Olbermann is eloquent as always. And he utilizes a tool that most journalists either do not have or fear to use – a vocabulary. Maybe the words are written by someone else, but regardless, this is proof that intelligent use of the language can of itself be persuasive.
I agree with Olbermann, but that's no surprise. I have always felt that we should seek to collectively try to create a society that is compassionate before all else.
But in a free and open society, we are also free to be subjected to manipulation by those who are greedy to acquire and maintain their hold on power even if it means many others will die, even if it means that they themselves will die sooner than necessary. Power has its own directive. It seeks to consume, to control and drive the whole world to a massive, bloody conclusion merely for the ability to say "I had," "I have," and "I am above all others." It is ego written as large as the universe and once you have tasted even a small portion of it you cannot let it go without personal sacrifice because anything or anyone you believe you have conquered is now a part of you and to lose it means losing something more precious than life in the future, it means losing that part of your self right now. It means a small, immediate death. Once this contagion grips you you will do anything to protect it. That is the contagion, the real disease at the heart of the problem.* Many people – probably a majority now – believe that healthcare reform means that they will lose a part of themselves. This despite the fact that they do not actually possess what it is they are afraid of losing.
Once again we will fail because we prefer to react before we think. The leadership in and out of government, those who will ultimately make the decision about healthcare, has been horrible on all sides and from all corners. No one has spoken directly and clearly about the issue. Olbermann comes as close to it as anyone I have read or heard when he says that the issue comes down to the simple fact - "I want to live." We can make the apparently complex issue much clearer by asking a few questions. Here they are:
Does everyone in this country have the same right to live as everyone else?
If you are rich do you have a greater right to live than if you are poor?
If you are poor is it your obligation to become wealthy enough to pay for health insurance and all other health costs no matter how rapidly those costs continue to rise?
Should we cut healthcare costs by simply eliminating those who cannot afford it from the system? More directly, should we allow the poor to die because they are too poor to afford healthcare?
And how much will the cost of healthcare have to rise before you become one of those who can no longer afford to pay for it and be condemned to death?
Life is precious. The life we have is all we know. But as Olbermann states so eloquently, and as we all know, we all must die. How long do you want to live? Do you want to live as long as you are able to speak and hear and know the world around you? If so, you will need to live healthy and need a reliable system of healthcare to help you return to health when you inevitably fall ill. Do you have that right? If you do, does everyone else as well? Where do you draw the line? In the U.S. it appears that the line will be drawn with dollars. Life will be equated with wealth. The richer you are the longer you live. If that is the choice we make. So be it. We have always had a talent for ignoring the suffering of others with the exception of short term emergencies. Oh, there are those few who will give to the poor or help out in other ways. A few will even dedicate their entire lives to alleviating the suffering of others. But most of us are better at ignoring pain and suffering until it touches us. Then we want it to go away. In short, we want to live.
Do I matter more than you? I don't think that I do. And it doesn't bother me that I have less money in my pocket because someone else who is suffering tonight draws on medicaid or medicare or some other publicly funded program. But those programs are in fact underfunded and medicaid in particular is one reason that healthcare costs continue to rise. Another reason might be that pharmaceutical companies, as a group, spend half their budgets on advertising drugs (most of which cannot be acquired without a prescription). But I am obviously a socialist, right? If you believe that you believe a lie. And I am one of many millions.
Consider the questions and consider how you will feel if you fall on the bad side of the equation.
This is the way I speak to myself when it comes to the issue of healthcare. I am not sure that there is a solution. But can't we at least try to find a way for everyone to live as long as they can or as long as they chose? Maybe the answer is simply to leave things alone and let the system collapse. Maybe a better system will replace it based on supply and demand alone. I doubt it, but I'm beginning to think we're going to find out.
* Editor's Note: Despite the best efforts of the healthcare industry, the public continues to strongly support healthcare reform in general and the public option in particular. Another way to look at the debate is this: If healthcare is a right and not a privilege then it is immoral to profit by it. The health insurance industry serves no useful purpose to the general public. It should eliminated by the most direct means possible. Further, profit making corporations should not be allowed to own and operate hospitals and healthcare clinics any more than such corporations should be allowed to run schools, fire stations, police forces and the military. We are told to be afraid of government (i.e., socialism) but we ought to be afraid of the corporate takeover that is unfolding before our weary eyes.