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Is Obamacare taking freedom away?

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Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 9:23 am | Updated: 9:44 am, Fri May 11, 2012.

I have heard repeated over and over how “Obama-care” is going to take away your “freedoms” because the government is going to be making all your decisions for you. Maybe we should leave that to insurance companies? If Obamacare goes away I am sure they won’t deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition or refuse to cover you at all. Insurance companies aren’t the government. You can trust them, right?

What everybody is in a tizzy about is the “mandate” part of Obama’s health care which actually was a conservative idea to avoid the single-payer system (like Medicare) they so hate. Obamacare went out of its way to preserve the private health insurance system, which means there still is an insurance company (or a middle man) between you and your doctor taking a cut of the action. Theoretically, insurance should be cheaper if everyone has insurance – the old, the young, the sick, and the healthy all together.

But what about that mandate that forces me to get health insurance! A mandate! Ouch. That’s not fair! Isn’t that sort of like a law? Let’s see. We are mandated to buy liability insurance if we want to drive our car. We have to wear a seat belt and can’t drive over the speed limit. If we have small children, they have to have a safety seat. My car had to pass a smog test. So many mandates and I haven’t even gotten out of the driveway! I can’t even text while I’m driving!

It’s true that if I can’t afford it the government will help me buy health insurance. There’s that government word again. Isn’t it trying to take my freedom away? You know – the FBI, IRS, Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Park Service, DMV, Social Security Administration, Postal Serv-ice, and Highway Patrol? How about the county clerk who deals with “fictitious” names all day long? That sounds very suspicious to me.

Now this mandate is in the hands of the Supreme Court – a bunch of guys comparing mandating health care to eating broccoli, burying bodies and using cell phones. They just allowed strip searching a person for any kind of an arrest. Tell me again why they get to sit on that bench for the rest of their life? How about giving them a nice solid 12 years and they’re out of there.

If a government mandate takes away my freedom, what exactly is freedom?

In my office I have a picture of Norman Rockwell’s the Four Freedoms. Painted in 1943 during World War II and inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address in 1941, they are as follows: Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want, and Freedom of Speech. I figure that is a good place to start if you’re talking about freedom.

Freedom of worship requires that the government keep a separation of church and state. Before our country was founded, many people had to join their state religion or be ostracized or worse. I don’t want someone’s religion forced down my throat by religious people or the government. There is a country where there is no separation. It’s called Iran.

Freedom from fear is the most complicated and really incorporates all of the freedoms. Can you be who you are without fear of repression or harm? Can you pay the mortgage? Will you lose your job? Can you afford to wait to have that lump on your breast checked even though you have no insurance? How will you pay for it?

Freedom from want is having food on the table and a roof over your head. More and more we are seeing homeless people wandering around. Some of them are disabled or mentally ill. Ask any food bank in the last few years and they will tell you that demand has skyrocketed. The other freedoms don’t mean much to someone who is hungry and cold.

Freedom of speech is still alive and well in most cases. Freedom of speech allows people to distort and lie as well as shine light on the truth.

Freedom is always balanced by security. One givith and one taketh away. Where do you draw the line? The “war on drugs” and the “war on terrorism” have taken away more freedoms than any health care mandate ever could. Obamacare isn’t perfect and needs to focus more on containing costs but it seems helping 30 million people to have health care gives them more freedom – especially freedom from fear. Losing health care feels like the opposite of freedom.

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  • MichaelArkin posted at 1:16 pm on Fri, Apr 20, 2012.

    MichaelArkin Posts: 265

    Don't agree with any of you people (as usual). Obamacare was a stupid compromise if you ask me. Putting health insurers in charge of American health care is like hiring the wolves to guard the sheep. Requiring everyone to purchase a policy or be fined or taxed is clearly outside the power of the federal government and is a deprivation of property without due process.

    On the other hand, healthcare is not some incidental benefit to be handed out to the monied and employed classes. Every citizen should be entitled to the best healthcare possible. Quite frankly, healthcare should be socialized, like social security and medicare are already. I know "socialized" is a nasty word ... fighting word as it were. But it works in all other civilized countries. Yes - the lines may be long. But here in America the poor and lower middle class don't even get to stand in line.

    So stop calling each other names and figure out how to deliver healthcare to all citizens in the most efficient way possible............

