THE BLOG
12/22/2007 02:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

De-regulation is Good. Will California Finally Kill This Myth?

There are many reasons to watch the current move
in California to enact universal health care.
The State's Assembly passed a bill that would
create a California system very similar to the
one now in place in Massachussetts. While
California cannot claim firstness, it does have
the claim on bigness and that really matters.
Measured as a national economy,California is in
the world's top ten. And the political timing is
going to make health care into a campaign
issue whether the Republicans like it or not.
The California Aseembly will be debating this
issue as the primary season rolls along in
January and February, 2008. The Republicans in
the California State Assembly each voted against
this bill even though the state's Republican
governor is in favor of the proposed law.

There are humane and ethical reasons why this
bill is important. Here on HuffPo the head of
the California state employees union put the case
elegantly and clearly.

"...California took a giant step towards
assisting the growing number of hard working, tax
paying, middle class families whose only health care plan is a prayer that they
don't get sick; whose only doctor is an emergency
room; and whose only realistic chance to life
free of both increasing health care costs and
being an illness away from financial disaster is
the plan that passed the California State
Assembly..."

Long-term, this move to institute health care in
the nation's largest and wealthiest state is
crucial because it signals the painfully slow but
important changing of government's role. It
shows government can once again be an aid to its
citizens, not simply protector of corporate
profit. Almost no person making an unbonused
salary in America really expects the "market" to
come up with an equitable solution to healthcare
for the unemployed, the low paid or the
previously ill. The State of Oregon where I now
live allows health insurance companies here to
deny coverage to anybody who has recently been
treated for depression. That in itself is
depressing. But that's the market for you.

It's amazing to look back and remember a time
when even Republican politicians could favor a
new law that attempted to help the helpless, to
protect those without CEO status. Richard Nixon
signed into law The Endangered Species Act in
1973. Willingly.

Can you imagine any Republican now in the White
House, or trying to get into the White House, who
would do such a thing? It was Ronald Reagan's
handlers who put abroad in the land the the
bumper sticker "wisdom" that government regs are
bad for business, for you, me, the American Way
and the gate post. De-regulation became one of
the pernicious conquering myths of Reaganomics.
Guess what, without regulation some things that
should happen, won't happen. Government runs on
taxes, not donations. If you look at many of the
crucial social changes in America in the past
forty years, from civil rights to recycling, you
will see that many levels of regulation and
mandatory requirements (oh how the Bushies hate
"mandatory") have been needed to move the
necessary change forward. It always helps when
many Americans come to understand the dangers of
second-hand tobacco smoke or drunk driving or
throwing away the beer bottle, but it's goverment
mandates that can make behavior changes more
prevalent. How many wheelchair ramps would there
be in America without legislation? Want to wait
for the market to solve problems like that?
Where are all the corporate solutions to mass
transit?

The California health care move is one Washington
D.C. Republicans cannot stop. It remains to be
seen if the national party's move against
California's anti-smog regulations will make it
through the courts. I blogged about that battle
earlier.

The health care law will be descried by some
pro-business lobbyists as the end of the free
enterprise system, detrimental to business,
yadda, yadda... but guess what? It'll save
Californians and California businesses millions
in lost work-time, unnecessary emergency health
costs, etc. etc. Large corporations aren't going
to move out of California. Google, Cisco and Sony
Pictures are not going to re-locate to Kansas or
South Carolina. Their CEOs and their most prized
employees wouldn't go along. California health
care will be signed into law by a Republican. But
then Earl Warren, so hated by conservatives of
another era, was also a Republican governor in
California before he was Chief Justice.
Fortunately not every pol wears a party label
like it was a brain clamp. Universal health care
for citizens, think of it as an Endangered
Species Act for Homo Sapiens.