Healthcare and Individual Priorities

Am I the only one who’s noticed a fundamental shift in the expectations of the American public over the past 20 or 30 years?  I remember a time when individuals paid their own way, were proud of their ability to do so and felt more than mildly uncomfortable when circumstances required that they ask for help – and I’m not that old.

Nobody questioned the validity of the premise that a free society must be, of necessity, based upon the willingness of the masses to choose to work, pay their own bills and give a little whenever possible to help the guy who’s struggling but just can’t make it right now.  Something has happened, though, as a welfare-class mentality has spread into the middle and even much of the upper classes.  Growing up, everyone I knew was pretty much raised with the notion that honest individuals work hard, live within their means, save for a rainy day and contribute in a meaningful way to the society around them.

I am astounded to converse with peers who believe that while living in $500,000 houses, driving late-model cars and putting money away into savings accounts every month, their expectation is that someone else should be paying their medical bills. Where have we gone wrong as a society?  Most of us would agree with the idea that those truly in need ought to be helped by those who are able.  Too many of us, though, have picked up this idea somewhere along the way that the necessities of life should be provided by “the government.”

This, first of all, manifests a basic lack of understanding as to what, or whom, “the government” is.  Government produces nothing and therefore has no resources at all outside of those which it seizes, by coercion or force, from the 57 percent of us who are fortunate enough to be required to pay federal income tax.  They aren’t providing us with anything; the hardworking men and women of America are, and let’s not forget it.  Anyone who has lived long enough to be able to read the writing on this page knows that the piper must always be paid in one form or another, and that despite what our president keeps repeating, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

Many of these people I talk with are part of the classes who historically would have helped the poor.  They have the resources to take care of their families quite adequately, and never miss the yearly family vacation or the latest technological gadget.  This is where the shift has occurred.  Rather than focusing on what they can do to ease the pain of the unfortunate in our society, they choose to paint themselves as victims for having to use their own money to pay for their own insurance and medical bills, all the while recognizing no immorality at all in their selfish demands for someone else to pay for their new welfare entitlement program; and let’s be clear, that’s exactly what it is.

Most of us would take seriously a healthcare debate that addresses the issue of the downtrodden and their lack of care (of course, we have addressed it and it’s called Medicaid,and it’s going bankrupt), or the unsustainable, ever-increasing costs of insurance for the small businesses and individuals in America.  But you have to be kidding me if you think government–your neighbors– should make your health insurance a greater priority than you choose to make it yourself.


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