Friday, May 13, 2011

Do I Really Need to Come Up With a Title For Every God Damn Thing I Post?

So, Andrew Sullivan has been trying to work out the relative success or failure of "Romneycare," the Massachusetts state health care reform bill passed by Republican governor Mitt Romney that is remarkably similar to the one passed on a national level by Congress a couple years ago, and which now hangs around Romney's neck like an albatross as he enters the Republican primary. Pure anecdote, of course, but this email from a reader in Mass. provides, I think, some useful insight. He starts by noting multiple polls that show majority (although far from overwhelming) support for the plan, then goes into a personal story. Here's what I see as the most relevant quote:

Stories like this are why people like Romneycare, even if they complain about it. As Obamacare becomes law and situations like this become known, it is difficult for me to imagine a groundswell for throwing children like my daughter into the fire.

This is pretty much what I hear when I talk to people from the UK or Canada. You will frequently hear them bitch about their country's screwed up system, but you will almost never (again, within my purely anecdotal experience) hear a Brit say that they prefer the US system. Yet, to those opposed to any government involvement in the health care system, all they hear are the complaints.

My point here is that it's very easy to point out the problems with Obamacare, or with the pre-Obamacare status quo. That doesn't really get at the argument. What we should be doing is comparing the costs to the benefits of any system. And it's easy to see why that's not popular on either side of the aisle. If the debate can be broken down to "health care is a human right" or "socialized medicine is slavery," then one side can potentially be shown to be "correct." We would all love to be able to be unambiguously proven right. Hell, I'd even love to be unambiguously proven wrong. If government-sponsored health care reform can be definitively shown to be ineffective or unfair, it'd be a load off my mind, and we could move on to some other issue. But the issue is simply not so black and white. It's good and bad, constructive and destructive, all at the same time, and we have to weigh the pros and cons to get to a real understanding of it. Just like any other issue (or most issues--I still haven't heard anything resembling a rational argument against gay marriage or marijuana legalization, but you get the idea).

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