Health care reform is necessary and should be implemented soon. To my knowledge, no one is arguing that reforming the system is essentially a bad thing. Instead much of the controversy lies in how it is reformed. Any reform, however, should be discussed and debated thoroughly by both sides of the aisle since each side touts valid points.
A good portion of the opposition to the current reform has been focused on the non-transparency of the process, and the sudden rush to just “do something.” With a proposed bill of over 1,000 pages, not including the thousands of amendments that will certainly follow, it is imperative that our representatives have sufficient time to know what they are signing into law. They must understand the long-term implications of such a move since it will likely comprise 1/7th of our nation’s economy.
Another reason this must be debated thoroughly is because health care reform will undoubtedly include entitlement programs, where individuals will receive free services simply by having a valid social security number – and possibly those without a social security number. Reversing government entitlement programs is an incredibly difficult task. Recipients eventually feel “entitled” to those free services and ultimately rely thereon for their livelihood instead of being personally responsible – the ‘give a man a fish, or teach a man to fish’ principle comes to mind. Little by little, government entitlements create a “welfare state” where the government assumes the primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.
I am generally opposed to government entitlements since I believe personal welfare is an individual responsibility that should not be shouldered by others. In my opinion, government entitlements tend to harm the individual more than help because labor and enjoying the fruits of one’s labor are blessings from the Lord, and an essential requirement in our eternal progression. I firmly believe that nothing destroys the individuality and freedoms of a man as much as the failure to be self-reliant.
Obviously there are several exceptions to this, for example, individuals who lack the physical or mental capacity to survive without the goodwill of the people. In those cases, entitlements serve a valid and needed purpose. Nevertheless, those who have the means to provide for their own welfare and yet seek a free ride are, in essence, restricting their own freedom and the freedoms of those who pay the price. The following quote by Howard W. Hunter explains:
“What is the real cause of this trend toward the welfare state, toward more socialism? In the last analysis, in my judgment, it is personal unrighteousness. When people do not use their freedoms responsibly and righteously, they will gradually lose these freedoms…
“If man will not recognize the inequalities around him and voluntarily, through the gospel plan, come to the aid of his brother, he will find that through ‘a democratic process’ he will be forced to come to the aid of his brother. The government will take from the ‘haves’ and give to the ‘have nots.’ Both have lost their freedom. Those who ‘have,’ lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who ‘have not,’ lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got ‘something for nothing,’ and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift.
“Under this climate, people gradually become blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost." [Speeches of the Year 1965-1966, pp. 1-11, “The Law of the Harvest.” Devotional Address, Brigham Young University, 8 March 1966.]
Of late, it seems as though we are losing our freedoms through the democratic process. More and more people are choosing the easy way out instead of properly sacrificing like our predecessors had. As a result, the ‘haves’ continually lose their freedoms by being forced to be charitable, and the ‘have-nots’ become more and more complacent and apathetic.
I truly hope that our elected officials view any reform to our health care system through the lens of self-reliance and the blessings that inevitably will come when one earns their bread by the sweat of their own brow.