Thursday, October 25, 2007

what do we want our government to do for us

This topic came up in the car, on the way to doggie daycare (!). My son was telling me about a girl at his school, Gemma Frost. Her brother is the twelve year old student who testified before Congress about the sCHIP program (children's health insurance). For those of you not in the Baltimore area, you may not be aware that the Frost family has experienced an avalance of hate mail, invasion of privacy, threats, etc. since speaking up for the continued funding of the program

My son was horrified that this was even an issue. He felt all kids should have access to medical care. Period. I agree. So we started talking about what a government should do for its citizens, and why people would be angry at the Frosts. The anger is that many people feel insurance is a purely private thing; if you want it you buy it, and if you can't afford it, go without. And the Frosts are not poor. They are not rich, but they are not poor. They make ends meet, they own their own home, their children go to private schools (on scholarship, btw). But they are self-employed and do not get health insurance through an employer. Bottom line, they applied and were approved for the SCHIP program. Should they be homeless so they can buy insurance? Should they pull their kids out of their schools and put them in public school to make people feel better?

My argument this morning was that we have to decide what we want government to be, and to do. I feel that the government should protect the most vulnerable among us: the poor, the disabled, children, the elderly, because how we treat these people is what we are as a society. We are a well-off country that spends more on war than we spend on these vulnerable citizens.

So, what do you want from government? what kind of society should we be? and how do we get there?

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