O America – Health Care and Gay Marriage
I usually stick to writing about Canadian politics but since I am on temporary exile in the “Land of the Free”™ for my postdoc I have been meaning to add a bit of Old American Spice to this blog. Two stories today seem to have pushed me over that critical threshold for at least a brief commentary. The two topics are gay marriage and health care. Why start small eh?
These two topics are interesting because they are uncontroversial and settled issues in Canada whereas in the US they are the centre of fiery debates about the fundamental rights of some people in US society and the role that government can be allowed to play in maintaining a healthy society. Maybe some time soon I’ll write up a comparison of another huge difference, how we pick our leaders for political parties.
First, this story about a released strategy document from the National Organization for Marriage(NOM). The entire NOM strategy document can be found here and it’s quite a read. In case the name throws you, which is the intent I’m sure, the NOM is not interested in everyone having happy marriages but rather in making sure gay people aren’t allowed to marry legally. The document simply has to be read to be believed, it lays out incredibly cynical plans for undermining the Democratic party by pitting gays and visible minorities against each other. Their primary plan is to get African Americans and Latinos in the US to side against gay marriage and start a kind of culture war with the gay community, thus dividing two large swaths of the support for the Democratic party.
Will the process of assimilation of the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We can interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity.
So an organization with an address on K Street in Washington DC chaired by people with names such as Brian Brown, John Eastman, Maggie Gallagher and Robert George want to redefine Latino identity? Then try to use their entire community as as a weapon against another oppressed minority group that have largely similar ideologies and political views to them. Shameful isn’t a strong enough word for this kind of hubris. In case anyone needs some evidence that gay marriage won’t destroy your society just look north of the border, Canada is doing fine after ten years of gay marriage. It’s so normal that the highly conservative, pro-gun government bent over backwards a month ago to fix a law they thought might make it difficult for gay couples to get divorced!
Second, health care. Of course, health care works a big different down here, and right now the new health care law is being examined by the Supreme Court to determine if the government has the right to require everyone to be pay for coverage. As several people have now pointed out to me after I start ranting, part of the problem is whether the federal government can require people to buy insurance, there is less problem with states doing it individually as Massachusetts demonstrates and Mitt Romney would love to forget. Surely though, however mandatory car insurance works could be implemented for health care with assistance for those that can’t afford it. I don’t even pretend to understand why this whole debate is so complicated and frankly I don’t have to patience to. What I can’t get past is the fact that all this debate over Obamacare, individual mandates and contraception coverage is completely the wrong discussion. What people really should be debating is why America, alone of all the industrialized western nations, believes that health care should be something the market should primarily handle? Why would you trust corporations to run hospitals and health insurance and everything else without enormous oversight? Why do you trust the motive for profit more than government mandated rules for health and safety?
Sometimes the resistance seems to come down to spite that others might be using some of the money you put in to something for themselves and that you may not ever get out everything you put in, that’s why insurance works. All this talk makes sense when you are buying normal products but when you are talking about services of shared utility to everyone in society like roads, like car insurance, like keeping people generally healthy…it isn’t the same discussion. It makes sense for everyone to pitch in because then it’s cheaper for everyone and you make sure it’s done right and there is no temptation to cut corners to increase profit. Sure there will be some waste, but not nearly as much as you think, and no one would have to go bankrupt because they got sick anymore.
There are so many arguments to have here, and I’ve had some of them already, but I am constantly reminded of Churchill’s over-repeated quote about our good friends to the south:
You can always rely on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else first.