Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Makate, Manila, where I've been for the last hour, finishing a fairly heated (passionate?) email that I've been typing since yesterday arvo. The subject is health care, my opinion on it, and is to a friend and staunch Republican whom I commonly share political words with.

I'd like to share this thread with you, his question and my response, and openly invite you to weigh in as well. I am more than eager to consider new opinions and ideas to better inform my decisions and attitudes about this, and welcome good conversation from either side. 

His question:
Now on to politics - you have traveled the world, seen a lot of different systems, experiences, etc. You can't really believe that a government takeover of healthcare is good for our country, especially right now?

My response (slightly edited for anonymity):
Ok, so, for starters, I'm not sure that living abroad and travelling to different places really makes me an expert on health care around the world, especially when I am travelling through third world hell-holes most of the time. Here in Manila, just down the road from my high-priced hotel, are slums of naked babies playing and begging in roads caked with human feces. This is very common in many more places in the world than you can imagine from [where you are]. 

Health Care reform in America? Honestly, I am not informed enough to make a good opinion on its componants. My world news is limited to as much as 45 minutes of watered down broadcasting a day, as well as whatever tidbits I can bring up through the New York Times app on my phone. When I do get a chance to inform myself, I find it hard to find unbiased sources from either side. I do know that health reform hardly solves all of America's many crippling economic problems, and that it will be years and years before we'll be able to see the ripples that this dropped stone will make. I do have a limited knowledge, though, that many of our friendly allies, including the British and the Canadians, have found success with socialized health care for years. To me, their countries seem to be plenty strong economically, and by far more cohesive within.

What does matter to me, more than health care reform itself, is the way in which people are reacting. I am hugely unsupportive of any hateful, harmful, angry, or unjustified attitudes. I grossly disapprove of the mudslinging and overall invidious treatment and sentiment towards the whole thing, or towards anybody who was a part of creating it. I am also enormously bothered that those who tried to defeat the bill did it not only for their dislike of it, but also (and maybe more so) to undermine the president politically, and as a consequence, gave up an enormous opportunity to influence the bill in a positive way, to move forward with solutions or common agreements on how best to make this bill a success.   

Would it be naive of me to wish that when it comes to what's best for America, it shouldn't be viewed as what's best for Democrats or Republicans, or the rich or the poor, but instead what is best for the overall whole. Given, this does come at a cost to some, but really, in most matters in life, when doesn't it? 
Would it be too simple-minded for me to hope that this legislation will change our country's mindset on what it means to be healthy? That it might encourage people, corporations, or the government to act and encourage in ways that are personally and globally more healthy and wholesome? Or that as a result, people might possibly begin to understand that life is short, that maintaining good health is important, and that in the end, no government reforms will change that? 
Is it ignorant of me to hope that this reform, the kind that proliferates equality (admittedly, again, at some expense) will incite people to do a better job of taking care of each other, from their closest neighbors to the poorest of strangers, instead of only thinking of themselves, or participating in the continual casting blame towards others? 
If so, then call me naive, or simple, and they're names I'll wear proudly. At least I'm staying positive and supportive towards some sort of greater good.  I think if all Americans would do more of that kind of thinking, it would really make a sizeable difference, not only in our morale, but in our policies, and in the way we are viewed by the rest of the world. Negativity for negativity's sake, including from you, will further no one, and for that reason, I just don't love talking politics with you. 
In the end, I don't believe this bill, or any bill, will ever begin to make positive changes unless everyone begins to find some way to view it positively and move towards making it better, whether they like it or not. 

The president, were he to be Democratic or Republican, has my support, and therefore, so does this bill.



mom said...

Well said!!!

AB said...

Good job. Also, I wish people would stop referring to this as a government takeover of health care. For some of us who do not have a wonderful, comparable inexpensive health plan thru an employer, and those of us with pre-existing conditions who are paying almost $1000 per month for insurance, there are definitely some good things in this reform. Like you, I am very sad and concerned about all the negative (and many untruths) responses and actions.

Tera said...

Check out "The Healing of America" by T.R. Reid. It dispells a lot of myths about universal healthcare in other countries that are the basis for many arguments against reform in the US (such as lower quality care, long wait lines, and few choices). We spend more than any other nation on healthcare and are still not able to provide access as a basic human right. Everyone is so concerned about the politics and nobody bothers to discuss the ethical dilemma.

Nikki said...

I'm way behind on this, but google the article 'PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'A government takeover of health care.' It addresses this topic...