I recommend Tess's editorial (link above), which fits the "general topic" approach we've created on this board.
And, Tess, I'd say it's an editorial no one can argue much with, for by way of the JFK inaugural, it defends the concepts of rugged individualism and the defense of liberty---things most of us hold sacred.
You also make reference to the value of history, however, and history teaches us that a society that becomes too divided between the privileged few and the struggling masses cannot fulfill the ideal of Jeffersonian democracy.
You rightly perceive that JFK's "Ask not . . ." might be "shocking" to those who want the government to do more and more for them. There's much food for thought here.
At the same time, your essay sidesteps the progressive ideals that the Kennedys (as democrats) represented. "Ask not what your country can do for you . . . " did not intend to negate the ideals of social justice and the responsibility of the wealthy toward the less well off. Such ideals (not to mention the ideal of public service by way of government), ran deep in the Kennedy family. Robert Kennedy alluded to this when speaking of his love for his father.
JFK, had he lived, would certainly have agreed with his brother's following remarks:
"There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows. But we can perhaps remember -- even if only for a time -- that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek -- as we do -- nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
"Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men. And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again."
None of this, of course, precludes individual responsibility, and the exact function of government is forever debatable; but it's also true that to a great extent "the government is us," and insofar as the government is controlled by powerful interests whose only ideal is monetary gain, our democracy is diminished to that extent. None of the Kennedys to my knowledge believed that the government should step aside when it came to poverty, health care, social security, civil rights, etc.
I am left with the concern that you believe the government should not be involved in these things, and this idea was not Kennedy's intention. If anything, the Kennedys symbolized the ideal of public service---meant to include all the citizens, not just the privileged few---and *by way of* involvement in government. They shared this attitude with FDR, who also came from the privileged classes, and who understood that liberty and individual security can't be too far separated.
<<Hadn't heard that. Who was she? Original Star Trek without Shatner? That's blasphemy!>>
The pilot for the original Star Trek was called "The Cage," and it was re-edited with new footage into an episode called "The Menagerie," broadcast much later.
Shatner was not in the pilot. Majel Barrett (who later played Nurse Chapel) assumed command of the Enterprise when Captain Pike was capture by aliens.
From Wikipedia: "The prominence of a woman among the crew of a starship was one of the reasons that the original Star Trek pilot was rejected by NBC, who in addition to calling the pilot 'too cerebral', felt that the alien Spock and Number One [Majel Barrett] would be rejected by audiences...."
A new pilot was ordered by NBC, and this became "Where No Man Has Gone Before." "The Cage" was eventually reassembled from the original footage and shown in a special broadcast. Jeffery Hunter (who died in 1969) played Captain Pike. He turned down the continuing role, preferring to concentrate on feature films. Shatner was cast as Kirk. (Nimoy did appear as Spock in the original pilot, but had a more normal personality.)
Well, I'm not sure if I detect a certain disingenuousness. For example, you say: <<Michigan is very progressive. 16-20% unemployment (not to mention the wonderful winter weather).>>
I thought Michigan was the center of the troubled automobile industry. That would seem to explain the high unemployment rate (unless you blame it all on the unions instead of declining auto sales). Furthermore, if you run a business with 50 employees and provide good health insurance, your costs must be going through the roof. It would seem to me that like most smaller businesses, you'd be interested in spreading the risk. Or does ideology get in the way?
Another point: You say: <<. . . anyone who needs health care in Texas gets it. Including expensive proceedures. For free if they can't pay.>>
"Can't pay" means what? You first lose everything you own and drain your savings? If not, no wonder people are moving to Texas. :-)
Anyway, that's the "charity" argument again, which I responded to earlier. Charity doesn't work. It was tried throughout the 1800s. My argument is for a balanced approach. Medical costs have gone far too high. Used to be one could pay for his own medical care---even some surgeries. And the doctor would come to your house with a little black bag and a stethoscope. We aren't living in that world any more. Employer-provided health insurance is fairly new, and it's created a divided society. Too bad that when you get too sick to work, you lose the thing you need the most. It's a bad set-up to have employers responsible for people's health care. Have you really thought about why you, the employer, should provide medical care?
Insofar as government management, we have the most efficient postal service in the world. We have public schools, public libraries, and good police and fire protection. One can find flaws, but these things mostly work fine. I believe a public option for health care will keep the insurance industry honest and accommodative to the needs of its clients. Obama's plan actually saves money, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
On the matter of "Why should I have to pay for something I don't believe in?" I sympathize. I frankly hate the idea of my tax dollars bailing out irresponsible home buyers.
