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Do You Trust Uncle Sam to Deliver on Healthcare?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 23, 2010 6:11 AM |

Sifting through all of the pros and cons of healthcare reform, I strongly believe the greatest fear for the majority of Americans is that Uncle Sam will screw up the delivery of healthcare itself. Healthcare is the equivalent of the third rail for Americans. Uncle Sam can go ahead and touch almost every other aspect of our lives, but when it comes to our health and access to our physicians, now that is truly personal.

Can Uncle Sam deliver? I guess it is possible, but regrettably Americans increasingly do not trust the “old man” on this topic. The Wall Street Journal touches upon this lack of trust in writing Vast Ambition, Colossal Risk:

As a piece of social policy, the health bill passed Sunday night by the House of Representatives ranks up there with the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson in ambition and scope. But here’s one big difference: The Great Society programs were enacted in an era when Americans still tended to trust the government to get things done.

By contrast, a principal reason the health bill was so hard to get to this point, and the reason it’s such a political risk, is that this landmark legislation proposes expanding the government’s role in the giant health economy at a time when Americans are far less likely to trust the government to do things right.

Why is it that the American public is less trusting and more concerned? I do not think for a second that our political leaders of past generations were inherently more trustworthy than our current political establishment. I do, however, think the following:

1. The public is far better informed of what is going on. Should we thank the press for that? No. We should thank the internet which has facilitated more timely distribution and review of the news.

2. The stakes are higher both in terms of dollars spent on programs and dollars spent to gain power. Money brings out the worst in those seeking power, and as a result Washington has never shown an inclination to spend our tax dollars wisely.

3. Healthcare is the ultimate personal endeavor.

Add it all up and is this reform going to be a net positive for all Americans or ultimately a redistribution program?

Only time will tell, but Americans certainly do not trust Washington to deliver…and that is a major problem, regardless of which side of the fence you are on.

Harry Markopolos is not the only one who doesn’t trust our government. The lack of trust in those supposedly serving the public interest has been steadily diminishing. The WSJ elaborates:

The result has been an erosion over time in confidence in government’s competence. One of the best barometers of that shifting attitude is found in polling done by the Gallup organization, which for four decades has been testing Americans’ trust in government. When Gallup asked in 1972 how much Americans trusted the federal government to handle domestic problems, 70% said they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust. By last year, that had fallen to 51%—almost even with the 48% who said “not very much” trust, or “none at all.”

Here’s an even starker reading: In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last fall, Americans were asked how much of the time they trusted the government to do the right thing; 65% said “only some of the time,” and a stunning 11% said “never.”

I just hope Dr. “Never” is not on call when I need him.

What do you think?


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