If you even casually keep up with current events, you can probably guess what inspired the satire in the post below this one.
Like a lot of people, I'm in favor of a single-payer, government-run health care system. Yes, socialized medicine. There is, of course, huge controversy over this, mostly because people fear the word "socialism" without understanding what it means. They just know it's supposed to be bad, a close cousin to that arch-nemesis to our freedoms: communism.
What I tried to point out in my last post is that we already revere and enjoy several aspects of socialism; we just don't refer to them that way because they're so deeply ingrained in our way of life. Police and fire departments, public education, and even the U.S. Armed Forces are, by any definition, socialist institutions. They are funded and run completely by the government and provided at no cost to citizens (other than, of course, taxes).
We have set up these systems because as a society we have agreed that certain things should be made available to all citizens, regardless of income level. Everyone is entitled to police protection, fire services, education, and protection from threats both foreign and domestic. I doubt that even conservatives would find fault with that.
Thus, the obvious question: Why aren't we entitled to health care...you know, life itself?
The right does their usual "The government can't do anything right!" rap (which is a self-fulfiling prophecy), conveniently ignoring that they're the biggest supporters of increased spending for the U.S. Military, by far the largest chunk of federal government spending. Why do they have so much faith in the government when it comes to guns and bombs but not surgery and bandages? It also doesn't acknowledge whom we entrust with our most lauded citizens: veterans. Where do they get their health care? I don't need to tell you the answer, do I?
What really drives me crazy is that for the first time in a long time, the Democrats, supposedly the party of the common man, has complete, fillibuster-proof control. They have another year-and-a-half to get things done. Say what you may about Bush, but even when he didn't have this majority, he bent the country to his will. He and Cheney circled their own party's wagons and bullied enough Democrats into voting for wars, tax cuts, etc.
Every day, I see Obama's promise of "affordable health care for all" get watered down just a little bit more. And mostly it's because the Dems continue to let the Republicans (especially the pundits with their legions of unthinking dittoheads) continue to frame the debate. They just scream "socialism!" over and over again until the more conservative Dems get cold feet and start eliminating any provision that would substantially overhaul the system, which was sort of the whole point in the first place.
Think about that for a second. How amazing is it that the Democrats are allowing policy to be dictated to them by a party whose approval rating is at historic lows? Will they ever grow a spine and get it together?
Here's my first suggestion: Obama puts those brilliant oratory skills to work in order to speak rationally and sensibly about socialism. He points out all the socialist stuff we already have and makes the case that health care shouldn't be a for-profit industry, the same way the police, fire, education, and military systems shouldn't be (the fact that the military is becoming scandalously privatized is the subject for another blog). Wouldn't that appeal to the majority of the American public?
Wanna hear something really depressing? What prompted me to write all this was a recent viewing of the Ted Kennedy documentary on HBO. They showed a speech he gave in 1978 (a curly brown-haired Bill Clinton introduced him) about health care. Teddy spoke passionately about the need for all Americans to have quality health care, not just well-to-dos like his famous family.
It's over 30 years later, and I'm hearing the exact same points being made, with zero progress. In fact, things are much worse. You don't need the stats thrown at you again; it's well known that the U.S. spends by far the most on health costs and yet lags behind dozens of other countries in actual health benefits, life expectancy, etc.
Are Americans really so thick-headed that they would continue under this abysmal system rather than accept that the most important part of being guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness just might be the "life" part?
Sadly, I think the answer is yes. But at least we'll have struck down further socialism. Hooray.