The Radical Pragmatist returns with Healthcare

Posted by By at 14 October, at 15 : 20 PM Print




We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity: do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Most of us recognize the opening words of our Constitution, but I do not believe most of us think very often about what the preamble means. I am sure Congress does not.  If we and congress, did the healthcare debate, would have been very different. This column is not a defense of the current healthcare law. I do not know how much it will help people or control costs. I will tell you what I do know.

Other than the individual liberty we have from dictators and demigods here in America: can anyone come up with a single issue for our country and ourselves as important as healthcare. Healthcare as its come to mean in our times is directly related to every point in the preamble, what was and should be our national ideal.  We as a people attempted and continue to attempt to form an ideal of what a country should do and mean to its citizens.

No one can say our healthcare system is just, and as long as disease and injury are part of the human experience there will be no justice in illness. But, there should be justice in the access and treatment of it.

Insure domestic tranquility. What does it say for us as a country and our society when one of the largest class barriers is access to healthcare. As that divide grows greater, what will that do for domestic tranquility? How is domestic tranquility improved by people worrying about to make the mortgage payment, or pay for their medicine?

Most of all did not our founding fathers charge us to promote the general Welfare; how can anyone say in good conscious that we have not let them down. 

I believe in a free market, and I believe a man is entitled to the wealth he can create, but I worry about a country that believes an individual only deserves the healthcare his profession, or life situation can afford. Why should only those who through personal effort or accident of birth are the ones who deserve full access to healthcare.  

The U.S. healthcare system of the early twenty-first century did not come close to any one of our national ideals expressed in the preamble; it cannot even be said it is a system at all. Too often in American public discourse the argument against trying another policy is the suggested replacement is not perfect. So what those 212 Republicans with their no votes were saying was the status quo is fine because the solution is not perfect.  How much money do we have to waste, how many people have to suffer because we don’t have a perfect solution? The one thing I support about the healthcare law is it attempts to change a “system” that is without doubt expensive and inefficient.  Maybe the new law will do no more than screw things up, forcing our leaders  finally to fix things, or may be the law will be a base to improve upon, but at least it’s not the insanity of continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.

So what should the debate and new law have done to transform our political landscape and improve healthcare?  Before I lay that out, I am compelled to talk about what it devolved into. Politics, setting a stage to confound a new President, creating a fictional storyline  that individual and corporate rights are violated by Universal Health Coverage. It also should not have been about the various stakeholders arguing by proxy (read congress dependent on large campaign  contributions); who is to blame and who should not be cut out.

It is very simple the debate should have been how the United States; like every other first world country; could provide all of its citizens with Universal Healthcare. Despite the rhetoric, people espouse about other countries systems because and here is a shock those systems are not perfect, let us look at a few facts.

Pharmaceutical companies still make a good return on their capital or else six of the twelve largest would not be headquartered in Europe.  Doctors abroad make way above average livings, and despite limited access to all possible healthcare services, those nasty intruding foreign governments put on their citizens the “open” U.S. still only ranked 49th in life expectancy compared to those horrible socialized medicine countries of Canada (9) France (10) and Germany (33).  44 countries have lower infant mortality rates than the United States. 

Heck our National Soccer team is more competitive in world standings than our healthcare system.  In case you think I use fuzzy statistics to support my argument, you can go look them up for yourself at the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook website.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, I say a plague on both political parties.  A plague to the Republicans in the house who were clearly playing politics  with a hundred percent of them voting no, and a plague to the Democrats for not having the courage to push and enact true reform.

Until next time be radical, be practical and most of all…Rock the Capital.

TRP, C4, October 2010

This post was written by:
- who has written 13 posts for Rock The Capital
Andrew Stein is the Principal of Stein Consulting Group, an organization that advises on government, energy, and financial policy. Mr. Stein, is Chairman of the Board for Sustainable Energy Fund and is the Economic Advisor for EFMR Monitoring Group. Mr. Stein has over 20 years of real estate banking experience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. - Email Andrew Stein

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