Ok. Once again, it feels like America is crumbling. This morning, United HealthCare “bailed” on ObamaCare exchanges. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of “I told you so”‘s out there. . Our electoral system seems to many people absolutely nuts. According to the President, in an interview on TV this morning, foreign leaders most ask “what is going on with your elections?”. It looks like the Republican Party is going to come to blows by the end of it all. The Democrats are veering far more left than anyone anticipated, and Hillary Clinton isn’t good enough for Bernie fans. Connecticut governor Malloy is proposing absolutely draconian budget cuts, leaving DCF workers, DMV workers, and any number of other state workers. REI is closing stores due to financial difficulties.
Flint, Michigan is still Flint, Michigan and I don’t the think the water’s safe to drink yet. In many places in the country, they are discovering more and more unsafe drinking water. In the town where my church is, a small change to the tax code means that 13,000 or so people will lose food stamps. Can someone tell me what people are getting from government? And what’s not on the chopping block?
So, other than the economy, the insurance system, and the political system designed to fix things being broken, it being unsafe to drink water, and people having less food to eat, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Before everybody goes off blaming Obamacare (and Obama) for the problems, let me explain what the real problem is, and why the insurance company’s dropping out is just a symptom.
The problem is simple. People need things. Government is not helping people get them get their basic needs met. People all over the American landscape don’t want them to. People may not be able to afford healthcare anymore, but people still get sick. People aren’t getting food stamps, but they still need food to survive. People don’t have clean water, but they still need water to live — not water that instead makes them sicker. People need their children protected from the darker turns of our nature. People need safe roads, and safe hospitals.
For years, we have cut taxes, and cut taxes, and cut taxes. In doing so, we cut governmental regulators, under the belief that people wanted “freedom”, and that if we just had fewer rules, and left people alone, things would be great. So how did Flint go unnoticed for a year? How did food poisoning happen in many places? How did the banking industry send us into free fall 8 years ago? We refused to pay for regulators.
When Obama took office 8 years ago, he seemed to have three goals: 1) Fix the economy, 2) Get Obamacare through, and 3) create jobs via fixing our infrastructure. He managed to do the first two, at least for a time, but number three never came to fruition. Why? I don’t know. I suspect that Obama spent whatever political capital he had on the first two and his steamroller to get things done stopped. Beside that, people don’t want us to spend money on government. “A tax increase?! No way!” is the American way right now. Remember years ago when you couldn’t like (or claim to be, publicly) “liberals”? Or you were unpatriotic if you didn’t “support our troops!”, when in reality people were against the war? Taxes is the thing that snuck in under the same guise. Like “liberals” or “war” before them, people believe you can’t even say taxes as a way to fix the situation.
The Tea Party people that came in two years into Obama’s first term, when he acknowledged getting a “shellacking” at the polls, came in –at least ostensibly — to keep taxes down, and to not increase the budget. We the People voted them in. I don’t agree with them in the slightest, but they — as far as I know — were legitimately elected. For the last forty years, “no new taxes!” and “decrease the budget!” were rallying cries. We have gotten what we wanted. It’s time to want something else.
Money is not now, and never has been, more valuable than people, but people seem to think so. For forty years, we have saved money and left people swinging in the wind. For forty years, we have saved money and left our planet and our infrastructure swinging in the wind. In my family, we have the same type of anxiety: let’s put off doing the roof because it looks like such a large project, or the painting cost too much, and we’ll never have that kind of money and we put things off until they can’t be put off anymore. Then we muscle up the strength and creativity and attack the problem.
These tasks — infrastructure, insurance change, education, a polluted earth, and people to watch over it all — are have long since been put off until they can’t be put off anymore”. It’s going to cost us, so yes, taxes are going to have to be raised on somebody. But, in doing so, the benefits to our society are going to make every dime worth spending. When people don’t get sick because of the water, when people have jobs things, when they can afford to get sick, when they can eat without worrying how to pay for it, the world will be so much better.
Why do I say this? Because people are more important than money. People created the idea of money, we just have to tweak our understanding of it now. When we start having money work for people as the goal, things will make a lot more sense. For instance, when we fire someone due to “restructuring”, “efficiency” and the profit motive, we need to ask ourselves “Is efficiency really the goal? Is it an end in itself?”. When we say that no, it is not, the economy will be a lot more stable, because the people in it are more stable.