COLUMN: Davis health care amendment would do more harm than good

Friday, December 11, 2009 | 5:01 p.m. CST; updated 10:47 a.m. CST, Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This is a story about parental politics and how one of our “parents” is going rogue, wanting to effectively “kill grandma” and allow our veterans and children to die at the state constitutional level.

Conservatives are paternal, protecting the family from the things that go bump in the night and teaching the children how to fend for themselves. If there is a problem, papa tells his kid to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get a job and be a man,” even if the child is his daughter. If there is a “real” problem, he reluctantly pulls out his wallet.

Liberals are maternal, fixing the cuts and bruises, making sure the kids have enough to eat, a roof over their heads and clean underwear. Not that mamma doesn’t want the children to be independent, just not too far away from the nest. Think of Marie on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Today, the health care debate is the new paternal/maternal battle. The premise is either the paternal allowing the citizens to take care of themselves or the maternal allowing the state to take care of the citizens.

Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, has proposed a Missouri constitutional amendment, HJR48, which would change the state constitution to the paternal side of this debate.

Davis is calling for Missourians to take responsibility for  health and insurance needs and for the government not to be allowed to “force” health insurance on anyone. “To preserve the freedom of citizens,” and protect us from the government. Davis’ focus is on the federal health care reform legislation. How paternal of her.

There are three fundamental flaws with Davis’ proposal.

First, Davis is jumping the gun. Proactive maybe and very paternal of her, but she is wasting time and energy. Congress still has a long way to go before they know if the final bill will have a “public option” provision.

Second, she is adding yet another unnecessary amendment to our state Constitution.

Have you seen our state Constitution lately? The United States Constitution is just under 12,000 words, including Amendments, notes, votes, titles, subtitles and signatures. The entire document fits in a 20-page pamphlet.

The Missouri Constitution is a 136-page book, more than 81,000 words, overly complicated and has too many provisions that have nothing to do with the purpose of a constitution – a living document concerning the operations of the government.

The only reason to add Davis’ provision or any other “law” to the Missouri or U.S. Constitution is to make it near impossible to change the rule through the legislative process when the tide turns and the majority party becomes the minority. That is it.

The third and by far the most devastating is that HJR48 would effectively “kill grandma,” “forget about veterans,” “let our children get sick,” “put workers in harm’s way” and “make our street more dangerous.” This is not “family values.”

Read this proposed amendment closely. “(N)o law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly or through penalties or fines, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.”

This language effectively eliminates Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, VA health coverage and other government-run insurance plans that care for millions of Americans. It will eliminate the state’s worker’s compensation laws, protecting almost every worker from costs arising from job related injuries.

This is where the conversation goes from adult to juvenile. This is where the extreme-paternal members of the “non-political,” yet self-proclaimed neoconservative Tea Party starts with their confrontational, lack of evidence, emotional based screaming and yelling to rally their troops.

Not that the maternal liberals will be any better. They too will become very emotional, screaming and yelling, threatening to fight tooth and nail to keep the family safe and rallying the troops.

So? Should we continue to follow the paternal fool who is more concerned about pleasing the banks, insurance companies and other money thieves instead of caring for the citizens? Or rally behind the maternal wise person wanting to keep society safe and healthy?

Representative Davis, you have taken on the paternal role here, but how about a little common sense?

HJR48 needs to die a quick death, be buried and forgotten.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Read his blog at He welcomes your comments at

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