A cross-posting from examiner.com, other than the AP photo and more-info links, I ported it all over this time. ~Byron
Progressivism concerns itself with “what’s next”. Because if you get it right, you’ll have prepared more thoroughly for what’s going to happen.
What does the future hold?
Progressives also deal in the realm of what’s the right thing to do, the moral and equitable approach towards our fellow human beings.
What is the overall best plan for those affected?
When a little realpolitik is thrown into the mix, you have a clear eyed, practical basis for ethical governance.
But where is all this headed? Can we glean from history and the march of cultural progress what may be inevitable? Maybe.
Examining Western democracy’s social trends over the last 200 years of industrialization might shed some light on what direction our health care system will eventually go.
Trend: public services have emerged and expanded coverage providing access for most citizens.
• Public education established throughout the nation by the late 1800s. Strictly private school education became our current mixed private / public system.
• Public utilities moved from non-existence to widespread proliferation and availability with government subsidies and support for lower income wage earners.
• Public transportation advanced to greater penetration throughout all modern democracies, with significant governmental support for affordability and availability.
• Social Security modern social insurance, income maintenance and social protection programs adopted in all modern democracies.
• Capital punishment shifted from universal practice to moratoriums on death penalty by nearly all modern democracies.
• Environmental protections established to safeguard nature for future generations, protect human health and preserve the commonwealth.
• Emergency services expanded from volunteer fire fighting to full-time professional police, paramedic and fire departments, providing service to those in need.
• Labor laws, minimum wage, limited work week and safety in the workplace legislation adopted in all modern democracies.
• Universal health care coverage for all citizens in most modern democracies.
What these trends reveal is very specific. The West’s cultural trajectory, and much of the world, has been a collective push toward offering opportunity, providing safety, security; in sum, promoting the general welfare of the people. Yes, all too often gifts of progress have been granted to citizens only, while national policies have engaged in colonialism and warfare abroad.
But it’s clear that over the course of last 200 years the benefits of science, technology, transportation and modern medicine are steadily emerging as universal social values, increasingly available regardless of race, class or gender distinctions.
In Medieval Europe, only rich families of means had access to knowledge, science, and learning: commoners were not likely to have widespread access to education. Following enlightenment principles, Ben Franklin continued the development of lending libraries in America so everyone could have access to information, regardless of class. Public libraries have been a cornerstone of national progress, an innovation now widely accepted around much of the world.
The concept of only wealthy people having have access to information, knowledge and science is totally unjust, even ridiculous by today’s standards. Why doesn’t this view of what’s fair apply to the exclusive nature of the US medical system? Excluding those who fall sick, who get laid off, who can’t afford skyrocketing costs, resulting in tens of thousands of needless deaths each year?
With a fierce attachment to market populism, America has seemed to have met a stumbling block with health care reform. Where universal care is considered a basic right in every other Western industrialized nation, the US is languishing with an elitist medical system that turns away millions to protect corporate profits. The argument for health care as an open public service has been lost in a cacophony of “I’m right, you’re wrong” political theater; when in reality, the track record shows a very clear path of where we’re headed as a civilized society.
A recent satirical letter from “G. Washington” cautioned against backsliding and creeping royalism:
“(an opponent of health care reform) cites for Congress to promote the health of our citizens is clearly beyond the purview of Constitutional mandate. With the heavenly and magickal science of medicine today, it is sad to see a citizen suggest that this favor of God should only be accessible to those of means and wealth.
In America, we always envisioned the favors of science and knowledge to apply to all, and not be solely reserved for the aristocracy or monarchy. Libraries of books in old Europe were not known by a nation’s yeomen, but as Madison said, if a people intend to be their own self-governors, they must wield the power that knowledge brings.”
Because everyone needs it, and the nation benefits from everyone having it, health care for all becomes a general investment in the whole community, like Social Security, public education or other services. If progress is equitable, universal care is inevitable.
I’ll venture a prediction: in the future, the notion of a for-profit health care system, where people aren’t covered because they’re unemployed, or not rich enough, or have pre-existing conditions, will be looked upon with the same level of revulsion and disgust, that a popular form of entertainment in the not-so-distant past is looked upon today.
Just as burning cats on a rope in front of cackling audiences is considered brutal and anathema to any sense of humanity, allowing 45,000 people to die every year, because greed wants to keep our for-profit health care system in place, in the future, will be looked upon with a similar sense of shock and disbelief.
Might as well get on board now, because health care for all, as a decent society, is where we’re all headed anyway.