Thursday, September 10, 2009

Time for the Health Care Debate

With apologies for my long absence, I return with an observation on Health Care. I recently assented to watch Bill Moyers opine on this topic on Bill Maher's show (hopefully earning some advance credit to my time in purgatory). Moyers, whom I consider a thoughtful, old-style Democrat, said something to the effect that universal health care is the sign of a compassionate society. It's hard to disagree with a statement phrased thus without sounding unfeeling; and indeed, I hardly could disagree with the root idea. The question for me, as always, is 'what constitutes the society to which you refer?'

It is obvious to anyone with rudimentary knowledge of economics and bureaucracy that health care for 260 million strangers is a nightmare. We don't consider the health of the French to be our concern. Why should Donald Trump be personally concerned with health care for a barber in Omaha? Or vice versa? My point being that a smaller conception of 'society' makes a realistic and 'targetted' compassion possible, whereas the United States is simply too large and diverse for that sort of thinking.

The worst part of the collectivistic thinking that drives so much liberal political thought is that for most people, it provides an excuse to be anything but compassionate. "I gave at the office" is a reasonable response to any actual human being seeking financial help from us. Ironically, it turns out to be roughly the same response that Scrooge gives to his bleeding heart nephew. Aren't there work prisons still operating? Scrooge no doubt felt that the money taken from him in taxes should be enough of his contribution to 'society', and this obviates the obligation he might have to giving a hoot about Tiny Tim, in spite of the fact that humanly speaking, he should care about him. He's the son of his only employee!

In any case, the quandary for conservatives as I see it is that, being tied for now to the Party of Lincoln and his grand, centralizing war and the rhetoric necessitated by it, we end up by default thinking in terms of a national culture and 'society' rather than particular local one confederated for common defense. Consolidation of the society is a bonanza for politically connected business, such as military contractors and Big Pharma. In my opinion, a principled conservatism much return to a political theory of local particularity and scale back on the march toward socialism, so ably abetted by Nixon and the Bush dynasty.

Hi Koz!

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