Contrary to what inebriate louts like Thers might think, setting up a single-payer healthcare system is very, very complicated. Like every other policy decision - from spreading sewage sludge on food crops, to inaugurating “three strikes” laws, to executing pedophiles, to invading Iraq – it needs to be considered carefully in terms of its potential downside.
Granted, polls show that Americans want a single-payer system. But with all due respect, is a public that’s not sophisticated enough to avoid sickness and injury sophisticated enough to understand the risks of single-payer healthcare?
It’s one thing to trust the public to elect a president; how much damage can one person do, given our exquisite system of checks and balances? But attempting to protect America’s health is quite another matter. If we can’t set up a perfect system from the outset, we probably shouldn’t attempt it at all. For one thing, there’s the issue of cost. It costs money to provide healthcare; this fact alone should give us pause.
I also worry about the effect of single-payer care on the American soul. If you can get free healthcare after being run over, why would you bother looking both ways before crossing the street? Why would you avoid overdosing on heroin, for that matter, or catching AIDS from prostitutes?
Everyone agrees that it can be inconvenient when someone dies due to a lack of timely and affordable medical care. But I fail to see how we can solve this problem by giving taxpayer-funded ER care to any Prius-driving metrosexual fop who breaks a nail en route to the Power Exchange.
If America is famous for anything, it’s famous for carefully weighing the long-term results of its decisions. It’d be a shame if the purely emotional lure of anodyne clichés like “moral obligation” caused us to ignore our natural conservatism and pursue an unrealistic, risky solution to our problems…especially at a time when we need to devote our wisdom and resources to the vital project of remaking the Middle East in our own image.