It’s difficult to understand what motivates people like U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy and Gov. Bobby Jindal to place themselves in opposition to the well-being of the majority of their constituents.

It’s possible to imagine that they are merely selfish, protecting the wealth of their social class or engaging in a full-throttle race to national prominence, but I imagine as well that they have been uncritical readers of Ayn Rand, picturing themselves as John Galt, the extraordinary entrepreneur who could improve the well-being nation if only the government would get out of the way.

I will not dismantle the narcissistic ideology behind this me-first positioning, but I will place it in opposition to a philosophy that values the well-being of the community over individuals who need seven-figure incomes.

I will not pretend that we social progressives are free of our own self-obsessions, but we understand that we need to work for the well-being of the entire community, not just those of our privileged social classes.

In the case of the Affordable Health Care Act, this means that we need to fight for the health care of the working classes — the classes politicians of both persuasions ignore, in spite of the fact that they constitute over 50 percent of our population. They work hard for their livings and are increasingly unable to sustain a decent standard of living, much less afford health care if their employers feel they can’t afford group health insurance or if they suddenly find themselves unemployed, thanks to the Republican policies of pursuing two stupid wars while dramatically cutting taxes for the upper classes and then whining about the deficit.

Unfortunately, Cassidy and Jindal are getting away with their unapologetic prevarications about the Health Care Act, pursuing policies that will benefit the wealthy but leave many members of the working classes high and dry by preaching about hard work and individualism at the expense of a more enduring value: the well-being of the community, caring for others, even when it means giving up a bit of what we think we have earned for ourselves.

In the end, this is what the Affordable Health Care Act is about — it’s about spreading out the cost of health care so that all Americans can afford doctors who encourage preventative health-care practices, who work to make certain their patients do not wait until something drastic happens and then have to go to emergency care. This Health Care Act is about lowering the cost of health care and for guaranteeing access for all of us, not just for those of us who were either born into or have otherwise gained access into the privileged classes.

Irvin Peckham


Baton Rouge