I recently had a conversation with a moderate Republican who views me as a moderate Democrat, although in North Dakota, anyone left of exiled legislator Luke Simons is suspected of being a promiscuous work-shirking substance abuser.

Hey, Sexy, got any drugs, and can you bring them to my hammock?

My friend doesn't believe Americans have “a right” to universal health care but he believes it would be a good thing because a healthy society is more productive.

My position's that living or dying shouldn't come down to the size of one's wallet; it's about taking care of our neighbors. Conservatives believe that humane conditions are a natural outcome of a productive society. Yet, the solution is the same.

In America, the benefits we decide upon are the ones we should get. It's how democracies work. Public education? Check. Two years of community college or trade school? Why not? Social Security? Check. National defense? Check. Check. Check.

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Universal health care? It's coming. If it'll make you conservatives feel any better, don't worry, it will be imperfect and chronically underfunded in order to fund tax breaks for rich folks and the weaponry necessary to maintain mankind's suicidal traditions.

Consider this: In warfare, the strategy isn't to kill enemy soldiers outright, it's to grievously wound them because caring for them drains resources. It takes money, medicine, doctors, nurses — months, years, lifetimes of care. It takes just one man with a spade to bury a dead man.

When Donald Trump turned a public health crisis into a political dividing line, he metaphorically shot the country and our economy in the foot. Unnecessary infections consumed health-care resources and buried the economy deeper. Meanwhile, the macho slow-thinkers who steadfastly refuse to get vaccinations because of “freedom, 'Murca, Jeebus, and microchips,” have ironically extended the inconveniences they oppose.

“Why are you hitting your head with a hammer, Goober?”

“To have something to complain about. Also, freedom.”

Let's suppose for a moment that the pandemic really was intentionally unleashed by China to uh, destroy capitalism, at which they've been winning, and to uh, take down Trump because, uh, having a bumbling, incompetent enemy is a bad thing? Even if that's so, and that's a streeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch, getting America fully on track again includes having an unburdened health care system and healthy workers to contribute to a healthy economy. However, anti-vaxxers ain't exactly rocket surgeons. Nice boat parade, though.

Take it a step further. You don't have to believe in man-made climate change to recognize that we need to better respond to natural disasters like rising sea levels, intense storms, rampant fires, and droughts. Droughts literally doomed past civilizations, so learning to conserve, store, and transport water more efficiently is critical for everyone. It's called infrastructure. Getting toxins out of our water and air is good for everyone. Sucking in carcinogens isn't pro-energy, or pro-America, it's dumb. It sickens and kills people and drains resources.

Similarly, rehabilitating our 4 million miles of roads and bridges serves everyone. For one, it creates jobs. Preventing the collapse of bridges on Minneapolis commuters is humane, liberals will tell you; safer roads save lives. Conservatives understand that better roads increase efficiency and profitability.

Everyone's right, and if we all arrive at the finish line, it doesn't matter what our motivations were for getting there.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.