Thursday, March 25, 2010

What health care “reform” means for America

I think most observers, on the left and the right, recognize that the recently (more or less) passed health care “reform” bill is not at its heart about health care at all. It is about what sort of country we are going to be in the future. This whole struggle has been just the latest battle in a war for the very character of our nation. Are we going to be an individualistic, entrepreneurial nation or are we going to be a nation that is focused on economic security? All of the massive governmental programs we have come to expect are part of this. Take Social Security for example. Social Security is basically the government making people do what they should be doing anyway: saving for retirement. If they stopped collecting social security, we should expect that people would set aside money on their own to pay for life in retirement. We all know that is not the case. Instead of saving, most people would be consuming the funds that used to go to Social Security. So the benevolent nanny state seizes a percentage of our pay and saves it for us, although that same benevolent nanny state has been using the money in the Social Security cookie jar to fund other pet projects for years.

Daniel Henninger, writing for the Wall Street Journal, sums it up nicely…

The U.S. has produced generations of upward strivers and competitors. Since 1950 til now, 82 of 150 Nobel laureates in medicine have been from the U.S. With enactment of this law, the U.S. will throttle down. Rather than spend our energies this century competing straight up with rising Asia for economic primacy, we'll work to pay for the fat but happy social-welfare state of the last century.

In the future it will be Asia that leads the world. At one time Europe was the world’s powerhouse, with the greatest military and economic forces. At one time it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire that spanned the globe from a small island. Today, Europe is a shell of its former self. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that all of Europe’s militaries combined couldn’t go toe to toe with America. Economically Europe appears most interested in doing as little as possible to support the secure, comfy state run economy. That is not an environment that promotes innovation, risk taking or reward. It is an environment of the status quo. The problem with the status quo is that in business and commerce and science, things are constantly moving forward. Maintaining your position means getting left behind which is precisely where Europe finds itself. Coupled with plunging birth rates, European nations find themselves importing cheap foreign labor and that influx of foreign workers is irreversibly changing the cultural landscape of Europe.

Much of the rhetoric surrounding the health care “reform” debate has seemed overheated but careful observers know that this was about far more than health insurance coverage. It was and is a debate over the very nature of the United States and who we want to be as a nation and a people. The only glimmer of hope is that this whole thing has been so clumsily handled, so clear jammed down our throats and so expensive that the American people will rebel in November and elect a more conservative majority that can overturn this fiasco before it takes effect. Liberals were guilty of a classic overreach and it may cost them. Of course that assumes that Americans will exhibit a longer attention span than normal, something I am not at all confident in.
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