Is government the problem? Or is it individual greed?

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


I just had what I considered to be a great conversation with one of the conservative panelists who sat on the panel at the "Understanding Health Care Reform" Forum that I facilitated/moderated on Oct. 28.  He describes himself as a capitalist and believes in profit making.
As we were discussing the cost of health care and government intervention he stated that he is opposed to government intervention.   I responded with this….   I don’t believe that government is truly the problem.   

If we really examined the root of the problem I believe we would find that greedy behavior is the culprit.   If people – all people --  those who run businesses and those who are consumers,  truly valued the virtues of truth and honesty, we wouldn’t need regulation.   I told him, I realize I’m talking “Fairytale Land” here, but I believe the crux of the matter is that our society is so comfortable talking and living in a world of “half-truths”, instead of full truths, we have created the economic system and the health care system that we have today.    He agreed.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring back the day when people lived life with the belief system that “Your word is all you’ve got — If you lose that… You lost everything.”  Back then, people actually made verbal business deals and they would seal it with a handshake.  The hand shake was better than a contract, because if you were man or woman enough to “shake on it”, that  meant not only will you hold true to your word, you will also uphold the spirit and the intent of why the deal was made in the first place.
Now if we could only bring back a business culture and a social culture like that into American society, today,  I believe we would see REAL health care reform without government intervention.   What do you think? 


Bryan Dubois

Government power is made from individual people and the decisions they make - so I guess you're  both right.  How do you eliminate greed?  You can't - unless you want to eliminate all people. 


We are definitely not in Kansas anymore. The days of loopholes and fine print are here to stay and the best we can hope for is to stay as informed on as much as we can . Ethics , morals are traits that don't always win when they go up against the almighty profit margin. We have to look out for each other as much as we can .

Sue Daugherty

Let me offer this to your "You can't" theory.  I say "You can", if we can find a way to change the current social mentality...which is that cheating and half truths are normal/socially acceptable behaviors.  There's no more social stigma to to these behaviors, anymore.  In fact, if you return somethng valuable, or discovered a financial error that was in your favor and you refused to profit from it (because that would be dishonest) -- people would think you were abnormal.  You see, generally speaking It is socially acceptable to cheat (if you don't get caught -- and even if you do, ie, Pete Rose, you are still socially acceptable).  And it's socially acceptable to mislead by conveniently omitting what should rightfully be disclosed.

Applying social stigmas prevent behaviors and create soical norms .  There was the day when wife beating was considered normal and "none of our business".  Male peers still socialized with their male peers and brought their wives to socialize with them.  Some American males actually beleived that sometimes a woman just needs a good beating  - and she shouldn't have her own credit card or checking account, either.  Wife beating and the gender inequities of our financial systemwere social norms.   Thank God they aren't any more. 

Change occurs not just because of laws, but because there is a change in the social mentality of what is no longer acceptable.   I say we need a Gandhi movement -- "Be the change you want to see in the world". -- Author Mahatma Gandhi  And let's start with treating other people as we would like to be treated.


Bryan Dubois

I agree with parts of your post but I disagree with the idea that you can stamp out the sin of greed by attaching a social stigma to it.  (If that's what you're suggesting.)  Greed is in every human heart.  Claiming you can stamp that out would be the same as saying you're God.  You might be able to make it socially unacceptable for people to show it - so they'll do a better job of hiding it.  Do you honestly believe that corporate greed was stamped out after a few financial scandals in this country?  Or has it simply become politically incorrect for business people to appear to be greedy?

Sue Daugherty

I agree with you that greed is in every human heart.  I believe what exacerbates this element of our human existence, is that the American culture has  stopped vauleing truth & honesty and fairness in daily living and daily business.  If these virtues were valued in American society, (and high profit margins do cause people to rationalize why it's OK to be dishonest/pratially honest & "a little" unfair)  one of the the side effects would be stigmatization of those who do not practice truth, honest & fairness.     

I agree with you that it won't be the total solution, because we can't cause everyone to adopt this way of being/living.  However,  I do believe our failure to value and apply these virutous characteristics of human behavior has brought more government intervention.  Why?  because we the people have weakend the American culture's social foundation. (We don't value truth, honesty, fairness).   Since our society knows of no other way to correct the consequences of greedy behavior we have more government intervention.  I beleive it is our social behaviors in personal life and in business have produced what we have today.  We are the victims of our own behavior.

I conclude with this... It seems to me that those who are strong proponents of less government, would be well served if the would invest their energies developing a social strategy to change the problem of greedy behavior.   To do this I suggest that they start a Gandhi movement -- Be the change you want the world to see.  It won't be easy.  In fact it will be very hard.   But  that doesn't mean its not worth doing.    


Oliver Hardy
Sue Daugherty started up a very nice topic about moral philosophy. What ever happened to ethics, truth and honesty? Is it gone for good? Of course not because many people still live by the Golden Rule.
There is nothing wrong with a company making a profit but a company or a businessman should live by the Golden Rule as should the consumers and customers when business is conducted.
Bluto wrote: "The days of loopholes and fine print are here to stay and the best we can hope for is to stay as informed on as much as we can . Ethics , morals are traits that don't always win when they go up against the almighty profit margin. We have to look out for each other as much as we can ."
The fine print, which I call micro-print is very deceiving to the consumer and customer. Not only is the fine print very lengthy at times but sometimes it is hard to understand the legal meaning. This micro-print allows the companies to wiggle their way out of making things right for the consumer and customer. I am no fan of disclaimers or loopholes if they are used to deceive which almost always is the case.
Firelands411 wrote: "Greed is in every human heart." I don't believe that greed is in every human heart because I have known many people who were very giving, putting others first before themselves. These people are not very materialistic and live very simple lives by choice. It used to be that CEOs of a company earned about 30 times what the average worker in a factory earned but that is not the case anymore or so it seems. Many years ago I read a story about a factory that burned down which put all of the workers out of work. The owner of the company didn't have to but chose to continue paying the wages of the workers while the factory was being rebuilt. This company owner certainly wasn't greedy.
Half-truths are the same as lies because the whole truth is hidden.
How can government reform health care if government cannot even reform itself? Government is full of waste and fraud and does little to correct itself. Medicare wasted over $47 BILLION last year. Medicaid wasted over $18 Billion. From the above link: "Records released in the past week showed that CMS for three years ignored internal watchdog warnings about swindlers stealing millions of dollars by scamming several Medicare programs. The agency received roughly 30 warnings from inspectors but didn't respond to half of them, even after repeated letters." CMS for THREE YEARS IGNORED internal watchdog warnings?
The agency received roughly 30 warnings from inspectors but DIDN'T respond to half of them? Even after REPEATED letters? If the government ignores waste and fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, how will the government prevent waste and fraud in a national health care program?
Bryan Dubois

The government is the last organization you want in charge of health care.  If private sector corruption is at a high level, you can pretty much guarantee that the government counterpart is even worse.

Just my opinion. 

Karl Hungus-Mr....

Like I have said before the Wu Tang Clan said it best "cash rules everything around me, c.r.e.a.m. get the money! dolla dolla bill y'all"

It is as simple as that.