Choosing common sense over lunacy

Millions watching the recent Republican presidential candidate debates were horrified when the tea party audience shouted "yeah" and cheered at the suggestion that a sick man with no health insurance should be allowed to die.

The awful scene followed candidate Ron Paul's answer to a hypothetical question about what he would do in a situation where a healthy man who chose not to be insured, then got sick and couldn't afford the medical care he needed to save his life.

Paul's response that life is about making choices and that the man could have chosen to purchase a major medical plan was actually even more callous than the crude cheering that came from the assembled teabaggers.

The first point that has to be made is that the basic problem with our health care system is not that it forces healthy people who can afford to buy health insurance to choose between paying for that insurance when they don't need it and having the extra cash to spend so they can enjoy their good health.

The basic problem that exists regarding health insurance is that millions who have the insurance they want, by virtue of their jobs or by choosing to pay for it on their own, are losing that insurance.  The basic problem for millions of others is that they cannot afford to pay for any health insurance.

In Dr. Ron Paul's and GOP frontrunner Rick Perry's Texas a quarter of the population has no coverage at all because we live in a society that forces a majority who want decent health care to choose between paying for insurance or feeding and clothing themselves and their families.

We live in a society that says "tough luck" if you lose your job and the health insurance that goes along with it.

The GOP candidates all say they are for rugged individualism and self reliance., rather than government handouts and welfare.  In realty, the Republican candidate debates are showing that their approach to almost everything is welfare for the rich but "self reliance" for the working-class majority and the poor.

When it comes to health care, that Republican approach actually ignores the needs of almost everyone in society, whether they be rich, poor or in-between.

One medical catastrophe destroys not just one human being but can destroy his or her whole family or even an entire community. When you multiply medical catastrophes they can devastate an entire town or city. An epidemic can threaten entire countries. Viruses don't discriminate, they give everyone an equal opportunity to get sick or die.

Most people around the world reject dealing with medical issues in the way Ron Paul, the rest of the GOP candidates and the tea party audience would have us deal with them.

Human experience shows that the health of each individual also requires dealing with health care in a way that allows everyone to become healthy. Pretending health care for all is nothing more than letting each one of us make our own choices, particularly when we can't afford the available choices, is nothing short of lunacy.

Yet this lunacy is what we hear from the mainstream candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

And, don't rest easy because of recent polls showing the tea party losing support. As long as big money and power politics are behind the insanity we've seen on the Republican debate stages, everyone's health is in danger. Protecting our health will require a massive mobilization for the 2012 elections to make sure common sense, not lunacy, prevails.

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  • Here's a passage from the conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan over at the Daily Beast:

    "...I've long been a skeptic of government-provided healthcare, but I do have a core (maybe Catholic?) belief in helping the sick. Even the foolish sick. And certainly the poor and sick. In my personal life, I have found it morally impossible not to want to help someone stricken with illness, in whatever way I can. I'm sure my own health struggles have impacted this view, as my experience alongside a generation in a health crisis. Do I think we should have done nothing while hundreds of thousands died of AIDS? Of course not. Ditto cancer and all the ailments that flesh is heir to. America, moreover, has a law on the books that makes it a crime not to treat and try to save a human being who walks into an emergency room. So we have already made that collective decision and if the GOP wants to revisit it, they can."

    As Sullivan points out, it is a CRIME for hospitals not to treat people whether or not they can afford it. That's been the law in this country for some 30 years. I suppose it's fitting that Ron Paul acts as if he never heard of it. But Sullivan is right: what would fantasists do when faced with massive numbers of illnesses such as AIDS or some sort of great dying off such as the 1918 flu epidemic? Is this a matter of "personal responsibility"? Should we expect charities and groups of personal friends to do everything because the government is supposed to be a monster?

    Paul and his fellow co-thinkers are pathetic, callous and cruel.

    Posted by Dave Cunningham, 09/15/2011 10:34pm (3 years ago)

  • Another problemis the often the kind of health insurance that lower-wage people can afford has such big co-payments that they cannot afford to see a doctor even though they are "insured".

    Posted by John Whiskey, 09/15/2011 9:44pm (3 years ago)

  • The only thing I might disagree with in this article is the characterization the position of the rightists as 'lunacy', although it undoubtedly has many elements of lunacy. Rather, they have to be taken extremely seriously because they are so dangerous. I would replace the characterization of the position of these monsters as 'lunacy' with 'unencumbered callousness, sheer selfishness, unadulterated meanness, pure evil'. In these extremely difficult economic times, elements of the working classes are being pitted against one another, as a consequence of which the right-wing elements are not only eroding the progressivbe base of the woking class, but forcing workers to look to their own personal and private interests, at the expense of their fellows and the community as a whole., thus frighteniing the workers straight into the arms of the rightists. We need to fear that we are on the brink of a Teabag-GOP facist dictatorship.

