Monday, June 8, 2009

Universal Healthcare and Freedom

Today Rush Limbaugh (yes I listen to Limbaugh and Hannity and others, I guess as a form of self-punishment) said that Obama didn't inherit an economic mess he created the economic mess. He also said that if Obama gets Universal Healthcare passed that will be the end of the American Dream. What the far right wing either fails to understand or refuses to understand is that Universal Healthcare will create freedom and not just for people but for businesses as well and don't forget the hard right are the only people in America against Universal Healthcare at this point.

"Business groups, meanwhile, mostly are working behind the scenes to shape the legislation...few are trying to block health care reform at this point. The cost of health insurance has become so burdensome that something needs to be done, they agree."

If everyone has healthcare they have the freedom to get sick. I know that sounds crazy, but for a large population in America they just don't have the option to get sick. In the greatest country in the world there is simply no reason that poor people should live shorter lives than rich people. Right now people with no health insurance only go to the doctor when it is too late to do anything to help them. They simply don't have the option of preventative care. If anyone believes we don't have socialized medicine now they are living in a state of denial. As it stands when a person without insurance goes to the emergency room they don't pay but the rest of us do. Why not pay that money up front and save much larger long term costs and oh by the way, help people live longer?

Here's something fun, Universal Healthcare may help the economy. "What if GM, Chrysler and Ford moved all their operations to Canada? In 2007 General Motors spent $4.6 billion on health care for its employees. Ford and Chrysler each spent $2.2 billion as well. If those companies moved to Canada they would save all that in health care costs ($9 billion per year), and the United States would lose 240,000 jobs and $156 billion in tax revenue."

That's a crazy idea! Instead of taking things away from workers to help save Detroit, maybe we take healthcare costs away from the company and they can save themselves. Auto companies are not the only businesses that would benefit, especially if we go to a single-payer option.

"$1.13 trillion dollars that American companies are spending on health care each and every year. This is more than the national budgets of France, Canada and the UK combined. If that isn't a drag on our competitiveness, what is?"

A single-payer system would be a bigger, more positive jolt to the economy than any stimulus could ever be.

"In summary, the non-profit, single payer, people-funded, people-managed insurance agency proposed in the book, Universal Health Care System for the United States of America, saves our economy and keeps 1.7 million jobs in the U.S. and results in savings of at least $1.3 trillion per year for our manufacturing and other businesses. This is how we can have an even playing field for our industrial base and provide good jobs for our hard-working work force. At the same time we will have healthier people who are free from anxiety regarding their health care."

Friday, June 5, 2009


Nothing is more fundamental to America than the notion of freedom. Recently I've been thinking a lot about what freedom really is. I've come to the conclusion that freedom is very difficult to define and that fact is really at the root of much of our political discord today.

Is freedom simply the ability to do whatever one wants whenever one wants? A teenager would probably define freedom in that way, but is that really freedom? The famous sociologist C. Wright Mills had this to say about freedom, "Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose."

What got me thinking about freedom was all this talk about energy independence and the financial problems being encountered by General Motors. Those on the right decry any mention of driving smaller, more effecient vehicles as infringing on their personal freedom to drive whatever they wish to drive. Those on the right similarly scoff at the suggestion of turning down your thermostat, putting on a sweater and making sure your tires are properly inflated as attempts to control the way they live. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma seems to have captured this right wing view of freedom when he asks this rather amazing question, “But what if I want to drive a gas guzzler?”

Any idea that not driving a gas guzzler because it is better for the environment and better for the economy and potentially frees us from fighting wars of choice in oil rich Middle Eastern countries all take a backseat to Tom Coburn's idea of freedom which is summed up by his asinine quote. OK. Well at least we know how the right generally and Tom Coburn specifically define freedom. Maybe not.

It seems Senator Coburn's idea of freedom only extends to the right to drive a gas guzzler and not the right to use tobacco.

“What we should be doing is banning tobacco,” Coburn said in a recent Senate floor speech he gave during a debate on a tobacco regulation bill. “Nobody up here has the courage to do that. It is a big business. There are millions of Americans who are addicted to nicotine. And even if they are not addicted to the nicotine, they are addicted to the habit.”

Coburn makes a good point, but why is tobacco to be outlawed while Hummer's that get 10 mpg are to be protected as some form of free speech or freedom of expression? Coburn goes on to profess his concern for the health of Americans.

“If we really want to make a difference in health and we want to eliminate dependence on tobacco, what we have to do is to stop the addiction.”

Another good point from the Senator, but as President Bush famously said as a country we are addicted to oil, so why not fight that addiction with the same common sense approach he is advocating to fight nicotine addiction?

This paradox between freedom and the public good is one that is not easily resolved. It is not only Senator Coburn or Republicans who seem to have difficulty deciding what freedom is, but this example served to illustrate my point and that is why I used it. I will continue to explore the idea of freedom on this blog in the future.

Hello SD Blogosphere

Welcome to my blog. I will ask that you are patient with me since this is my first attempt at blogging. You will not find my real name on this blog only because of my employment. Rest assured I am not on the payroll of any politician or political group or organization, but I am somewhat in the public eye and I don't wish to have my personal views affect my professional life so I have choosen to blog under a pseudonym.

As you can probably tell from my blog roll I am a Liberal Democrat living in South Dakota. The reason I was moved to start this blog was really as an outlet for my frustrations. Over the last couple of years I have grown very weary of people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck making wild and false accusations against anyone who disagrees with them and then ginning up their unthinking, unquestioning followers to act in reckless and irresponsible ways. The name of this blog comes from a quote by Thomas Jefferson regarding religion "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." It seems to me that we should question with boldness not only the existence of God, but everything we hear and read. While this goal may be unattainable I believe it is the only way to experience true freedom. I have no idea if anyone will ever read this blog and I really don't care if anyone does.

I have left comments open to anyone who may actually read my rantings and want to comment, I only ask that we all treat each other with respect, afterall we are not the floor of United States Senate.