Health care: A right, or a privilege? Who today would ever say it's a privilege one should pay for?
While we're at this topic, what about those mobile data plans offered by the uncaring corporate behemoths AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc? Shouldn't they care just a little for the budget-constrained person who wants merely to be able to use data apps on his phone?
This list can go on and on. In fact, if we had begun making this list 30 years ago, it probably would have been a very tiny list. Today, the list is long and getting longer, exponentially fast.
What's changed in the last 30 years?
We are apparently seeing a cultural shift in the United States. Stealing seems to have become fair. Whether we decide to tax the faceless citizenry of their money, or to shame the equally-faceless corporations into giving us what we think is fair, it IS stealing. For obvious reasons, however, we euphemistically call it "fair."
The Obama Administration has used this euphemism very effectively in the last 5 years to convince a majority of our citizenry to vote for them. The still-undefined "fair share" mantra worked very effectively in 2012 to enable President Obama to be re-elected to the White House.
Things didn't used to be this way. Historically, if you had more money (and believe me, your humble author has FAR less of it than he would like), you have always been able to afford more services and products than you would if you had less money. So if you did not have the money to purchase something 30 years ago, you would save the money to purchase the item later. Or you would borrow the money, (hopefully) calculating the cost of the item plus the planned accrued interest, for your purchase.
What has changed in the last 30 years is our expectations of what is fair, or a right.
A free economic market has always offered ways for people to purchase whatever they want. But that free economic market offered no guarantees, other than "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Health care wasn't a right. Health was something a person could attempt to achieve through proper diet, exercise, self-restraint, and by dipping into sometimes hard-earned savings to see a doctor whenever necessary. Individuals who lacked the resources to see a doctor, yet needed a doctor's help, could petition the resources from a church or from concerned loved ones who may have had the resources. The individuals providing charitable assistance did so willingly.
Today, it seems that more and more people believe that they are entitled to health care.
I recently had a discussion with a blogger on this topic. I brought out the following hypothetical, admittedly a bit heartless, but I hope my readers will indulge me: Suppose a 60-year-old man has spent his life eating whatever he wanted, with little to no regard for his health, and now finds himself with no insurance and in need of a heart transplant. And suppose, under the benefits brought to us by the Affordable Care Act, he can now purchase health insurance for $300 per month. Who will pay for his $100,000 heart transplant surgery and recovery visits?
The blogger was incensed with me. His response to me: "You idiot! Insurance will obviously pay for it! Money is not being stolen from anybody." Notwithstanding my efforts to point out that the insurance company is a business that has to balance revenues with expenses, and that, taken alone, without interest, this hypothetical 60-year-old gentleman would need nearly 27 years of paying these premiums to ever cover the cost of his $100,000 surgery, my blogger friend and I were at an impasse.
In his mind, if the big faceless insurance company was paying for it, it was covered.
It seems that is our problem. As long as a faceless "someone" is paying for it, all is well with the world.
When the Obama Administration and Democrats created the Affordable Care Act, and submitted the costs of the program to the Congressional Budget Office, the resulting CBO score astounded economists everywhere: The bill, in a 10-year period, would not only NOT add to the annual deficits and the accumulating public debt, but actually REDUCE it!
How on earth could a bill that added no doctors but offered government guarantees of health care to 40,000,000 more people actually MAKE the government money? Turns out they planned to tax the faceless citizenry and businesses. Like my blogger friend, they believed that nobody was going to have to pay for it - the money would simply be taken from faceless/nameless individuals and organizations.
A little over 20 years ago, I discovered that my payroll department was overpaying one of my employees. The employee had said nothing of this. When we discovered the error, the company, in an act of compassion, offered to take only half of what they had overpaid this employee, through regular payroll deduction. Her response: "That's fair." My employees dealing with payroll were incensed. No doubt this employee would have been justifiably angry had the company underpaid her, and she would have demanded the unpaid income be immediate paid to her. THAT would have been fair.
Given the increasingly unfettered access into our pockets that politicians, and even voting citizens, are granting themselves, it would seem difficult to want to pay attention to our moral compasses for direction. Kind of makes you pine for the days when fair was actually fair.