Everybody’s ranting for one side or another on the current U.S. health care debate, so I might as well add my fuel to the flames. After listening to a wide range of opinions, from single-payer systems to death squads, I have the following observation.
We, as a society, acting through our elected representatives, have determined that universal access to electricity is in the best interest of the country. So in 1935 Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act to subsidize universal access to electricity among the rural and poor areas of the country. We still have subsidized loan programs and grants for electrical infrastructure in rural areas.
We have determined that universal access to basic telephone service is an essential need of all Americans. Our elected representatives passed the Telecommunications Acts of 1934 and 1996 to subsidize phone service to acheive that end. We all pay $4-$5 per month on our phone bills to support basic telephone service for all households and schools. We, as a society, have determined that it is in everyone’s best interest that poor folks can dial 911, and we, as a society, pay a monthly fee to subsidize universal access.
We have even determined that universal access to basic cable television is an essential need of all Americans that is worth subsidizing at the federal level. And in 2007 Senator Ted Stevens sponsored the Universal Service for Americans Act that would have subsidized broadband internet to acheive near-universal access.
But many people, and their elected representatives, do not consider universal access to basic health care as an essential need of all Americans.
What does it say about us, that we value universal access to Fox News and broadband internet porn as more important than universal access to basic health care?