What is Government’s Role?
Recently I engaged in an email discussion with a close friend regarding the health care debate. The more interesting aspect was the redirect from her attacking a position I had taken regarding privacy rights, unrelated to health care, to an attack stating that I did not think seniors deserved end of life counseling.
I have to be honest with you, before August I had never considered phrases like “death panels” or “end of life counseling”. But, as we all know, these terms hit the airwaves and became dinner talk for many of us. I personally felt Sarah Palin did a great service to everyone by bringing attention to just one of the many possible issues open for debate within healthcare reform legislation. At the same time though, Ms. Palin’s methodology of exaggeration damages her credibility and makes it tougher to engage in genuine conversation regarding a sensitive issue.
After several readings of my email reply to my friend I could not find anywhere I said seniors did not deserve end of life counseling. Carefully I crafted a reply to my friend, one that I want to share with you:
“First, I never said seniors should not have end of life counseling, how could you infer that from my note? But, let’s presume they should. The first question to answer would be who should provide it? I certainly would not want a government staff employee to provide this service. What would we base their performance appraisal on, the number of seniors that refuse future health care benefits or the number of seniors they counsel that argue they want to live longer? Furthermore, if the government is going to provide end of life counseling, shouldn’t there be benefits for marriage counseling, divorce counseling, parenting counseling and middle-age counseling to ensure you are on the right track? It is obvious any hazardous activity would have to be counseled.”
I do not think the founding fathers intended for the State to provide this level of counseling or care to its citizens. In 1776 I believe the focus of the founding fathers was on the concepts of liberty and freedom due to the recent tyranny and oppression which they had just escaped and shed blood to have independence. The founding fathers stood firm and fought for our freedoms. Unfortunately, I believe time has caused descendants of these men to forget why we are the best country on earth and why other countries want to be like us.
We must look at history to get perspective and context. The founding fathers wanted a limited government because they knew what happened when a dependency (junkie/dealer) relationship is created. Over time other statesmen have endeavored to remind us how to avoid becoming a victim of our own success and desires. Gerald Ford said it succinctly, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
I do not believe government health care reform should involve end of life counseling. My belief is not due to lack of sympathy or compassion, but because I believe it is not the role of the State to provide, fund, or facilitate that counseling. The role of government my friend is what we should debate.
Copyright (c) 2009 John R. Nelson. All Rights Reserved.