After having some time to digest what the President said in his speech last night, I seem to be left with this gnawing issue - when he addressed the "history of progress":
This has always been the history of our progress.
In 1935, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism. But the men and women of Congress stood fast, and we are all the better for it.
Being better for it is a matter of dispute. The critics seem to be right about the socialism warnings. The government owns a car company. The government owns a financial institution in Citigroup. The government is giving money to buy cars. The government is bailing out banks and others. And now, the government wants to control over 1/6th of our economy, aka the health care industry. The government has turned our currency into nothing better than monopoly money. Did we learn nothing by the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the USSR? Did we not learn that Cuba could not have survived without financial aid from other Communist countries or now from a certain dictator in a certain South American oil rich country?
In 1965, when some argued that Medicare represented a government takeover of health care, members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, did not back down.
They joined together so that all of us could enter our golden years with some basic peace of mind.
What piece of mind do our seniors have now? The President's friends were in power in Congress when the banking industry blew up setting off a ripple effect through the entire economy. Any retirement that our seniors have has been reduced and in some cases lost. The health care bill, whether supporters want to admit it or not, will ration care and the seniors will be on the front lines. The government has a vested interest in the profit from the death of the elderly. If the end of life doctor-patient consultations stay in the House version of the bill, then the government savings in Medicare will come from less treatment of those "too old" or "too sick". Doctors should discuss a patient's future but it should not be dictated by the government. The wording in HR 3200 to me sounds as if the government is pushing people to do living wills and set up proxies for making decisions - thereby tacitly denying treatment that may prolong their lives. We know such "questionnaires" or "worksheets" already exist for our elderly soldiers utilizing the VA. Savings would also come from not having to continue Soc. Security payments to our seniors if their passing is hastened.
You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom.
Then why not take their advice? Stop with the bailouts. Stop with the public option in the health care reform bill. The more government gets involved, the worse we are. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac anyone? 1930s Keynesian economics anyone? The government's heavy hand in our lives and our pocketbooks. So are the gains in economic "security" worth the lost freedoms of a market economy?
But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, the vulnerable can be exploited.
The President is absolutely right about monopolies. What else can you call GM, Citigroup, or government run health care? Monopolies are price setters, not price takers. GM now has unlimited pockets (in the eyes of government) in the form of the US tax payer. Monopolies are also characterized as having vertical integration. The government gave subsidies to buy a car from (the government hoped) GM or another US auto maker. Those subsidies were provided through Citigroup. The President is supposed to have graduated with a degree in Constitutional law. What article or section of the US Constitution gives the government the power to do these things? I would say our Founding Fathers knew the leveling hand of government, not our current President - hence the change from the Articles of Confederation to our current Constitution. Also, what exactly is the "leveling hand" supposed to mean? The government is supposed to pick winners and losers? Redistribute wealth? That "leveling hand" could be interpreted as being what those in 1935 warned about.
And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.
The right has tried to have civil discussions but has been stifled in their attempt by being called "angry mobs" or "Nazis". When the right is not being called names, then the opposition to health care and other government policies are muted by the refusal of our elected officials to hold town hall meetings or limits speech at town hall meetings. It's hard to have a discussion when only one side seems to be talking while the other side puts their fingers in their ears and calls you names.
That was true then. It remains true today.
You're right Mr. President about the critics in 1935. They were right back then as they are today. It just took 70+ years for their prophecy to become true.