Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

No Such Thing as “Free”

I spent the bulk of this summer participating in the University of Massachusetts Oxford Summer Seminar. Studying at Trinity College is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially if one takes advantage of the transportation system to see other places in Britain and Europe.

I took two trips to London, England, one to Portsmouth, England and Normandy, France and even one to the Dorset countryside, Meanwhile, others went to Edinburgh, England, Dublin, Ireland, Salzburg, Austria, Paris, France and other places. I do not know about my compatriots, but it will take me some time to put everything I did and learned into perspective, though perhaps this column will be good practice for that task.

Of course, the most important part of the experience was the people – the amazing and ever-present people. I could spend this entire piece whining or waxing rhapsodic about living shoulder-to-shoulder with so many great people in the dorms at Trinity. But I think that is better left for Facebook. Suffice it to say that the memories I will cherish the most revolve around the friends I made and that I fervently hope to keep for years to come. However, some of the most valuable lessons I learned during my time abroad have less to do with the people I was living with and more to do with those that I met along the way.

For example, Oxford is an ancient city, which imposes certain restrictions on what accommodations can be made for the physically challenged. Faced with a choice between preserving archaic streets and buildings and tearing them apart to make way for wheelchair ramps, elevators and other aids, the government and people of the city have chosen to keep their cobblestones and their history.

Meanwhile, in America, a town would be forced by the threat of legal action to destroy the old to make way for the new and accessible. In England there is pride in protecting the walls and pathways built by their ancestors. The people I spoke with were acutely aware of the fact that their dedication to their history came at the cost of making life a bit tougher for those with physical disabilities. But, they believe that preserving the historic character of their city is for the greater good.

I also learned that there is a general feeling in Britain that providing health insurance to everyone is worth the sacrifices made to do so. Again, the needs of the individual are placed behind those of the society in general. However, a friend I met told me of the injury he suffered in an accident, and notes that, if he had been limited to only the coverage provided by the government, his leg would likely have been amputated. He was fortunate to have private insurance through his employer, and so the leg was repaired instead, but this illustrates another tradeoff made by the British.

Instead of workers deciding whether to purchase health insurance, either on their own or in concert with their employers, as is the case in America, in England, the government provides everyone with basic health care coverage. In order to do this they must control the costs of such insurance, which means that state-of-the-art procedures that are available to those with private insurance are often not available to those with only the government’s coverage. This is not to say that many in America cannot afford such expensive procedures as well. Rather, it means that this dichotomy has also not been solved in Britain, even with supposedly universal health care coverage.

I admit that I was out of touch with goings on in the States while I was in England, and deliberately so. I wanted to focus on the environment I was in, and so, I tried to pay as little attention as I could to the health care debate raging back home. As such, I am not up to speed on the plans that are on the table, and the various arguments in favor or against them. Therefore, I am not trying to say that Britain’s universal health insurance system, or Amherst’s plans to preserve the historic nature of the town, is a good or bad thing, merely to point out the essential nature of government action in any aspect of society.

The simple fact is that government solutions always impose some price, however unintentional, it may be. Although the unintended consequences of new laws and regulatory structures may pale in comparison to the problems that they solve, that does not negate the fact that they occur. The best that we can hope is to do the most good for the most people. Yet, make no mistake. That inevitably comes at the cost of individual freedom.

Whether it comes in the form of higher taxes or more laws regarding what we can and cannot do with our own bodies, any increase of government power, even in the name of the most beneficent goal, always takes a toll on our liberty. As anyone who has lived in Oxford can tell you, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and I am quite sure that the same is true for health care coverage.

Ben Rudnick is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at

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