I support health care reform. Not only because I have seen the criminal, demoralizing behavior of the health care insurance industry when I almost cut my arm off (surgery was classified as “elective” so they could deny my claim), but I have also noticed how it forces some employees to remain in their jobs as underpaid and ineffective zombies. Health care in the US is modern day indentured service. If only the health care were worth it, I might understand.
There are many who bristle at the concept of government intervention, but policies regarding building safety have been very effective. Without government intervention, engineers would not have a job and the public safety would be constantly at risk. Paul Krugman (not at fringe of debate, he won the Nobel Prize and writes for NYT) says markets can’t work this problem out by themselves. Just as with building safety, policy that has the interests of the public safety as priority will be the best solution. Krugman’s conclusion when comparing the existing system in place in the US vs other countries is
There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.
Civil engineers are appropriately lauded for their efforts that have made modern society the healthy, enjoyable world that it is. However, our ethical obligations to preserve life safety don’t stop at the built environment. We have a duty, just as with medical doctors, to continue fighting for the public welfare throughout the world.
A recent Structure magazine editorial focused on what structural engineers do. Barry Arnold answers the ultimate engineering question in his article What Do You Do for a Living?
It is time that we quit seeing ourselves as merely designing beams and columns, and start recognizing and proclaiming that we save lives for a living.
I agree. I also think his argument extends beyond the engineering field into society in general. We, as engineers, do have an ethical obligation to support progressive issues that can affect the public welfare. I think all engineers should support health care reform. Not only for the reforms under consideration but for universal coverage. People in the US should be given the opportunity to access our health care system regardless of who they are or how much they earn.
I have never read in the building codes that we can lower our safety factor when designing an apartment that houses lower income populations. Or that immigrants should live in buildings without a lateral load resisting system. Life safety, public welfare. These are not optional in the construction industry. Why is health care different?