Is America sicker than ever?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 28, 2010

With the most sweeping social reform legislation in a generation approved last week in the health care reform bill, why does it still feel like our country is sicker than ever?

This isn’t a Republican concern or a Democrat one; it’s an American one.

It’s embarrassing that our elected leaders act like 5-year-olds, threatening and challenging one another.

Increasingly threats seem to be turning more violent.

Our elected officials are more worried about political gain and their own social agenda than the country’s future.

At the moment, America is massively divided over the direction of the country.

Few Americans would argue that our country’s health care system could use some improvements.

However, both sides in the debate tell a different tale of how it will affect our country.

House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the measure, “Makes a tremendous difference in the lives of Americans.”

House Republican leader Rep. John Boehner agreed, but in a 180-degree direction, calling the legislation a “grim moment for millions.”

At more than 1,000 pages the health care reform bill is massive. Does anyone who voted on it truly understand its implications?

Probably not, meaning the overriding message is: Don’t worry about logic or reason. Our plan is best. Just shut up and listen to us.

Will it bankrupt our country and ultimately raise taxes or will it improve health care and reduce the deficit? The answer depends upon whom you ask.

Understanding how adding insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans will not cost somebody a significant amount of money is difficult to fathom. That money must come from somewhere.

That “somewhere” will eventually come back to the pockets of everyday, working Americans — either through increased taxes or increased costs, passed along by businesses.

The first big effect of this was seen Friday when telecom giant AT&T announced plans to take a $1 billion charge in the first quarter to account for upcoming health care costs.

The charge represents one-third of its earnings last quarter. That may be the start of many such unintended consequences that may get passed along to consumers.

The health care bickering may epitomize the worries facing the country, but it’s certainly not the lone evidence we may be headed in the wrong direction.

Our nation’s energy policy — or lack thereof — is a good example of this, too.

Rather than working to become energy independent and rid ourselves of the dependence on foreign oil, we continue to funnel billions of dollars to other countries — most of who are not our friends.

America is the Saudi Arabia of both coal and natural gas yet neither fuel appears to be in favor at the moment. Why aren’t we as a nation pushing the development of both fuels as we continue to push more green technology?

Americans are being taught to depend more and more on the government, it seems.

Personal debt? No worries. The government will help.

It’s not popular to question this, but should the government continue to try and bailout homeowners?

Millions of American homeowners are underwater — owing more than their houses are worth — but millions more are paying their mortgages on time and made wise decisions by not attempting to buy a house beyond their means.

America may have health care reform behind us, but our country is sick with the belief that the government will fix all the other symptoms we’re facing.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.