Note: This column appeared in The Times (of Northwest Indiana) on October 29, 2009.
Sports teams fail to win games when they forget how to execute the fundamentals of their sport. Similarly, government falters when it forgets its own fundamentals. So when solutions are needed to our problems it is necessary to fall back on the head-butting ritual of debating whether more government or less government is needed, only to find that answer is always the same.
Voters, it seems, are leaning towards less government as they become increasingly concerned about the path Washington is taking us on. A Gallup poll released earlier this week shows 70 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of moderates (both self-identified) believing there is too much regulation of private industries. Those numbers are an increase of 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively, since a similar poll in 2008. Democrats, on the other hand, saw a 2 percent drop, sticking to the belief that more government is always the answer.
We’re seeing this line of thinking in the health care debate going on in Washington right now. While on the surface this is all about policy details, at its core it’s a debate about the role of government.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says this is the time for us to have this debate. In an interview with the Washington Times this week, he said we should ask ourselves, “Are we a nation of free individuals who take responsibility for our own actions, or should we just forfeit freedom and turn everything over to the federal government?”
Moveon.org, the liberal grassroots organization, firmly believes the role of government should be large in our lives. That’s why on Tuesday they announced that any Democrat voting against a so-called “public option” government-run health care program in Congress would lose support from all 5 million members of the group. That’s it. Cut and dry. You vote no, you lose.
This is why the Democrats, led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, are pushing to ensure the hand of government touches each and every person in this country through the health care system. Their proposal, if enacted and signed into law, will deal a strong blow to personal responsibility and the free market. When the federal government joins the once free marketplace for health insurance, it will add a variable to the system most companies will be unable to overcome.
Proponents of this particular brand of reform would undoubtedly applaud any similar future development. After all, the free market is not in our best interests in their view. There is only one cookie cutter solution to every problem: government. But that logic is flawed, which is why this debate is crucial.
Just the same, the logic that taking away personal responsibility from people by mandating that they purchase health insurance or face federal penalties is also flawed. At the price of $750 a calendar year, the penalty will be a bargain compared to $100-a-month insurance premiums. How is that supposed to entice younger Americans to live responsibly and have insurance just in case?
Americans are right to be concerned about the path we’re on with plans for more government intervention being developed each day. Only time will tell if we can right the course as this debate continues.