Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sometimes Size Matters

What do you call an initiative that keeps 58,000 people off the unemployment rolls? Pretty damn successful! Yet, this news was relegated to the back pages, usurped by the implosion of Chris Christie’s congressional candidate in Western New York, the dalliances of the IMF chief, and Newt Gingrich’s insatiable appetite for expensive jewelry.

Despite the hand-wringing of the anti-government zealots, this week Chrysler Corporation repaid the government loans that kept them afloat and preserved jobs for those 58,000 employees. Sometimes big government works!

Those who say let the market forces determine the fate of corporations ignore the human cost of 58,000 unemployed. Had Chrysler been allowed to go belly-up, many of those employees would be collecting unemployment at taxpayer’s expense. But now, with the loans paid, and the Chrysler employees paying income taxes, the net impact to the taxpayer is positive.  Had the anti-government partisans had their way, the impact on the Chrysler families due to lack of health care and the stress of making ends meet would have been incalculable.

The lesson here is that there are some things that can be done only by big government. Big government saved Chrysler because the banks would not. Big government built the interstate highway system because private industry could not.  Big government put a man on the moon because the risks were too high for the aerospace industry.

Today, one of the most shameful aspects of American life is the lack of access to quality health care for all of our citizens. We have seen time and time again that this is something that market forces cannot perform adequately. While the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction, it is also a gift to insurance companies that will undoubtedly game the system to continue reaping obscene profits on the health of our citizens. Yet, the Republicans are striving to make things worse by reversing the progress of the last two years and by punishing half our population by restricting access to women’s health care. It’s time for “big government” to step in and implement the only sensible solution – Medicare for All. Market forces have given America one of the most cumbersome and inefficient health care funding systems, while the government’s Medicaid system has worked well over the years.  It’s time for “big government” to  give Americans the health insurance system they deserve.

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