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WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

Weekly Writing Assignment: Domestic and Foreign Policies

Matthew Shelbourn
WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

Domestic Policy

Undoubtedly one of the most frustrating aspects for millions of United States citizens is

navigating through the relentless and endless web of our healthcare systems. For the fortunate

who are able to enjoy employer-provided health insurance perhaps it is less of an issue.

However, for those of us who are self-employed, unemployed, or under-employed, health

insurance can be an absolute nightmare, especially when dealing with a medical issue which

requires hospitalization. This subject is sensitive for me since I was diagnosed with a chronic

medical condition back in 2006 which landed me in the I.C.U. for seven days and an additional

three days in a less intensive unit of the hospital. I was in-between jobs and therefore uninsured.

I left the hospital with a bill in excess of $200,000 and ultimately filed for bankruptcy because of

it. A few years later while self-employed I was paying $850 per month for health insurance

because I had a ‘pre-existing condition’.

Long preamble aside, the state of healthcare in the U.S. is abysmal. I understand that we

are a capitalist nation, but healthcare should be in a class of its own and profits should not play a

role in how are healthcare systems are governed. According to The Atlantic, the United States

remains to be the only developed nation to not provide universal health insurance to its citizens.1

As one of the most powerful countries in the world, how on earth is this possible? The

Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.) was a giant step in the right direction, but it is far from perfect and

now is a target for dismantling by our Republican-held executive and legislative branches.

In spite of its many shortcomings, the Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.) entitled many

underprivileged Americans with the ability to gain health insurance for themselves and their

1Fisher, Max. “Here's a Map of the Countries That Provide Universal Health Care (America's
Still Not on It).” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 28 June 2012,
www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/heres-a-map-of-the-countries-that-provide-
universal-health-care-americas-still-not-on-it/259153/ (accessed March 30, 2018).
WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

families. Although the A.C.A. did not provide free health insurance for U.S. citizens, it did

provide a means for individuals or families to enjoy government-subsidized healthcare.

However, the A.C.A. is polarizing and I can personally view it from opposite ends of the

spectrum. On the one side, you have people who are unemployed or are not provided with health

insurance through their employer. On the other side, you have sole proprietorships and small

businesses who are required to both have health insurance for themselves and provide health

insurance for their employees or pay a fee based on a substantial percentage of yearly income.

Personally speaking, when I have been on the lower end of the income spectrum I have found the

A.C.A. to be a lifesaver (quite literally in some instances). However, when I have been on the

higher end of the income spectrum as a self-employed individual, the A.C.A. essentially forces

me to purchase sub-par health insurance just so that I am not liable for the tax penalty which

results from not being insured.

All of this has led up to my point that the U.S. should not only provide government-

subsidized healthcare, but should provide universal healthcare akin to the systems in place in

Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and etc. But with all of our money and weapons and

resources, why can we not provide the fundamental need of healthcare to our citizens? My

answer to this question is that it all comes down to money.2 If there isn’t enough money to be

made off an endeavor then the U.S. won’t get involved. Healthcare is a costly business, without a

doubt. However, perhaps a happier, healthier, more secure populous would benefit the U.S. in

the long-run, both financially and otherwise from enjoying the security of government-provided

healthcare.

2 Conversation, The. "Why the US Doesn't Have Universal Health Care Even Though so Many
Other Countries Do." Business Insider. May 27, 2017. Accessed April 01, 2018.
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-doesnt-america-have-universal-health-care-2017-5
(accessed March 28, 2018).
WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

Foreign Policy

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001 when the

two towers of the World Trade Center in New York catastrophically crumbled to the ground.

Since then the issue of terrorism has been a mainstay in our culture and has had a common

presence in our media, for better or for worse. Although the military response we had to the

September 11th attacks was widely-accepted as justified, I believe that we have stretched that

justification for too long and used it as an excuse for overreaching military, intelligence, and

surveillance operations in the years since.