But I don't allow ideology, per se, to eliminate thought. If you lose your house, you can buy another. If you lose your health, or heaven forbid your child due to lack of medical care, you do not have the same luxury. Health is not in the same category as most things. And as I've pointed out, it's not a consumer choice in the same way as buying a TV. The "consumer" is captive to human necessity. And yeah, you can choose to die instead. Nice. This allows some fat cat to collect his bonus.
Indidentally, did you see the mob that appeard for many days when those doctors set up a free temporary health clinic? Can't recall the location or specifics. The media seemed shocked at the need that's out there. This is a problem that needs solving, and most people realize it.
You didn't seem to get my point about the "Utopia" red herring. Any argument that can be used against any humanitarian progress is no agrument at all.
>A thought just struck me about the original pilot for Star Trek. They'd cast a woman as a starship commander, but the network wouldn't go for it. A woman commanding a spaceship?!<
Hadn't heard that. Who was she? Original Star Trek without Shatner? That's blasphemy!
Are there any female naval captains? I would imagine soon if not already.
BTW, our legislature meets for 5 months, once every two years. State budget is based on a 2 year spending basis. for 2010 and 2011 we will spend 182 billion, down 2 billion from 2008/09. 75% of our state expenditures go to education and medicare/medicaid (41%/34%). If passed, the CBO has estimated that the change in medicaid mandate increase would add another 3 billion in 2011 to Texas expenditures; it will grow every year thereafter. Within 2 years it is estimated that this new mandate will completely wipe our our surplus, and we will either have to decrease the discretionary (25%) spending on roads, judiciary, law enforcement, prisons, etc., etc., or raise taxes.
Now things are working well for the people of Texas. Until the marxists in DC pass cap and trade and nationalize health insurance. Both will cost us jobs and add to our tax burden.
So explain one more time how the grand schemes from DC will benefit the people...
If a "Progressive" is defined as someone who thinks taking others work product and giving to others less fortunate, then I think it's probably safe to label them as either utopian or even socialist. All depends if you feel that taking from others by force to support a "good" cause is ok. Problem comes in when the "good" cause isn't one of your liking, but you find yourself forced to pay for it (involuntarily), or else.
Texas has no income tax. State welfare benefits are among the least "progressive" in the country. Texas reportedly has the largest number of uninsured (read health insurance) percentage-wise in the U.S. Businesses aren't required to carry workers' compensation (only state in the country where wc is voluntary).
People are still moving here in spite of our non-progressive nature. Texas also created more jobs (non-governmental) in 2008 & 2009 than all other states combined. No one is forced to move to Texas; they can move to a more progressive state like Mass. which has a very "progressive" state health insurance program.
Texas is projected to pick up another 3 or 4 U.S. House seats in 2011. Wonder how many Mass will lose?
Michigan is very progressive. 16-20% unemployment (not to mention the wonderful winter weather).
I will mention one more time ---- anyone who needs health care in Texas gets it. Including expensive proceedures. For free if they can't pay. I do personally know people who have gotten first rate care from Houston area hospitals, without paying a dime.
So explain one more time why the *$ I would willingly go along with DC experimenting with my state's finances, and my health care?
<<I agree that the scenario you presented is tragic.>>
It is common. About 14,000 people a day lose their health insurance.
<<In a society where opportunity to succeed is everywhere, opportunity to have failure and/or bad things happen to folks has to exist as well. One can't expect that we can mitigate life's downs (by spreading the wealth) without also mitigating the chances for success.>>
I agree, mostly, and I certainly respect and admire success. What I do not especially admire is avarice at the expense of too much suffering. I do not admire profit as true religion. I believe our society should encourage people to have goals and interests other than owning the most stuff---which is not the road to happiness, anyway. I would cite Walt Disney as an example of someone whose politics I disagreed with, yet could admire for his amazing contribution to the arts, education, and the wonders of childhood, while building an empire and making huge profits. I'm sure you can think of other examples.
<<Unless you are a utopian.>>
I've heard this before, and it's a false dichotomy, i.e., you can't be a progressive unless you are also "a Utopian." I'd refer you back to one of Eyefo's posts about how far we've come in the matter of race. A black president?! Must be Utopia!
A thought just struck me about the original pilot for Star Trek. They'd cast a woman as a starship commander, but the network wouldn't go for it. A woman commanding a spaceship?!
And how about having given women the vote? A Utopian idea! :-) Health care for all? Utopia!
So no, I go back to my initial argument about a balanced society. I was brought up with a "Can do" attitude, with the idea that America can solve it. (This was Kennedy's attitude, Tess.)
Clearly, we can't just take from the rich and give to the poor and expect everything to work. Neither can we create a Libertarian society and expect everything to work. Human nature gets in the way of mind-set ideology---such ideology being a substitute for the inconvenience of thinking and solving real problems.
Yes, I believe we can provide health care before a person loses everything he or she has worked a lifetime for. And I do believe we can find a way to avoid too much downside of social engineering.
