Archived Story

Tea party folks should give a little

Published 5:59am Monday, October 7, 2013

To heck with the idea that both sides should be blamed for the shutdown of the U.S. government.

The Republicans — check that, the extremist Tea Party Republicans whose numbers are high enough to have power — deserve the blame for this one. While what they are doing may be legal, from an ethical standpoint, they are holding the federal government hostage.

In no uncertain terms, they have made it clear that they refuse to vote in favor of anything — a “lights on” bill to end a shutdown or a bill to increase the debt ceiling that would prevent a government default — unless Obamacare is thrown out.

House Speaker John Boehner has countered by saying if the president would negotiate to fix flaws in “Obamacare,” the shutdown could end.

Hogwash.

Based on their behavior, Tea Party Republicans are unwilling to negotiate on anything. They have been told by their “constituents” to stop ObamaCare, at all costs. They promised their supporters that compromise was wrong, and unnecessary, and that they will never agree to anything that does not align with their beliefs.

And for whatever reason, Tea Party Republicans have it in their head that everything about ObamaCare is wrong, that it is just that black and white.

The fact is, ObamaCare, and the problems and solutions surrounding health care for that matter, are as gray as the sky will be this weekend.

Look, I don’t understand all that ObamaCare encompasses. When ObamaCare was passed, I wasn’t in favor of it. Yes, everyone will get coverage (whether they like it or not) and those with pre-existing conditions will be able to get health insurance.

How it helps anyone else, I’m not sure.

It certainly isn’t making health care more affordable. I have heard many local residents talk about how their health insurance premiums will be increasing significantly due to ObamaCare. Whether that is due to real costs, or because ObamaCare gives health insurance companies an excuse to gouge customers, I don’t know.

I’m also not sure how ObamaCare will work to cut health care costs. The cost of human medical care is vastly more expensive than veterinary medicine. I believe there are two reasons for this: 1.) Pets are not insured, which means costs of care come directly out of the pockets of owners, and 2.) At some point, if the cost of “fixing” a pet gets too great, that pet is put to sleep.

I believe that if we as a society are going to continue to use health insurance to enforce the policy of keeping people alive at all costs, we are going to go broke. It’s a sad thing. But we simply have no choice but to discontinue such policies.

This sounds like class warfare, but if a multimillionaire on his death bed wants to use his own funds to pay for a surgery to keep him alive another six months, that’s his choice. If we’re using health insurance to keep someone who isn’t a multi-millionaire alive another six months, and the result ultimately is an increase in premiums for everyone (or the addition to our national debt via Medicare), then we’re going to have a problem.

How to determine who will get care and who won’t, based on a philosophy that we won’t keep everyone alive at all costs, delves into an even grayer area.

Growing up, my father threw around the term “drive it until it dies” when it came to cars a lot. The problem with that practice, as I have found out, is defining death. A $1,000 repair for a car with 100,000 miles on it and a value of $6,000? Sure. A $3,000 repair, like a new transmission, on a car with 200,000 miles on it and a value of $3,500? That’s a tougher call.

Throw human beings you know and love into the equation, and it’s a becomes an excruciating decision.

I look at my grandmother, my wife’s grandmother, and Queen Elizabeth, for example. They have plenty of time left. A procedure would make perfect sense, because each likely will live another eight to 10 years. Others much younger are in far worse condition.

Believe me when I say certainly don’t have the answers. But I’m tired of Tea Party Republicans acting as if they do, as if God himself whispered his thoughts on health care into their ears.

Let ObamaCare, with all of its potential flaws, go to work for a while. If it fails, then change it. But give us all a break with this sanctimonious crap.

And by the way, turn the lights back on while you’re at it.

 

Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. Email him at joel.myhre@fergusfallsjournal.com

 

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