Extremes In The Face of Reason

October 11, 2010

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Why do solutions to problems have to be all or nothing these days? A few years ago, my state was reconsidering the deposit on cans and bottles. One group in our legislature wanted to put a five cent deposit on all cans, regardless of use. This would include soup cans and the like. Others wanted to drop the whole deposit effort. The question I had was; what problem were they trying to solve? The original intent of the can and bottle deposit was to put a financial stimulus in returning the items with the goal of reducing road side trash. From the data I could find, this was exceptionally successful. Not from people saving their cans and bottles, but because industrious people went around picking them up to redeem them.

So, if we look at what the legislature was taking up; was there a sudden increase in soup cans on the side of the road, or had the deposit suddenly become too big of a burden for the citizens of our state? Neither condition was evident. The deposit program is actually a pretty big money maker for the state, with many people simply throwing their containers away or people purchasing on their way through the state. At the end of the debate, no change was made, much to my relief.

Now we have new national legislation on health care, or rather health insurance. It was an all or nothing debate. The legislation completely dismembers the existing health care system by putting the government in as the primary health insurance provider (even though this is denied by many who voted for it). I do not understand why the specific problems were not addressed. The main reason seems to be that no one could define any real reasons or problems in the system. All of the arguments were nebulous. Some people can not afford insurance, true, but does this require an overhaul of the system? Some people are denied coverage, again true, but again is this a full fledged disaster?

My father chimed on the debate stating that we have a member of our family without insurance. What did we do before the government stepped in? Most of us depended on family to pay the bill. Those who could not went to the hospital and were cared for by the county (this is true for every county in the United States). So if some people cannot afford insurance, why not provide some sort of support? With the new law, many part time employees are losing what coverage they have due to cost. If some people are denied treatment, set up an agency to investigate and help those people who really need it get treatment.

I really wish I could take the time to really read legislation (before or after it is passed) since our legislators do not seem to be doing the job (the speaker of the house actually said we cannot know what is in the bill until we pass it). The problem is, I do not have the time or the training to comb though it. I could not find it, but at one time I knew where in the bill it stated that taxes in this bill will not be considered taxes. I hope there is no penalty associated with this statement, as I will definitely consider any extra charges as taxes.

I am not currently under threat of losing my health care or insurance. The company I work for has sent out informational sheets telling us that things will be changing, but they could not tell us how until they are told. My doctor has suggested retiring rather than dealing with the added costs and effort that the government program will entail. So I will still have insurance (of some kind) and still have health care (of some kind), but all will be well, right? My question is; how much should I be saving to pay for my free health care?

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