On hearing of the passing of Senator Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932-2009) I decided to read a few of the online biographies and eulogies to the Senator.
As my mind has been consumed with the health care debate, I was struck by the decade long push for government conrolled health care. The push was well underway before Kennedy's rise to the Senate. I simply remember Senator Kennedy's efforts as they happened with my lifespan.
In school, I was taught that the Camelot era was the high point of American history and I adored Kennedy. For that matter, the only two politicians that I can remember adoring were Teddy Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.
In college, I was indoctrinated into hating Reagan with all of the fervor that today's students hate George W. Bush. Reagan is the only politician I ever actually hated.
I moved away from Kennedy's point of view while working for a state run insurance agency. I realized first hand that a bureaucrat does not provide health care. Doctors and nurses do that.
A better system is one that helps people build resources for their own care as a direct relation between provider and care giver is healthier.
I say this as I've come to view the Kennedy legacy as a great American tragedy. I see Senator Kennedy as a man who spent his life trying to solve problems with politics that are better left to different devices.
Kennedy's half century influence in health care has had the direction of greater centralization and the systematic destruction of all alternative means of health care funding to big insurance.
As the press starts its eulogy of Senator Kennedy, I hope that people realize that the status quo (with health care burdened by the yoke of private insurance) was a product of a single minded focus on centralizing and regulating care.
The great danger of populist giants is that the giants lead us to think that centralization of the economy is the path to progress, when real health care is the care that takes place silently by the bedside of those in need.
If my believe is correct and health care takes place at the bed side and not in the halls of Congress, then I see the passing of the most influential Senator of all times as a great sorrow in that his great influence was detremental to an issue he cared about ... quality health care for all.