Fresh from the NYTimes:
Critics play down the seriousness of the problem by pointing out that the ranks of the uninsured include many people who have chosen to forgo coverage or are only temporarily uninsured: workers who could afford to pay but decline their employers' coverage; the self-employed who choose not to pay for more expensive individual coverage; healthy young people who prefer not to buy insurance they may never need; people who are changing jobs; poor people who are eligible for Medicaid but have failed to enroll. And then there are the illegal immigrants, a favorite target of critics.
The substance of the viciously-circular paragraph above makes me think of the this idea that some evolutionists have tried in the past, that humans have a built-in sense of morals. If so, we Americans are still at the Lucy evolving-phase of moral evolution.1 Is our hominid-like social development a product of laissez-faire capitalism? Although we're not the only "selfish" society in the world, Liberal Capitalism provides a strong defense for economic selfishness, which early economist Adam Smith sees as a social benefit in the long run.2 Add a dosage of strong Protestant social ethics to the recipe. Craftily politic! As obsessed with religion as we are, it seems puzzling how come we don't wish for our neighbor what we wish for ourselves.
Let's assume that the 48 million uninsured cannot be heard. Actually, they can't show their faces in town-meetings: 1- they feel hopelessly disenfranchised from -and by- the rest society, particularly the critics (many of whom -ironically!- have poor or no insurance at all), 2- they are afraid to show their faces for fear of either being harassed by deathers or deported by INS agents.
Raise the level of "Americanness" to orange!
You'd still figure there are tens of millions of senior citizens whose Medicare benefits are at stake, who would profit from some kind of reform to ensure the very permanence of those benefits.3 The same goes for the majority: those covered below fairish levels (let's refer to them as sub-insured?) My estimate: add to the total lot 1/3-plus the number of millions. That leaves us with a minority in the high ground, "lucky ones" who enjoy good coverage,4 obviously in good or better health than the rest of the population. Caution: Were you not in the minority, beware of your future! Ironically, they don't need insurance. We need to address this minority because the critics' whole argument hinges on it.
The reason someone in good health would want insurance coverage is to anticipate the possibility of future illness. What you do is previse future contingencies. Let's pursue this point: The very idea of insurance is "peace of mind" (a favorite slogan of the door-to-door insurance-peddlers). Healthy people don't really need it, not right now. In fact, you're happy not to need it -and keep paying for it. In the best possible world you wish you could pay insurance forever without ever needing it.
We're now in a position to understand the punch line of the critics of Health Care Reform: If you're sick you don't need insurance.5
1The debate over the nature of altruism is perplexing: Defenders go the extra mile to say that we're capable of acting for reasons other than our own self-satisfaction. They claim to have proof of people to do heroic deeds for no apparent reason other than, well, the faculty of unselfish concern for others, which is the definition of altruism. 2Adam Smith conceived the Capitalist market as a completely self-regulating system controlled by universal laws, with no need for human interference (think of Newtonian laws of nature as the preferred model). In this rationale you become homo economicus, a Newtonian particle moving along the paths defined by the laws of motion. 3Are not senior citizens in a deeper moral binding? In a discussion about fairness, they benefit from "rights" the rest of the population consent in making possible. Cons of the existing program are financial viability, fraud & waste, and the explosion of the aging population. 4Let's follow the most benign line of reasoning: If more than 1/2 of all insured Americans were sick at the same time, we wouldn't have insurance at all. Not because insurance companies could not afford it, but because it wouldn't be profitable. The lesson? Insurance Companies don't care for your health.5Does it surprise you that this is exactly the position of the Insurance Companies?