Despite flaws, our government still best in world

Published 10:13 am Friday, August 12, 2011

The letter in Tuesday’s Tribune about the proposed constitutional amendment known as the Ohio Project was one of the most thought-provoking I’ve seen on the op-ed page in quite a while.

The fact that the project is largely the brainchild of Ohio tea party groups makes it hard to accept the idea that this effort is simply an attempt to “protect” Ohio voters from the health care law, instead of a way to increase the turnout of conservative voters on election day.

And it’s a little startling that the Ohio Project petition includes the assurance that the proposed amendment won’t affect Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health care programs the tea party apparently has decided are acceptable.

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However, I couldn’t agree more that there is plenty to be angry about when it comes to health care. The United States spends twice as much per person for health care as other industrialized nations, more per person than we spend for food and housing.

Yet our health care system ranks 37th in the world, and we’re 47th in life expectancy and 43rd in infant mortality. About half of the bankruptcy filings in the U.S. are due to medical expenses; disgraceful statistics for the most powerful nation on earth.

With so much to find objectionable about our health care system, the tea party has chosen to object to the “individual mandate” — the necessity to enroll people who are uninsured and healthy in order to lower the average cost for everyone.

The constitutionality of requiring everyone who can afford it to pay something for their health care is being debated across the country, and it’s a debate worth having.

There are other aspects of the health care law that will have to be debated and refined as well.

That’s how a democracy works.

Framing any attempt to control the cost of health care as an assault on our freedom, and preaching hatred of our government and our president, aren’t helpful. If the amendment passes, it will be challenged in court, which is where this issue will be decided.

For now, our system of government is still the best in the world, a fact the radical right would do well to remember.

Abby Fowler