We all have different ideas about the appropriate size and role of government. That is a good topic for conversation. No name calling, no yelling, just a thoughtful discussion and sharing of points of view. In some instances it is pretty clear what the role of government should be. Defense comes to mind. In other instances there apparently is room for disagreement.
Two elements of government involvement in our lives that I believe in very strongly are fairness and consistency. In my mind those two concepts should be standard operating procedure both in how we fund government and how government delivers public services to its citizens.
Here is where the rubber apparently hits the road. Here is where we run into disagreements and in serious fairness and consistency discrepancies. Tax policy is one clear example of unfairness and inconsistencies. But I want to concentrate on the delivery of government services for a moment. I was reading an opinion article by Garrison Keillor in the Duluth News Tribune the other day. In that article he asks the question: “How is being struck by a hurricane so different from being hit by cancer?” I think this question and the answer go to the heart of the issues of fairness and consistency.
While one might question the wisdom of building and/or living in a hurricane prone area, we all do chip in, through the government Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with relief and recovery. The government, as an “avatar,” if you will, of all U.S. citizens, helps those among us who are in a desperate situation as a result of something out of their control. So in the pursuit of fairness and consistency I wonder about the following.
Again while one might question the wisdom of some lifestyle and health related decisions that are made by others, (like living in a flood plain or on the Florida Keys) why don’t we all chip in through an appropriate government agency to help with medical relief and recovery? Why don’t we help those hit by cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, asthma, MS, or other desperate medical situations? Why is this different? If we can do one, why can’t we do the other? The so-called “Single Payer” health care program does just that.
Again, I quote Keillor: “I’m just asking.” I encourage all to call our members of Congress and ask them the same question.
Sister Bay, Wis.