Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Open Letter to the Health Care Debaters

Dear People on All Sides of the Health Care Debate-

First, let me celebrate your passionate, enthusiastic use of your right to free speech. The fact that you can publish unedited opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and other portions of the internet, is a privilege that we can never undervalue. To have an opinion is your unalienable right. To express it is one that was earned through lots of blood, sweat, and tears. Well done.

Before I get started, please know that the following paragraphs are not intended as literary Onanism. This is not an ego trip, but a simple request. Read on.

By way of clarification, I am a lawyer. Although I no longer practice law, I attended law school, passed the bar on the first try, and one week later argued my first case before the Illinois State Court of Appeals. I have written about the US Constitution at length, and proved to the satisfaction of both individual states and the US government that I not only understand what's in the Constitution- I'm worthy of defending it.

I also hold not one, but two securities licenses. This means that I can advise people in principles of investing. I can discuss financial planning with them, and I can buy and sell stocks and bonds on my own behalf and for others as well. To obtain these licenses, I needed to prove an in-depth familiarity with concepts such as economics, monetary theory, capital markets, currency fluctuation, foreign markets, debt, deficits, the balance of trade, etc.

Additionally, I hold an insurance license, which is evidence that I have a working knowledge of health insurance, life insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other systems of the like.

You may be interested to learn that I am a citizen of not one, but two sovereign nations- the United States of America and the Republic of Ireland. As such I get to enjoy a unique perspective on world politics. This perspective has been supplemented by time I have spent living and working in Europe. While in Europe, I was required on occasion to use the health care system at my disposal. Specifically, Sweden's health care system.

I have attended different schools, held various jobs, lost various jobs, been healthy, been sick, been insured, been uninsured, have lived paycheck to paycheck, enjoyed periods of good financial fortunes, helped others, have required help, and I love baseball. It's baseball season- can't help the last one.

I mention all of this NOT to brag. In fact, now more than ever, I realize just how precious little I know about myself and how the world works. So though the preceding might sound like an ego trip, I hope that in describing these experiences, I have explained what I have taken from each of them. It is through these experiences that I have arrived at my world view.

So basically, I'm just like you. Not only have we never walked in each others shoes- we could never ever experience what life is like for the other. Because of this, I am not competent to say what's good for you. I am not competent to decide whether what you are saying is valid or invalid. It would be arrogant for me to suggest that you are good or bad, informed or uninformed, selfish or generous, etc. I have no idea what motivates you or what your fears may be. I recognize that you have opinions, and that like mine, yours are the summation of your life.

I'm bringing this all up to drive home the point that while I don't know much, I'm pretty confident that what I do know and what I have experienced has qualified me to come up with my own opinions on health care and national affairs in general.

While I appreciate your sometimes angry, sometimes smug online diatribes, delivered with equally delicious portions of venom and... well, smugness, I need to let you know that the odds of you influencing my spiritual, political, or social opinions are remote. We're talking Powerball-remote. While you may be able to influence what flavor of frozen yogurt I might order, in these larger realms, your attempt to influence my opinions are as effective as trying to turn around a battleship with a hand held fan.

I also have access to the internet. I read all sorts of articles too. Moreover, I'm pretty confident that at this juncture in my life, I'm comfortable admitting when I don't know something. Which is all the time. But I do understand where and how to obtain resources that I believe can reliably give me the information I need. For every pie chart and Op-Ed piece you print, there are a million other ones that say all sorts of different things about the same issue.

So let's make a deal- I won't insult you by trying to change your mind about national affairs if you agree to show me the same courtesy. And how about this- let's agree to disagree. In my experience, if and when we do this with sincerity and respect, we can actually be of tremendous service to each other by shining light on points we might not have considered. Above all, let's agree to pursue whatever ideas work for each of us. Let's align with good ideas instead of people, parties, and institutions. I understand that this might be different for everybody, but I need to believe there can only be upside when people commit to doing the right thing.

I'm not asking anyone to change what they say or how they say it. I'm merely clarifying that in regards to myself, please understand that I do not develop or shape my beliefs on social networking sites and no matter how much better you want me to think the world is becoming, or no matter how much trouble you think this country is now in, I'm just going to keep on keepin' on. Yanno?

Very best regards,