Opinion

Free markets and the role of governments

Interesting how that maxim “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it” sure is playing out in the healthcare fiasco in the United States. We can remember the “Repeal Obamacare” chants during the election. Did they know at the time what they actually would be doing is taking $339 billion out of their deficit and awarding $575 billion to the wealthy over the next ten years?

Cut services to give back to the rich. Look who fought for it: the very ones who cannot afford healthcare. In fact, 24 million will fall off the insured list in ten years; 14 million instantly. The emergency room will be their only recourse.

The conservative Republicans enjoy that there will be at least a $300 billion reduction in the deficit and proclaim the gospel that, ten years from now, the premiums will start going down. They ought to go down; there will be 24 million less dragging at the bottom of the healthcare system.

This is precisely what populism earned, like on the other side of the ocean where the Scottish now want independence from Britain. What began as a crack in the ground is now becoming a moat in the British political landscape.

Emotions are good but need to be exercised within some degree of temperance and reason. At the end, reason needs to prevail and we will find that having a pragmatic approach to political matters has a better chance of gaining a successful outcome.

Bermuda is no exception. We, too, often are led by fears or anger. Neither are good for society; however, they are a preponderant in our local politics. For example, the Progressive Labour Party is meant to be feared and the One Bermuda Alliance is meant to be the oligarch. Both cases may have some validity somewhere in its circles, but the higher hope of those who support both parties is similar in their desire for a better Bermuda.

Somehow the idea of what constitutes a better Bermuda needs to be posted on the proverbial church door, like in the case of the historical Martin Luther, the monk who did just that. What would be even better is if a Jeffersonian-type intellectual movement engaged our minds and spirit. The primitive tribes understood the need for each member of society to have the tools of survival, and they ensured it. None of us will be truly happy in a sustainable atmosphere unless each of us can participate and have the opportunity to live a noble life. This is not the luxurious dream of the privileged; it is the cry within all people.

We want leaders who look out for the least within our community without being unfair to those who have prospered. The US, in trying to fully privatise healthcare and rid themselves from the role of government in favour of the marketplace, leaving the welfare of society in invisible hands, has not worked and it is not working anywhere in the world. There will always be a role for government, unless we have a perfect brotherhood of man.

Small and even no government is an ideal worth pursuing, but cannot be predicated on a wild free market of only the strong surviving. It is only workable within a highly charitable society, where love prevails over greed.