Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Universal Healthcare

On FaceBook, the stupid quizzes are spiraling out of control - polls that ask whether you'd vote for Obama again, whether you support Universal Healthcare, etc. I tend not to partake in the polls because, quite frankly, I find them irritating and pointless, and I don't want my profile clogged with all manner of polls that reflect the opinion I'd rather just discuss with people. It's interesting to note, though, that of the friends who have completed those two FaceBook polls in particular ("Would you vote for Obama again today?" / "Are you in favor of a government-run healthcare system?"), the responses have unilaterally been "I did not vote for him the first time" (or "no") and "no," respectively. These are mostly from self-identifying Republicans or from those who wouldn't have voted for Obama. I've begun to wonder whether the people who voted against Obama are also against universal healthcare because Obama is supporting it; I wonder if a conservative or Republican candidate had endorsed universal healthcare would garner their support.

These types of polls are an irritant because they don't allow for discussion as to why folks are against universal healthcare. I know admittedly less about such an issue than I should, so I'm doing some reading on the topic, but my initial reaction is one of support. I think it oversimplified to state that "[w]hen half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation." This, to my mind, is lumping the uninsured into one category when there is so much more to the issue than that, and so many degrees and levels of assistance that need to be provided. I think it imperative to view the country as one large community in which all are entitled and deserve a basic level of care and compassion.

I could make this personal and say that I would love to be working enough that I had my healthcare provided by my employer; with unemployment hovering between nine and ten per cent, though, finding a job that provides this is difficult (especially with there being a hiring free in the New York City Department of Education). I do not want to be a burden; I do not want to have to ask for help if I needed care. And right now, that's not really a problem - no one's offering. I think there's a sense of social responsibility to care for others who cannot care for themselves. Making the distinction between those who can't take care of themselves versus those who won't take care of themselves seems to be the real issue in withholding health care and similar services.

This article states that universal health care "(a euphemism for socialized medicine) is both immoral and impractical; it violates the rights of businessmen, doctors, and patients to act on their own judgment." I would say this need not be the case.

There's a lot of detail in these arguments, and I've really only begun thinking about this issue of universal healthcare. The fact that a few friends are against it so vehemently got me to thinking about it. We do need a more comprehensive plan that covers those who really, sincerely need the help. I don't know what the answer is; maybe it's universal healthcare, and perhaps it's not, but I'm not ready to dismiss the possibility out of turn just yet. I would like to hear arguments that provide practical, implementable solutions, as opposed to just hearing why universal healthcare won't work.

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