Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Last Straw?

It's already been quite a week, and it's only Tuesday! I had originally intended to talk about the bankruptcy of General Motors (or "Government Motors" as some now call it), but I heard something on the radio today that gave me pause. While driving home after taking my wife and two youngest to see the movie "Up" (a movie I highly recommend) I heard a radio news report concerning President Obama's press conference on the issue of the health care "crisis."

I have no desire to wade into the morass that is the "debate" concerning health care. I am currently paying a number of doctor and hospital bills that were either not covered or only partially covered by my insurance. Would I like better benefits? Yes. Would I like a drug benefit that made sense? Of course. Would I like to be able to make sense of the policy materials and payment schedules? Who wouldn't. Yes, there is much about American health care that doesn't make sense, but we still have the best health care system in the world.

What concerned me about the President's press conference was the report that Congressional Democrats (are there any others on the Hill?) intended to have a plan for health care reform ready for the President's signature in eight to ten weeks. I nearly swallowed my teeth when I heard that. But thankfully I didn't because I don't have dental insurance and I'm sure my regular coverage wouldn't consider such an incident as a coverable accident.

To put this in perspective let me remind you that health care represents one-eighth of the total U.S. economy. The thought that a meaningful plan for health care reform could be crafted in only eight weeks is mind boggling! But what is most frightening about this is the cost. No one is talking about the cost of reforming health care, or the universal health care that is the apple of Sen. Ted Kennedy's eye. Consider this: Medicare and Social Security are both on the verge of bankruptcy. No one is calling for reform to these two massive programs. Those two programs together don't even come close to approaching the cost of health care reform. Yet the current administration seems willing to throw money (and caution) to the wind in the name of "saving" this or that. First it was the mortgage crisis, then the banking crisis, then the automobile crisis...what's next?

The real problem, and greatest danger, is that this country does not have an infinite amount of wealth at its disposal. Sooner or later (sooner if current trends continue) the well will run dry. We are already seeing projected deficits in the trillions of dollars. Yet no one, no Democrat or Republican (the new gutless wonders), is sounding the call for fiscal restraint and responsibility. Where will it all end?

With the bankruptcy of this nation.

All our technological and military might won't save us when the economy distintigrates under the weight of our fiscal irresponsibility. No amount of reform will save us then.

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