Watching the health care debate, I feel humbled. Each of the many sides presents articulate and compelling arguments. I'm critical of Dennis Kucinich and Eric Massa for voting against the House bill, but I grant that I'm touched by their objections. Same with the Republicans and the Blue-dog Democrats whose concerns about the cost of the program are not to be scoffed at.
As a moderate, I am grateful for those who stand to my left and to my right. The former give voice to the compassion and indignation we feel when the humanity of the poor is assaulted. The latter demand that we not forget what the years have taught us about human culpability.
Bertold Brecht, a Marxist, grappled with the dilemma of charity versus prudence in his farce The Good Person of Szechwan. In it, a woman protects her small business, while serving her charitable impulses, by appearing alternately as her compassionate self and her strictly frugal cousin.
Willy-nilly, the insurance companies play this dual role today. Sometimes they are heartless; sometimes they serve us almost too well. But for those who believe the real problem lies in the fee-for-service structure of the health care industry, insurance companies potentially can be an ally in effecting change. The trick is first to get everyone covered.
I place my hopes on long term development rather than sweeping re-invention. It will take time. The House bill is a start.