Here it is: America’s greatest natural resource is its citizenry -- it’s workforce.
President Barack Obama said he first wanted to identify the reform notions that both Republicans and Democrats can agree upon. That was a classic problem solving tactic, however uncomfortable it might have made some of his most relentless enemies (See note below).
Reared in a literate, freedom-loving society, America’s sons and daughters work every day to build a good life. In pursuing their happiness they establish families and build communities. In the doing, they cultivate, they procreate, they nurture, they endure. Therefore, the human beings living in the USA surely are its most significant asset.
Before what bounty still exists in its land and water, America’s most essential resource is, and always will be, its people -- its taxpaying workforce.
Just as we have recognized that other vital natural resources need to be protected from fast-buck artists, how would we not choose to protect our own health in the most effective way we can?
It’s pure folly to use the government to protect air and water, yet ignore the need to protect America’s millions of wage-earners from contagious diseases and debilitating conditions, with the potential to cripple the workforce ... put the kibosh on the economy.
Example: Not long ago there was a scandal in America over poisonous toys that had been imported from China. It was found that some of the materials weren’t safe, health-wise, for children to handle. The toys were pulled off retailers’ shelves.
Those toys never made it into France, because not unlike some other civilized countries, the French regulators never let the toys across the border, in the first place.
France had rigorous standards and inspections that kept those bad toys out of the curious hands and mouths of French kids. They didn't have to recall the dangerous products, because in France the standards were higher and the regulations were already in place. People were put before profits.
It’s actually simple -- France picks up the tab on everybody’s hospital bills.
Since France’s government has a stake in keeping French children healthy, its government naturally feels obliged to move proactively to reduce risks. One day those French kids will either be healthy, or unhealthy, workers.
When the government pays the healthcare bills, it follows that it will take more of an interest in protecting everyone’s health. That's because it will save money in the long run. Yes, save money.
Update No 1: Poor Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Richmond) might want to think twice before he brings another cheap prop to a (supposedly) bipartisan summit meeting, trying to steal some face-time on the Fox News reports. Yes, Cantor looked rather uncomfortable with that big ol’ pile of paper, all over his desk, once Obama smiled and deftly underlined the pettiness of Cantor’s weak stunt.
Update No. 2: Chris Matthews just called the summit "the Blair House Project."
Update No. 3: When Republicans say, “let’s start over,” what they seem to really mean is, “let’s kick the can down the road for another year.” And, why not? Every day that reform is averted means a lot of money to the insurance companies, et al, that have bought and paid for those legislators.