October 4, 2011


Virgil, the Roman poet, wrote “the greatest wealth is health.”  During 2012 elections, I’ve no doubt the question of the nation’s wealth will be examined in terms of health care. The question will be asked: “Is good health vital to the well-being of the community like police and fire departments or is it a commodity an individual buys like a car or a refrigerator?  

Those who see health care as a commodity do so because they believe government is wasteful. Given the growing costs of medical procedures, they prefer to hold these costs in check by market forces. Others see the business model as wrong. The goal of any business, they argue, is to make a profit. The wealth of an insurance company grows when its services shrink. The patient isn’t a part of the equation. What’s more, medical treatment delivered as a commodity creates a divide between those who can afford it and those who can’t, a divide that diminishes the wealth of the nation. 

(DreamWorks/Universal Pictures)

Facts about cost and savings will not settle this debate for it is based on different views of morality. One group believes society exists to advance the well being of all its members. The other group wishes to limit government in deference to rugged individualism.

Somewhere between these two extremes a golden mean exists. To find it, a raucous debate has begun but the rancor is far from new. This country has been divided along moral lines before. Slavery, state’s right and prohibition are three issues that threatened our nation’s survival and were overcome. The health care debate will not bury us but make us stronger. The country is again searching for its moral compass. That can’t be wrong.