Each time I touch the issue of health care in America I get all sorts of responses from otherwise passive readers. It has been gratifying to see that this blog attracts a diverse bunch of visitors, with all sorts of opinions and positions. I must also say that some of the comments have been as educative as anything I've read in mainstream publications or ueber-blogs.
My lesson, however, has been to stop using the issue as a foil for other topics, since it's too radioactive. Foils need themselves to be mildly interesting or easily recognizable, but shouldn't be major bones of contention - because if they are, they overpower the attempt to wield them.
The folks having the discussion are free to continue at it, of course. If I don't censor our in-house agitator Fake Ibrahim, I certainly won't bother them.
Just for the record, here's my basic position on health care, unencumbered by rhetoric tricks for other purposes.
Any reasonably wealthy country ought to have a system that ensures that all citizens have access to reasonable health care. Everyone having access means the illnesses we accumulate as we age need to be covered, otherwise the system is meaningless. And, yes, the electorate needs to define how they're going to pay for the system.
Beyond that - if it's national, or private, or hodgepodge; who decides, who adapts, who tweaks; what is the level of "reasonable" and what needs to be paid for separately; and all the other fiendishly complex questions - these need to be hammered out by the particular electorate, according to their particular conditions, mores, traditions, and abilities. Nor are the decisions of the past eternally correct: what worked well before may no longer work so well after; the compromises made by a previous generation may not seem such a good idea to a latter one - unless they actually do.
Sometimes there are issues where one side is right and the other is wrong. Eastern Europe's communist regimes foiling the aspirations of their nations, for example; the present Iranian regime suppressing freedom. Rarely, you'll even find crass moral imbalance within a democratic discussion. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is a fine example. Most of the time, however, discussions in democracies tend to be more about interpretations or differing legitimate values, rather than clashes between good and evil. Hard as it may be for the Americans among you to see, this one seems to be of the former type.
Now let me see. Where did I put that helmet? It was right over there....