Syndicated columnist Paul Krugman argues that if we can accept the concept that the education of the younger generation is a social obligation we all share through our tax support of public schools, whether our kids attend them or not or whether we have kids or not, then why doesn't the same argument apply to universal health insurance for kids? Good point, Paul!
As Krugman points out, the neo-cons will argue this is a back door argument for "socialized" medicine. Well, so what? If education is a de facto human right, then why not health care too? And once we can make that transition, then hopefully with the right folks in the West Wing and Congress we'll be able to create a universal health care system for ALL Americans, not just kids.
John Kenneth Galbraith in a highly regarded PBS series on economics argued that community based programs like education, transportation and public safety are inherently "socialist" enterprises in the sense that the wider community is the best and most likely vehicle of financial support and service delivery. What he could have added is that such a "communitarian" principle is at the heart of traditional Republican ideology from Lincoln to Ike.
President Eisenhower presided over the creation of two landmark "socialist" programs in the 1950s - the National Defence Education Act and the creation of the federal interstate highway system. It's too bad the neo-cons don't know their own party history having taken their talking points from Ronald Wilson Reagan, the most historically illiterate President until Dubya came along!
The current leaders of the GOP also need to be reminded that "Mr. Republican" in the 1950s, US Senator Robert H. Taft (R, Ohio) was a co-sponsor along with Senator Robert Wagner (D, NY) of our public housing program now under the auspices of HUD. So fiscally conservative but socially moderate Republicans have seen the wisdom of creating public infrastructure which the marketplace cannot build.
What this nation needs is less "socialism" for the rich and well connected and more "socialism" for the working poor and middle class. Education, health care and housing should be centerpieces of such a strategy. That would be real "compassionate" conservatism at work. It should also be the basis for creating bi-partisan coalitions to do the right thing for our kids, the 46 million adults without health care and for the 10% of Americans on the edge of homelessness.