image by a.drian, flickr artist

universal healthcare might be the only thing that can save the united states from total meltdown, and it’s not about keeping healthcare costs low.

i firmly believe that the only way to do that — keep healthcare costs low — is for people to stop being irresponsible stewards of their own bodies. we need to exercise more (myself included), eat better, cut down on the fast foods and preservatives (and bullshit ingredients like red #40), and find a way to remove ourselves if only briefly from the non-stop stress that engulfs our lives.

that being said, i’m not talking about universal healthcare keeping costs low, i’m not on a crusade to save every low-income family from having to pay for basic healthcare screenings, or any of that. in short, this isn’t some sociopolitical argument.

i’m talking from a strictly business perspective.

america is facing some difficult times presently because of a large disparity between the people at the top and those at the bottom. our chief ‘whatever’ officers are taking home billions of dollars a year while the lower level girl with a few years of business experience, working her ass off for 50+ hours a week to actually keep the business running, gets barely enough money to cover her living expenses — house, car, insurance, groceries — and her student loans. hardly seems fair. worse yet, she has great ideas for new products and services and processes that could make the business better, but they all fall on deaf ears because they require a bit of financial investment, and business is about one thing and one thing only right now: optimization. how do you do the same things for cheaper than your competitors do? this question is the key problem with america today.

ask our hypothetical girl why she’s working at a job she doesn’t care much at all for and she’ll probably give you these two reasons in this order: (1) i need money to pay the bills, (2) i need the benefits. the first reason is an easier problem to solve: reduce the amount of things you need to pay for. there are other options for owning cars, paying $200 for digital cable each month, and mega feature rich cell phone plans. the second is a bit more difficult to get a handle on and the reason why i feel universal healthcare is so vital.

having universal healthcare would make it easier for people to quit their jobs.

yeah, i said it.

the sooner people quit their boring, dull, hardly meaningful jobs they’re currently working in, the sooner those people can start their own small businesses and get back to real innovation and doing what they love to do. maybe they’ll even forge that non-profit and start making some positive change in their communities and in their world because they’ll be able to afford to live off of a little bit less. these small, local businesses are also better for higher, long-term growth of the communities they operate in. and the sooner we get back to generating meaningful jobs and promoting innovation in this country instead of finding ever more creative — and sometimes unethical — means of pinching pennies, the sooner we’ll actually make a difference in the world market again.

it’s not as simple as bringing the manufacturing jobs back to america. frankly, we don’t want to do that because there’s no long-term growth in making tube socks and there’s not much return on investment from cranking out $0.05 nuts, bolts, and washers. we need to find the next thing; we need to be working on bigger problems. there’s not much of that big thinking going on in corporations in america today because we keep some of our most creative minds chained to an inbox all day long in a cubicle lit with only onefluorescentlightbulb because the company doesn’t want to pay to replace the other one that burned out last month.

our current way of conducting business absolutely has to come to an end.

and i think universal healthcare will help get us there.