Rep. Joshi ties Medicaid spending to possible Opium War-style degeneration

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n debate this week over his proposal to repeal a recent expansion in Colorado’s Medicaid rolls, Republican Rep. Janak Joshi from Colorado Springs said he was worried that too much of similar government spending would lead to war with China and the the kind of economic and social collapse that plagued the great Asian nation after the Opium Wars it fought with Britain in the 19th century.

“Don’t take me wrong but we are here to take care of all of our needy people because as we all know many of them in the situation mostly not by their own fault but because the economy and health problems, many of different things, they’ll go on and off [Medicaid] depending on their situation if they have a job, etc,” he said during a House committee hearing, laboring to make his intentions clear.

“And so we have to take care of them, so that’s not the issue here; it’s how we pay for it, and that’s what I come from, mostly from the fiscal point of view and that’s why I just wanted to stick to that part,” he said, as a preamble to his larger concern about the geopolitical ramifications that come of government spending.

“So, and again, I’m very concerned as we keep borrowing the money from outside the United States, then how we’re going to do? And I don’t want to talk about it, but I would just suggest to you to just go on Wikipedia and find “Opium War” and see what happened. And I think that’s gonna happen. I was in China just six months ago, and I’m very worried.”

The Colorado legislature voted last year to extend Medicaid eligibility for childless individuals making roughly $15,000 or less a year and to a family of four making less than $32,000. The argument at the time was that it was the right thing to do and it would create health care jobs.

With the opening of the state’s “Obamacare” health insurance exchange, Medicaid enrollees were among the first eligible and the most enthusiastic. This months numbers are impressive. The Denver Post reported that the number of Medicaid enrollees has hit nearly 118,000 and that nearly 70,000 of those signed up for private health insurance.

The 19th century Opium Wars flared up around the lucrative British trade in opium. British companies refined much of the drug in India and shipped it to China, where addiction rates soared, leading the Chinese government to raid dealers and put them out of business. The raids drew the world-dominating British forces to China’s shores and, in the peace treaties that followed the fighting, Britain and eventually other western powers including the U.S. humiliated China with the colonization of Hong Kong and with lopsided trade agreements that lasted a century. Many see the longstanding imbalance in trade stemming from the Opium Wars as the root of the problems that now see a world-class power still plagued by vast inequalities and environmental degradation and struggling to maintain industrial-era living standards.

Joshi’s bill died on a party line vote.