Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Message from a conservative

Yes, that’s me.  Conservative.  Let’s play with that little word today.

I went to college at U.C. Berkeley.  I graduated with a student loan of $500.00.  My tuition was $312.00 a quarter and my room-and-board was $1,750 for six months.  I worked part time for most of the four years I was there.  I worked nearly full time my last quarter.  Part of the extra loan was for my second ski vacation to Utah with the Cal Ski Club.  When I went back to graduate school at Cal State Hayward, I paid my tuition and finished school free of any loans.  At the time, I was working as an accountant and was the sole earner for my wife and child.

The other day, my very liberal son-in-law stated that he wants Bernie for President because he thinks that college tuition should be free.  I respect that belief.  In fact, I support it.  Only forty years ago, I went to school practically for free.  I think that some of it should be paid for, but any person who graduates college owing more money than they can possibly earn in the coming two or three years has my absolute sympathy.  I got a nearly free education.  Every kid who wants one should have one too.

The fact that this is a political issue makes me a conservative.  Google’s definition of conservative states that it is ‘a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.’  Of course, the internet adds synonyms like ‘Reactionary’, ‘Right-Winger’ and my favorite, ‘Diehard’.  In other words, my conservatism puts me in opposition with my son-in-law. 

Take a moment and reconcile this.  Bernie Sanders wants free tuition.  I want the same thing for my grandchildren that I had.  Bernie is seen as the angel of change.  I am a Diehard Right-Winger.  Our disagreement is in how it is paid for.  He thinks that we should add taxes to the rich in order to pay for it.  I think that we should go back and find out how it was done before.  Maybe we could gain a little knowledge from the past.  Yes, it is a conservative point of view.

My health insurance was nearly free back in the ‘olden days’.  I managed to make a salary of $32,000 a year, own a house, two cars and, at the time, had three children.  Once again, I was the sole income earner.  Oh, and thinking back, the house I owned was a duplex which cost $119,000 and came with a 30-year interest rate of 8%.  One of the cars was a brand new Subaru that cost $20,000.  Just so you have perspective.  This was during the early 1980’s in the Bay Area of California.

Now we have established a perspective.  A few things cost less.  Insurance was one of them.  Kaiser Permanente had just begun offering inexpensive HMO’s and we pretty much had our pick of doctors and facilities.  The whole plan cost me around $150.00 a month with around a $200.00 deductible.  That was it.

Today, I want the same thing.  After all, it doesn’t cost any more for a doctor than it did back then.  Not really.  Of course, they owe a ton more on their student loans so they have to charge for that.  So why do we pay so much more?  Again, remember, I am the ‘Die-Hard Right-Winger’.  The people who have provided us with the jump to our current HMO plans have given me a plan costing $790/month as an individual and my personal deductible before ANYTHING is paid is $6,000.00. 

All of our more progressive presidential candidates offer up affordable health care (although I hear the whispered ‘for the low income earners’ quite often attached to the affordable part).  Their offers are all viewed as great changes.  My conservative point of view says, “Hey, let’s go back and figure out why it costs so much today when we paid so much less only 40 years ago.  Maybe we can learn something.”

Get where I am going with this? 

Once upon a time, long ago, George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  He didn’t have a very good outlook on the past.  What if we remembered history and saw some of the good in it.  Could we not repeat it voluntarily?  Perhaps that is the ultimate in Conservatism.    

Dream on, MacDuff.   And lead on, Diehard Right-Wing fool.