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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Feb 19, 2008

After being subjected to an endless litany of diatribes for more than a year, thanks to our first-in-the-nation caucus, many Iowans are deservedly already tired of hearing the continual noise coming from the presidential candidates. After a time, they all sound like white noise.

And, while they are filled with ideas, there seems to be little in the way of how those ideas can be applied. Yet again, the candidates for our nation’s highest office are good at pointing out problems — yet any solution seems to be as elusive as the airwaves upon which they speak.

We would like to see candidates from both parties develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the issues, rather than continuing to point fingers.

Let’s take the issue of the various forms of government-subsidized care as an example.

We keep hearing that the government should do something about providing health-care coverage. What people seem to forget is that “the government” is not some abstract entity. The government is us.

If we’re going to get health-care coverage, then all of us as taxpayers will have to pay for it. And there’s an inherent problem in that.

Many people take a particular job just so they can get health-care coverage as a benefit. Maybe they’d like to be doing something else, like sailing around the world or riding a Harley around North America. Instead, they’re working 40-hour-a-week (or more) jobs to pay for health care.

Is it fair to make those people pay for others’ health care?

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s daycare. Some people (and candidates) believe the government should get into the daycare business even more than it is now.

Let’s think about that.

There are people out there who choose to never have families because they simply could not afford to have them. Is it fair to tax those people to pay for daycare for others? That’s what government-subsidized daycare would do.

And then there’s long-term care. How many of us know someone whose life savings have gone to long-term care. The answer is probably all of us.

The reality is that we as a society, in the interest of having the “freedom” of having two incomes in the average family, have relegated what were previously family responsibilities to the government. We used to take care of our own children until the day they entered school. We used to assume that we were all responsible for our own medical expenses. And, for those of us who can remember, the extended-family system used to provide care within the home for elderly until the day they died.

Now, those systems are all disparate costs, and those costs are breaking the bank. When the Baby Boomers all hit retirement, who is going to pay for it all? What will the quality of life be fore the elderly 20, 30 years from now?

One solution might be to have people take care of each other instead of having the government, or us, do it.

For example, if daycare centers were based in senior living facilities, the savings could be significant. Seniors could volunteer to supervise children in exchange for a reduction in their assisted-living rental costs. The children would fill a void in these seniors’ lives, and all would be enriched as a result.

If it sounds like too revolutionary of an idea, just remember that the native Americans did exactly that same thing for thousands of years. The elders told stories to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the winter fire. That was the time when stories of their people were passed on and the history was preserved.

We could learn a lot from the native people. If it worked for eons for them, it should certainly work for us.

What the heck.