Last week just after the partial shutdown of the government got underway, a Facebook friend and high school buddy posted a rant saying, “Good Morning. It's embarrassing to see that the US government has shut down. This isn't a Democrat and Republican shutdown. This is a Republican shutdown, plain and simple. The hatred of a man's color is front and center in this. Obama's politics aren't anything that could be labeled as radical. The only thing "radical" about him is his color. To hold hostage hundreds of thousands, millions of Americans to hate on a man's color is sad and pitiful.”
His words prompted me and others to add our points of view to the discussion in which there were many. While not disagreeing that President Obama’s tenure has been mired by race, and that there are segments of the United States who detest having a black president, my reply questioned whether or not my friend or anyone else reading the post actually understood the Affordable Care Act, also known affectionately as Obamacare.
The following discussion is not a criticism of President Obama per se, but just a call for all Americans to try to understand the inner workings of this legislation, and ask why some people are afraid of it. Is it simply race? As a black man myself (who has had two major surgeries in my lifetime), my opinion is that blindly following the President strictly on the basis of our common skin color is not wise, and the smart thing for me to do is to question both parties and come to my own conclusions.
The sad truth is that many citizens of the United States are so caught up in trivial matters (social media, TV shows and sports) that most don’t really know what’s in this act. Many don’t even understand how our government works, what an individual mandate is, or what Medicaid and Medicare are. Ask Jay Leno or Jimmy Kimmel how much the average American understands about government.
Setting race aside for just a second, every American should ask themselves several questions, if they're paying attention of course. Most of these tie back into financial literacy, an understanding of economics (supply and demand for example), and government (specifically taxes and how programs and initiatives are funded). Among them are:
• Assuming there are Americans afraid of this law, are they afraid simply because our black President is championing it or are there legitimate economic concerns?
• Even though it would be ideal to provide universal health care to everyone, is this the most cost effective way to do it? And what is going to be the long term costs to everyone? How much will this increase taxes for everyone?
• What will be the long-term changes to Medicaid and Medicare, and what will be the effect on those using private insurance?
• Will this new law drive doctors out of the market?
• Will this new law dictate the care doctors can give?
• What is the big deal about entitlement programs and expanding them?
• Will this law cause the IRS to get more involved in our lives?
Many would be surprised to know that the Affordable Care Act has been openly questioned by a prominent African American. The famous Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson openly questions Obamacare and probably doesn’t hate Barrack Obama or his signature law because he is black. A well respected member of the medical community himself, Dr. Carson’s opposition of the law particularly stands out in my mind and it is something that should give other people pause as well. His opposition suggests that this not strictly a matter of color, but what is best for our country.
In my opinion, yes, everyone should have access to healthcare, but is this the best way to do it? Yes, the law has already been passed albeit with Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. The Government being shutdown is not a good thing by any means, but the fact that a law such as this, which is going to affect all of us and future generations, is being questioned is a good thing. Is this the best way to extend healthcare to everyone? This argument will surely go on long after President Obama’s second term is over.