Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gettin' All Political

Okay, so today, I wake up to the news that the Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate portion of what's been termed "ObamaCare" - President Obama's signature health care law. As we can all imagine, the news has caused a flurry of comments. Everyone, it seems, has something to say about this, and sadly, it seems most of what I'm seeing is negative. Folks are upset thinking that the government is telling them they don't know how to take care of themselves, that the government knows what's best for us better than we do. Folks are hollering that our constitutional rights are being trampled. "It's not in the Constitution, therefore, the government is overstepping their boundaries." By that argument, then, women and African Americans shouldn't have the right to vote, because that's not stated in the original document. The government shouldn't have stepped in and made slavery illegal. The government shouldn't be able to collect taxes. we wouldn't have had Prohibition or had Prohibition repealed. The terms of the President and Vice-President shouldn't have been modified to a different schedule. There shouldn't be a limit for how many terms a President can serve. Our rights to vote in a primary or other election for President, Vice-President, etc should still be allowed to be denied us for failure to pay a poll tax.

 Okay. There's the Constitution, there are the first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights. These are items that were added to the Constitution, because there were basic individual rights the new states wanted added to the Constitution before they'd ratify the document. This is the first evidence that the Constitution is a LIVING DOCUMENT: That the Constitution can be changed and adapted to meet the needs of the nation as the nation grows and times change.

The Bill of Rights
Definition: First 10 Amendments to the Constitution. James Madison was a strong supporter of the Bill of Rights. They were part of the compromise that ultimately resulted in the passage of the Constitution. These amendments protect individual rights against government intrusion.

Here is a list of the Bill of Rights:

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Seventh Amendment: In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Want more proof that the Constitution is a living document? Read the 10th Amendment, then take a look at amendments 11-27. If we were going to hold to a strict interpretation of the 10th amendment, then why do we have amendments 11-27? Why do we keep passing laws to try to make our lives better? I am in no way claiming to be a Constitutional Scholar. I'm simply pointing out to those who would point to the Constitution and say our rights are being trampled that if they're going to complain about the healthcare reform somehow abrogating their rights, then they'd better take a look at the whole document, so they can take umbrage with all the changes made to the Constitution over the years. Things like women having the right to vote, for example, and that our right to vote in primaries and other elections can't be revoked for failure to pay a poll tax. Just examples.

Okay? Now, to wind this up, I googled to find a list of the healthiest countries in the world, and googled to find out about the health insurance obligations in those countries, just to see where the United States stands in the world on the issue of universal health care. We still have a LONG ways to go.

Here are some definitions for the terms to follow:(Source:

System Types: Single Payer: The government provides insurance for all residents (or citizens) and pays all health care expenses except for copays and coinsurance. Providers may be public, private, or a combination of both.

Two-Tier: The government provides or mandates catrastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for all residents (or citizens), while allowing the purchase of additional voluntary insurance or fee-for service care when desired. In Singapore all residents receive a catastrophic policy from the government coupled with a health savings account that they use to pay for routine care. In other countries like Ireland and Israel, the government provides a core policy which the majority of the population supplement with private insurance.

Insurance Mandate: The government mandates that all citizens purchase insurance, whether from private, public, or non-profit insurers. In some cases the insurer list is quite restrictive, while in others a healthy private market for insurance is simply regulated and standardized by the government. In this kind of system insurers are barred from rejecting sick individuals, and individuals are required to purchase insurance, in order to prevent typical health care market failures from arising. Got all that? Great. Now, here are the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, in descending order, with the system type of health care they have. (Source for Top 10: Ready?

10. Australia: 2-tier
9. Austria: Insurance mandate
8. Denmark: 2-tier
7. Italy: Single payer
6. France: 2-tier
5. Germany: Insurance mandate
4. Switzerland: Insurance mandate
3. Iceland: Single payer
2. Sweden: Single payer
1. Japan: Single payer

Yes, I know none of these countries are the United States, and they all have differing forms of government from ours, so, Gee, Laura, aren't you comparing apples and oranges? I don't think so. I would consider all the countries on this list to be "first world nations," just as I consider the U.S.A. a "first world nation." And as such, shouldn't WE be on this Top Ten List of Healthiest Countries in the World? We fancy ourselves a world trendsetter, yet here we are, lagging behind. We let children and senior citizens go without medical care because they don't have access to affordable healthcare. I must ask: How "first world" is that? The government isn't telling you you can't take care of yourself or your family. The government is providing an opportunity to find affordable healthcare. Because, and I can tell you this from my own experience, just because you're healthy NOW, doesn't mean that you will always be healthy, and just because your gallbladder isn't acting up NOW, doesn't mean that at some point it won't. Wouldn't you like to be able to have that taken care of without ruining your family finances? Be a Scout. Be Prepared. And don't be surprised when, 20-30 years down the road, your grandchildren want to know, "Why was 'ObamaCare' such a big deal?" --- Just like we might've asked our grandparents or great-grands, "What was the big deal about giving women the right to vote?" It's all a matter of perspective.

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***Please note: I have tried to find the most up-to-date information, and it's current within the last 3 years. All of my sources for this post: List of Countries With Universal Healthcare, originally written 9 August, 2009 and updated 21 March 2010. Accessed for this post: 28 June, 2012. Top Ten Healthiest Countries, originally written 7 February, 2011. Accessed for this post: 28 June, 2012. Social Studies for Kids: The Bill of Rights, accessed for this post: 28 June, 2012.


Anonymous said...

This one says it all: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Diane said...

Brilliant explanation, Laura!

@Anonymous, the Supreme Court - the highest court in the land has made its decision and that decision stands.

Laura Hamby said...


Okay, using the argument of the 10the 10th Amendment, please explain why we have amendments 11-27, why women can vote, why slavery is prohibited, why poll taxes are illegal...

If you're going to use the argument that the 10th Amendment says it all, then apply it to EVERYTHING, not just to the things you find objectionable.

Laura Hamby said...

@Diane...Thanks! :) I hope it all made sense. It made sense to ME. LOL.

Diane said...

@Laura, it definitely made did, thank you. You would make a great news writer BTW.

@Anonymous, Laura has a fine point. I'd like to read your answer too - if you have one that is.