When it’s war, or even the threat of war, we Americans pull out all stops and forge ahead, sparing no effort or expense to ensure victory. If needed, we will impose a draft, increase taxes, build ships, aircraft, missiles and weapons of mass destruction the likes of which the world has never seen.

On land, air and sea, we will destroy any enemy who threatens the lives of our citizens. If one of our soldiers is trapped behind enemy lines, we will send whatever resources it takes to free the individual from harm. If our troops are killed, we will go to extraordinary lengths to retrieve their bodies, even risking others’ lives if necessary, and we will continue these efforts for decades after war ends.

We maintain the largest and most powerful military force on the planet in order to make it clear that attacking us will be a suicidal mission. Protecting our citizens is so powerful an ethos that we will even furnish legal services at public expense when a fellow countryman is charged with a crime. After all, this could be a matter of life and death.

Suppose, though, that our fallen soldier’s mother, sister, aunt or grandmother’s life is threatened by an illness like breast cancer and she can’t afford medical insurance. What do we do then? Raise armies? Raise taxes? Send forth doctors and surgeons dressed in fatigues?

Not at all. Not only do we stand by and watch them die slowly from a lack of treatment, but nearly half of our population characterizes attempts to remedy this moral failure as an assault on their freedom.

Indeed, in a way freedom is at play here — unlimited freedom for profits. The charge that Obamacare is a government takeover of health care actually means that the government is limiting the ability of the insurance industry to make runaway profits at the expense of medical treatment. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to incite and inspire rage about this alleged loss of personal freedom.

So let’s talk about freedom. Like the freedom to continue living when one is attacked by an illness that doesn’t require armies or multimillion dollar bombs to cure, only a health insurance policy that works more for the benefit of patients rather than for insurance companies. Before Obamacare, thousands of people hung onto jobs they despised simply because they were afraid of losing their insurance. That’s lack of freedom.

The argument that mandated insurance coverage results in an actual loss of freedom is such an assault on common sense and common decency that it defies any and all attempts to explain it in the context of what it means to be protected under the umbrella of U.S. citizenship.

The current political polarization motivated by the millions of dollars spent on behalf of the insurance lobby has become so vitriolic that much of the goodwill that gives us a sense of national identity has been lost. Blind rage stands in for civilized dialogue, as extremist types express an anxious willingness to sink the ship of state and drown everyone if they can’t have everything their own way. They view themselves as the only true patriots.

Stopping at nothing to prevent a loss of life in war and then looking the other way when private citizens are threatened — not by an army, but by a lack of monetary resources to cover the cost of treatment — is a kind of social madness that can only occur when benevolence is trampled by seething contempt. Such derision is made possible by so alienating one’s opposition as to think them unworthy of being considered one of us.

This has to be the case, unless being a U.S. citizen and having one’s life threatened is meaningless. Populist scorn has become so ubiquitous that an audience broke into cheering at a presidential political debate earlier this year at the mere mention of letting someone die who had elected not to purchase health insurance.

The current level of political insanity can be seen for what it is when you realize fully that conservatives drew up the blueprint for Obamacare and the idea only became toxic when the opposition adopted it. The push for unfettered profit at the expense of medical care has resulted in an orchestrated pandemic of political hostility paid for by the insurance lobby.

This is something to keep in mind when you vote in November: war and serious illness are matters of life and death and should not be considered profit centers or political talking points.

Our service men and women who have been killed in battle deserve something more for the relatives they left behind than derision and alienation because they need a doctor and don’t have enough personal wealth to cover the cost. If the people shouting about mandated insurance encroaching on their personal freedom would stop listening to the rabble-rousers and simply think, they would realize that the sacrifices our service men and women have made on the battlefield should cover the cost of those who can’t afford medical treatment.

If being a U.S. citizen means anything, it means the bill has been paid in full.

Charles D. Hayes, a Wasilla resident for more than 30 years, is a self-taught philosopher and an advocate of lifelong learning. He is author of nine books, including “September University: Summoning Passion for an Unfinished Life,” numerous essays and an array of shorter works.

