Friday, 29 June 2012

OBAMACARE.....deconflicting rights and responsibilities.

As a professional logistician I spend a lot of time deconflicting things.  Deconflicting doesn't even register in spellcheck but it is an important word in my armoury.  Deconflicting logistical effort means not trying to receive 40 containers of stock on the day you conduct your automated resupply.

"Obamacare" is upheld by the Supreme Court and so a basic human right to healthcare is upheld.  Now part of me would like to get into the assumptions that a "basic right to healthcare" assumes.  It assumes a healthcare system perhaps a basic human right to health is a better phrase to alleviate the assumption.

Instead I want to head back to rights and responsibilities.  It would be crazy to suggest that universal healthcare is a bad thing.  The right to health is a good one and certainly in a religious and philosophical context most see the value of helping the sick.  So with the right to health comes the responsibility on society (not necessarily government) to safe guard that.  Whether society chooses to translate that responsibility onto its government is a thing for society to decide.   These rights and responsibilities don't really conflict though; but there is a responsibility that is hugely at odds with Obamacare, the responsibility to act with financial prudence.

The more I read about the US budget deficit the more I realise there is no clear picture; people within one report run between 15 and 16 trillion.....but it is the same area as the US' gross domestic product and that leads me not to Adam Smith, Keynes or the great economists but to the great literary figure of Charles Dickens, creator of Mr Micawber.

Micawber the lay economist is famed for his observation to David Copperfield:

“annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”   

What happens when your 19 pounds 19 and 6 does not meet your human responsibility to protect the health of others?  Do you borrow?  Surely there is an equal responsibility to keep good accounts?  There is a real risk that to continue to spend 20 pounds 0 and 6 will bankrupt you and render you unable to care for anyone.

So here is my quandary when looking at the Obamacare debate from the outside.....the debate is off centre.  I can't see that this is a debate of right or wrong it is surely more a debate on how to reconcile two conflicting responsibilities.  In such a debate there is a less confrontational air and both republicans and democrats can come together and look at how to better meet the responsibility society has to look after its own and to keep their accounts "in the black".  Wiser minds than mine must look at these problems and thrash out a way forward rather than enter the tiring treadmill of confrontation and flip flop legislation.

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