Well, the first Presidential debate of 2012 is in the books and I have to agree with most people that Romney won this one. Heck, MSNBC spent most of their post-debate coverage arguing the points they wish President Obama had made. Even the Uber-liberal Ed Shultz could find very little positive to say about President Obama’s performance.
I’ll just say quickly that the reason I think Romney won this one is because he showed passion. For a person who was mocked for a time as coming off as a robot, he showed emotion and determination. When he forcefully argued why he wanted to be President, I almost forgot about all the lies he had just spewed about the Affordable Care Act.
That said there’s one point that Romney kept bringing up that I wish the President had countered. He repeated a couple times that we just need to let the private sector (or the states) solve the big problems. I shouted at my TV at least twice after Romney made this statement: THEN WHY HAVEN’T THEY!
You want to know what the difference between me, personally, and Gov. Romney is: I don’t think the private sector can solve every problem because they haven’t. To paraphrase one of my favorite lines from The Social Network: “If the private sector could solve the health insurance problem, they’d have solved the health insurance problem!”
When senior citizens were eating cat food and going homeless it wasn’t the private sector that solved the problem, it was Social Security. When the elderly and the poor weren’t able to get the health care they needed, it wasn’t the private sector that helped them, it was Medicare and Medicaid. When college costs are so high that the average person can’t afford to attend even a community college, the private sector didn’t solve that problem (not for the vast majority), it’s Pell grants and Stafford loans. When children that were 6-months to a year old were being denied health insurance because of “pre-existing conditions” (from when they were not yet born) it wasn’t the private sector that ended that, it was the Affordable Care Act! And let’s not forget the biggest example of the private sector not solving a problem: Civil Rights. When African-Americans weren’t able to sit at lunch counters with white people, drink from the same fountains as white people, go to the same schools as white people, or any of the hundred other areas of the PRIVATE SECTOR from which they were forced to be segregated, it was the federal government that solved the problem. You know what private sector: you didn’t build THAT.
The programs enacted by the federal government are not perfect. Not by any means. Some of them have huge flaws. However, compared to the private sector, they’re doing quite well. If you want to know what the private sector thinks about solving the country’s health insurance problem look at Papa John’s CEO who told shareholders that it would increase the cost of it’s pizza by 14 cents a pizza. In other words, “if I were willing to take a 14 cents per pizza loss, I could offer my employees health insurance, but I’m not!” And that’s not really his fault. It’s a business’s job to make profit. Anything that eats into profit is bad. Which is why you fire experienced people and hire inexperienced people at a lower rate. It’s why you cut benefits. It’s why you fire workers. The best interests of a company are not always in the best interests of the nation. Many big companies are experiencing increased profits (from sales overseas) but they’re not hiring. Why should they getting more profit from fewer employees is the hope of every company. They don’t have a duty to employ people, they have a duty, to their owners and shareholders, to make money. Nothing wrong or evil about that, it’s just not helpful to the United States, which depends on people being employed and spending money to keep our economy strong.
Basically I don’t trust the private sector to solve problems, because it’s not in their best interests to do so. The free markets have decided about most of our social problems and their answer is “don’t care”.