Corporate America Gone Wild!
Some opponents of health care reform assert that the Affordable Care Act will result in a lack of personal freedom due to the so-called individual mandate. But what about our freedom from Corporate America gone wild? Freedom from Wall Street conartists. Freedom from bloated barrons of banking. And freedom from the insidious and ignominious insurance industry. These so-called corporate titans thrive on greed at the expense of the poor and middle class. Meanwhile, millions of average Americans still struggle to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
Government regulations usually result in more public good than harm. This is because, among other reasons, history has shown us that greedy and ruthless Corporate CEOs and their cohorts always prove the need to be policed. Corporate America too often resembles a college frat house in which drunken members overindulge and cause mayhem until the authorities show up to restore order for the public good.
Health Security and National Security
Government has a responsibility that extends beyond national security to basic health security, as part of providing for the general welfare of America. In fact, one might argue that basic health security is indeed a form of national security in the broadest and most basic sense. Equal access to health care is more important today than ever, as the vast gap between rich and poor becomes more gaping to the detriment of America’s global prowess.
Therefore, we should not view the Government with disdain if providing affordable health care for all Americans means progressive taxation with representation. We elect the President and Congress to lead America in the right direction. It has been said that one of the true tests of leadership is leading people where they don’t want to go. This may be the case with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Today’s unfortunate economic reality — in the wake of the all-too-recent Bush years — still presents us with a distubring pattern: the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and more middle class families stagnated, struggled or fell into poverty. Change does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort to dig out of a deep ditch. But the Affordable Care Act puts America on the right path for the current generation and those to follow.
Evaporation of the Middle Class?
Let’s remember that without essential new laws, as well as necessary Government regulations, the middle class might eventually evaporate altogether due to the kind of mega-socioeconomic distress that has become so widespread today. No middle class would leave America with a real case of class warfare that goes well beyond rhetoric and political posturing.
As we have observed throughout world history, too much wealth gathered in the hands of the few — at the expense of the many– is a roadmap for civil strife and unrest.
Obviously, the evaporation of the middle class — the backbone of our nation — is neither in America’s self-interest, nor in the best interest of the free world. The Affordable Care Act will strengthen the middle class by providing access to much needed health care that it would otherwise not have. Remember, the costs of paying for the uninsured and under-insured already results in skyrocketing insurance premiums for the rest of us.
Consequences of an Uninsured Labor Force
Workers without health insurance hurt the economy when they and their families become sick without any access to affordable care. According to published reports, about two-thirds of Americans are either obese or overweight — including many children. So who pays for it? We all do in higher costs for health-related services and other general costs of doing business. These costs trickle down the economic food chain to blue-collar, low-wage workers who can least afford them. There are millions of otherwise productive American workers, and would-be employees, out there who can’t afford basic health care for chronic illnesses or other ailments because they are:
1) self employed,
3) part-time workers and temps that don’t receive health benefits,
4) qualified applicants who can’t find jobs with employer-provided insurance, and
5) employees or applicants with pre-existing conditions whom insurance companies blacklist.
A physically healthy labor force is more likely to contribute to a positive employment picture. But employees who work hard to make ends meet, yet lack basic health benefits, add to labor costs through increased absenteeism and sick days, among other factors. This is more bad news for private sector companies.
Unfortunately, we are a sick and demoralized nation compared to some of our main global economic competitors. America is still struggling to create jobs and recover from the worst economy since the Great Depression. Thus, how can our nation meet the increasing challenge of remaining competitive in the global marketplace without providing basic health care for workers and other taxpaying citizens?
If you still adamantly oppose health care reform in general, or the Affordable Care Act in particular, then what are you for instead? The status quo is simply not a viable solution. Our three branches of Government have said as much through the historic enactment and Constitutional approval of the landmark Affordable Care Act.
The bottom line here is that America can no longer afford not to have a universal and comprehensive health care system in place if we want to foster economic growth and prosperity for those other than the rich.
Also see Part I:
and Part II:
*** The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.
Excellent op-ed in Washington Post: