Acton Institute Powerblog

Will the health reform bill ‘improve the character’ of America?

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A good back-and-forth at in character on health care reform between Karen Davenport and Heather R. Higgins. Question: Will the implementation of the health-care bill passed by Congress improve the character of our country?

Davenport says “yes”:

While we cede some rights, we also assume new responsibilities. First, we assume the responsibility to obtain and maintain coverage for ourselves, and acknowledge that we cannot wait to purchase health insurance until we are sick. We also take on greater responsibility for others, particularly by helping individuals and families purchase coverage if they cannot afford to do so on their own.

Higgins says “no”:

In contrast, the health bill is premised on the idea that people should expect to be taken care of. This law is more aligned with the sentiments of a European social democracy where hard work is devalued and income inequalities condemned. In the health bill, personal freedom and individual choice are replaced with bureaucratic dictates, one-size-fits-all parameters, and the removal of responsibility and consequence from individuals. Citizens are infantilized as wards of the state. But that’s only the beginning of the adverse consequence that this travesty will have on our national character.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • mew

    I agree with Higgins. Because of the welfare state that the US has become, those of us who work and pay taxes already have too much responsibility forced upon us. Almost half of the population pays no federal taxes, so it is up to the rest of us to educate them and provide healthcare for them, not to mention housing assistance, WIC, food stamps, fuel aqssistance, etc., etc., etc. We have created a population who is dependant on the government to take care of them and/or their offspring, thus fostering a lack of responsibility and character. The rest of us already have character and a sense of responsibility – we don’t need any more shoved down our throat at our expense.

  • Patrick Powers

    I’d like to read Bart Stupac”s opinion on this character question. After all, St. Thomas More lost his head, Stupac just lost his seat.

  • Roger McKinney

    We can see our future in France. I used to work for a US branch of a French company and got to know one of the French middle managers. Because unemployment is high in France, middle managers are afraid of losing their jobs. Line level workers are protected by unions, but not supervisors and middle managers. Extreme fear of losing their jobs makes them slaves of upper management who put enormous pressure on them. This particular French manager committed suicide. Suicides are fairly common in France. Middle managers work extremely long hours and put up with a lot of abuse out of fear of losing a job. That’s where “progressives” want managers to be.

  • Kris

    Just watch the BBC TV show “EastEnders” for what America will look like a few years from now. The characters on the show have lots or dramas but just seem kind of stuck and hopeless. They seem to be always on the dole and helpless. Do we really want that? Americans left Europe and broke away from those countries for many reasons. One being the search for new opportunities. We should be capable of taking care of our people in new and innovative ways, not following the ways of Europe. It was good to get a jump start, but we should not settle for this first Health Care quick fix. It seems so shortsighted and shallow. We are not a shallow bowl of watered down soup but a rich and deep melting pot of stew. Our founders would want us to demand better and to stir the pot.

  • I agree with Higgins and second Patrick Power’s read. The American republic was founded on an understanding of taking human nature pretty much as it was and hoping that personal liberty could survive political action if ambition were made to counteract ambition. I believe, we should counteract the ambitions of the welfare state and repeal this legislation.