The Politics of Dick Cheney’s Heart
By: David Bozeman
Liberal pundits strike an interesting pose when defending Obamacare. Bleeding-heart idealists temporarily morph into cold, hard realists on the subject of the individual mandate. “I should not have to pay, either through higher premiums or taxes, for somebody else’s foolish decision not to have insurance,” a friend ranted to me recently. “When that person gets sick or hurt, that’s money out of MY pocket!” The talking heads tout Obamacare not for the humanitarian goal of providing health care to every citizen but as a cost saving measure. We’re spending too much in this country on health care, they claim — too many tests, too many specialists.
Not so fast.
First of all, since when are liberals so cautious about transferring wealth? In the last fifty years, the American left’s very existence has been defined by a war on poverty, an entitlement culture, subsidies, bailouts, stimulus programs, etc. Is it believable that some of the same defenders of the National Endowment for the Arts, NPR, PBS and Sandra Fluke’s monthly contraception would begrudge a factory worker in Kenosha, Wisconsin an operation simply for a lapse in his health insurance payments? Furthermore, let us rejoice while we can that there are health services in this country on which we CAN overspend. When health care is fully socialized, like in Canada and the UK (and Obamacare is but a first step), take two aspirins and GET IN LINE.
A truly free-market approach to health care would punish bad behavior in the form of higher costs and premiums, but to truly understand Obamacare’s staunchest defenders, set aside their pragmatic analyses of cost and savings. Note the public reaction to the news that former Vice President Dick Cheney, Darth Vader himself, received a heart transplant. Talk to your liberal friends, scour the Internet. They are enraged not only that our health care system but cosmic justice would give so evil a human being a second chance at life. Granted, such bile does not represent all of liberal America, and some of it can be summed up as mere hyperbole, but one does not have to strain hard to deduce that Dick Cheney would not likely fare well before a death pan-, er — end-of-life counseling session. Regardless of whether death panels exist, it bears asking, where is the Constitutional authority for federal oversight over my individual health care?
Liberals pretend to stand for the powerless against the powerful. In truth, they seek to sacrifice individual autonomy at the altar of their version of a just and equitable society. Liberals derive their power from uniformity. Freedom is not so predictable.
We have all heard Canada, the UK and Western Europe extolled as models of stable and just democracies, in part, because of their nationalized health care systems. Admiring the shadow-of-their-former-selves socialist states of Europe is trite and predictable. The topless beaches, the architecture, the museums and all the other relics of the West’s long-gone glory days make societal decline seem almost like Saturday night at the movies. But most attractive is the uniformity of cradle-to-grave socialism where misery and mediocrity are — supposedly — spread equally among all classes.
But one need only refer to Cuba and the old Soviet Union to find that the most powerful can always receive preferential treatment. I could add that Vice President Cheney, who waited over a year for a heart, reportedly did not benefit from his position, but the haters will not believe it. The bottom line: there is no perfect system for health care. Some of the destitute will always fall through the cracks. The best system is one that makes health care delivery profitable, thus empowering consumers with availability and choice. Power away from the president and the Health & Human Services secretary allows families, private charities and local communities to make decisions on how best to care for the sick and uninsured. And even the most heartless, Cheney-esque conservative would allow some form of a national safety net for our neediest, but as a last resort, not as a primary source.
What is heartless is scaring Americans with the notion that market-based equals a zero-sum system, where one man’s heart transplant necessarily deprives someone more deserving, and then supplanting our quasi-capitalist system with one of less choice, less availability and the state-managed decline of a free society. It’s up to the Supreme Court now, so do the right thing Justice Kennedy. Have a heart.