Thursday, August 13, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Health Care Reform

I have seen a lot of discussion recently about health care reform, and I wanted to go ahead and add my two cents. I am not necessarily against a health care reform, but I also recognize that all change is not always good change. Obviously, as a conscientious individual I am concerned about whether or not we can afford it as a country.

However, my main concern is that if the government becomes too involved it could hurt us morally. People need the opportunity to fail. I know that sounds harsh, and I did not use to feel this way until I worked in some of the poorest school districts in the country. I have visited their families at their crack trailers and lean-to's and seen the world that those children live in outside of school, and my heart broke for them. However, it was not until I listened to those children that I realized that our nation has enabled this kind of home environment to exist.

I worked with several large groups of children. I once asked my sixth grade group what they did on the weekends for fun. They said, "We go on dates." I said, "Oh. What do you do on your dates?" They said, "We go to this house with couches on the south side of town and have sex." Then they continued to explain to me that their parents had them when they were 12 years old, and that they planned to as well because you could get a check for the child, you got a bigger check if you beat them till they were stupid, and you didn't marry the daddy so he could be a truck driver and you could pool your welfare check, crazy checks, and truck driving money. Unfortunately I found out that what I was being told was the truth and that this attitude of "I don't have to work" is a lot more prevalent than I used to believe.

I realized that the reason this attitude has developed is because we have removed the consequences for irresponsible behavior. Now there are people who find themselves in situations where they need assistance. They accept it, and they work hard to get off of it. I am not talking about those people. What concerns me is that if we give people all of the necessities, what incentive do they have get off of that assistance and be a contributing member of society? With all of the government assistance programs out there, many of these children's families were able to have things that I could not afford for my own family even though we were working.

Ideally everyone would have equal access to food, water, health care, shelter, clothing, etc. Unfortunately this has been tried in many different countries and communities, and it has never lasted very long because people loose the will to work and become a slave to the entity, system, government, etc. This side of heaven a utopian society fails every time. We learn from history that man needs the consequences of inaction to teach him responsibility. Does this mean that I am unconcerned for anyone needing assistance? Does this mean that I think I will never need assistance. No, but I believe that should come from local communities. Giving people the opportunity to give and help their fellow man directly is also necessary for teaching us valuable lessons in morality, compassion, etc.

As far as health care, specifically, is concerned, I have done all three: paid out of pocket, paid for catastrophe insurance, and paid a reduced rate for group insurance through an employer. I know what it means to be well below the poverty line and have to make the tough choices, but it is because of those tough choices that I am the person that I am today. As I am sure you know, some children seem to have to learn lessons the hard way. Adults can be that way too. By shielding them from the consequences they need to learn those lessons, we are only hurting ourselves as a nation.

Do there need to be changes in health insurance? Quite possibly, but we need to be careful that we don't want change so badly that we are willing to accept seemingly good changes that may or may not turn out to be best for us as a nation.


  1. Hey, Amy. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this.

    I have experienced some similar concerns because of some work I've done with families in housing projects near us. One lady I've been working with for several years has worked extra hard trying to make a better life for herself. But it seems that every time she starts to get a little bit ahead, the gov't pulls some support out from under her. It almost makes it not worth the effort. So I can understand why some people would not even want to try. She is has more determination than the average person. I think that is what it takes to get out of situations like hers. The main thing that she has gotten from me is encouragement--along with practical help with resumes, etc. I really think that this is what it is going to take to change that culture of accepting that this is the way our life will always be--individuals taking the time to teach them how to succeed and that it is worth the effort. Sorry--this is something that really irritates me. I'm sure you've experienced this, too. Churches full of folks who just want to throw money at the problems because it's easier than getting involved in someone's messy life.

  2. I have definitely seen a lot of people who want to just throw money at the problem, and I agree that most of the time that will not work. For example, our government spends more per public school child that it costs to send a child to some of the private schools available. Obviously, throwing money at education doesn't work since there are high school students who can't functionally read.

    As far as helping people succeed, I think it will take generations to undo the problems we have created. It's not just a matter of getting someone a job. They also have to learn how to keep a job, how to manage their finances, how to pass these skills on to their children, etc. Not to mention other issues they might be dealing with: drug addiction, inability to read, etc. To overcome any of these obstacles definitely takes lots of determination, but not everyone has that determination or interest for that matter. The younger generation especially sees no reason to work when they can have everything they want by just sitting at home making babies. It comes down to values that have been passed down by parents.

    "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." - Benjamin Franklin

    Perhaps we are reaching a time in our nation's history where we have ceased to be a virtuous people, and therefore must enslave ourselves, in this case to the government, to meet our needs or provide support or health care. I hope we have not reached a point where we are willing to surrender our freedom in order to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions.