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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:49 PM

It's What You Value

With the season of "good will toward men" (women are included by association) still relatively fresh in our memories, maybe it's a good time to talk about something basic to a caring and civilized society: taking care of the sick. Why, then, does it seem so impossible for a country with one of the highest standards of living to provide high quality health care to all its citizens?

Now, keeping in mind all those religious and altruistic thoughts of just a few weeks ago, rationalize why we as a people cannot afford to give quality health care to any citizen who is in need of it. I would expect that those who suffered a deficiency in those previously mentioned warm holiday feelings to be the first to charge me with promoting socialized medicine. I stand accused -- so what?

The socialization of some institutions does not make us less democratic; in fact, the socialization of certain basic needs can often strengthen a democracy. Social security, unemployment insurance, subsidized housing for the elderly, and many other programs are socialistic and have only enhanced our freedom to live dignified lives in the face of a private sector, which, by its very nature, is forced to ignore human feelings in favor of a bottom line.

It must be remembered that in a capitalistic society it is not only government that needs to be kept in check, but also the very real power that businesses have over all of us. By transforming economic powers like health care from corporations to our government, we at least have some say as to how those powers are used, and, in this way, we increase the power of the people and strengthen the democracy that we are a part of.

Universal health care would cost an enormous amount of money, but when the money we are spending on health care from our pay checks and from employers' contributions are added up, would it cost any more to have a government-run system where people never have to worry about selling their houses to pay hospital bills? And if the cost would be a bit more, couldn't that money come from some of the enormous costs of being the world's police and maintaining bases all around the world?

All worthwhile endeavors have costs; it all depends on what a person's values are that determines whether or not a cost is considered valid or not. It is amusing when people complain about how taxes are so high in a country where there are so many $30,000 cars and trucks on the road, and so many people are able to buy the most frivolous of luxuries. Maybe when we are proud to flaunt our humanity instead of our wealth, something like true universal health care will become a reality.

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