Throughout this healthcare debate, I have been engaging in a bit of self-examination and analysis of my position. I ask myself, “What if I’m wrong?” Could I be on the “wrong side”? From my Obama zombie peers I hear that this is the dawn of a new age of equality and justice. Could they be right?
On the surface, Obamacare offers some seemingly harmless and wonderful benefits. No pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep kids on family plans until they are 26 seem to be the focus of the media jubilation. I’ve got a problem with this last one, and it is a problem of language. I keep hearing 26 year olds referred to as “children”–as in, “Parents can keep children up to the age of 26 on their plans!” One ceases being a child at the age of 18 in the eyes of the law, for whatever that’s worth. At the age of 26 I had been on my own for over six years, and had already lost my oldest child. I was not anything even remotely resembling a “child”. I’d gotten my own healthcare in my early 20′s through my work, but when that lapsed, I didn’t feel the need to renew it. This may sound like I had my stuff together, but I didn’t–not even close. But, for someone making hardly any money, health insurance was still available for something like $70 a month, if I remember correctly. I was working six days a week as a waitress in a trendy bistro, and my boss, a wealthy drunk, could barely manage the funds well enough to keep our paychecks from bouncing. Would it have been nice to be on my parents’ health insurance? Sure. Did I need it? Yep, especially when I broke my collarbone a year later. But I had made the choice to move away and start my life, which meant I was responsible for myownself from that point on.
Ultimately, it is not the “healthcare for all” proposal I am against, it is the importation of the European idea of prolonged adolescence to America. It is the legitimization of the idea that the government should take care of me, that it is my “right” to be provided with a safety net from cradle to grave. The idea of the nanny state is very seductive–I can feel the siren call tugging at my soul this very instant–but it costs us much more than large percentages of our income. One of the most terrifying (and exciting) things about becoming an adult is the realization that you have no safety net. You are on your own, walking that tightrope across the Grand Canyon. You are able to make your own decisions, but you also have to suffer the consequences of said decisions. At 23, when I convinced myself that I needed to spend my utility money on those perfect red shoes, I did indeed get those red shoes. My power also got disconnected for a bit and I ended up paying more to get it reconnected than I would have if I had just delayed my gratification until the shoes had gone on sale. It would have been nice to have universal electric service, but I’d never have learned to forego my own pleasure to fulfill my responsibilities.
We do not have the kind of glorious single-payer healthcare system seen throughout Europe–yet. Obama has stated numerous times that this is his ultimate goal, and I’m not like some conservatives who convince themselves that he means something other than what he says. He’s a true believer, and he won’t stop until he’s achieved the change he’s been promising. Rationing and higher taxes are an obvious result of this transformation, but the ultimate consequence is the infantilization of an entire culture. Because once we’ve got healthcare for “free”, we’ll want everything else. “Free” university, shorter work weeks with extended paid vacations–an entire culture of instant gratification and no incentive to work for what we want.
I’d love to have a safety net, to never have to worry about basic “needs”, but the sacrifice is too great. When we give up responsibility, we also give up our freedom–freedom to choose tanning beds over government-recommended SPF70 sunblock, freedom to smoke, freedom to make our own informed decisions. Single-payer healthcare isn’t the endgame, it’s just the beginning. With every “right” we demand–and get–from an ever-expansive government, we cede more power to the bureaucracy. And these “rights” don’t come free. I’m not talking of a monetary charge (though higher taxes and less take-home is inevitable), I’m talking about the charge the government exacts on our personal freedom. If the government is handing out livers and you need one, you better hope your government-regulated medical records don’t chronicle all of the drinking you’ve been doing.
It’s hard to see the forest for the trees in our ADD culture, but we’re selling our souls. Sometimes we have to sacrifice, but sacrifice builds character. There’s a shortage of that nowadays.
Ultimately, I can only look at both sides of the argument and form my own opinion. In the end, it doesn’t matter what Mark Steyn says (although it seems sometimes like he’s reading my mind) or what David Frum says (don’t have the same experience with David) or what Barry O or the guys from the New Republic say–what matters is the conclusion I come to after putting some serious thought into the matter. Am I on the wrong side of this healthcare debate? When I step back and look at the Big Picture, I am as confident as I can be that I am not. I am sympathetic to the plight of the uninsured, but Obamacare is not about insuring the uninsured. It is about power, about shifting this country irrevocably left by getting us hooked on the opiate of Big Government. Giving us candy in exchange for our freedom. The fact that this exchange was forced on us, against the will of the people, is a post for another time. In a few years, the majority of the nation will be on board with this, because free candy always wins.
This is just the beginning.