(6) comments

truthBtold
truthBtold

While the author makes some good points about how a civilized society ideally provides health care for everyone, he clearly does not work in the medical professions.
Our government subsided care programs (Medicare and Medicaid) already ration care. While calling such rationing "death panels" is a bit extreme, having the government run wild with thousands of new regulations, continually declining reimbursements for healthcare providers, and yes, rationing of care (there are treatments you can not get if you have Medicare of Medicaid), is driving down the number and quality of applicants for medical school, while many physicians are looking at ways to retire early.
Obamacare is creating a whole new problem - lack of access due to lack of supply. It will not matter that all these uninsured will now be underinsured, they will have to wait months to see physicians and get treatments (just like Canada and Britain).
Most in the medical professions, many of them are Republicans (though not extreme right wing as you imply), agree that our system has problems. But having the government add more layers of bureaucracy to that system is only going to make it worse.
Did you realize that essentially all the congressmen that voted for Obamacare never even red the 2000 pages of that bill?
The implementation of the hundreds of new regulations is pushing some small medical practices right out of business.
The reason the majority of Americans oppose Obamacare is because of the way it was passed (see above). And it is driving up the costs of care for everyone - those with insurance are now having to pay higher premiums to cover all the individuals who smoke, are obese, or are directly responsible for their extensive and expensive health problems; and those who pay taxes or employ others are seeing even more money taken out of their pockets. Obamacare is just not the right answer

Reallyniceguy
Reallyniceguy

Old Codger (aka Charles Hayes?) which facts do you think need checking?
8.1% unemployment ?
23 million unemployed?
Middle East becoming a powder keg?
Government growing bigger & bigger?
Taxes going up?
Fewer people employed now than when your idol Obama took office in 09?
14.4% Black unemployment
11.0% Hispanic unemployment
Obamacare increasing the cost of healthcare and it hasn't even gone into effect yet?
All of the above has happened since Obama took office. He has failed at everything that he has tried (exept, of course killing Osama bin Laden which he constantly reminds of)
He is a total failure as President and the sooner you liberals admit it the better of our country will be.

Old Codger
Old Codger

What a breath of fresh air. Thank you Charles Hayes for so succinctly pointing out out the obvious shameful set of priorities the minority right wing would foist upon the citizens of this great country if left to make the decisions without challenge. It is unfortunate that right wing radio is all that is offered here pumping out their propaganda daily and their listeners lapping it up without taking the time to do a little fact checking before passing it along as fact. Keep up the good work of providing us with some thought provoking articles.

Reallyniceguy
Reallyniceguy

According to the latest polls over 60% of Americans are opposed to Obamacare, but are in favor of some type of healthcare reform, which is what the Republicans are offering. I can assure you that we will be keeping that in mind when we vote in November. Charles, you are apparently of the school that any change is better than no change at all. Unfortunately you are wrong, Obamacare will destroy our healthcare system. Americans want a healthcare system that will work in the best interests of the patient and doctor. Obamacare works in the best interests of the federal government. It expands government by thousands of employees, increases our taxes without improving our healthcare system. To use your comparison at least our military is the best in the world.....so is our current healthcare system....Obamacare will not improve either. We will also keep that in mind when we vote in November.

I want Obamacare repealed for several reasons. 1st and foremost, Obama lied to the American people that it would not increase taxes on the poor and middle class. 2nd. You don't start healthcare reform by hiring and ton of IRS agents. 3rd. There will be sort of a "Death Panel" when deciding whether a procedure will provide benefit. Obamacare was started as a way to provide insurance for the 30-40 million people un or underinsured. We could have put the hammer on Medicare/Medicaid fraud and the savings would have provided the coverage for those people. Now, poor people working for a company with 49 or less people will have to deal with the IRS when they can;t afford health insurance

Reallyniceguy
Reallyniceguy

Hopefully Obamacare will be repealed and replaced with a healthcare program that actually does provide good healthcare to anyone who needs healthcare. Obamacare does not meet that criteria. Those who want to repeal it also want to keep parts of it such as acceptance of pre-conditions, no financial cap, and no cancellation. Obamacare is not an end in itself, rather it is just the beginning of a long overdue re-structuring of our healthcare system, which by the way it considered by most to be the best in the world. That is why so many people from Canada, and Europe where healthcare is nationalized, travel to the U.S. for medical treatment. Obamacare needs to be replaced with a healthcare system that is less expensive, efficient, and delivers the care that we all want, need, and expect. Said another way, our healthcare system needs to be administered without a federal bureaucrat getting between the patient and the doctor. That may be political insanity, and polarization to you but to most people it is common sense.

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