Hi guys and gals. I happened to catch this clip somewhere on cable earlier this month (probably on Fox News), and I did a double-take, “What did she say??” It turns out Speaker Pelosi said this on May 12, but I don’t know that a lot of people heard about it. (Well, not a lot of people read this blog. So the fact that I’m putting it here is not going to help.)
I have to admit what Pelosi said sounds pretty seductive. I have been taking a “leave” from work for a while now, partly because I’ve had a ton of family-related issues to deal with over the last couple years that really have required my undivided attention and energy from time to time, but I have also been pursuing a dream of further developing a talent I have. This time in my life has sometimes been hard, and sometimes been very rewarding. I’m glad that I’ve had this opportunity. I feel very fortunate. I almost wish that more people could have the opportunity I’ve had. The thing is I’ve been financing a significant part of it myself. I am on no welfare programs, and I don’t plan on getting on the dole. My intention is to go back to work at some point.
I have my own dreams for how I’d like American society to change that I’m sure are partly in line with Pelosi’s vision for America, but what I don’t want is for America to turn into another version of Europe in terms of the people’s relationship to government.
I think Simon Rosenberg’s point (in the video clip) about entrepreneurism is valid, because Pelosi has brought up this issue when she’s talked about this in the past, though again, she emphasized the artistic/cultural pursuits that she hopes people embark on (source: a March 12 interview with Rachel Maddow (h/t to Mary Katherine Ham writing for the Washington Examiner)):
Nancy Pelosi: Everybody has so much to gain from this, small businesses, as I said, seniors, young people, women, our economy. Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job [locked] because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar. You name it. Any condition is job locking.
[This may have been a hastily done transcript, so I made a couple corrections to the quote — PIBoulder]
(Update 10-29-2011: The following paragraph was written to complement a video clip from a Fox News show I used when I wrote this post, which is no longer available.)
Moreso, I agree with Stephen Hayes’s analysis that it’s not about how “we’re all in this together.” I take offense at this attempt by progressives to market socialism to us. I mean, we have to admit to ourselves that that’s really what this phrase represents. We can be a united country on the large issues we can agree on, but don’t pretend that everyone has the same personal goals as everyone else. It’s about whether everyone is pulling their own weight–at least as that phrase applies to those who can pull their own weight, which is the vast majority of us. I totally agree. America was founded on the idea of individual liberty, individual responsibility, and a healthy respect for the natural and civil rights of others. We are a charitable, giving people. That has been demonstrated over and over again. All we need is to be made aware of a critical need, and we will give of our bounty to help out. The difference is it’s of our own free will! It’s not forced on us. That is the key.
The evil thing to me about how our government has handled health care over the years is that it doesn’t do a thing to solve the real problem, and that’s the rising cost of health care. It seems like no one in power is interested in looking at why health care costs are rising so much faster than the rate of inflation. The free market would keep such costs in line, but it’s clear that it’s not being allowed to do that. The rise in medical costs is indicative of a market where something is awry. There’s a good book on this by Regina Herzlinger called “Who Killed Health Care?” that lays out how it has been over-regulated and restricted. Here’s a hint: The states are a significant part of the problem, though that’s not the only factor affecting cost. As John Stossel has pointed out, the fact that we use health insurance to handle our medical costs so much is a significant contributor to the problem as well. There’s no transparency on health care costs, so doctors and patients have no idea how much medical procedures cost. That information is critical to the functioning of a free market. Another factor is health insurers are often required to cover routine procedures, something for which the concept of insurance is not designed.
Think about this as well: Insurance causes a third party to become the responsible party in medical decisions. This is the reason why people get treated one way when they have insurance, and a different way when they don’t. It has even affected employment.
I heard last year on “60 Minutes” about some employers firing employees who smoked. They were not supposed to smoke on the job, and they were not supposed to smoke on their free time, either! The employer literally encouraged fellow employees to snitch on workers who smoked before or after work hours. This is insane! Why were they doing this? Their group plan, which their employer paid for, would become more expensive if any of their employees smoked, and the business couldn’t afford that. So they felt forced to treat their employees like children.
Each factor: state control of health care, no transparency in costs, and insurance, contribute to the problems that each other factor creates. Medical insurance is practically a necessity in order to gain full access to all of the services that our health care system offers, because the cost of it would bankrupt most people (and it literally bankrupts some people). What we need is a free market solution that takes away what the federal and state governments are contributing to this problem, and allows people to break out of the inflationary cycle that has gotten us to this point.
So what is Pelosi’s agenda when she says to people (I’m paraphrasing), “We want people to feel free to pursue their passions, to be able to quit their jobs and become a photographer, writer, artist, etc.”? Is she really a dreamer who thinks this stuff? Or, is she thinking like a scheming politician? Is she trying to lull people into further weakening the private sector, causing more unemployment, and more businesses to fail for lack of talent? I can see that she is trying to get people to generate new ideas, and rejuvenate culture, which is positive, but not everybody who quits their job is going to know how to do that. In fact I think most people won’t. The end result, though, is more government dependence. According to the new rules, if an employee changes their health insurance plan, they are restricted in what choices they have. If they quit their jobs, and want to return to work later, even if their old or new employer offers the same group insurance, they can’t go back to their old plan. The existing plans are being phased out by attrition, forced by regulation.
Obama said before his plan was passed that you can keep your insurance under the new rules. Well, no you can’t. It was recently revealed that many employers plan on canceling their employee group plans, and just having employees get their own private insurance through the planned government-sanctioned exchanges, or get on Medicaid (which is a whole other issue), because it makes financial sense for them to do that. It looks like it’s also going to impact your ability to choose your doctor, and stay with the one you chose, another thing Obama promised.
From her own mouth Pelosi reveals the ultimate conclusion of ObamaCare: People are going to be lulled into not working, because they are going to feel protected by the social safety net. Just about everybody is ultimately going to be dependent on the government system in one way or another.
Progressives claim that they are trying to make “progress” in our society, but it seems to me in this analysis that they are in fact retrogressive, because what they are really doing is taking us in the direction of a European scheme of socialism that doesn’t work. You really have to understand the history of Western civilization from the 17th to the 19th century to get this.
America represented a split from Europe in more ways than one, but what I mean to emphasize here is that America took to the ideas of the Enlightenment much more than Europe did. The Enlightenment was of course created in Europe in the 17th century, but within 100 years they had started to move away from it. We created our government based on Enlightenment ideas. Europe fell into an unreasoning religious worship of Nature (replacing their worship of God), which created the fertile ground for socialism. All they did was replace the divine right of monarchs with the divinity of humanity, and transition from their traditional form of despotism and serfdom to a more modern version of it that was perhaps less oppressive than what came before (at least until fascism and communism came along), but was nothing like our system, which supported liberty. It may have seemed like progress to Europeans, but it is not progress for America. If anything it represents American decline.
The reason I say this is the Founders did a very good job of designing a government that supported the human spirit. It did not coddle. The point is it did not snuff out the positive attributes of people. It did not create perfection, because they recognized that no government could possibly create that. They instead tried to recognize what drives people, and to use that to create good outcomes. They were not entirely successful in this endeavor, and they recognized that their work was incomplete. That is no reason to throw out what they gave us. We should instead build upon it using the same principles by which they constructed our Constitution, and use that for the framework of all deliberations regarding the structure of our government. This requires learning from past mistakes, not just our own, but those of other civilizations. European style government is not the pinnacle of civilization, just a competing version of it. We can see by the financial troubles they are having now why we should question its validity for us.