Nothing Ado About Much

Column by Paul Hein.

Exclusive to STR

In November we will have an election which the pundits assure us will be a monumental one. It will determine the future of America: the land of the free and the home of the brave, or the brave New World Order of free everything for everybody. The stakes, we are warned, are very high.

The candidates have been assailing us with their ads since August, if not earlier. You would not know the election was earth-shaking and monumental from the ads. Candidate X warns us that Candidate Y is dishonest and untrustworthy. Candidate Y, in the ad immediately following, warns us that Candidate X is a scheming politician who doesn’t care about the people. 

All well and good, you might say, but what about the issues. The economy, after all, is balanced precariously between catastrophic hyperinflation and a disastrous depression. In the big, and not so big, cities, people are shooting each other on a regular basis. Our troops are all over the world, and killing people in a number of Mideast countries, presumably in an effort to combat terrorism. Children will not be admitted to school unless they’ve had dozens of vaccinations, and when they finally get there, they may be shot by a classmate. The Chinese are stealing our jobs, and the Russians our elections. 

Locally, at least, our candidates do not seem particularly interested in these problems. What is the dominant bone of contention? Why, it’s health care, of course! Except when politicians speak about health care, they really mean health financing. Their particular concern with health financing involves pre-existing conditions. Candidate A says Candidate B wants legislation allowing insurance companies to not insure patients with pre-existing conditions. Candidate B insists that he favors forcing (!) insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions. Candidate C says she wants health care--i.e., financing--for everybody.

I am waiting--in vain, I suspect--for a candidate to say that insurance companies should be able to determine their own policies re pre-existing conditions. Couldn’t it be possible to have two types of insurance—for pre-existing conditions, and for non-pre-existing conditions? Must one size fit all? And if paying for health problems which the customer had prior to his purchasing insurance is fair and proper, how about forcing insurance companies to provide fire insurance to customers whose homes have already burned down? Or automobile insurance to customers applying for it after an accident? Maybe your heirs could insure your life after you’re dead, on the basis of a pre-existing condition--namely, death. Some could argue that health is more important than a house fire, or automobile accident, but the issue, let us remember, is not health care, but paying for it. 

My ultimate fantasy is of some candidate questioning why the government is involved with health matters at all. Perhaps this atypical candidate has actually read the Constitution to which he hopes to soon swear his allegiance, and found nothing in it about health care, or its financing. His suggestion, derided by his opponents, of course, would be for insurance companies and potential customers to work out between themselves what kind of insurance should be offered. 

Since we’ve ventured into the world of fantasy, we’ll forge ahead. Let’s assume that our atypical candidate’s stand on health care triggers other candidates to come forward with challenges of their own. For instance: Do the Rulers see in the Constitution any justification for their edicts on automobile design and performance? If buyers of health insurance should be able to buy the kind of coverage they desire, shouldn’t the same be true for buyers of automobiles? The once-popular V8 engine is now all but extinct in passenger cars. Is that because buyers would prefer a hard-working supercharged 4 banger to the easy going, less-stressed 8? It would be nice to have a choice. And would there be any market for electric cars absent government involvement? I understand that in Scandinavia, when the government withdrew its perks for electric car buyers, the sale of electric cars dropped by 98%. 

What about housing, education, employment, agriculture? How about embargoes, and other forms of taxation? If the upcoming election is as pivotal and important as we’re told, shouldn’t the candidates deal with pivotal and important issues? The fact that they don’t seem inclined to do so makes you suspect that the election is just about replacing Humpty-dum with Humpty-dumber. As has been the case before, so it is now: Voting is a waste of time. The people who are elected might think they are about to bring about change, but if so, it’s only because the real powers behind the scenes want that to happen. 

Don’t count on it, if you expect changes for the (your!) better.

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 148