06 June 2008

A more rational rebuttal

It is not a question of what that person's life is worth that I don't know, it is a question of whether their life is worth more than mine or my husband's to me? Because that is what it comes down to, do we have to work ourselves into an early death to fund every single need everyone in the country has?

The main problem with this belief is what happens when you extrapolate it out to every single person. What if every person believed this? What if only a simple majority of people believed this? Very simply, it means that you are worth less. As is your husband, and any children you may have. Your parents, your friends, your loved ones. You're all worth less. Worth less than who? Than me and my loved ones, of course. Because if I believed the same as you, the only ones worth my resources are those I love. And I can't possibly love everyone.

Furthermore, if you extrapolate this belief to the other "welfare" programs our taxes cover it means I'm not going to pay for the education of you or your children, nor can you drive on my roads, use my public library, or benefit from my personal police force, fire department or ambulance service. Because I'm working much too hard to have to share my earnings with anybody other than my loved ones. Damn the poor and their ignorant inability to pull themselves up by their boot straps. And I would just like to point out that there are those who "abuse" each of these systems. There are children who are truant more often than not, and yet draw tax payer dollars for that school. There are those who leave smoldering cigarrettes in a trash can or couch and end up burning down the house. Should we let that house burn down simply because the person made a bad decision? Should we ignore all the nearby houses that might also burn down? Do we just chalk it all up to bad decisions and walk away feeling snug in our belief that the same could never happen to us because we're smart enough to have made the good decision to not smoke?

Poor health care drags down more than just the person actually suffering from ill health. It drags down the spouse who shares fiscal responsibilities. It drags down the parents trying to help out. It drags down the children who are then without the many benefits money can bring. Really, it is not that unlike a burning building.

I think we are also failing to consider a "cost" in this whole analysis. What about the "cost" of losing an able bodied person from society? If he/she had been healthy, what contribution might he/she have made? Perhaps tutored a child? Been a big brother/big sister? Donated money to help fund the arts? Might that child whose parents were unable to afford the summer camps for science have found a break through in cancer research? What are we giving up when we give up on that person? There is no way to quantify it except to look around you at all those people who have contributed in meaningful ways to our society and just imagine if one of those people had been stuck with a major health problem and no insurance in our society. What might we have lost?

To me, your statement sort of sounds like these 3rd world countries we hear so much about. You know, those ones we lament about. The places we arrogantly believe would be saved by democracy and a free market. In those countries, the only kids who get an education are those with parents rich enough to afford the private schools. The only places with good infrastructure are where the rich want to be able to go, or need to be able to move their goods. The only folks immune from violence and thievery are those who can afford personal body guards or even a small army.

Let's be honest, it's not as if I'm (or we're) asking you to provide a Wii game for every household, or a new car for every 16 year old. I don't think anybody is begging the gov't for a big screen HD tv, or a brand new laptop. We just want to ensure that every citizen has access to and can afford treatment of health problems. And we'd like to prevent as many of these problems as possible. I truly believe we would have a healthier, more productive and happier society if each person was able to receive treatment for illness in an effective and timely manner.

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