In response to Richard Hirschi on collectivism (“Dissenters should be able to opt out,” Sept. 7): Abraham Lincoln said, “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities.”
What do we not do, at all, or not well, for ourselves? Roads, bridges, fire and rescue, schools, libraries, parks, public safety, national defense, adequate water supply, sewage disposal, public health services, safety standards (for food, water and drugs), gas and electric utilities. We ask government to either provide or regulate these services to make them accessible to everyone in the community.
What about health care? When we end up in the hospital for several weeks because of an injury or illness, how many of us can pay for the care we receive? How many of us can afford or even find outpatient medical care when we need it? About 40,000 Americans die each year because they cannot obtain the health care they need. They need it, but they cannot get it.
Commercial health insurance isn’t the answer. Health care costs trigger most bankruptcies in America, and most of the bankrupted people were “insured.”
The provision of health care for all Americans qualifies as a legitimate object of government. You might call it beneficial collectivism. I doubt many of us resent Medicare or Social Security “collectivist” incursions into our lives. Do you, Richard?