From the moment conservatives failed in their attempt to block passage of health care reform outright, they started the process of undermining the new law. The signing of the Affordable Care Act by President Obama a year ago started the clock on a plethora of legal filings and state level legislative initiatives designed to make the law irrelevant. While some of the maneuvering focuses on one of the least-desirable aspects of the measure (The Rational Middle has repeatedly stated its economic objections to the individual mandate), most of the ventures amount to silly political shenanigans.
As the anniversary approaches however, the time has come for a whole new set of unsubstantiated garbage to be heaped on the plate of U.S. consumers. The Insurance Fraud of 2011 will be composed of wrong numbers, made up numbers, numbers out of context, and anecdotal creations. This column is a simple statement of costs, lest we forget the structure and history of the medical marketplace.
The term collateral damage is an icon of our time. Used to describe the unintended death and damage that always arises from the use of military force, collateral damage has become a euphemism for cold brutality. In the fanciful world of Hollywood, it is usually uttered by a villainous military man as a reckless excuse for ruthless excess. In the real world of foreign policy and military action, it is the cold finger of reality pointed at America’s every action. We the people, under the auspices of our government and in the realm of foreign policy, have got ourselves in a terrible pinch.
The United States of America has, since the time of Wilson, acted as the proverbial bull in a china store. We have rarely shown moderation in our foreign policy choices and military adventures, and have added to the discord by switching between wildly different strategies with each new presidential administration. Far from an admonishment, this is an acknowledgement of the activities of an eager young power, ready and willing to flex its muscles for good. The problem has always been that we the people have rarely been able to settle on what “good” really means. The current mess in the Middle East, and the choices and challenges it offers to our nation, stands as the prime example.
Painting by Max Peter
There is a pervasive line of thinking in American politics today that says government regulation is an impediment to personal freedom. Adherents to the pure faith of libertarianism have long argued the point; social conservatives eager to appease their pro-business brethren have long co-opted the point. This notion is the central consequence of the idea that all government is separate from the people, and mandates that no form of government can ever reflect the ideals of a people.
Lacking in this conversation are any mentions of what personal freedom is, or who it applies to in our society. In 21st Century America, the conservative arguments on personal freedom center almost exclusively on the right to earn and retain wealth. This economic focus departs from the pure libertarian ideal that encompasses all personal liberties, but serves nevertheless as the foundation of the entire argument. The conflict not addressed, that personal liberties of diverse peoples necessarily conflict with one another, is the conflict that we resolve via a government.