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Looks Like I Don’t Have to Apologize for Being American… Today.

June 29, 2012

It was with a huge sigh of relief that I awoke this morning to discover that the Supreme Court of the United States had not torn asunder the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as pundits like to call it). I’m grateful for many reasons, chief among them that as an expat living abroad I don’t have to explain why America is so hell-bent on spending more money per capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world, while still managing to have millions of people with no access to affordable healthcare.

Uncle Sam wants YOU to put the needs of the majority ahead of your own

In case you’d like a simplified explanation of what this all means, here’s a great link.

Now, there is a lot I have to say about the rancor surrounding this law, but since I’m in such a good mood about the SCOTUS decision, I just want to address one thing, and that is the only group of people who actually have any real reason to bitch about this law. The people who already have health insurance will not be affected at all. The people who want insurance but who do not have it due to preexisting conditions or low-income will now have health insurance. So, those two groups, covered. There are, however, people who live in a gray area – they do not qualify as low-income but can still not afford healthcare and will be fined for not having coverage.

Before I go on I want to say that I think this problem will sort itself out in time. Insurance companies will need to start offering more affordable healthcare options, as the market will require it. But for now, I do understand their dilemma and I am sorry that they are in this position. This is, however, the price of living in a democracy. The common good approach to ethics requires that we do what is best for the majority of people. Democracy is indeed built upon the very foundation of this ethical stance. Somehow Americans have gotten caught up in this idea that their individual rights trump the common good. They don’t and they shouldn’t so the only thing you folks can do for now is suck it up and be grateful that you live in a society that wants to do what is best for the majority as often as possible. Because the fact is that most of the time, you fall within this majority. You have roads and public education and garbage pick-up. You benefit greatly from the ethics of the common good.

Democracy in America is not perfect, but such is the nature of democracy. There are plenty of places to live that won’t force you to have insurance coverage, though I’d venture a guess that upon investigation you may find that your choice also comes with a price that you may not be willing to pay.

I personally am fortunate enough to not be affected directly by this law at all. Such is the nature of white middle-class privilege. I am very affected indirectly, as we all are,  since the cost of providing care for the uninsured is astronomical. The intent of the Affordable Care Act is that by requiring all Americans to have insurance, the costs associated with healthcare will go down. That’s a win-win.

I’d like to imagine that we as a nation are capable of seeing this as an opportunity for all of us to put the well-being of the majority ahead of our own individual needs. A decision to do this is at once simple and profoundly spiritual. It is a chance to, through the eyes of compassion, see everyone as collaborators in an effort to do the best thing we can for the largest amount of people.

I think Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammad would agree.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 23, 2012 3:27 am

    No need to apologize for America to your Korean friends. If not for America, they would have never even been born.

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