. We know that using emergency rooms for our primary health care is inefficient and expensive and universal insurance would reduce the absurdity of how so many are forced to deal with health issues.
Exorbitant healthcare costs in our for-profit system can fall if we all try to take better care of ourselves in our everyday lives and start to make choices that put us on a road to good health. That’s our responsibility, not the State’s. One thing Universal Healthcare cannot do is to keep pulling toddlers’ fingers away from harm. Healthcare must teach the hows and whys of selfcare and allow us to grow, it must not placate and pander with a “Mama kiss it better,” meaningless rhetoric of a Nanny State gone wild. Demanding Universal Healthcare is a great way to foster a better populace but expecting it to be free is a smack in the face to natural consequences and time and again that lady has shown she will only take so much nonsense before she turns around and bites your fingers off.