Monday, April 9, 2012

Health Care, In Simple Terms...and Ultrarunning

From a great post by Paul Waldman, on 4 April 2012:

One day, we'll realize who the villains are in today's debate about health care.

Someday, all Americans will have access to health care, just as all people in Germany and France and Japan and Sweden and every other advanced industrialized democracy do today. It may take a decade or two after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014 (if it survives the whims of Anthony Kennedy) to fill in the gaps the law leaves behind, or it may take decades beyond that. But it will surely happen eventually. And at some point after it does, we'll come to a consensus as a society that it was a collective moral failure that we allowed things to be otherwise for so long.


And today, there are upstanding Republicans, including somewhere between three and five of the members of the Supreme Court, who believe it is unconscionable for the government to try to get everyone health insurance. Just as the defenders of child labor would never have dreamed of putting their own little children to work in a factory, all those crying about the tyranny of the individual mandate already have their own insurance, and so will have their "freedom" infringed not a whit by the requirement. What they find so abhorrent, in truth, is the very idea of universal health security. What offends them so is the idea that everyone, even those who have proven their defective character by not being rich, could have full access to health care.

What we have here is a clash of perspectives. One says that getting help when you're sick or injured is a right that should belong to all, like an education. There are countries where there are no public schools, and if you can't afford the tuition you'll remain illiterate and bereft of any opportunity to improve your lot. But here in America as in most places, we don't demand payment at the schoolhouse door, because education is so essential to human flourishing that we believe it should be denied to no one. Everyone may not be able to go to the fanciest prep school, but everyone gets to go to school. The other perspective says that health care is completely a privilege of wealth. If you can afford it you can get it, and if you can't then that's too damn bad. And should the government try to make a basic level of health coverage a universal right then it must be fought with unimaginable fury and resourcefulness.

If you are an Ultrarunner--or just an ordinary human being--I just don't see how universal health care is analogous to Satan's spawn.  It's just what's right.


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