(AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a response to a blog penned by an apparently conservative writer we’ll call “Larry.” Our main point of contention with Larry’s blog is his claim–which has been parroted by many Republicans over the past six months–that President Obama’s health care reform plan is essentially “socialized medicine” that will give insurance to the uninsured at the expense of the insured. We’re posting this because of its ability to double as an elementary refresher course on the mountain of health care talk that’s, well, everywhere. Read it and shout me a holla dun.)
Larry, there are two problems here, and perhaps even three:
First, while factcheck.org does point out that the Prez’ health care overhaul won’t be paid for entirely in-house by already existing revenue, it does explain that Obama’s plan has “identified” (the keyword) potential ways to alleviate up to 2/3 of the costs by tax dollar reallocation, cutting spending in specific areas (he did just cut funding for the problematic and inoperable F-22 jet), and ending no-bid contracts to insurance companies, among other ideas. The point is, this “burden” won’t entirely be on the backs of the insured via taxation. In fact, most of it won’t.
And that brings me to my second point. By using the term “socialized medicine”, I suppose you are attempting to make this plan sound ominous and socially deviant. But surely you do realize that one, this plan is not “socialized” because it is not a single-payer, entirely government sponsored plan (which has drawn the ire of many of my ilk on the left) akin to what they have in Germany, Canada, and Britain; and two, we actually do have “socialized” services that nary a Republican or Conservative, such as yourself, seem to ever get vexed about. I have yet to hear about tea party protest reenactments waged by Fox listeners because military veterans receive free “socialized” medical care. Nor have I seen a litany of blogs and websites created by those on the right to rally support against the “socialized” police and fire departments that work “at your expense” across this country.
You could include free and compulsory public schools in that argument, but I know most on the right would rather not send their kids to schools where Blacks and Latinos attend in large numbers, so that is one “socialized” institution they probably would rather do away with.
My third comment here is really a point about American “goodness”, “patriotism”, and “decency”. I’m a teacher, and while I earn what could be considered a good living, I don’t individually make close to 100K a year. Still, I wouldn’t mind at all if some of my existing taxed income were used to ensure better health coverage for more Americans, or if even more of my earnings were taxed to create a better, more far-reaching health care system.
And that’s not because I think I’m “patriotic”, I’d do that because I’d want someone to do it for me if I didn’t have the means. I’d like to live in a society where people actually looked out for each other, and lifted each other up, and promoted the “common good”. These are standard tropes in American lore, but they don’t seem nearly as realistic or endemic as the lust for wider profit margins and the willingness to capitalize even off of people’s pain. For me, the question isn’t whether or not you agree with Obama’s particular version of health care, the question is whether or not you’d want for your fellow citizen as you’d want for yourself, regardless of whether that person was poor, of a different race, or of a different ideology. If the answer is no, then I’d conclude you’re not much of an American.