Saturday, October 3, 2009

Public Option, Not Military Option

I think it's outrageous that there's more outrage about the public option in healthcare reform, than there is about the military option in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Especially because the public option is a smart, practical idea that will make it cheaper for us to buy health insurance. And the military option to bomb Iran is stupid, impractical and would ultimately be bad for everyone's health in the U.S., Israel and around the world. The public option would save lives, the military option would cause many deaths.

And although most polls show more than 60% of Americans support the public option, those who oppose it are convinced it would lead to death panels, forced euthanasia, and the bankruptcy of the entire health insurance industry. The first two fears are based on completely wrong information. The third is based on the belief that protecting the billions in profits of insurance companies is more important than providing affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans. A public option will ideally force insurance companies to lower their premiums, and might also lead to CEO's taking a pay cut to only about $10 million a year. I know it's tough to get by on such a paltry annual salary, but maybe they can make do by selling one of their five houses.

But I'm even more outraged by a poll that said 57% of American Jews support military action against Iran. As a Jewish American, I'm embarassed that my own people would believe in such a catastrophic and ridiculous notion. What's wrong with the US or Israel bombing Iran? How about everything? All of Iran's nuclear facilities are either hidden underground or near civilian population centers. So it would be highly unlikely to actually knock out their facilities, while it would be highly likely many innocent Iranians would be killed. And Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who, unlike me, is an expert in these matters, believes an attack on Iran would maybe set back their program one to three years at best. But it would certainly invite retaliation against Israel, the US and Western interests around the world through terrorist attacks. And it would shut down any diplomatic relations with Iran and completely put Middle East peace prospects on an indefinite hold.

Is it too much to ask for Americans to be smart for a change when it comes to the Middle East? You would think that the utter failure of the unjust and unnecessary war in Iraq would have taught us just a little about dealing with a country that may or may not have WMD's.

Yes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made stupid, offensive comments about the Holocaust. And he has spoken out against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people. But he knows that if Iran attacked Israel, there would be swift and massive retaliation. And since all he really cares about is staying in power, (as the recent fake election attests to), that is not something he would want to happen.

So let's drop all the Nazi analogies from the Iran debate, as well as from the healthcare debate too. Let's try, for a moment, to look at both options in a clear, non-emotional way.

Which sounds like a smart option to you? Lowering our healthcare costs with a public option, or raising the threat level with the military option against Iran?

The choice is yours.