One of my resolutions for this year was to develop an informed position on universal health care. While I’m best described as an anarcho-libertarian nutball, I’ve always wondered about our health care system. I’ve also personally watched as people I know (without insurance) got sick, went into the hospital, got well, and had to declare bankruptcy to get out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. These are people who have regular jobs, pay their bills, and are pretty conscientious about their finances. But they didn’t have insurance, because they couldn’t afford it, and their employer didn’t provide it.

After seeing this happen more than once over the past few years, I’ve started poking around a bit and thinking about it. This is the most powerful and wealthy country in the history of the world…certainly we can figure out a way to make sure that people who get sick don’t lose their life saveings? That people won’t avoid going to the doctor because they feel they can’t afford it? Surely there are opportunities that we can explore, both in the standard government-sponsored universal healthcare realm, and in others.

I realize that some people may be thinking they COULD have bought insurance and chose not to, you know? I bet they have a nice cellphone plan. While to a certain extent I agree, I also see that as the kneejerk response of a flinty-hearted bastard with employer-subsidized health coverage. Coverage that a) is a tax benefit to the company, b) a hiring perk, and c) CAN’T BE DENIED to the new employee. So it’s not like we’re talking a level playing field here. If person works for a company that doesn’t health care as a perk, the decision to purchase insurance is quite a bit more expensive than for someone who does. Companies benefit…but not people. I like people more. *grin*

So with this already in my list of things to research this year, I’m pleasantly surprised by reading that the State of the Union address may include a new prosposal on healthcare. First glance, it looks good; a proposal to give taxpayers a new standard deduction for healthcare sounds like a good leveler. I may actually watch the SotU for the first time in several years. The proposal may go nowhere, but it’s certainly worth listening to.

If what I’ve seen so far this week is any indicator, Dubya would have done well to have had a Democratic Congress for his entire term of office. He might have focused a bit more on actual Republican small-government fiscally-conservative policies, and strayed a bit less into whacko territory. Corollary: as bad a President as I think Bush will be considered by history, our recent Congresses (in particular the 108th and 109th) may very well be even worse. No oversight, no thoughtful deliberation…no work. Maybe, just maybe, our democracy is creaking back into gear again. One can only hope.

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