January 23, 2004

Stupid Conservative Myth #17

Here's the next one on the list of things believed by the far right knuckleheads in this country:

Liberals believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.

Well, ok, a couple of things. First, socialism seems to be working pretty good for many European countries. I wouldn't want to live in Sweden, myself, but a lot of people seem pretty content with what they've got. That's not the kind of country America has been, historically, and I think that's a good thing. Just because I don't feel threatened by European socialism or certain ideas associated with socialism (like universal health care, far more progressive taxes, etc) doesn't mean I want America to be a socialist paradise. We've gotten to be the greatest nation in the world with a mix of capitalism and, yes, socialism. If you're pretending socialist ideas haven't helped make our country great, you're in denial. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

Just as an aside, let me talk about universal health care in its broadest terms. We as a society have decided, I think, that we are willing to provide health care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. If someone walks into the hospital suffering from a heart attack (ok, maybe they aren't walking in, but still...), I don't know of anyone, even the most heartless bastard I can think of, who would look that person's family in the face and tell them to go to hell if they can't pay for treatment.

So my premise is that we're all in agreement that people who need treatment are going to get treatment if we can make it possible in America. With that said, it would be much cheaper for us to have everyone insured, even if it means a massive government subsidy for doing it. Insured people are more likely to receive preventive care instead of ER care, which is much more expensive (and less beneficial unless you are on the verge of death, of course). The insurance net also helps hospitals stay afloat with a more predictable income. It just makes the whole industry work better, with fewer uncertainties. Socializing the costs of health care is a slam dunk to me. We can argue over details, sure, but ultimately, such a system would be a big improvement in our country.

Social security, medicare and various forms of welfare are part of the safety net in this country as well, and most people agree they are a good thing. Undeniably socialist at their core, but they are an expression of our compassion as a society. Libertarians hate that kind of crap, I know, but my point is that there is a lot of socialism in this country, and this is a damned great country to live in, despite the idiots currently in power (who are trying their best to change that).

Anyway, the second part about "the right people in charge": I think it is important to have the right people in charge. One of the earliest lessons we all learn in American history is how great George Washington was. He was so popular at the time of his presidency, he probably could've declared himself king and gotten away with it. Instead, he stepped down and made way for Jefferson, who then stepped down, etc. We were blessed early in our history with some extraordinary leadership, and it had a lot to do with our success, no doubt about it.

Posted by Observer at January 23, 2004 07:02 AM
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Correction, second paragraph, last sentence, "helped make are country great" should be "our country".

Posted by: Humbaba on January 23, 2004 09:43 AM

It's confirmed. I'm old. You know, when I was 25, I didn't have to proofread stuff 3 times for really weird mistakes like that. I find them more and more now when I'm typing.

Posted by: Observer on January 23, 2004 10:56 AM

I hear you. Oh yeah.

Posted by: Humbaba on January 23, 2004 11:24 AM

You're right about heart attack victims in the throes of arrest, but that isn't what health care should be about. It's about kids getting shots, talking to multiple health professionals about what can and should be done for a son who isn't neurotypical but is in the grey zone of several different conditions, and what therapy or medication is best. It's recognizing the symptoms of a stomach ulcer when you're stressed out about having lost a job, and wondering what you're gonna do about it on the cheap. It's having kids with bad teeth, a wife who need a couple of crowns, yourself with blood chemistry that resembles candle wax, and having the resources to do nothing about any of them. And I won't even go towards the maternal/prenatal/postnatal regime; I got a vasectomy a few years ago to make sure I wouldn't have to worry about that ever again.

For whatever reason, health care in the US is tied to some family member having a job with an employer that chooses to help pay benefits. If you aren't with such an employer (and more and more employers are getting out of that category all the time), please go find a nice quiet place to die without making too big a mess. I grew up in that kind of condition (the only time we had health coverage was the six years we were overseas and could use the Army hospitals), and I'm back in it now, as an aging adult with a family.

When my father broke his hip several years ago, there was only one thing that really astonished the staff at the hospital. Not that he'd been a 3-pack-a-day smoker for 50 years; it was that he hadn't seen a doctor for 25 years, despite serious rheumatoid arthritis and God knows what else that I never was told about. But that's the way it is in this country. Poor people should just buy stuff, vote for the fat cats, and die without a fuss.

Rich assholes kill more people and cause more despair than any terrorist who drove a car bomb or flew a jet into a skyscraper. Because they are devouring the lives of millions, slowly, namelessly, and congratulating themselves on saving costs and increasing productivity and working for God, virtue, and the American Way; they've bought the White House and most of the Congress, they own the media who glorify their exploitation of literally everything and everyone around them; and they've classified anyone who might have these opinions and terrorists and enemies of society.

Posted by: Unemployed Feff on January 23, 2004 01:12 PM

Tell us how you *really* feel, Feff! :)

Posted by: Humbaba on January 23, 2004 04:06 PM