Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 07.05.08
Just Outside Washington


The vision not yet fulfilled

On July 4, 1776 the Second Continental Congress adopted a document which said, in part:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed>

Pretty heady stuff.

"All men are created equal."

What does that mean? We know it has nothing to do with physical endowments; there is only one Tiger Wood. This revelation may be why we now include women among the "all men." We also know it has nothing to do with mental capacity; there was only one Thomas Jefferson. We seem to have come to an agreement that equality of opportunity and the law are equal treatment under what we mean.

Despite the fact that this is a terrific country to live in and the land of opportunity, it is not yet the land of equal opportunity. A child born to family in Mississippi has twice the chance of dying before reaching one year, as one born in Minnesota. If life is one of those unalienable Rights, for which our government was instituted to secure, why the gap between our statement of our vision and our performance?

You might say; these things take time, look how far we have come. I would reply that we have not tried hard enough.

Our infant mortality is twice that of Sweden and Japan. We are currently looking at health care in the U.S. of A and I hear two main messages coming from the government we have instituted here in Washington, DC.

The first message is: "Don't change it because I am doing OK." I would include the drug companies, insurance companies, the AMA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as giving voice to this view. (These are not Men, for which the government was instituted but oligarchies.)

The second message is: "We can't afford to fix that now but let the economy recover and all will be well."

But we can afford it; we just do not want to give up any goodies. For a family of four, the trillion dollars over ten years for health care comes out to about the difference between purchasing a Chevy Malibu instead of a BMW 3 Series.

Back to the vision of the Founders and quoting Ben Franklin out of context: "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

So I ask myself, what am I willing to give up to help all US citizens hang together and achieve equal opportunity?