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A healthy population is a truly conservative goal

What is it with conservatives and their obsession about repealing the federal law that aims to achieve medical insurance for all citizens?Yes, the law may be too bureaucratic and some of its details are fairly questioned. But what’s wrong with its premise — that government should see that everyone has decent medical insurance and medical care? Yes, there may be a constitutional issue in requiring people to buy medical insurance if they can afford it. But such a requirement was the cornerstone of the conservative alternative offered to the Clinton administration’s bureaucratic national medical insurance scheme back in 1993 — an alternative offered by the Heritage Foundation, whose objectives then were to get everybody covered while preserving private medical insurers, a market in insurance and choice for insurance buyers, the same objectives of the new law.As for requiring people to buy medical insurance if they can afford it, the Social Security and Medicare systems are huge requirements for social insurance that are imposed on every private-sector worker. Unlike the medical insurance of the new law, the Social Security and Medicare systems are financed by direct taxes and are operated by the government. But few conservatives would repeal those systems. And if the medical insurance requirement is unconstitutional, the alternative is only to socialize the whole insurance business or give up the objective of insurance for all and let people die in the street or get free care in emergency rooms only after great damage has been done to their health. Yes, covering everyone will cost money — but less than is being wasted on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars being waged not to be won but only to save face, wars the country doesn’t support. Strangely, most conservatives are not bothered by that cost. Why does medical insurance for all bother them so much?Ensuring public health sometimes used to be considered a conservative goal. It strengthens the country. As Winston Churchill, maybe the greatest conservative of modern times, remarked not quite 70 years ago: “There’s no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies. Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”What is it with liberals and their obsession with legitimizing the federal government’s failure to enforce immigration law?A while ago the big liberal cause in Washington was the “DREAM Act,” bestowing citizenship on the children of illegal aliens if they go to college or enter the Armed Forces — as if the country needs more college students, more people seeking jobs at a time of great unemployment, and a more mercenary military.Yes, it’s sad that many younger illegal aliens who were not responsible for their parents’ lawbreaking face its difficult consequences, having no legal connection to the country they’re in and little practical connection to the countries of which they properly are citizens. But the kids are being twice used as hostages — first by their parents against deportation and then by advocates of unrestricted immigration and another amnesty for illegals — just what the country was promised would not happen when the last amnesty, the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration law, was enacted in 1986.Conservatives are justifiably fed up with the constant failure to enforce immigration law when enforcement could be done easily — not by terrorizing illegal aliens but by targeting and severely penalizing employers. While the liberal slogan lately is that there should be a “path to citizenship” for illegals, there always has been such a path — the procedures long established for seeking citizenship, procedures that make the United States more open to immigrants than most other countries.Residents of border states like Arizona and California are particularly fed up with the failure to enforce immigration law, as those states are most burdened by the crime and welfare costs that come with illegal immigration. But the whole country as well as those states are entitled to some years of effectiveness in immigration law enforcement and a sharp reduction in the illegal alien population before considering the “DREAM Act” or any other amnesty.Immigrants who come here legally because they want to be part of the country and build their lives here are great. On the whole they may be a better bunch than native-born citizens. But immigrants who come here mainly because they want to work under the table and earn money to send out of the country don’t build it up; they just undercut everyone else’s wages. Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

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