What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.

Nov. 24 2009 - 9:17 am | 7 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Health debate simplified: Do you value life or money?

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 18:   Political commentat...

Mr. Brooks: A straight-shooter, even if he'd let your neighbor go without care if it'd mean a "vital" marketplace. (Image by Getty Images North America via Daylife)

The most clear-eyed distillation of the health care debate to date is in today’s column by David Brooks. The sides are ultimately drawn along what you value, he writes. Do you prize health for all, or vitality for all?

Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth. It would heal a wound in the social fabric while piling another expensive and untouchable promise on top of the many such promises we’ve already made. America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one.

We all have to decide what we want at this moment in history, vitality or security. We can debate this or that provision, but where we come down will depend on that moral preference. Don’t get stupefied by technical details. This debate is about values.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Values Question – NYTimes.com.

As I’ve written before, I think the health of our individual citizens is the most important thing. I would never want a government program guaranteeing a flat-screen TV for all, or laundered shirts for all. But to me access to doctors for all is just as essential as roads, police, schools, and military. I don’t care how much a public plan costs — for me it is a fundamental public service.

Put in Brooks’s terms, this is because I value life, not money. Or in words more kind to the other side, I think health and decency are more important than a vibrant marketplace.

I think it’s pretty clear on which side of the fence  Mr. Brooks falls, but it’s just so refreshing to have an important voice in the debate — a conservative New York Times columnist — spell the choices out so clearly.

What remains dismaying is the fact that those who stand to lose the most if the money/vitality philosophy is championed are the same oldsters rallying most vociferously against a program that helps the vulnerable. Let Grandpa die, says Grandpa. It doesn’t make sense.

But as Brooks so eloquently stated, this debate gets to the heart of the biggest questions we ask ourselves And when you cut to the bone, sometimes things get weird.

Update: Meet Americans who are now bankrupt just because they got sick.


One T/S Member Comment Called Out, 2 Total Comments
Post your comment »
  1. collapse expand

    This writer has it right. Money represents the only thing of value in a society in which profit is the raison d’etre. The principal tenets of capitalism and the Christian faith appear to be working in tandem to establish the theme that possessing a conscience is a weakness. Tax money spent to save lives of those less fortunate and less capable of earning would be the best purpose of taxes but we live in an age in which we denigrate victims and deny them their right to recognize their experience as victims – The underlying belief is they brought it all on themselves with their own negative thoughts, so, why help them? We live in an incredibly cold and heartless time and, indeed, one in which those who are “making it” value money over life.

Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook

My T/S Activity Feed


    About Me

    Since graduating from Deep Springs College, I've written and edited for magazines (Rolling Stone, The Atlantic Monthly), newspapers (The Village Voice, The National), and websites (NPR.org, SixBillion.org). In the summer of 2007, I packed a bag and walked from New York to New Orleans, a trek that took five months, three pairs of shoes, and a couple thousand miles. These days, I live in Saudi Arabia with my wife, Kelly McEvers, who covers the region for National Public Radio.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 41
    Contributor Since: August 2009
    Location:Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    What I'm Up To

    The Review

    I’m a regular contributor to The Review, which Reihan Salam calls a “younger, radder” New York Review of Books.

    Past pieces include:
    -”Down in the floods,” something in Saudi Arabia may have changed
    -”Checkpoint Qatif,”among Saudi’s Shiite minority
    -”Excursion into the desert,” in which my landlord pulls a gun.
    -”You’ll never walk alone,” a night of soccer in sweltering Riyadh.
    -”Get on the bus,” a story of public transport in Riyadh.
    -”Saudi Arabia’s got talent,” from the nation’s first-ever open TV auditions