By Roy Ortega
The contentious fight over health care is over, but the split between opposing sides of the issue continue to widen. Actually, it's more like a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon. President Obama on Tuesday signed the bill into law amid an intensified effort by Republicans to bring down the legislation by whatever means possible. Already, more than a dozen states have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law.
For supporters of the law, it is extremely difficult to understand why health care reform was so diabolically opposed by the Republican Party. By all measure, the new law will improve the quality of life for millions of Americans who heretofore could not afford the insanely high cost of health insurance. Under the bill, no one gets locked out of the promise of good and affordable health care.
But why are so many people still completely lathered up over this issue? One Facebook blogger decried the idea of giving people a "government handout" and expressed extreme anger over having to pay more of her hard-earned income to help provide health insurance to those who can't afford the high premiums. "What ever happened to people being self-sufficient and working hard for what they want in life," she angrily asked. "So I'm wrong because I work hard and don't think it is my responsibility to pay for someone else's lifestyle and expenses?"
Wow. Talk about completely missing the point.
First of all, the woman ascribes wrongly to the notion that low-income people don't work hard. Secondly, the health care issue is not about giving handouts to anyone. It's about making health care more affordable and available to a larger number of people and improving health care for them so that we can have a healthier, happier and more productive American population that in turn will help make the entire world a better place to live, work and die. Got that?
The woman's argument reminds me of a friend who constantly complains about paying school taxes. "I don't have children in the public school system so why should I be forced to pay school taxes," he moans.
OK, then, let's compare the health care issue with public education. The reason we have mandatory education in the U.S. for young people through the 12th grade in a system that is paid for through our taxes is because the idea of having an ignorant, uneducated population is dangerous, culturally damaging, socially unacceptable and economically unsustainable. Imagine what would happen to our country if we failed to completely educate our young people. We would have no middle class to help build and sustain our economic infrastructure. Crime, corruption, drug addiction and rampant stupidity would rule the day. Oh, I'm sorry. Did I just describe Mexico? I didn't mean to.
But back to the health care issue: After listening to the Republican viewpoint, I understand why some people don't believe everyone should be entitled to affordable health insurance. The key word in the last sentence is "entitled". Put simply, Republicans truly believe no one is owed anything in life. No one is entitled to anything, unless you happen to be born into wealth.
It's what I call a lack of the humanity gene.
Luckily, my body oozes the humanity gene and I believe that health care reform is a good thing for all Americans because its the right human thing to do for the benefit of the entire country.
Roy Ortega may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org