The question that we liberals tend to ask of those who would deny healthcare to the most vulnerable of us is, Where is your compassion?
I’d like to ask them, Where is your common sense?
Currently, between 10 and 14% of the US population does not have health insurance. That’s between 32 and 45 million people without access to a doctor’s care or to healthcare facilities other than the emergency room, where care eventually comes out of the public pocket.
That’s between 32 and 45 million people susceptible to debilitating conditions due to chronic lack of care. 32 to 45 million people susceptible to bankruptcy or homelessness, joblessness, lives of pain and discomfort instead of lives putting their minds and bodies to productive work, to creative effort, to healthy living.
That’s what I think of when I hear the words “people’s lives.” It’s not just whether people live or die, although that has some importance. It’s the idea of people’s actual lives, the life they are able to live, in my neighborhood, my city, my country. The fact is that healthy, productive, creative lives are more beneficial to everything I care about – from my own well-being, to the state of my nation, to the world as a whole. Even for those who suffer from poor health for one reason or another can live fulfilling lives if they have the care they need to live the best way they can.
It’s good to feel compassion for people with debilitating illnesses, people suffering the indignities of old age, and victims of accidents that deprive them of limbs or senses. But isn’t it also common sense to want these people cared for in such a way that they add to the landscape of your own life? That they become full, contributing citizens to the best of their abilities? Won’t your own life be richer, fuller, more satisfying with the capabilities of all of our citizens added to it? With the knowledge that our old people are as cared for and comfortable as we hope to be when it is our turn?
Because we are all promised Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
That’s why healthcare.