The Healthcare Debate As If People Mattered


Most of the laws over which our Congress presides pretty much promise to affect the members of Congress in the same way that they will affect their constituency.  So in addition to the need to garner votes by satisfying their constituents there is at least a nominal suggestion that the laws which they debate and ultimately pass or block will affect them in the same way as it affects said constituents.

However the debate over healthcare does not directly affect Congress or their families.  Being well covered by federal healthcare they need not worry about deductibles, denials, referrals, etc., not to mention lack of coverage in the way that their constituents (the rest of us) have to.  They need only be concerned about making decisions that will get them re-elected, not decisions which will impact them or their families directly.  So arguing for and against abortion coverage, public options, cost containment, etc. is really only arguing to put on a show so that the much needed voters at home will keep them in office at their comfortable salaries and with their comfortably adequate healthcare coverage for them and their families.

I have to wonder how this debate would be changed if they were fighting for their lives, so to speak, fighting for policies which would directly impact them and their families, fighting for this in addition to and not exclusively for votes.  I have to wonder if this would not change the tone of the debate.  I have to wonder if the news would not be about how they worked through the night up to or beyond the Christmas, Hannukah (or even Ramadan) holy days but rather about fighting for something more dear to their hearts like their own lives and those of their families.

I am reminded of the bizarre social psychology work of one Stanley Milgram.  Some may remember this unusual and really brilliant research which would never pass ethical muster today in which subjects were instructed to administer what they believed were electrical shocks (but were in fact just actors responding to cues) to people/victims unknown to them simply because they were instructed to do so.  It was a shocking revelation of how we, as a society, or perhaps simply as human beings, will do as we are told regardless of the consequences of our actions on someone we do not know personally.  It is akin to the way soldiers are trained  with propaganda which dehumanizes the purported enemy so as to make them easier to kill.

I am suggesting that the fact that our lawmakers are acting on legislation which does not directly affect them and theirs sets a dangerous dichotomy which makes it much easier to float dazzling theoretical and “ethical” arguments which will impress voters but will not further a humane agenda.

I know that my earlier suggestion of putting our law makers on Blue Cross is a frivolous notion  suggested more in a constructive sense of humor than in a serious belief that it could actually occur.  But  I believe that the concept is an important one.  Do we want our lawmakers, already trained to go for the vote, to be doing this exclusively and without any real concern that their actions will have any consequences beyond getting them re-elected?  Can we really trust that they will act in ways that actually benefit us and not simply the authority which is telling them to press the button?

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About perkustooth

I am a registered nurse, writer, photographer and composer living in Alameda. I am originally a midwesterner and was born and raised in Chicago.
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