Letter to Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor
by Patrick Dobson
Dear Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder:
I’m disheartened and ashamed that you have taken steps to oppose in court one of the most important reforms in the history of our nation. The overwhelming majority of Missourians are at or below the median, or average income for the state and the nation. Healthcare is the one great burden all of us, as working citizens, have to undertake in our lifetimes. We have no choice. It is our health.
But for decades the American health care industry has taken advantage of working citizens because it is a necessity of life that we need and use their products. The move to merely regulate the industry, to make people who profit from our sickness provide at a reasonable profit, rather than at exploitative rates of return, is not too much for us to ask. And we have asked and asked and asked. These healthcare — or, rather, “sickcare” — providers have only exploited us further. We did not get to this point because of their graciousness, generosity and kind caring. Their excesses have brought demand for this change to them.
I’m disappointed and hurt that, as an officer of my state, you have stood up for power and wealth over the concerns and needs of the people. I’m ashamed that you have dressed your actions in the cloak of standing up for my constitutional rights when there is nothing in the Constitution or outside of it in the Bill of Rights that provides for the shielding of power and wealth. Your actions are political grandstanding disguised as leadership. You righteous indignation is merely a mask for seeking to engage and perpetuate a status quo that only hurts my fellow Missourians.
The great struggle in this country has been to expand personal freedoms, individual liberty and the right for citizens to make their own way as long as they do not infringe the rights of others. It has been the center of political debate since the dawn of the American Industrial revolution, and it is at the center of the healthcare debate. The differences between the parties is not about who can call the other a nastier name and make it stick, but about how to accomplish preserving individual liberty, personal freedom, and the right for every American to choose their own way. Your decision to portray your opponents as evildoers who would contravene and end these sacred American principles is not only wrong; it violates the very spirit of our representative democracy.
That Missourians are chained to employers for lack of having healthcare choices, that they have to face mountains of debt to profiteers, that they have to worry over their health and the health of their children because of lack of access are crimes against liberty and freedom. For you or anyone else to say that through this kind of legislation they lose freedom shows just how distant from their experienced you are. While I have healthcare, I do not get to choose my doctor — I have an abbreviated list of “providers” to choose from, which makes the idea of choice a cruel joke. My access to treatment is decided by corporate bureaucrats who will do everything in their job descriptions and more to protect profit. I cannot choose to change jobs and keep my healthcare unless I can come up with the exorbitant premiums that insure that. I cannot choose my insurer, my employer does that. I cannot become self-employed due to the high cost of healthcare for those who choose to make their own way, outside the corporate-dominated business markets.
Your action against the federal government is self-righteous, wrong-headed and contradictory to the very laws of our state. The only major change that I see in the Congress’ healthcare legislation is that we, as a people, are now asking healthcare insurers to run their companies as we demand car insurers run theirs — singular risk pools with risks and rates distributed over the entire membership or customer base of those insurers. To stand against the Congressional legislation is to ignore the way we regulate other kinds of insurance — from life to homeowners’ insurance — is to say that the state violates the rights reserved to individuals in Tenth Amendment. To be consistent morally and principally, you would also have to change our state laws that mandate we insure our homes to protect the investment of mortgage lenders, that we insure our cars against personal liability and medical costs of ourselves and others. By the logic employed in your actions, these statutory mandates from the State of Missouri, our state, violate the Tenth Amendment.
I implore you to do what’s right for our fellow Missourians. Stop this self-righteous and overtly political grandstanding and rescind your lawsuit. Your party has long disengaged on the debate over healthcare reform. It is time, if you disagree with the Congress, to stand up and do something for the people. Your lawsuit, while you may say that you are standing up for the people, is a slap in the face of their better interests, their welfare, and their future generations. End your alliance with the forces of reaction; you are on the wrong side of the struggle of people against those who would oppress them.
Patrick Dobson lives in Kansas City, MO.