Politics and “National Interest”

How does one define the “National Interest” for any country? (Does such a thing even exist?) And how does the “National Interest” differ from humanitarian interest? My interest was piqued a while ago by an article in the NYT about how increased regulations regarding proof of citizenship resulted in fewer US citizens receiving Medicaid and other federal benefits. The measures sounds like the result of a wonderful politico-bureaucratic idea: let’s exclude illegal aliens and spend less money by ensuring we don’t give Medicaid to non-US citizens: they must, for some reason, be less deserving. So everybody wins, no?

No: poor people, whether US citizens or not, lose out if they don’t have proper ID. And being a US citizen (which clearly makes some people more worthy than others) helps not a jot if the paperwork isn’t there to prove it.

In this case, it’s fairly clear that humanitarian interest lags way behind the “national interest” touted by politicians. While it’s fairly easy to claim that the moves taken to limit Medicare provision to non-citizens are beneficial to the US, they are not necessarily beneficial to the service’s intended recipients, the poor.

It annoys me no end when political expediency takes precedence over the needs and demands of people. (And it happens all the time at home: I need to be more in touch with news from home before I can comment on it, though.)


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