By Ivan J. Miller
Daily Camera (Boulder, Co.), July 11, 2017
On July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers bravely declared independence, and established bold new governing principles:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.
Our founders feared and disliked government. They were oppressed by the British monarchy. Many were refugees, people who fled religious persecution at the hands of government. Government colluded with corporate monopolies to take advantage of the colonists. When Parliament gave the East India Company a tax advantage resulting in monopoly control of tea sales in America, the colonists had finally had enough, and protested by throwing East India Company tea into the water at the infamous Boston Tea Party.
In “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine summed up the colonists’ view of government: “Government is at best a necessary evil.”
Although the colonists feared and distrusted government, when they came together in 1787 to write the Constitution, they agreed that:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
To have liberty and freedom, a person must have physical safety and the means to stay alive. In many areas, the government provides this safety best. To effect “safety and happiness” and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” a government should provide police protection, fire fighters, a national defense, and safe drinking water. In 2017, financing health care is every bit as important as these other essential government protections.
Arguments that hold health care to be a personal responsibility only, or just another commodity, do not fit with reality. No one can take personal responsibility for their own health care when they first need it. With few exceptions, we enter this world through the medical system. Most, but not all, of us were fortunate enough to have mothers who received prenatal care. Some of us are born with complications or genetic birth conditions, and we all come with some genes that may cause medical problems later in life. None of us came with the ability to choose parents who would have good genes or medical coverage.
The high cost of health care in the United States puts the protection of life and safety out of reach for many. Hardworking Americans often cannot afford health care that is a matter of life or death. The financial strain of obtaining health care deprives many of the ability to enjoy liberty or freedom.
The health care system we have today, controlled by the health insurance industry, does not do enough to provide safety or protect life. It is universally criticized for being too expensive, too complicated, and leaving too many people out.
There is another way. The government can build on a system that is simpler, less expensive, and can cover everyone, using a foundation that is already in place: Medicare. Although it could use some improvement, Medicare works well; most people celebrate when they reach age 65 and know they’re covered.
All other advanced, industrialized countries protect citizens’ lives by financing health care just as they do police and fire protection. The cost is usually less than half of what the U.S. spends.
It is time to stand up against the profiteering corporations that dominate health care. They spend billions donating to the politicians that collude with them.
Let’s throw them overboard!
Let’s come together, as our Founders did, and demand the best possible, expanded and improved, Medicare for All.
Ivan J. Miller is executive director of the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care. He lives in Boulder.