The doorbell rang the other day, and there standing on my porch was a pleasant teen-aged President Obama selling magazines. He was selling a package deal which he assured me would be cheaper than the subscriptions I was now getting. But it was a strange deal. I could get as many issues as I wanted, but I had to buy the entire package right now and pay for it each year forever. No cancellation, no going back, even though the price was still vague and could be changed to anything in the future. At least, I think that is how it works. I’m not really sure, but he was insistent I sign up right away. I liked this young Obama and wanted to help him, but I would be still paying after he was long gone. And, I wasn’t even sure he understood the plan himself. Then I woke up.
Garrison Keillor has waded into the health care debate in his weekly columns, "The Old Scout," so I guess I can, too. (http://www.publicradio.org/columns/prairiehome/the_old_scout ) Garrison is for it, as well he should be having recently suffered a slight stroke, but I have doubts, although at my age, I would certainly benefit from whatever largess the younger generations want to throw my way.
My problem is with the expense of it all, and I’m not even the one who will have to pay for it. It sounds nice to say that every American should have quality health care, but are the patient and their doctor really the best ones to decide what is needed? That could really get expensive.
A few years ago, a TV documentary showed a welfare mother whose teenaged son was now lying brain-dead in the hospital, shot in a drug deal gone bad. When approached about taking him off life support, she insisted, "No no! Keep him alive for as long as possible, whatever the cost!" The cost, several thousand a day for years, would be paid by the taxpayers, not by her, so why not?
But cases like this are not what I am afraid of. It’s the ones wanting free heath-club memberships because their chiropractor says they should get more exercise. You think they won’t get it? Maybe not now, but include a politician in the mix and they soon will.
Make something cheap, and everyone will want more of it. I know a retired auto worker with a generous health plan who goes to the doctor when he gets a mild case of ivy poisoning. I would, too, on such a plan. Let’s give it to everybody, and yet, somehow, simultaneously reduce the cost.
They say the cost will be contained by making the system more efficient and cutting out the fat. Sounds easy, but I have heard this in EVERY election, federal, state, and local, for EVERY new give-away program. This is what politics is about. Give away anything to the unwashed masses and claim to pay for it by eliminating the fat. If that won’t cover it, put the burden on someone else, like the "rich," or space monkeys, or whatever you can make believable. The Great Unwashed will soon forget the payment part, and by then, you’ll be elected, and someday be lionized as a great benefactor and public servant. As someone once said, "Democracy is a great form of government until the people discover the keys to the treasury."
Garrison Keillor criticizes the current complexities of private health insurance regulations in his 8/11/09 article by saying "…the health insurance industry carries on where the Italian postal service left off."
Poor analogy, Garrison. The Italian postal service is exactly what people always get from a government-run program. Do you think the rules will be any less arcane from the same organization that runs the IRS? No one since WWII believes the government can operate a program cheaper and better than anyone else. If a government health plan would be so good, wouldn’t you expect your congressmen join it? They won’t touch it for themselves, so why should we?
Seniors have a reputation for being conservative. The reason is simple. We have been around long enough to have seen it all before, …and before, …and before.