HEALTHCARE: Obama vs. McCain, night and day

Joe Crews


OBAMA: “United we can all stand”
McCAIN: “Survival of the fittest”

INSIGHTS: by Joe Howard Crews - May 18, 2008

There are stark and fundamental differences between the belief structure and philosophy of the Democratic party and that of the Republicans -- differences that permeates almost every aspect of our lives. Those differences, though most sharply delineated in war and empire are poorly perceived by many Americans because of the foggy obfuscation of “patriotism”.

But in one area the stark difference in fundamental philosophy between the two parties is much easier for the public to comprehend: HEALTHCARE. This is an issue that reaches into the heart of our personal lives, into our family and loved ones. Anybody who has watched a loved one suffer and die for lack of good medical care; anyone who has lost her home because of medical debt; any mother who has had to worry about her child being in an accident -- they all recognize when our nation is squandering its wealth on the wrong things, whether it be for war, empire, monuments and bridges to nowhere, or to feed the greed and irresponsibility of corporate socialism, as witnessed in the current trillion dollar bailout of banks and brokerage institutions. We witness the deterioration of our infrastructure, our educational system and of our currency as well, but nothing touches us like sickness and death.

So here is the fundamental difference between the two parties: The Democrats believe that if we all unite as one nation family, we can take care of each other much better than if we are divided. In summary, “United we stand.”

The Republicans, on the other hand, believe in the “freedom of individual choice”. In summary, the fortunate can do better on their own, and the weak who perish are merely the victims of the reality that the fittest survive. The Republican philosophy is herein defined: The primitive law of the jungle in which the fittest and fortunate survive, and the weak suffer and perish. Its values center on power and wealth.

The Democratic philosophy seeks a united, universal family in which we pool our resources to help not only the fittest and fortunate, but the most unfortunate among us. This is the law of civilization. Its values center on civility and compassion. It has often been said that the degree of the civility of a society is measured by how well it treats its most vulnerable members.

The health plans proposed by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both espouse the sharing of risk between the healthy and the frail, even at the cost of the healthy help subsidize the frail. They emphasize the greater strength of community.

As explained by Ronald Brownstein “By putting young, healthy workers into the same risk pool as colleagues who are older or sicker, employer-based coverage supports cost-sharing: All workers typically pay the same premiums because payments from workers who use less care balance those from workers who require more. There's a life-cycle effect, too: We pay relatively more in premiums for what we get when we're young but relatively less when we're old.”

The great success of employee health insurance over the last several decades comes from two sources: the pooling of risk of all employees, and the tax write off for corporate expenses for employee health insurance. It was a great system until the insurance industry seized control of health care in the nation, and became profit greedy, pricing the “system” beyond the reach of many businesses. The insurance industry has become the problem, instead of the agent of service.

The plan touted by John McCain, on the other hand, emphasized “personal freedom”, i.e., the right to buy good insurance, or the right to choose no or inadequate insurance and suffer. And although the plans of both Obama and Clinton have deep flaws, they are infinitely superior to that of John McCain. Th

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