In politics, I look at myself as a conservative-leaning moderate, who used to be Republican. However, in the 1980s the Republican Party left me for right-wing 19th Century ideologues and Christian fanatics. I refused to march down that path.
~ After all that is said and done, what does "conservative-leaning moderate" mean? I found that I really don't know. Modern-day political labels have been twisted and distorted in the past 20 years or so, that they have become meaningless. So without using any labels––certainly none slapped on me by those who disagree with my point of view––I'll offer my take on a couple of today's issues.
~ First, I need to set some ground rules. I believe in the U. S. Constitution; I believe in the Bill of Rights, including separation of church and state and individual sovereignty. The Preamble of the Constitution clearly states that "to form a more perfect union" the government must "promote the general welfare" of its citizens. So with those ground rules, here's my take on two current-day issues, Social Security and Universal Health Care.
~ Enacted in 1935, Social Security has proven to be the most successful governmental program in the history of the republic. In the past 73 years (nearly three-quarters of a century) Social Security has worked wonders in keeping most of the nation's elderly and disabled out of abject poverty––at an acceptable cost to most citizens.
~ The talk of radically changing Social Security to a private-account system as a fix to temporary actuarial problems makes no sense at all. The conservative approach to Social Security's actuarial problems is to remove the cap on social security contributions so that 15 percent of all compensation is subject to Social Security taxation. If that doesn't work by itself, simply tinker with the age requirements of SSI recipients.
~ The point is to conserve the benefits of Social Security and moderately alter some of the rules. That's simple and effective. Yes, Social Security does an excellent job of "promoting the general welfare" of U. S. citizens.
~ At the founding of this nation, western medicine was in its infancy, at best. Healthcare was left to eating right, use of alcohol for medicinal purposes, herbal potions, patent medicines and luck. Heavens, even aspirin was 100-plus years away from being developed.
~ Nowadays, however, modern medicine has advanced by leaps and bounds, from the discovery of aspirin early in the last century to penicillin and other antibiotics in mid-century to organ transplants to artery reconstruction and on and on in the past 20 or 30 years. Few, if any, of these advances would have come without massive financial subsidies from the federal government––for both procedures and drugs.
~ America's unique way of delivering healthcare through private, for-profit insurance companies is broken beyond repair. Nearly 50 million citizens have no coverage and the rest are astonished by the high costs (i.e., co-pays for medications, doctor visits, hospital admissions and emergency room use).
~ The only reason we have a private-insurance-based system is that corporations have a stranglehold on Congress and the current occupant of the White House. Anyone who speaks glowingly of a free market really is crowing about a corrupt market. Adam Smith and Milton Friedman were wrong. The so-called free market is a myth. Without the oversight of regulation, total corruption of the free market is inevitable.
~ When looking at models of healthcare delivery across the globe, we find some that really do work ––Canada's, France's, Great Britain––even some of our own, such as Medicare or the best of all - the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, which is bigger and better than any of the others. The VA provides services to more people who are older and sicker than the general population, providing better healthcare than any other public or private system for 40 percent less per patient than the any insurance-based plan, with greater customer satisfaction.
~ "Socialized medicine!" right-wing ideologues will scream. So what, let them scream. If an affordable, high-quality universal healthcare system can be created, I say we can call it anything they want, just as long as we implement it. Single-payer universal healthcare will help us "form a more perfect union."