    Posted by Irving, 09/15/2011 1:07pm (3 years ago)

  • Pretending health care for all is nothing more than letting each one of us make our own choices, particularly when we can't afford the available choices, is nothing short of lunacy. /////// It is LYING. The Tea Partiers are liars.

    Posted by Charles, 09/15/2011 12:00pm (3 years ago)

  • Paul's response that life is about making choices

    //// And Paul said freedom is about taking risks; the man took a risk by not having health insurance, Paul implied. This is Paul the socalled saner father. His son is a real super nut.

    Also, evidently Paul, the father , had a staff member who died because he didn't have health insurance . These people are fascists.

    Posted by Charles, 09/15/2011 11:50am (3 years ago)

  • We cold reduce the impenetrable legislation to a simple sentence: "Congress hereby extends Medicare to all Americans." I am at a loss as to why an old codger like me benefits from Medicare while my children and grandchildren do not. To soften the impact of this expansion on the budget, I propose that the program be implemented in steps every two years. ... Programs such as Medicare have been in place for years in many advanced countries. [Any Canadian government that tried to do away with theirs would be voted out instantly.]

    Posted by Excerpt from letter from George McGovern, 09/14/2011 9:07pm (3 years ago)

  • I don’t see any lunacy here, do you?
    “The prevailing attitude of the American people is that everyone has a right to medical care. This is an intellectual error that will lead us down the path toward destroying what is good in the current system and replacing it with a system that will be terrible for everyone. The supposed right to medical care can only be guaranteed at others’ expense. The transfer can only be arranged by force. This creates oppressive bureaucracies, encourages overutilization of resources, and leads to technological stagnation and inevitably to rationing and deprivation.

    It’s true that everyone has a right to pursue medical care without being hindered by government policies. But that is not the system we have today. Today’s messed-up medical system is a result of forty years of government interference in the process. Regulations, inflation, tax laws, and federal mandates to provide care through corporate-run HMOs, interference in providing insurance, massive subsidies, and licensing have all played a negative role in the delivery of medical care in the United States.

    The zealots now demanding even more government involvement do not realize that those in need and the people who require better care are victims of previous misdirected policies. All the well-intentioned humanitarian programs are of no benefit if they are based on false premises.”

    Paul, Ron (2011-04-19). Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom.

    Posted by Little Joe, 09/14/2011 8:03pm (3 years ago)

  • “A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for FOOD, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he GETS HUNGRY. Who’s going to pay if he begins to STARVE TO DEATH, for example? Who pays for that? Are you saying society should just let him starve?" No different than the question posed by Blitzer. Stating an obvious fact, that life entails risk and irresponsible decisions are punished by reality is CALLOUS? Apparently, the editors here feel that responsible people working themselves into an early grave to subsidize the irresponsible is the height of morality. Forget the callousness of the irresponsible in unfairly burdening the responsible.

    Posted by HappyDaze, 09/14/2011 6:02pm (3 years ago)

  • The situation with healthcare shouldn't be how does government pay for everyone's healthcare, but rather how do we get healthcare affordable for everyone! It's not the hospitals that rake in all the money (I should know I work in medical billing), and it's not the doctors really either. It is the pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufactures. With government making everyone purchase healthcare, and the government picking up the tab for the rest is only making things worse! This is just a big win for big pharma, and the insurance companies! The prices will still rise, hospitals will go broke, and special interest will get even richer! And soon the government will go broke trying to pay for everything! Yes, I know we can't regulate or limit prescription drug prices, because drug companies can not afford the R and D. Then why all the record profits! I am an Independent, I supported Obama, but no more! I happen to agree with Ron Paul, people need to take responsibility for themselves. we do not need the government to tell us what is good for us do we? I work at a low paying job just insurance, because I want to take responsibility for my healthcare. People need to stop and think, when the government pays for something THIS MEANS YOU ARE PAYING FOR IT!

    Posted by Don WV, 09/14/2011 4:10pm (3 years ago)

  • This was written by an editorial board? Seriously? Did anyone on that editorial board watch the debate in question?

    You have misframed the question. In the "hypothetical" the guy was employed, healthy, and made a rational decision to take the risk, and save a couple hundred a month. He was involved in an accident that put him in a six month coma.

    Paul was asked if we should let the guy die, and the first word out of his mouth was NO.

    Paul gave an honest attempt as answering an awkward hypothetical. You should give an honest attempt at reporting the facts.

    Posted by M. Nolan, 09/14/2011 3:02pm (3 years ago)

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