The extended powers granted to the C.I.A., Department of Homeland Security, and the

N.S.A. in the years following the September 11th attacks provides a clear example of how the

need for security was sold to the American public by fostering mass hysteria as a result of media

hype related to constant emphasis on terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and ISIS. The

Patriot Act passed in 2001 under President George W. Bush is a perfect example of this. This bill

gained overwhelming public, House, and Senate support for the simple fact that its purpose was

to give government the means necessary to efficiently and effectively combat terrorism,

meanwhile protecting the United States from future ‘acts of terror’. The truth about the Patriot

Act, however, is that it grants government intelligence agencies the authority to essentially spy

on whomever they want whenever they want, including U.S. citizens who have no known ties to

terrorist organizations.3

With all this said, I am not against government and understand the need for a strong

military presence. In the technological age in which we live the importance of data is ever

increasing. The wars of the future will be fought digitally instead of on the physical battlefield,

3"Surveillance Under the Patriot Act." American Civil Liberties Union.


https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance/surveillance-under-
patriot-act (accessed March 30, 2018).
WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

which is why I am in support of strong government intelligence agencies. However, there need to

be limits on how far the government can go with its intelligence gathering. In my opinion, since

the concept of terrorism has been brought to the forefront of U.S. public attention since

September 11th, our government has capitalized on the over-heightened fear we have towards

terrorist organizations to get away with acts they previously would not have been able to and

pass legislation that before would have had no support.

One additional negative consequence of our ‘war on terror’ is that it has undeservingly

vilified several ethnic groups, races, and religious sects, including members of the Islamic faith,

Muslims, and anyone from a wide variety of Middle Eastern countries. Although the most

pointed hatred towards these groups of people came in first handful of months following 9-11,

the disdain remains to be palpable today.4 The United States used to be a nation that welcomed

foreign immigrants with open arms, providing sanctuary, opportunity, and a high standard of

living, but we seem to going in the opposite direction as of late. What happened on 9-11 was

egregious, and the heinous acts that occur day-in and day-out in many countries around the world

at the hands of terrorist organizations are unforgiveable. However, blaming an entire race, ethnic

group, or religious sect for actions that were carried out by a few of their members simply isn’t

fair to me.

I think we can all agree that terrorism in general is a horrible thing, but I believe that we

use the terms ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist’ far too loosely in the United States. It is appropriate for

the American public to want to pin events such as 9-11 on a certain group of people because

devastating occurrences like these are easier to process when there is someone to blame. I also

agree that our government should be responsible for protecting us from outside threats, however

using the term ‘terrorist’ as a catch-all for garnering public support since it carries so much

4Lichtblau, Eric. "Hate Crimes Against American Muslims Most Since Post-9/11 Era." The New
York Times. September 17, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/us/politics/hate-crimes-
american-muslims-rise.html (accessed March 30, 2018).
WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

emotional gravitas should be stopped. Every group of persons who share beliefs contrary to ours

are not terrorists, they’re simply unique individuals like you and me.
WEEKLY WRITING ASSIGNMENT: DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES

Bibliography

Conversation, The. "Why the US Doesn't Have Universal Health Care Even Though so Many

Other Countries Do." Business Insider. May 27, 2017. Accessed April 01, 2018.

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-doesnt-america-have-universal-health-care-2017-5

(accessed March 28, 2018).

Fisher, Max. “Here's a Map of the Countries That Provide Universal Health Care (America's Still

Not on It).” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 28 June 2012,

www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/heres-a-map-of-the-countries-that-

provide-universal-health-care-americas-still-not-on-it/259153/ (accessed March 30,

2018).

Lichtblau, Eric. "Hate Crimes Against American Muslims Most Since Post-9/11 Era." The New

York Times. September 17, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/us/politics/hate-

crimes-american-muslims-rise.html (accessed March 30, 2018).

"Surveillance Under the Patriot Act." American Civil Liberties Union.

https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance/surveillance-

under-patriot-act (accessed March 30, 2018).