Tuesday, August 25, 2009

About that Public Option. . .and how to deal with the Birthers. . .

One of the great controversies in the current health care "debate" (total and utter panic would probably be the right description of what's going on right now), is over the public option. As a progressive, I'm all for it, but most conservatives are completely against it. Not only is the public option opposed, but its mere mention leads to comparisons to Nazism and Hitler (though, again, the Nazis tried to eliminate Germany's public health care program).

But while the public option has been compared to Nazism or Socialism, I think the public option is far, far different. Its about recreating the American frontier. Okay, bear with me here. Prior to the collapse of the American financial sector, fear of losing health insurance was the biggest reason why people didn't quit their jobs and form new businesses. As someone who had to buy his own health insurance for some time, I can tell you that there's a good reason for that. Individual health insurance is pricey, and if you have a preexisting condition, its almost impossible to get. So a lot of people stayed in jobs they hated.

The public option, which would apply to people without employer-provided insurance, allows people to become insured by the Federal Government. Not only would said plan be cheaper, but would cover preexisting conditions, and there would be no fear of recission - where the insurance company rescinds its coverage because the insured didn't fully disclose his/her health history (including minor conditions that were completely treated). Thus, by offering the public option, self-insureds would have access to quality health care at a low cost.

As a result of having such a plan, people would be more willing to become self-insured, and thus, more willing to open their own businesses than ever before. And that's a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, small businesses, in aggregate, hire more people than big businesses do, so more small businesses = more job growth. Second, and more important for this discussion, small businesses act as a virtual frontier. It allows the worker to change his life and his circumstances and head out on his/her own.

Its the frontier aspect of the public option that I find most appealing. Granted, that may be the romantic in me, but America has always been about the frontier. For over three hundred years, the frontier has been the great safety valve, preventing us from getting trapped the way that the Europeans were. Now, of course, the West is no longer free of development, but the frontier is about a state of mind, not about a place. Its about forging your own identity, and building something with your own hands. The true American dream isn't owning a house, but owning a business. And one of the biggest obstacles is the cost of health insurance - which can be solved by the public option. Hence, my support.

Now, unfortunately, the health insurance bill won't help American industry all that much (no public option for Ford/GM), but the public option is a good start. Why no one else is talking about this is beyond me.

With regard to the birthers - I just saw a poll where only 45% of Arkansans believe that Obama is a citizen. As much as I mock the birthers, we've now gotten out of hand. If the media won't do its job, then someone has to. I propose that that Democratic Party put out ads with Obama's birth certificate and the birth announcements in the Hawaii papers in them. Run the ads in the South. Prosecute those who threaten to kill Obama. If someone shows up to a rally with a gun, arrest them. If this cancer continues to persist, someone is going to get hurt.

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