Mitt Romney and conservatives see more acutely than do liberals the decline of participation in civil society. Their claim that government assistance and welfare can be cut and offset by the efforts of civil society rings hollow to many Americans because they no longer do, or perhaps never did, have much faith in the strength of civil society to affect real social change. Thus he is forced into a situation where he can’t explain his policies – which assume that civil society will be able to fill the void left by cuts in welfare programs – and thus he does not seem like a leader. If he stays silent he can’t win. If he tells the truth he can’t win. The causes of the pickle Romney finds himself in though are what he and conservatives in general want to change.
Mitt Romney and many conservatives are pointing towards a problem that cannot be shelved for later administrations. We have a big problem: everyone wants the services government provides but no one wants to pay for them. The “era of debt” is over and we are now going to have to make choices. We either begin eliminating government services or find ways to provide them more efficiently and at lower operating costs. Voucher programs shouldn’t be laughed off as ridiculous; the Scandinavian countries use vouchers for education and it has worked well for them. They have produced effective and innovative schools. In my opinion competition should be encouraged in the education sector; competition amongst instructional models, models of technology utilization and teacher performance. I don’t think there is a clear cut need for vouchers in the healthcare market.
Healthcare should not be tied to for-profit insurance companies. Insurance companies bring little to the table; they are merely middlemen who take a little bit cash for themselves on each transaction between the patient and the healthcare provider. So-called socialized medicine works quite well. If you don’t think socialized medicine works well ask those who have been treated by the skilled and dedicated healthcare providers of Veteran’s Affairs whether the government can provide quality healthcare. The question is not about a government takeover, the question is how we finance quality individual healthcare. For-profit insurance companies provide funding by pooling risks and resources, but the government or any not-for-profit institution (i.e. the public option) could perform these same functions without the incentive to collect profits.
When my grandmother was dying we had to call an ambulance to rush her to the hospital. My family was billed some $400 because ambulance service is too expensive for small local municipalities to operate and they have resorted to outsourced medical transportation services to private for-profit institutions. This is a disgrace.