A Conservative View on Universal Health Insurance



I have long made a distinction between “current conservative thought” and what I call “original conservative thought”, and also refer to as “prairie conservatism.”

As a child on the farm in Kansas, I was surrounded by “conservative thought”.

Conservative thinking as I knew it then was heavily based, in story/tradition at least, on slavery and the Civil War as an issue.  “Freeing a people” was respectable and honored, no matter the party for which one voted.

Conservative thinking drove countless daily and long term decisions.
We were farmers, after all, the lot of us.  Those who were no longer farming had roots in farming via grandparents and/or uncles/aunts. They understood “conservative thinking” as it applied to farming.

“Prairie conservatism” as I knew it meant avoiding debt (taking out loans when necessary – say for farm machinery – a decision based on keeping the farm going.)  Machinery, however, if it needed replacing, was first sought as “good condition second hand”. Similarly, cars and trucks were commonly “second hand”. Generally, if something could be fixed with resources on hand (bailing wire for instance!) it was fixed with minimal cash outlay, and no debt.

“Husbanding resources” was a “Biggie”!
This ranged from looking after the land with contour farming practices, to maintaining wind-control trees along section lines, to stashing anything that might turn out later to be useful.  Boards and machinery parts stashed outdoors; fabric and garden produce indoors.

“Personal integrity” was fundamental.  “Deals” were made as best as possible with both parties holding interests of one another in mind.  Word and handshake were honorable, and were honored. Local small town grocers and mechanics provided goods and services at this level of integrity. “Big Profit” was “foreign” to their practice.

Christian teaching was important in the prairie conservatism I knew. It had almost nothing to say of “hell fire and damnation” and promoted living by the New Testament – the teachings of Christ.  There was woven through the culture an awareness of “the human family*

It did not surprise me, when later living in Canada, to learn the Canadian single-payer health care system originated in Saskatchewan (a solidly prairie province; we called it “Kansas North”).  Not only did the concept of “husbanding” the essential human resource first show up in the Canadian prairies, the individual driving it was a Methodist minister!  (Tommy Douglas, member of the Canadian federal parliament.).

From a prairie conservative point of view, Universal Health Care made plain and common sense as “husbanding a resource”.  Single payer made “economic sense” as well, in a ‘hands down’ way: Pool everyone, share the cost, look after those who need looking after as need arises.

From a Christian, compassionate, view, the Canadian HC system also made plain and common sense : address suffering.

As a child in Kansas, I experienced a lot of enthusiasm for Dwight Eisenhower.  In current times, one of his last remarks lingers like a bell still ringing: “Beware the military-industrial complex”.  I have no doubt he would weigh in today, extending his caution. His remark might now be: “Beware the military-industrial-mega corporate-lobby complex.”

Truman, in my part of Kansas, was less enthusiastically honored. But the agrarian Kansans I lived among knew the heart-message of Truman’s: “The Buck Stops Here”.  Individual responsibility – toward self, toward all, toward husbanding resources, with a strong dose of compassion was understood. People understood the phrase“individual responsibility” included the full range of possible individual human choice. They also understood, as citizens, and as Christians, there was individual responsibility to matters of “common weal”.

Current, “urban Conservatism” is a very different beast
from prairie conservatism as I remember it. “Urban Conservatism” has little to do with practical economical means of “husbanding resources”, and has little “compassion”.  It has become “profit-driven”, uses “profit likelihood” to override any vestige of moral compass it may once have had.

The story of Christ driving the money-lenders out of a “sacred” place makes no “connection,” in the mind of a “modern Conservative,” to modern times.  “Sacred place” is corporate headquarters. There is no imaginative extension of a generalized concept of “sacred place” to mean, for instance, anywhere, everywhere, including the earth itself, structures and institutions, and physical bodies of the living.  “Husbanding”, as in “stewardship” – at the center of “prairie conservative” practice – is short term, if it exists at all, in modern conservative thought, and is narrowed to “costs of productivity” against “profit”.

The stereotyped “modern Conservative” that I hold in mind supports, and becomes part of, that which Eisenhower warned against. Individuals of this persuasion, do not hold themselves to a “moral compass check” of “the buck stops here, with me, personally”; they do not appreciate the ‘teaching’ of Christ chasing out the money lenders; they do not understand “husbanding resources” by practical, common sense government policy.

