For those who question my, as a New Albany City Councilman, interest in this national issue, it is this: Even the rats aboard a sinking ship drown.
Our city and small cities across the land are handcuffed by fiscal restraints put in place by well-meaning citizens and by those who are of the decidedly not well-meaning Norquistian variety.
The quest for this basic civil right holds the prospect of unlocking the vital potential of millions of citizens who are held in dead-end jobs because they "need the benefits".
These people can begin to pursue entrepreneurial gigs that would revive our economy and provide them with more meaningful work lives. These efforts are the kinds of businesses which can be nurtured through one generation into the next. This builds wealth and it builds stable communities with potential for sustainable growth. It could happen in New Albany. It could happen in any of the countless cities across the land.
And yet, New Albany is divided against itself. The nation is divided against itself. Too often, those who step forward to offer their voices in the civic conversation are wittingly or unwittingly speaking someone else's words. The health care debate is a prime example of people's reluctance to accept change, and their fractured attention reinforces this reluctance by preventing a solid understanding of the facts of the debate, thus opening them up to being used as pawns by industry against their own best interests. Thomas Frank's book, "What's The Matter With Kansas" examined that phenomenon.
We can see this at work right here in River City as people howl and object to any spending. This howling is oblivious to the forces at play around us. Inflation is likely to heat up as the economy continues to recover. We demand more services, directly, or indirectly through growth and strain on existing infrastructure.
All the while health care costs grow dramatically. The City currently pays about $1,400,000 annually for health insurance costs. These are for current employees and retirees. The system rides a wave of inflation caused by many factors, but the City budget gets swamped by the costs. The services we demand are cut in its wake, and the City deteriorates. The best solution to these spiralling health care costs is a single-payer plan as put forth in H.R. 676. The New Albany City Council passed a resolution in January supporting H.R. 676.
Health reform is fiscally responsible, yes, but it is simply the right thing to do.
Below is today's installment of Which Side...? It contains a video from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.