Monday, July 09, 2007

Health Care's Moral Argument, Part 2

Paul Krugman in his column in today's New York Times responds to the argument put forward by Fox News and followed by other conservative news organizations in the days afterward:

“National healthcare: Breeding ground for terror?” read the on-screen headline, as the Fox News host Neil Cavuto and the commentator Jerry Bowyer solemnly discussed how universal health care promotes terrorism.

While this was crass even by the standards of Bush-era political discourse, Fox was following in a long tradition. For more than 60 years, the medical-industrial complex and its political allies have used scare tactics to prevent America from following its conscience and making access to health care a right for all its citizens.

Then he makes the point that I made in one of my first posts on my blog: Health Care's Moral Argument, Part 1. Paul Krugman continues:

I say conscience, because the health care issue is, most of all, about morality.

That’s what we learn from the overwhelming response to Michael Moore’s “Sicko.” Health care reformers should, by all means, address the anxieties of middle-class Americans, their growing and justified fear of finding themselves uninsured or having their insurers deny coverage when they need it most. But reformers shouldn’t focus only on self-interest. They should also appeal to Americans’ sense of decency and humanity.

What outrages people who see “Sicko” is the sheer cruelty and injustice of the American health care system — sick people who can’t pay their hospital bills literally dumped on the sidewalk, a child who dies because an emergency room that isn’t a participant in her mother’s health plan won’t treat her, hard-working Americans driven into humiliating poverty by medical bills.

He concludes:

All of which raises the question Mr. Moore asks at the beginning of “Sicko”: who are we?

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.” So declared F.D.R. in 1937, in words that apply perfectly to health care today. This isn’t one of those cases where we face painful tradeoffs — here, doing the right thing is also cost-efficient. Universal health care would save thousands of American lives each year, while actually saving money.

So this is a test. The only things standing in the way of universal health care are the fear-mongering and influence-buying of interest groups. If we can’t overcome those forces here, there’s not much hope for America’s future.

I agree. I said myself when I posted about the meme saying that health care=terrorism that I thought that the argument was absurd. It still is.

While my first post argued from a more strictly Christian perspective, Paul Krugman has argued it on more general humanitarian principles. For Christians, my first post on Health Care's Moral Argument, Part 1 should suffice. For Humanists and people of other faiths, Krugman's argument today should show that moral arguments for a national health care system are universal.

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