Okay, I lied, I really can't stand Mrs. Clinton. It's not her voice, or her shrill demeanor (I'd like to see any woman in a debate not be shrill, they have shorter vocal chords then men do, silly). I don't even mind Hillary's pant suits. To the consternation of my diametrically opposed countrymen who are hoping this piece would be easy to refute, I hate Hillary for the best reason of all — her platform.
Let's start with the big one – universal health care. Now I recognize that our current health care system has some issues, most notably, 47 million Americans who have no health insurance, as well as the high cost of drugs, and medical mistakes. These are surely issues that need to be resolved. However is our health care system really that bad that we should be throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
Liberal pundits are quick to point out that the WHO ranks the US health care system at #37, adding that the average lifespan in the US is not the highest in the world. Mark Twain once said something about statistics, and it's just as true now as it's ever been. The WHO rankings are based on access, per capita costs, and overall health of the citizenry among other things. These metrics make sense in poorer nations, where access or per capita costs might literally be a prohibitive factor in obtaining any care at all, and where average life spans more directly correlate to the quality of care. But it doesn't translate so well when dealing with a prosperous and free nation such as the United States.
It's worth pointing out that the US per capita costs of everything from blue jeans to milk is higher than in most nations in the WHO list. As far as health of the citizenry, let's not forget that US lifestyles are not always so healthy. Our rich nation also leads in terms of diabetes and obesity – diseases brought on by our excessive lifestyles, not by a lacking health care system. Certainly our average lifespan would be longer if we had healthier diets or spent less on vices such as alcohol and tobacco. And the impact of a healthier lifestyle would be lower per capita costs of health care. But healthy lifestyles aren't fun – Americans choose an unhealthy way of life by eating too much or smoking and drinking because we can, and we pay for it. And while the quality of our healthcare system has nothing to do with these factors, the WHO ranks the US healthcare system lower as a result.
There are 47 million Americans without health insurance, and something needs to be done to close that gap. But there are ways to fix that problem without starting from scratch. Guiliani proposed moving to an individual insurance model, similar to car insurance, rather than the employer subsidized system that we have now. Others have suggested less market friendly options such as simply providing government assisted coverage for those who are without health care. Either way, this problem can be solved without placing the responsibility of our entire nations care within the inept hands of our government.
Other gripes such as high costs for drugs and care are rooted in other issues that can be resolved. Putting some sanity into the tort system so that only malpractice cases with merit can be brought against doctors, putting some fairness into the FDA process for approving drugs and giving drug makers a longer period to recoup on their intellectual property investment can all go a long way to reducing costs.
Are these issues outlined above so serious, their resolutions so impossible, that we should get rid of the system we currently have in lieu of a new bureaucracy, whose ultimate costs and effectiveness are unknown? We were all upset with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but were we surprised? Why would we be so quick to entrust the care of our health to our government? And this isn't an indictment of Bush (Would Katrina have really been so much different with Gore at the helm? Doubtful.) nor the US government by any stretch. Any fair examination of the Canadian or UK health care systems, both government run by westernized governments, reveals serious issues with the quality of care and the ready access to care. Not surprising. To quote Mark Twain once more, "nations have no command over their governments, and in fact no influence over them, except of a fleeting and rather ineffectual sort."
I find myself with the perfect segue to the next issue with Hillary's platform, namely taxes. And let's not pretend for a second that a tax increase on the scale of rolling back Bush's tax cuts could even begin to pay for HillaryCare or any of the other programs she would try to institute. Hillary loves to talk about taxing the rich to help the middle class. And while it's fun to be Robin Hood, most economists agree that higher taxes don't actually help the middle or lower class, and actually wind up hurting the economy, which negatively impacts everyone.
Clintonistas will be quick to point out that during the late nineties, taxes were moderately high and the economy was doing great. Others point out that the government has gotten bigger and more expensive under Bush who is a Republican and is actually for less taxes. Neither point has any merit. For one, President Clinton's taxes were inconsequential considering the extreme market forces driving the Internet boom at the time. And depending on where you sit, Bush was either bad at executing the Republican agenda of smaller government, or had to deal with the many hardships not seen during previous recent presidencies (i.e. 9/11, corporate scandals, etc etc). Neither argument actually makes any legitimate points in favor of raising taxes. So why Hillary is running on a platform that will mean higher taxes for this country, and why Americans seem to be in favor of it, is puzzling to say the least.
Hillary isn't all bad. She did vote for the war, but I have to mention that she never read the details of the case to go to war. It's also worth mentioning that no one else did either because at the time, everyone, including the international community, agreed Saddam was a bad guy. Looking back of course, our 20/20 hindsight tells us that it was Bush who lied and falsified evidence to make us go to war, and we are all victims of his lying, scheming ways. In fact we loved Saddam until Bush made us hate him, right? Sorry, I am digressing…
Hillary did vote for the war, and when the chips were down, she refused to apologize for the vote. And good for her for standing by her position. Why the brainiacs at MoveOn would want her to pull a John Kerry is beyond me but I appreciate any politician who stands by her position regardless of how popular it might be. Another recent hit job on her credibility was this fracas over driver's licenses for illegal aliens. As Senator of New York, she has to be in some level of agreement with her home state governor (of the same party). And the fact is, without comprehensive immigration reform, as much as I cannot stand Elliot Spitzer, he does have to look out for what he thinks is best for New York.
As much as I appreciate Hillary Clinton's strength, and as proud of this nation as I'd be to have a woman president, Hillary's faults vastly outweigh the good I see in her. I hope the rest of America sees it my way before income taxes are at an all time high and we all have to wait on DMV-style lines to get our regular checkups.