Friday, September 4, 2009

My beef with health care

I know no one really reads this, but I need to vent. I've been trying to figure out how to organize my thoughts and this is how it will be: I'll start out by giving my thoughts on what changes I would like to see in our health care system and then continue with a probably less coherent babble of my frustrations about the health care debate.

At this point I really don't care if there is a public option or not. I would even be fine if we did implement a purely government run system as long as it worked. But obviously, this being the America with (in my own opinion) an irrational fear of Socialism, that won't happen. Personally, even though I am crazy liberal, I would like to see a system not unlike Switzerland's system and Senator Wyden's proposal. Everyone is required to buy health insurance and insurance companies aren't allowed to turn anyone away. Insurance companies all non-profits so prices are significantly lower and everyone pays the same price with the government picking up a certain amount (the whole thing or just a little) depending on your income. Of course there are ridiculous amounts of details that I won't get into (and frankly, I don't want to) but that's the basic gist. Everyone is insured, prices are kept under control, and no one goes without care when they need it. And really, I will be happy with any plan that does this whether it's with a public option or not.

Now to my frustrations. First, my frustrations with the President. He hasn't been specific enough. With the whole HillaryCare thing the language from the White House was way too specific and the Obama Administration has learned a little too much from that in my opinion. Hopefully with his speech to Congress on Wednesday he'll find a happy medium and lay out guidelines for what needs to be done.

Second, legislators. The left wing is saying they won't vote for anything without a public option, blue dogs are saying they won't pass anything with one, and the right wing just isn't even trying to be helpful at all. Keep in mind, I'm generalizing. But really I'm upset with Congress's inability to compromise. Compromise is rarely done anyway, but it can be done during a crisis and this is a crisis. We have a representative government. As much as some people like to think it's a fairly direct democracy, it's representative. That means I trust the person I elect to make decisions for me. Theoretically at least but that's a whole different argument. My point is no one is going to be totally happy with anything that comes out of Congress - not even Congress members. But they have the responsibility to take into account what Americans want, what works in other countries, and what they think will work for us to come up with the best option. It's a balance and in order to balance you need to compromise and give certain things up recognizing that you can't enact meaningful change and get everything you want. If each politician refuses to give things up, no change will take place and we'll be left in the crack pot mess we're in now.

Third, political pundits. Especially certain ones on Fox News (Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck...) and MSNBC (Keith Olbermann). Basically anyone who is skewing the facts for their own agenda. People who either kiss up to anything the Democrats do or use irrational fear to scare people into distrusting everything Democrats do. I get that with the boom of 24/7 cable news stations had to come up with their own way to get viewers, but it's just to the point of being totally ridiculous. Some of these people, including ones I haven't listed, are doing more harm than good.

Last, but in no way least, the American people. Anyone who gets their information from a single source, or even a couple of sources that tell the same story, aren't getting all the facts. People need to start researching the problems and the different viewpoints and stop accepting everything they're spoon fed. Mark Twain said something that I've always loved: "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." It doesn't have to be that way. After people educate themselves more, I really do think that they'll be able to have civilized conversations about politics. At the very least that will calm our town meetings down a bit. But hopefully something else will come from this. It seems the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know. Yes, I do think that I am fairly knowledgeable about certain things and that could be based on my own pride or on actual knowledge, but hopefully people will be able to at least see that they can't become experts in everything and leave decisions regarding some issues to experts. Call me an elitist, but I would much rather have a few people who know their stuff make big decisions than a bunch of fanatics who can yell very loud. So to sum it up, Americans should educate themselves more and realize that some people (even if it is politicians sometimes) know more than they do.

These thoughts are in no way comprehensive and probably go back to frustrations before health care, but there it is.

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