Lynn Abbott: For the common good


I would like to begin by thanking Rick Akin for his discussion of "What Makes a Conservative" in the Steamboat Pilot & Today several weeks ago. I have no intention of defining what makes a "liberal" or a "progressive"; we come in many shades. However, Rick's column did spur me to join this discussion - a discussion that is valuable for our community and one in which I hope many people will participate. Although I am an active member of the Routt County Democratic Party, these comments are solely my own.

For me, the driving force in political decisions should be a phrase we rarely hear today: "For the common good."

I do not believe you find government for the common good by allowing the market total free rein. Corporations and CEOs have one primary job - to make money. Their decisions are based on what is good for their bottom line, not necessarily what is good for America. I believe these decisions must be made within a framework that considers:

- The wages and jobs of low- and middle-income Americans

- Access to healthcare for all Americans

- The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat

- The global community and our place within it

When we don't consider these consequences, we end up with outsourced jobs, out-of-work Americans, 47 million Americans without healthcare, 37 million Americans living in poverty and the loss of respect of most of the rest of the world.

Government for the common good recognizes the need for social infrastructure.

We already accept that our government has certain essential responsibilities: education, security, law enforcement, food safety and so on. We must add basic healthcare for all Americans to this list. It is unacceptable, for example, that we rank 41st among all nations in infant mortality. We must also find a solution to the poverty within our borders. In a nation of unprecedented wealth, millions of Americans work every day for less than a living wage. What's more, our fabled middle class, the protector of our American values and the backbone of our economy, is shrinking. It is time for government policies to focus on the quality of life for all.

We also must focus on the health of our planet. Every decision must take into account its effect on the air, water and climate of the entire world. We live on a small and increasingly polluted planet. We must work with the global community toward climate solutions.

Government for the common good requires that we see ourselves as a partner in the world community. Democracy cannot be imposed. It can, however, flourish. We can help it flourish by learning the languages, customs and traditions of the people we seek to help. We can help it flourish by working with our allies to bring peace to the troubled regions of the world.

Government for the common good does not require "big" government. In fact, overgrown bureaucracies only get in the way of the job at hand (witness the responses to Hurricane Katrina and the situation at Walter Reed). I am convinced that with the right leadership, government can be lean and nimble. I do not accept that government must, by nature, be bloated.

It is time for change in America. Time to focus on improving the health and welfare of all Americans. Time to be innovative and aggressive in our search for climate solutions. Time to lead the global community toward peaceful and sustainable living. Time for government for the common good.

Lynn Abbott

Steamboat Springs


53native 9 years, 11 months ago

Of the alledged 47 million Americans without health care, I wonder how many are driving cars less than 5 years old, own their own homes, own big screen HDTVs, have one or more gas-guzzling toys they don't need, take regular vacations to exotic locations, have season ski passes, belong to "health clubs", eat out at resturants regularly, spend more than 10 bucks a week on booze, pay $50-60 bucks a pop for concert tickets, have IRA's etc. These people CHOOSE to not pay their money for health care insurance. Why? Because they know that no one in this country gets turned away from a hospital ER- somebody else (taxpayers and insurance policy holders) will pick up the tab. And God forbid they should have to suffer without any of the "necessities" of a materialistic society. Grow up.


Tall_Poppy 9 years, 11 months ago

53native: I am one of the 47 million without health insurance. My car is a 1992. I do not have a TV or cable let alone a big screen HDTV, do not own any gas-guzzling toys (unless one counts the chainsaw), never take vacations, nor do I belong to a health club. I do own my own house-- in my case it is cheaper than renting. My season ski pass is a benefit of one of the three jobs I have.

As a cancer survivor, health insurance is hard to come by via an individual policy. Yeah, I CHOOSE not to pay over $1100 a month to insure my health. I also CHOOSE to clothe, feed and house my children.

The only taxpayer who has ever picked up a hospital tab for me........... is me.


trump_suit 9 years, 11 months ago

I too must complain about our "excellent" health insurance in this country. As a former cancer survivor, my health insurance is routinely quoted at $1100-1500 per month even though I have been cancer free for almost 20 years. My health has never been better, and there have been no other major illnesses in my history.

Although I do own a newer car and my own house, why is it that even 20 years later I am unable to find affordable health coverage?????

Government has a dual role to play in this arena. It is their role to create a level playing field for all business competitors, and a set of tax laws that encourage the kinds of corporate behavior that benefit society as a whole. We cannot expect private corporations to do that unless there is a profit to be made.


dundalk 9 years, 11 months ago


While not unsympathetic to your plight for the coverage of health insurance, I do wonder what you would do if someone sues you, looking for monetary compensation for a medical reason (i.e. an unpaid bill) and decides that your house would make a fair trade?

Fear not though - slick Bill Clinton is now claiming that his wife, old Hillary, will make sure that all people in this country have health coverage. Didn't she try to do that when Bill was busy playing table games with Monica?

Instead of the perk of a season pass from your employer, wouldn't it be great to have insurance?


Tall_Poppy 9 years, 11 months ago

[from Dundalk's post] "Instead of the perk of a season pass from your employer, wouldn't it be great to have insurance?"

Yes, Dundalk, it would be great.


JQPUBLIC 9 years, 11 months ago

Lynn.. "For me, the driving force in political decisions should be a phrase we rarely hear today: For the common good." is a pretty good statement, however, everybody has a different opinion of what actually is "for the common good". As for the driving force in political decisions... that's laughable, the only thing driving these politicians is how to get into office. The war is not my first priority in choosing a new leader (even though I'm totally against the cut and run mentality), I want to hear WHAT THEY WILL DO about our social issues, not their ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE OTHER PARTY. I don't think waiting for the government to save me from myself is the answer. It's "we the people" that need to take a stand against big business, you know supply and demand, as long as we're buying, they're selling....that's the American way.


another_local 9 years, 11 months ago

Have you ever asked service industry employees in this town what benefit they want: Season Pass or Health insurance? The answer might surprise you.

Put aside that group health insurance costs twice as much as a season pass, the fact is that the purpose of benefits is to attract employees. Employers will provide the benefits that attract employees while staying within the budget they have adhere to to stay in business.

There has to be a reality check to the cost of hiring. In this town a higher wage and a season pass will get employees where a different combination (with the same total expense) that includes health insurance will not.


dogd 9 years, 11 months ago


Perfect comments about the state of the right /left argument. You can be very non-left and understand that the game is stacked in favor of economic demise in the form of flat out looting. The wrong Republicans have power. And the DEMs don't even understand the problem.

It is the slashers, not the builders who have control of the agenda. It is a VERY positive thing to see Chrysler out of the hands of public stockholders-now they can look ahead past the next quarter.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.