Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Richard Schwartzman: Be careful what you wish for

  Mitt Romney’s recent comment about how he would repeal Obamacare if elected president was almost laughable. After all, Romney was the man who brought the same type of mandatory health coverage to Massachusetts when he was that state’s governor.

  Government healthcare has been a political issue for generations, and interest accelerated during the Clinton years, when it was called “Hillarycare.” But Mitt delivered Romneycare.

  No matter whose name is on the alleged care, it’s government controlled, and that’s a problem for at least two reasons: the practical and the constitutional.

  Let’s look at the practical first. Universal healthcare will be anything but what its advocates say it will be. The idea is reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where, after the animals held their successful revolution for equality and overthrew the farmer, some animals became more equal than others and said they were deserving of special privileges and luxuries.

  It was former U.S. Representative Joe Sestak who led me to make the analogy. Let me first say that I truly respect the man and his thirty-one-year naval career. I’ve had the opportunity on a number of occasions to interview him and even have personal conversations. I like him, but I disagree with him.

  During his first campaign for Congress in 2006, he explained that he became strongly aware of a need for government healthcare while his young daughter was being treated for cancer. She received excellent care and, he said, he couldn’t imagine how other families managed without the ability to pay for such wonderful treatment.

  Well, let’s face it. Mr. Sestak was then Rear Admiral Sestak. You bet his daughter got good care. It’s called RHIP: rank hath its privileges.

  For confirmation, I’ll offer my own personal experience with government-provided healthcare. As an eight-year-old, I went to visit relatives in New Orleans. I had a bicycle accident and cut my leg from knee to ankle. My uncle was a commander in the navy and he got me to the emergency room at the naval base, where I received prompt and excellent treatment. All that I was left with was a scar and an entertaining story to tell.

  Jump ahead twelve years. At that point I was a twenty-year-old Air Force enlisted man who got sick one day while stationed at Westover Air Force Base. I had to go to sick call three times before the doctor ever put a stethoscope to my chest. When he did, he immediately admitted me to the hospital with pneumonia.

  Would an officer’s relative have had to wait three days for a doctor to perform such a basic check? Would a senator’s relative? In private practice, listening to a patient’s heart and lungs would be routine.

  Universal healthcare is supposed to make care accessible for all, regardless of income or social status. But just like the animals in Animal Farm, whenever there is political influence, some people will become more equal than others — and there is political influence in anything and everything the government does.

  Beyond that fact, there is the question of whether government healthcare is even constitutional. Most politicians really don’t care about that. The contemporary proof of that carelessness comes from an exchange between U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-SC, and Judge Andrew Napolitano during the 2009 discussions over Obamacare.

  According to Napolitano, the judge asked Clyburn where in the Constitution Congress is granted the authority to get involved in healthcare. The congressman responded saying that most of what they do in D.C. has nothing to do with the Constitution.

  So what’s next?

  The country is waiting for the Supreme Court to drop its shoe regarding federally mandated healthcare in the form of the Affordable Care Act. The single most controversial aspect of the bill is the individual mandate, the requirement that everyone buy some form of health insurance.

  How anyone can read Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution and say that the federal government has the power to force such a thing is beyond reason. It goes back to Clyburn’s comments about Congress doing things that have nothing to do with the Constitution, even though the oath of office is to preserve, protect, and defend that document.

  The court will hear arguments for and against the mandate and make a ruling later this year. One can only wonder at this point what the high court will decide. It’s a scary thought.

  Getting the government involved in the health of society and its citizens creates a dangerous situation. The promise of equal access to medical care beyond what the free market can deliver is a lie and a smokescreen. There was a time — 1927 in Buck v. Bell — when the court even ruled that forced sterilization of undesirable people was constitutional. How’s that for government health care?

  About the author: Richard Schwartzman is managing editor at Chadds Ford Live in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

  This article was published by The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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