April 1, 2010 Volume CXXVII Issue 8

March 23, 2010: World unexpectedly fails to end

By TIMOTHY BURGESS
Contributing Writer

Ultra-conservatives were disappointed early last week when despite their rhetoric about socialism and that the health care reform would be the death of our country, America continued to exist. In case you have been in a coma, living a life of quiet solitude and reflection separated from any contact with the outside world, or were abducted by space aliens and only recently returned to Earth, I feel as if I should inform you that last week a health care reform bill was signed into law, after almost a full year of debate and political strife. Due to the way that politics function, the bill won’t take full effect until 2014 and there is still plenty of time between now and then for the legislature, the executive branch and regulatory agencies to tweak and fine tune the way it will actually function.

Not only that, but with all large-scale legislation or governmental policies, it will take years, if not decades, to fully appreciate the impact of this reform, which makes it very difficult to discuss whether or not the bill is a good or bad thing at this point. Not only that, but so much of the debate has focused on political rhetoric, misinformation and emotional or moral appeals that it has become one of those issues that is almost impossible to talk about rationally. This is because people, whether they really know anything about how the government works, or what the bill says or anything, have strong feelings about this reform package. This has led to citizens and politicians on both sides of the aisle doing and saying some pretty embarrassing things.

For the most part, I like the health care bill. I’m not familiar with every single aspect of the final product, nor am I overwhelmingly pleased with the final product, but our government is and always has been far from perfect. We like slow, incremental change and when drastic change seems to become necessary, it is generally violently resisted and leads to many incremental shifts and adjustments after the fact. This reform has been wrongly characterized by both sides. By conservatives, it has been held up as an abomination that would destroy American democracy forever and make our government some huge, incredibly invasive monster that dominates the lives of its citizens (funny how they didn’t bring this up during the age of wire-tapping without warrants or the “agree with the president or you don’t deserve to be an American” mentality).

By liberals, it has been held up as some crowning achievement of the Obama administration that is going to forever change American life and cure many ills. This reform is not an end product. The discussion is not over. This was simply a step on the road to something new and hopefully better. If you don’t like it, or if you do like it, you’ll have your chance to express that, the way we express ourselves in democracy, with the ballot box. Don’t act like we’re suddenly living in a totalitarian regime and need to pick up our guns and take to the hills because the government is coming to get grandma and toss her off a cliff. And don’t act like we suddenly live in a perfect utopia.

This bill does have a lot of good aspects in it. Children not being able to be denied health care coverage due to a preexisting condition takes effect very quickly and is rather hard to argue against. I know I can’t be the only one that squirmed during the health care debates to see our elected representatives pouting and bickering like children, or was honestly embarrassed by the idiotic things that my fellow citizens chose to say. The United States government is not the quiet, little agrarian society with a small, distant federal government that it was when we started.

If you’re unhappy with the size and scope of our government, it’s not because of the health care bill, it’s because of centuries of change and progress, from the Industrial Revolution to the New Deal all the way up to the restructuring of the government to create the Department of Homeland Security. The government is big and it touches almost every aspect of our lives. You don’t have a problem with the government regulating the food and pharmaceutical industries, paying for public education, or giving you grants or loans to help pay for your college education, so why would the government trying to regulate and fix some of the problems with the health care industry suddenly change the very nature of our country? We’re not a totalitarian regime and we’re not an ideal utopia, we’re America, plain and simple, and if you want to change our country, it’s your right and duty as a citizen to do your part.

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