Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has described opponents of the controversial government healthcare bill as equivalent to those who opposed an immediate end to slavery. “You think you’ve heard these same excuses before? You’re right,” Reid said. “In this country there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early. Let’s wait. Things aren’t bad enough’—about slavery.” The anti-slavery forces wanted to speed things up, so much so that they believed and promoted the view that a war might solve the problem more quickly.
There is no debate over healthcare reform, but there is a debate on how best to achieve it. The answer is not more government intervention. We know what happened when the government tried to solve the slavery issue just so some of slavery’s opponents could say they fixed slavery. They fixed it in principle, but they made long-standing messes that we still have to endure and pay for. One Tea Party sign says it all: “Congress is ENSLAVING our CHILDREN with DEBT!”
The let’s-fix it-now-crowd, no matter what the long-term consequences and costs, was willing to go to war over slavery. I know that the “Civil War” was not solely fought over slavery, but the hagiographical works on Abraham Lincoln make a case for it. Slavery needed to be outlawed in the United States as it was in England, but without a war. If people had slowed down, maybe we could have averted some of the unintended consequences like these “Civil War” statistics:
At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. The number that is most often quoted is 620,000. At any rate, these casualties exceed the nation’s loss in all its other wars, from the Revolution through Vietnam. The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men.
The so-called Reconstruction of the South sowed the seeds of future racial conflict, so much so that racial prejudice in the South increased rather than decreased. Racial segregation replaced slavery in the South, and programs instituted during the Great Society era created a form of government sponsored dependency similar to southern plantation living.
With this history in mind, slowing down is not always a bad thing, especially when the nation’s financial future is at stake. Consider the debt load piled up since the enactment of Social Security. In 1977 the tax rate on SS was hiked in phases from 4% to 12.3% (employee and employer “contributions”), and the upper level of income taxed is now around $105,000 per year, a combined tax total of more than $12,000 per year for someone on the high end of the salary scale. This is a far cry from the original two percent (employee and employer portions) on $3000 per year, a total of $60. Medicare is in a similar fiscal hole.