Occasional Editorials

Medicare:  Friend of America - Target of Destruction (Labor Day 2011)

There's not the slightest doubt.  Medicare is a great friend to workers, the unemployed, their families, the aged, the disabled, veterans, and just about every American -- except, of course, Conservative Republicans who think this pre-paid public healthcare benefit is "unconstitutional" -or- an example of "big government" -or- "makes us weaker" as a Nation -or- is "a luxury."  You've read all those things here in TMDR.

Today, most Republicans who are running for office to join the United States government -- as Senators, Congressmen, or even President -- believe (or want to believe) that Medicare (among other Federal programs) is a failure.  It is not.  It has kept its promises to America.  And, although not without problems, it is well and efficiently administered.  Like any health insurance, you pay premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and it pays for some, but not all, of the health care you need.

In addition, Medicare's benefits have been sustained for 45 years.  It never has defaulted.  It always has been there for workers, the unemployed, their families, the aged, the disabled, veterans, and others.  It has been far more reliable than the Republicans who would repeal it.

During my own government service, I had many friends who were Democrats and Republicans.  As I got to know my Republicans friends better, they would admit that they really didn't think government had much of a role in the lives of everyday people.  In general, they were happiest, in a neglectful sort of way, when government was largely ineffective.  It was largely irrelevant, so it largely didn't matter if it was largely ineffective.

Please understand me that these were good people who did charitable work of their own and did care about individual people.  They weren't mean.  However, they simply were not particularly interested in society or social programs, and they were not interested in a government that actively intervened (for good or for ill) in people's lives.

Republicans do not like Medicare, not only for ideological reasons or personal preferences which disagree with the large majority of Americans, but also because it is a resounding success.  Those who think America was not formed to CREATE A MORE PERFECT UNION or to PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE are very concerned when a government program is a success.  Rather than accept reality and the clear choice of the American people, they claim Medicare is a failure and do all in their power to weaken it -- to make it a failure.

Consider the many highly successful Federal programs.  Then, consider those successes in light of Republican neglect, mismanagement, and favoritism to the private sector.  Then, consider how great America could be if some in our own government weren't trying to undermine it.  Think of an even greater America.

So, the very people who want to run the Federal government do not believe in it and are happy to see it fail.  That's why Medicare and Social Security are targets of destruction.

-- September 5, 2011


Nothing More American Than Medicare (July 4, 2011)

I was going to make this an editorial asking Conservative Republicans to engage in a straightforward debate about Medicare (and Social Security), rather than the twisted tales they spin.  Asking them:

     >>  To make their case that Americans need neither income security nor affordable health insurance as now provided by Medicare and Social but via some truly comparable alternative.

     >>  To debate openly about their motives and intentions regarding the structure and function of the federal government.

     >>  To suggest that a free market could be fair to the poor and infirm and how it could be so.

     >>  To consider whether Americans would choose the current Medicare and Social Security over other truly comparable options.

But then -- as I pondered the polls that so strongly support Medicare and Social Security; as I reflected on the dirty tricks, lies, and misrepresentations the Republicans and Conservatives have repeated (and will continue to repeat); as I built my plea for an honest, factual, open debate (and saw a Medicare attack ad) -- I came to the realization that the radical Conservative agenda cannot be debated openly, because no American would agree with that agenda and no true American would openly advocate for it.

When it comes to Medicare, radical Conservatism simply will not be supported by the large majority of Americans.  Why?  Because people recognize that Medicare represents true and fair progress for themselves, for their parents before them, and for their children to follow.

Low income and poverty among the elderly and disabled were among the factors making Medicare necessary -- and this was when Social Security was, relatively speaking, slightly more generous than today and when company pensions were somewhat more commonly available -- rather than today's 401k plans which are predominantly the worker's own savings, representing little commitment or risk by the employer.

For 45 years, Medicare has kept its promise to American families (and Social Security for three-quarters of a century).

Medicare enhances dignity because the beneficiary pays much of his or her way;  he or she already has paid dedicated payroll taxes over many years and continues to pay with premiums,  co-payments, and deductibles.  Medicare beneficiaries are not freeloaders, and "entitlement" is not a four letter word.  Medicare has been earned and paid for.  Medicare reflects America's values as a nation.

Consider two effects of the agenda of the Conservative Republicans:

     >>  First, to dishonor both progress and past by blindly grasping "values" which are not and never were truly American, and

     >>  Second, to ignore (and unleash) the significant flaws of an under-regulated, free-wheeling marketplace.

Clearly, the power of commerce and business has grown over recent years, and today's Conservative angst is largely a manifestation of striving for even greater profits and playing upon the very real fears of people -- fears of poverty, unemployment, change, and also a myriad of straw men conjured up by the Conservatives to keep people motivated by fear and distracted from their real goals.

Instead, what if all Americans were motivated by core American values like fair play, cooperation, sharing?  All those things we learned in kindergarten.  All those things which make America admired and great in the world.

American values, and their expression, do change over time, and they DO NOT belong to any ideology.  Patriotism is a love of country, not a love of ideology.  These, too often, intentionally are confused by Conservative Republican leaders and unintentionally by people.

That our Country has serious problems to be solved must not distract us from our core values, such as: shared responsibility for the common good, mutual support, equality of opportunity, national and community service, stewardship of our national resources (including natural, man-made, and fiscal resources), tolerance and respect for each other, and more.

So, today on July Fourth, let's be patriots and believe in our country -- including both its glorious past and its amazing progress.  There is no reason to turn back the clock on Medicare.  Let's look forward to its ever-changing future which we will build together.

-- July 4, 2011