As I walked home yesterday, I enjoyed a gorgeous autumn evening, cool breeze and all.  People were in good spirits all around, and I thought, what a fantastic country we live in.  What a fantastic place Manhattan is in the autumn.

Before buying some flowers for my lady, I saw a construction van with a vicious-looking bald eagle painted on the side (skillfully), as if it were ripping through the side of the van, and perhaps terrorism itself by implication.  On the back, it said clearly that if you don’t like America, get the @$%# out.  And if you don’t like his driving, dial 1-800-EAT-#*@&.  We’ve seen this sort of van before–it wasn’t the first of its kind.

I hate to contribute to a culture war, and so if this is how my post reads, please feel free to say so.  Perhaps we can find a way to frame the dialectic in a more constructive way.  But I really feel like this is not what America is about at all.  It is about opportunity, sure, the American Dream.  But I think it is also about doing the right thing.  I am not going to draw out the Bush v. Obama story.  We’ve heard it.  What I want to talk about is healthcare.

One of the best opinion articles I have read this year was a Roger Cohen piece in the Times a couple weeks ago.  Find it here.  I agree with Roger that the debate isn’t really about health.  It is much more about the fear that “Hey, somebody’s freeloading on my hard work.”  Or, as Roger puts it, “There is endless worry that one’s neighbor may be getting more than his or her ‘fair’ share.”

Personally, I have trouble understanding this.  I am all for the rugged individualist.  I am all for free trade.  I am all for opportunity.  But health care is a morel imperative.  If we are greatest country in the world, we should be able to educate everyone and heal everyone.  If anyone tells me that someone is freeloading on me by taking too many classes, I would say that’s ridiculous.  And anyone who tells me that freeloaders are going to run rampant on universal healthcare, taking an ambulance to the hospital every time they have a cough…well, that person has probably never been in an ambulance.

The freedom that comes from not having to stay at a job because they cover your healthcare…now that sounds like freedom in a truly American way.  The freedom from worry about how your medical bills are getting paid this month…that sounds like America.

So enough preaching to the choir.  For people who are terrified, what would help this thing along?  Let’s keep the dialog going.  I am interested in any creative ways forward, creative ways to keep a lid on costs, but I think universal healthcare is a moral imperative.  Don’t you?

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