What I don’t understand is why Republicans think that government cannot do anything right at home, but can’t do anything wrong abroad. We can deride government workers as inefficient and inept, but any criticism of the military is anti-patriotic. Why do we think that military officials and soldiers are any better or more effective than our civil servants? So if a national health care system would amount to socialism then surely spending trillions of tax payer dollars on the military is socialized national defense. And if, as we are lead to believe, we have the most state of the art military and the finest soldiers the world has ever known, couldn’t the government also do the same for health care?
Have you heard the load of crap coming out of Republicans mouths these days as they shriek and shiver at the idea of universal health care? They complain about how offering all citizens health care, kind of like the way every other wealthy democracy in the world does, would result in long lines and a total lack of choice. Hold on a second, that is exactly what the American health care system is like: long waits and insurance companies refusing to cover the costs of the procedures you need. They say it will be like going to the DMV, but it only took me 15 minutes to renew my drivers license last year. That’s not so bad. When was the last time it took anybody fifteen minutes at the doctor’s office?
Presently the U.S. health care system costs about 50% more than the next most expensive system in the world, and Americans are not healthier or live longer than their counterparts in the rest of the developed world. Yet Republicans tell us that we still have the best health care system in the world. Do they mean the best, as in the best socialized national defense in the world? Meanwhile, the solutions these guys propose are not only incredibly irrelevant but are offensive to our intelligence. They blame everything other than the insurance companies — obesity, junk food, smoking, and our sedentary American life style– yet of course they are also completely against any legislation that would significantly reduce any of those scapegoats (the heavily subsidized mega-farms, tobacco companies and oil give healthy donations).
Why the full-court press to scare people away from affordable health care? It is time someone got honest with Americans and took frequent commentator Kitapsiz’s golden rule to heart: follow the money. For the past 50 years there has been massive lobbying and communications blitzes to brainwash Americans into believing that universal health care, especially single payer (which even the Democrats are afraid whisper), is worse for our personal safety than say a public military is for national security.
In Spain, for example, I have completely free health care, but I also purchase a very good private insurance plan for $50/month. My plan even includes psychological coverage for treating my recent pathological shift to the left. The system isn’t perfect, but people with serious illnesses do not get denied treatment and people do not go bankrupt. I am not saying that this is the model the U.S. should adopt, but certainly we can do better than Europeans. Right? We didn’t defeat the evil Soviet Empire just so we could have worse health care than the Europeans.
The fact of the matter is that our private health care system simply does not offer good care. Insurance companies are worried foremost about profits and therefore cannot make disinterested judgments on treatments. More importantly, their political influence only further renders them unreliable and not truly competing in a “free market”. Were there true competition we would have seen prices go down and not up. Imagine where we’d be if breathing air and running water were managed like our competitive health care industry?
In the meantime, the Mitch McConnells keep lying to us and we keep believing them. Is there anyone in America who honestly believes that they don’t pay too much for their health care? Even if we had to increase taxes to pay for universal care, we’d still end up saving money. And if you need a free market pro-capitalism rationale, here it is: the present system makes the U.S. less competitive. If you think of the U.S. like a company competing to attract and retain the best talent (aka, the argument in favor of the keeping the AIG bonuses), then as long as working and living conditions are worse in the U.S. than in other developed countries, there will be, over time, massive brain drain of qualified foreign and American workers to other more worker-friendly countries — regardless of the tribalistic self-absorbed view that We are Always the Best at Everything at All Times.
Think about it. Imagine yourself to be a rational and freely mobile worker. Were I to offer you the standard European package — 22 to 30 days paid vacation per year, four months paid maternity leave, free health care, retirement, good public transportation, low crime rates, limited television censorship, topless beaches, and similar purchase power –what would choose? That’s right. You’d go for the country with the guns and the death penalty every time.