The three most important aspects of finding a house: "location, location, location." The three most important aspects of a society: "balance, balance, balance."
I appreciate the discussion.
Dave, I do have a different viewpoint (or as you put it, have been insulated). Worked for a year in the Alaskan arctic, for a bush pilot, when I was 18. His response to a cold or illness was to work it to death. Didn't believe in or ever go to a doc, and due to remoteness (we had to fly a couple of hours to find a doc) wouldn't take me to see one the two times I needed it. Still alive (him and me). Fortunate genetics I suppose.
I built my company over 30 years, still growing, now have about 50 employees. We pay our non-college educated work force(for the most part) exceedingly well (median pay is in the 45K range), have a great benefits and lot's of paid vacation time. In return, our folks turned in exceptional numbers for 2008 and grew the firm again in 2009. I have seen employees die from old age, heart attack, and other causes.
But not from lack of the best health insurance that we could provide. And in 30 years have never had a scenario that you described. So I guess I am "insulated" to that degree.
I agree that the scenario you presented is tragic. Work hard all your life, some bad luck, and without support from friends and family, you could find yourself on the street.
In a society where opportunity to succeed is everywhere, opportunity to have failure and/or bad things happen to folks has to exist as well. One can't expect that we can mitigate life's downs (by spreading the wealth) without also mitigating the chances for success.
Unless you are a utopian. In that event, anything is possible. But a true utopian would at least explore the reason as to why this grand experiment of national healthcare and social engineering isn't working better in Canada, Britain, Greece, France, Italy, or even in Mass?
<<I don't know anyone (not to say we haven't all heard anecdotes about this) who has had their coverage dropped or declined.>>
I do get a bit temperamental about this issue, partly because of statements like yours above. I take it you have been rather insulated from some of life's problems---and I don't mean this sarcastically, but I gather it from several statements you've made. (I'll also have a response to your earlier post---and to Tess's.)
Here's how it works: A person works for 20 years, let's say, as a responsible citizen, saves whatever money he or she is able, then spins the dial which lands on "chronically ill and can't work." She gets to drain $12,000 of savings (assuming she has it) paying into COBRA to extend insurance benefits for 18 months. Her medical expenses may easily exceed her ability to pay from now until eternity. (Check the cost, for example, of simple infusions of remicade for various inflammatory diseases---about $4000 per infusion every six weeks. Just one minor example.)
COBRA payments will allow her to keep her house for a while, and if she's a single mom, feed her children and pay bills by draining another say $30,000 for that 18 month period (if she has it). Then she's likely broke, of course. And that's if she's been a responsible saver and put away $42,000 in twenty years.
When the 18 months runs out, with no savings left, she must sell her house (assuming she has one) for whatever equity she has acquired. She finally declares bankruptcy and goes on public disability, living at poverty level.
This is her reward for having come down with one of a hundred chronic diseases that disable people who have been responsible, saved their money, purchased health insurance, eaten healthy food, never smoked, aren't fat, and don't eat at Taco Time.
Tess believes that the poor, the elderly, etc., should have government assistance. Good. But ordinary, responsible people below the age of 65 also become sick and impoverished.
If you think you are immune, think again. If your number comes up, you'd be better off in any other industrialized society in the world. Here, it's tough luck, pal. You lose everything, no matter how responsible you've been.
That is not to say I believe health care reform is simple or easy. My argument is simply that it must be done. The story above is about someone who HAS health insurance. Give some thought to the idea that what separates you from financial ruin is an unfortunate diagnosis.
Although I have good health insurance, I can tell you that one's life can drastically change from one day to the next with the results of a simple blood test. You are not separate from your fellow inmates in this dumbed-down nation.
ps Dave, I don't know anyone (not to say we haven't all heard anecdotes about this) who has had their coverage dropped or declined. At least 87% of Americans have health insurance.
As I recall, initially the "reform" was to 1. increase participation, and 2. lower costs, which would lead to 1.
It has morphed into higher costs.
Medicare projects a 36 TRILLION $ deficit over the next 50 years.
How is subsidizing 15-30 million more people into a deficit laden program going to accomplish lowering costs? It will do the opposite, and crater the system faster.
They aren't even addressing the root causes of escalating costs. Not the intent. Seizing control of the health sector, one step at a time, appears to be the motivation.
Hey, lighten up. I don't think the major bonuses on WS are warranted either, but in our system, not my call.
If the majority of voters want central control, then that's what we'll get. Compassion starts at home, however. Not in DC. I don't buy that a big universal health care system versus what we have now will be better.
IMO, it will ultimately be a nightmare.
There isn't any program that DC is in charge of that doesn't morph into waste and mismanagement over time. Same is true with every large bureacracy.