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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Cows Believe the Grass is Greener, Too

August 24, 2009

Farmers will tell you - for whatever reason - their herd of cows will invariably head toward the hedgerow in a field and try with all their might to graze on the grass on the other side of the fence - although the same grass - and plenty of it - is available to them right in their own field with no extra reaching involved.

We’ve now learned that taxpayers aren’t much different - they, too, are always looking for something better - on the other side of the fence - fearful they might be missing out on something good - or worse yet - that someone else might have it a little better.

This premise is the heart of the current health care debate involving the so-called public option part of the President’s health care plan - and it is mesmerizing the country and political pundits alike.

Congress will soon return from its August recess and Members have had plenty of time to assess what their constituents have been saying about the health care proposal. Most don’t want it - but a few non-vocal taxpayers still believe it’s the best way to go.

The issue over a public option has come down to the fact that some Americans believe other countries are doing it better, cheaper, and more efficiently through a taxpayer-supported health care system - while opponents are calling these plans "socialized medicine."

It’s a debate on political philosophy because no one knows exactly what the public option will entail - it hasn’t been written yet and the details won’t be known for some time. Still, some taxpayers see the grass greener on the other side of the fence and they want to give a public health care program a try.

While President Barrack Obama has wavered on his support for the public option, the liberal base within his party is insisting that it be included. They argue that only with a public option can health care costs come down and provide competition to private health care companies.

Opponents counter that there already competition in health care - after all there are hundreds of private insurance companies offering a variety of plans. They also contend that health care decisions need to be made between the patient and their doctor - and that the federal government need not have a voice in those decisions.

There is also the issue of competency and money. A public option plan will cost billions to administer and the federal government’s track record isn’t very good when it comes to spending our money. No one can credibly argue that the federal government will administer health care effectively or economically - yet that doesn’t deter its supporters from wanting it to be included in the plan.

Most federal agencies are awash in waste, fraud, and abuse and one doesn’t have to look too far - the United States Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service, Medicare, the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Agriculture, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or the Department of Veterans Affairs - to see examples of inefficient and wasteful federal agencies.

The "cash for clunker" program administered by DOT is an example of federal government incompetence - and it was a mere $3 billion program. Thousands of local car dealerships have yet to be paid by the government for participating in the program.

Imagine waiting for a health care reimbursement check as the government dilly-tallies around with your paperwork - or worse - waiting to hear back on reimbursement approval for treatment or an emergency surgery.

The fact is the current health care system - while not perfect - is the best system anywhere in the world, and we’ve all heard the stories about people in other countries on long waiting lists for operations such as hernias, gallstones, and hip replacements.

Still, many taxpayers are convinced there’s a better health care system somewhere else - just beyond our borders - and they want the option for a system like that too. Yet it’s good to remember the lesson learned on the farm - cows always look for grass that might be greener on the other side.

Yet we all know what their ultimate destination turns out to be.