Vote with Your Head or Vote with Your Heart

My Dad and I have never seen eye-to-eye in politics, but unlike many others we tend to be fairly good humored about it. Perhaps it is because I live in an area so staunchly conservative that the conservative candidate took more than 85% of the vote in my area, despite my weight (all of the weight that one vote holds) railing against it. In any case, I am certainly left leaning, and I often speak at great length to anyone who will listen (a shrinking number) about how great certain socialist policies have been to me, and how I would pay a huge sum to ensure they are continued for the next generation.

My father is a staunch conservative, and our political conversations often end (jokingly, I hope) with my calling him a Fascist and him calling me a Communist. He did have something to say, though, that has always stuck with me — and it never really sank in until now. He told me “When you are young, you vote with your heart. When you get older, you vote with your head.”

Perhaps he worded it more sternly; I have been called a “bleeding heart liberal” by more than one person on the conservative side of politics before, but the quote has always been swirling in my head. Today, I was reading something written by someone whose political views were staunchly against mine, and who thinks socialism is a dirty word, and was stopped dead by his saying free healthcare is not free.

This is not incorrect, as a rule, our taxes pay for it. I gave that point readily. My own reply was that while it may not have been financially free, budgeting for an extra $300/month in taxes was easier than budgeting for a surprise $1 million medical bill, and that paying a slightly higher tax bill to be freed from the stress of the possibility of that bill was a worthwhile expense any day. The writer did not reply directly, but another did, with the old adage that private is more efficient than public, and that we could have better (literally anything) if we got the government out of our business.

I told him to back up that claim with data, and stepped back.. Then wondered. Was I voting with my heart? So I started to look for some data. Maybe I have been spewing unfounded claims in the same way I have accused others of doing! I would feel a great shame if I could not back up my claims.

So I did a Google search for “Public sector versus private sector efficiency,” and found that the legwork had been done for me.

I found data. But one wasn’t enough. So I found more data. Data can be interpreted many ways, of course, so I also found some opinions by sources I hoped could speak with some authority. Then I found some more opinions, these ones a bit more neutral, but all agreeing that the public sector had a huge part to play in the semi-oiled machine that is the economic machine. I even found competing opinions, though even that opinion couldn’t argue with the objective data coming from Britain’s NHS–and the data showed that Britain scores more highly in terms of most health indicators. In fact, if you look at the larger picture, the US ranks abysmally, and its healthcare is largely private. Here, though. Have. Some. More. References.

I have focused mostly on health care, but that is because universal health care is something I feel incredibly strongly about.

Are the lines the shortest in socialized countries? No, of course they aren’t. I can go get health care whenever I need it without considering cost, as can almost anyone else in our beautiful country. So there are more people going to the hospital. I could go to the hospital for a headache that feels wrong, and find out I was having a brain aneurysm, and while it wouldn’t be my first thought even in a privatized world, the cost never has to be in Canada. In the United States, though, the cost of hospital beds is. A. Concern.

I hope I’ve made my point.

Given the number of references I’ve given for my side, can it really be said I am voting with my heart? Or am I using my head to look at data?

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