Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard its final day of arguments over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. While browsing articles online, one particularly caught my eye. In an article from The Baltimore Sun, it is pointed out that,
“The only way private insurers can afford to cover everyone with pre-existing health problems, as the new law requires, is to have every American buy health insurance -- including young and healthier people who are unlikely to rack up large health care costs.” (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-health-care-jujitsu-20120327,0,4535899.story)
So, for ObamaCare to have its intended effect, healthy people who do not who don’t incur large medical expenses must buy into the system to offset the costs of those that do.
This is my primary problem with the Affordable Care Act. Our country was founded on the revolutionary idea that you own and are thus responsible for your own life. John Locke, one of the intellectual inspirations of the Founding Fathers said, “Every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his.” His influence is obvious on Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence “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.” Their belief was that only you and possibly your creator have claim to dominion over your life.
This was so important of an idea to the founding of our nation because the dominant form of government at the time was still the absolute monarchy and total feudalism was not yet a distant memory. Under the previous forms of government, the monarch was the sole possessor of a divine mandate to take care of the population. All the people were bound to their ruler and to the aristocrats, their local proxies. All those not in the upper classes of society were in essence the property of the king and of the owner of the land they lived on.
The thinkers behind the American and subsequent French revolutions asserted that this was wrong; that every single human being has innate, God-given rights, including the right over their own life. This is the basic idea of freedom; you are not bound to anyone else, so you are free to do whatever you wish. The flip side of freedom, though, is responsibility. As George Washington said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Or maybe it was Uncle Ben, the point is because you are free to do whatever you wish, and are not commanded by a higher human power, you are thus responsible for the consequences of your actions as well.
How we live our life is ultimately our ultimate expression of freedom. Since we are free to choose any lifestyle we want, we can’t act surprised when we are faced with the repercussions. In my view, ObamaCare punishes those of us who value and treasure our health and rewards those who are indifferent towards it. I don’t currently have health insurance. Through various jobs I did have it for three of the last four years and during that span I have visited the doctor zero times, been admitted to the hospital zero times and been prescribed prescription medication zero times. Although I would like to have some basic policy against accident or emergency, at this point right now in my life, I would rather invest that money health insurance would cost into preventive measures to maintain my good health, rather than bet on its eventual failure, despite it a futile quest ultimately.
While my relative youth, good genes and better luck all play parts in my sick-less streak, the time, energy and currency I invest in my health are even more important. I have a few health risks, I smoke the occasional cigarette and have been at least a little overweight for most of my life, so I take careful attention to how I take care of my body.
My diet is far from perfect, and I do indulge once in a while, but I make sure to eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, preferably raw, organic and all blended up together in a delicious smoothie. I stay away from high fructose corn syrup and all other food products made from genetically modified plants, which have been linked in animal studies to cancer (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/suppressed-report-shows-cancer-link-to-gm-potatoes-436673.html) and sterility (http://www.responsibletechnology.org/blog/18). And, I don’t eat fast food, period. Well, ok, Chick-Fil-A once every two weeks or so, but that’s it, I swear.
I also work out in some form every day, whether it’s in the gym, at a kung fu lesson, playing basketball, or doing tai chi or chi gong, both ancient Chinese exercises designed for the purpose of fostering good health and extending life. You can say what you want about my conspiracy theories and crazy Asian secrets, but the results: I’m never sick, I feel great, and my body might even actually look almost good in the near future, speak for themselves. However, under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, my diligence would help pay for people who spend no time or money or energy for the benefit of their health and eat whatever a cartoon clown tells them to.
I’m sorry for all of those who have experienced severe problems with their health, but to me, heart disease, diabetes and most forms of cancer are no great mystery and don’t pose a significant risk to me in the future if I continue to be conscientious about my health. There are reasons why the US has one of the highest rates of cancer in the world (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/24/worldwide-cancer-rates-uk-rate-drops). There are reasons cancers occurs much more frequently in developed countries versus less advanced ones (http://www.wcrf.org/cancer_statistics/developed_countries_cancer_statistics.php) . There are reasons heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country, killing over half a million Americans annually. The risk of all these so called epidemics can be reduced to practically zero by making smart decisions about what you put in to and what you do with your body.
If you leave your well being to the government and health care industry to take care of, your health will fail and you will die prematurely, even if it does end up being a little cheaper for you to die in the end. Rising health care expenses are a growing problem for our country, but this national requirement for insurance will do nothing to solve it. The only thing that will solve it is for the people to recognize their own responsibility for taking care of their body. This can only be done through education and investment in being a good owner of your own body.
Yesterday, I called into the “Lavar and Dukes Show” on 106.7 The Fan to comment on a news item they were discussing (You can listen to it here: http://washington.cbslocal.com/?podcast_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.podtrac.com%2Fpts%2Fredirect.mp3%2Fnyc.podcast.play.it%2Fmedia%2Fd0%2Fd0%2Fd1%2Fd0%2Fd6%2Fd9%2FdS%2F1069S_4.MP3%3Fauthtok%3D5561732316338764898_XQ4in4R3fMPSC5A5c7AjgyKF8Vw&podcast_name=Segment+9+Spilled+Coffee&podcast_artist=106.7+The+Fan&station_id=114&tag=pages&dcid=CBS.WASHINGTON I start around five minutes in). The story in question (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-23/business/chi-mcdonalds-faces-hot-coffee-litigation-again-20120323_1_hot-coffee-mcdonald-s-usa-lawsuit) centers on a four year old girl who suffered second degree burns at an Illinois McDonalds as a result of coffee spilling out of an unsecured lid. The family is suing the company, something Mr. Dukes was very upset about, perceiving it as a symptom of our overly litigious society. The phrase “suing over hot coffee” is in itself emblematic of people who wish to hold other people accountable for their personal problems and difficulties.
My only point was that McDonalds was liable and could be sued just as any other business or individual is responsible, potentially financially so, for accidents that occur on their property. I agree with Chad that that people’s unwillingness to take personal responsibility over their own lives and destinies is a major problem confronting our culture, but the responsibility must go both ways. No side of the lawsuit is innocent, but the fact is, right or wrong, under the current legal system, this case is a legitimate grievance to sue over. Anyone who has worked in the food service industry knows the careful attention that always has to be paid to any potential hazards on the premises. The fact is that McDonalds created a dangerous environment for that child when they gave her the cup of hot coffee.
Businesses, just as individuals in a free society, are responsible for their actions in a free market. If some groups are held responsible for damage caused to employees or customers and others are exempt, then it ceases to be a free market. The bottom line and the loosely connecting theme of this rant is that our free system of government relies on individuals taking personal responsibility over the ownership of their own bodies and actions. If the greater part of the people do not do this, and count on the government to fix all their problems, the free system breaks down. If it becomes the government’s exclusive duty to take care of the people, then they can make decisions about what is best for us, at which point we are no longer able to be truly free and accountable for our own lives. And if you trust the federal government or even doctors to tell you what’s safe, what’s healthy and how to care for your body or treat illness, without doing any research of your own, you have bigger problems than not being able to afford your premiums.