I was immensely heartened to learn today of the website:
http://republicansforsinglepayer.org/. In fact, this news is behind my posting this article!

It turns out, wonder of wonders, and hope of hope, that the “Father of Reaganomics” supports a Single-Payer Insurance system!
Thoughts and rationale of Paul Craig Roberts may be read at
http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=144312962&blogID=511334466. I cannot say how well my thoughts line up with those of Mr. Roberts on a point-by-point checklist.  But I suspect I agree with him “in general” as much as I agree with arguments in favor of Single-payer.

I also cannot say how far this economist has moved from the disastrous results of a “trickle down” approach to general economic theory.  Who knows, “trickle down” might have had more positive effect if “prairie conservatism” had been in practice, rather than the “Corporate Profit-Motive Conservatism”, already functioning at the time of “Reaganomics”.

(“Reality check”, personal fantasy adjustment on my experience with Prairie Conservative values: What I have laid out above is “the best” as I experienced it in the 1950’s. and was very real. Sadly, no majority of those same wonderful folks appreciated need for strong labor unions to balance power between workers and corporations.  They were also relatively silent on living and working conditions for the “urban poor”.  They did not “connect”, could not easily relate, to what it “must be like” to not live on ones own land, to not be in position to raise ones own food. Many, despite personal generosity, were not members of agricultural cooperatives in their region, in those times, and others were!  I had questions about “unions” and “cooperatives” as a child.  I asked for adult insight once, to my memory, and did not ask again.  The response was: “Too close to ‘communism’, not close enough to individual responsibility”.  It wasn’t  consistent to avoid organized cooperative venture with other dominating beliefs and behaviors – especially as these are among the most democratic of all non-governmental market institutions. But human inconsistency  is not uncommon –  One might well want to examine cultural ‘mind-set’ during the Cold War, and also to explore sources of “facts about socialism”. Odd that Scandinavia was scarcely mentioned during the 1950’s to foster more realistic understanding of “socialism”.

Since a great deal of my “personal world view” was strongly oriented toward “personal responsibility to cooperation whenever possible”, I did not fully accept the answer.  Later, farming on my own, and as a union member through my career, I was able to participate in “cooperative” ventures, and to witness and deeply appreciate a need for unions as “power balancers” between “workers” and “management”.  I touched on “Reaganomics” above.   Perhaps, if the heart and principle I found so valuable in “Prairie conservatism” had been practiced by “management”, if management had viewed “employees” as “a resource to value and honor”, unions would not have developed!!

Further to “reality check”, I acknowledge Tommy Douglas was not of the Canadian conservative party.  Far from it, but he was deeply intelligent, deeply thoughtful, and deeply committed to human well-being at the grass-roots level.  “Integrity” is an excellent word to use as a stand-in for the name Tommy Douglas. Everything he stood for lines up with my experience of “the best in prairie conservatism”.

My Best To All!
– MaggieAnn


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
Gallery | This entry was posted in Health Care, Philosophy/Psychology/Human Nature, Social-Political and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Conservative View on Universal Health Insurance

  1. Foxwood says:

    I’ve tried, but you can’t argue with indoctrinated idiots. Best you can do it point them out and hope the real thinkers will wake up and see what is happening.


    MA comment: It’s always great to learn there are “more of us” than we experience in local spheres – Thanks for weighing in! Possibly helpful to “see past the urge to label ‘idiot’?” … and to stay the course, stay the course, stay the course … Many thanks again, for you link too! … …. later: just returned from your link. I did not mention in my article that I am a registered Independent, in part because I value my “independent head” more than any “category” available. Interesting take you have on education. My reason for registering independent is that I only agree ‘in part’ with most stances, including yours. 🙂 If I am inclined to ‘blame’ anyone, I usually take aim at “broad culture”, as I view all “systems and organizational stances” as developing out of “across the board” conditions and values held at any one time. “Broad cultural” developments, of course, develop out of “lack of individual practice in evaluating what’s going on”, based in turn on (in my opinion) lack of individual awareness of the countless forms of “brainwashing” we deliver to ourselves in our culture. … well, in any human culture! .. which in turn leads me to promote psychology as a study! (See my post of yesterday.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s