Monday, March 22, 2010

The Sky Is Not Falling

President Obama will sign sweeping health care reform legislation into law at the White House on Tuesday. Watching the Twitterverse explode, looking at various Facebook status messages and listening to a number of right-wing pundits come unhinged would make one think that the passage of the bill signals the end of Democracy, the end of the Republic and the end of the United States as we know it. I'm surprised that Glenn Back isn't going all Jim Jones on us.

I've got mixed feelings about this bill. Let's keep in mind, first off, that this is health insurance reform, not health care reform. What we needed was the later, but we got the former instead. Honestly, I don't understand the bill, but, on the surface, it seems to reward the corporations who have been screwing us over for decades by forcing everyone to obtain health care. Apparently, the requirement has to exist in order to increase the insurance pool to cover the provision of the bill that disallows denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and insuree recisions. Somehow, the American consumer still gets his pocket picked in all of this.

The passage of this bill doesn't signal the end of the United States. Whether or not the majority of Americans support this bill is a matter of debate, but one that has little bearing on the outcome. The The United States is a republic, not a democracy. In a true democracy, everyone votes on every issue and the rule of the majority is greater than the rule of law. The United States is far too large for democracy to work effectively. Imagine having to go to the polls each time some new measure is up for passage. It simply wouldn't work. So, we elect individuals to represent us and vote on the issues for us based upon our interests, not upon our will. This makes the United States a republic, and in a republic, the rule of law is greater than the rule of the majority.

With regard to providing extending coverage to the 32 million uninsured Americans, let's recall that essential government services exist due to market failure. Police departments, fire departments and public utilities all existed in the private sector at one point. However, because of market failure in each of those industries, the government stepped in to take over those roles. What this means is that, when someone is unable to obtain access to health care at market value, then the market is broken. If the market is broken, then the government needs to take over to ensure people are receiving the essential service either via regulation or adoption of the service or some mixture of the two. Without a government backed public option, the bill leans more heavily towards industry regulation than it does towards adoption of service.

I can't predict whether or not the passage of this bill will result in longer lines at your Doctor's office, less money in your paycheck or expansion of the welfare roles. I suspect it'll be a mixture of good and bad with one slightly outweighing the other. However, eight months from now, when I go to the polls to vote for the people who represent me, I will ask myself if I am better off today than I was at the end of 2008 and I will then vote accordingly.

And so should you.


  1. Ok...I've just emailed you so you already know that I disagree with your defintion of Republic.
    No, we're not a true democracy, but I don't think anyone thought we were.
    Last, I find it interesting that you vote based upon if you're life is any better or worse. Honestly, I think you're life is more in your own hands than in the governments, but again....I don't trust the government like you do and perhaps that's where we differ. :)

  2. I don't think you're disagreeing with the definition of a Republic so much as you are taking issue with the rule of law trumping the will of the majority. To illustrate that axiom, all you need to do is look at red button issues and see how they panned out. Let's recall Brown vs Board of Education. It's clear that the majority were in favor of segregation but the rule of law trumped the majority.

    Voting based upon an individuals position in life relative to the past is a fairly common thing. As a general rule, a President can expect to be re-elected if, at the time of the election, the economy is doing well. If it isn't, he should expect to be voted out of office. There's very clear precedent for this.

    And I think you know I have a healthy distrust of the government as an overall entity. I'm not sure what possessed you to indicate otherwise.

  3. Agreed on the principle of a republic. The one saving grace is that we do have the Supreme Court present to define the legitimacy of the rule of law should they choose to intervene. This can be important during times where the popular view (as in Brown v Brown) is not necessarily the rule of law.

    I am also with you on voting based on my status come election time versus how I was four years prior. I have never declared myself as democrat/republican and feel more empowered that way because neither party can depend on my vote. A candidate has to earn their right to get my vote based on his/her position of the issues of the time. I believe to many politicians these days forget about the constituents they represent at home and instead care mostly on the constituents in Washington or in other words, their own party lines.

  4. my bi-partisan opinion is, while this is not a perfect nation, or a perfect bill, it IS change. i'm keeping optimistic that there is more to come, as we take baby steps to change a system that's beem f*'d up for so long.