  • Charles Dudley Jr posted at 2:04 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    Charles Dudley Jr Posts: 1281

    Agree fishwidow with you 100% [smile]

  • fishwidow posted at 12:43 pm on Wed, Apr 18, 2012.

    fishwidow Posts: 54

    First of all, the Consitituion is foundation of he laws of our country. It was designed to specifically outline the limits of the Federal government, clearling stating that anything else is to be determined by the states or the individual citizens. Of course, the country has changed over time, as have the people, but the concept of the limited Federal government is what has allowed us to prosper and attain both individual rights and privelages unknown to most of the rest of the world. Just because something may be beneficial to the country does not give the Federal government the legal justification to mandate it. It must then be handled within the individual states or left to be an individual decision. The Supreme Court's role is to uphold the Constiution and to determine the constitutionality of any laws/mandates brought before them. So work on a solution that fits within the framework of the Constitution. Which is what Congress and the President should have done in the first place.

  • ecoalex posted at 11:40 am on Wed, Apr 18, 2012.

    ecoalex Posts: 138

    Some Thoughts

    The Constitution was written mostly by wealthy men,men who denied women the right to own land,vote,and denied people of color the right to own land or vote.We have thru time changed what the founding fathers conception of Constitutional rights were,to enter the new centuries.Women now vote,own land, incur debt,as people of color do also.The Constitution is a living document which has been interpreted to include new rights.

    After the financial crash of 1929,caused by many of the same forces of the 2008 financial crash,FDR saw that the power elite would continue to deny the right of a decent life to most working people,so he started social security,which would grant dignity to older Americans in their golden years,thru contributions to a retirement fund.The Conservatives tried to block it,but FDR prevailed.Later,medicare was added,for the same reason;to grant dignity to older Americans.Again the Conservatives howled,and have been hard at work to eliminate both very successful programs.How many Seniors want to lose their Social Security,or Medicare? These programs are very popular,even with Conservatives,despite the assertions they are "Communist" in their implementation.

    Our health care system is badly broken. One main reason is the inequity of insurance managers deciding who get what care,even if the customers have paid for the necessary care.This is unconscionable,but so are many aspects of capitalism. This is why strong requirements must be placed on the insurance cos,or even outlaw the for profit aspect of health insurance cos,and a single payer scheme adopted.The lies spouted about the "nightmares" of Canada ,or Europe,or most all developed countries are just that;lies,propaganda from the ins cos,who don't want to lose their very profitable game denying people the care,or drugs they need.A single payer system is the future if America is to be humane.The alternative is people denied care and told to just die.Our whole tax scheme of corporations receiving $Billions in profits while paying no taxes, is badly broken,as is the unending wars,ending this would easily give all Americans the care they have a right to.

  • posted at 7:30 am on Wed, Apr 18, 2012.


    Thanks Don for a concise and dare I say, brilliant piece. I don't have a lot of money, but i have found myself contributing to various progressive causes because I am really scared for my daughter and grandchildren. If the Supreme Court follows its recent nonsensical rulings (Citizen's United, probably the most egregiously negative decision I think they have ever made, strip searching, and the list could be made larger) and they overturn Obama's health plan, my daughter will eventually either go bankrupt or be poor most of her life. We just spent close to $100,000 on her education so that she can pursue a career that will make her productive and happy at the same time. But unless she can immediately get a job with good health benefits she will be unable to afford the basics of life. She is really smart and already connecting up with good jobs so maybe I shouldn't worry, but as a parent, I do have concerns.

    What appalls me the most is how the GOP and the far right continue to lie, lie some more, prevaricate, distort the truth, and repeat the lies until people who refuse to think or are afraid to think, begin to believe the lies. How some of these powerful politicians and corporate leaders can look at themselves in the metaphorical mirror each morning and be happy with what they see, is a mystery to me. I am putting together a column on this subject as soon as I can find a local angle on it (of which I am pretty sure unfortunately there is one).

    As you can see by the one comment published so far, people are truly afraid because they have been brainwashed by the repetition of lies and half truths. When people are hungry and living from paycheck to paycheck and afraid of getting sick, all this personal liberty stuff is just so much hot air.

    Keep up the good work and good writing.

  • Charles Dudley Jr posted at 1:44 am on Wed, Apr 18, 2012.

    Charles Dudley Jr Posts: 1281

    In a few short words. Yes it does. By requiring/mandating a free citizen according to the Constitution of this nation MUST have insurance or be fined and/or taxed is taking away from personal liberty.

    We have just crossed the line into Communism. Sad but all to true.