It seems that every administration brings its own moral issue to the forefront of the nation’s mentality. Today health care is the new topic about which everyone wants to have an opinion. But as far as I can see, it’s merely a repeat of the same debate: who ought to benefit from society, and must there be those who suffer in order for some to partake in the comforts of the modern age? It’s a question that many conclude has no answer.
In the context of health care, this question presents itself in the form of cost. Those who believe that universal health care is not feasible or good for America complain about its potential cost. They say that the government cannot afford to spend more on health care and claim that private health care is of better quality than public health care. This argument ultimately puts money before human health and life. I acknowledge that it isn’t as simple as all that. I am aware that there are limits on the amount of money our government can spend; I’ve watched, with horror, as Bush policies have created this deficit and have no desire to see this administration do the same.
Those who are against health care now are using the same arguments that are used to argue for the outsourcing of labor, buying cheap products from overseas and favoring policies that suppress labor rights and wages in order to foster economic growth in developing countries.
In seminar yesterday, a debate began about whether a developing country — Taiwan was the example — should temporarily limit the power of labor and put a cap on wages during the economic development period. In so many discussions of economic development, government stability and universal human rights, it is argued that “temporary” suppression is necessary to foster economic security. This, they say, will ultimately be beneficial for those people who were initially oppressed. For the greater good.
The greater good, however, generally ends up meaning the stability of those on top.
I don’t see myself as an idealist, and I understand that a country cannot function properly without at least a semi-stable economy or with a massive deficit. While we continue to promote first and foremost a stable economy, however, we are essentially saying that, as utopia is impossible, we won’t really even try. In order to have good, cheaper health care, some people, sadly, must be denied. In order to create functional economies and foster international economic stability, workers must bare the brunt of the situation, and some countries must be creating cheap goods, while others lord over them.
People in Congress spend weeks and months and years debating about these things; in the meantime, people are continuing to suffer. We’ve all heard the stories.
The problem is that we haven’t yet decided that we don’t need to step on others to climb to the top. Almost inevitably, when I enter into a conversation about exploitation of people in developing countries, or poverty and lack of access to resources right here in America, someone says that they just want to live the best life they can, and others will always have to suffer. They tell me that if we aren’t exploiting those people, someone else will be exploiting them, or will be exploiting someone. In order for the United States to remain the great country it is, there needs to be other countries that are suffering. In order for the United States to be able to afford protecting its own interests, it has to neglect the needs of many at the bottom of the pile.
I want someone to answer the question: why? People have been asking that question forever, it seems, and there have been just as many answers, none of which have worked. The problem with this ongoing argument is that it fosters complacency in the highly educated. The complacency that a solution is impossible, or, at least, has been tried so many times before that we really shouldn’t feel bad if we can’t solve it either. We get content with making a good argument, with being more educated and aware than the next man. Because, hey, we’re never going to be the suppressed laborer, and universities provide reasonable health care. But, ultimately, there is nothing new to say. Nothing new has been said in so long. We’re like mice running on a wheel. I mean, I have nothing new to say here. All I’m really saying is that we can’t keep this up.
Timmia Hearn Feldman is a sophomore in Morse College.