I haven't been posting about the health care debate like I said I would. Sorry about that. It isn't that I haven't had the time, but I haven't had much desire to do so. I feel very strongly about the subject, actually, and my reaction to the debate is very similar to my reaction to the debate about same-sex marriage: I can't believe that this is even a debate. I can't believe we have to actually talk about this. It should be obvious! Sure there's a choice of paths to take, but one is clear, straight and paved. The others are dark, twisted, narrow and covered with brambles and littered with broken glass.
And that's what bothers me so much: I simply do not see the opposing point of view. I have had it explained to me and I simply cannot grant a single shred of validity to this point. Oh, I understand why the current health care system would be opposed, I see why insurance companies would be against it, I can see why hospitals don't want to change direction: they all make more money than they should. We are capitalists and money-makers, but first we are members of a society. Think of our society as though we were a few dozen shipwrecked survivors on a desolate island. One or two people have all of the medicine and first aid and charge for use. Medical knowledge is valuable, but it shouldn't be leveraged into a commodity.
Sorry for the digression. The opposing point of view, apparently, is simply a fear of government control. That's the term that I hear the most, actually: government control. People are afraid that the government will take control of their lives via health care. People are afraid of socialized medicine. People are afraid of socialism. I will recommend this fantastic post from Roger Ebert's blog, where he discusses this very thing.
It is "socialism." Again, yes. The word socialism, however, has lost its usefulness in this debate. It has been tainted, perhaps forever, by the malevolent Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who succeeded somehow in linking it with the godless Commies. America is the only nation in the free world in which "socialism" is generally thought of in negative terms. The only nation in which that word, in and of itself, is thought to bring the discussion to a close.
Thank you, Roger Ebert. I thought I was crazy! I have wondered what this horrible phenomenon of socialism was all about. I thought I understood what it was, but if everyone was so terrified and against it, I must have been wrong. I looked it up on Wikipedia and followed some links to read about it. As I thought, it didn't sound terrible at all. It sounded like a good thing.
Perhaps it isn't the best economic theory (that's all it is, by the way) for a productive nation, although I'm not convinced that capitalism is necessarily better (what to you expect from me? I'm a liberal - you knew that already) but surely we can compromise! Surely we can find a way to allow the government to control our medicine. Why would we want this? Because they should have no incentive other than keeping people healthy. There should be no profit motive in the administration of health care. If the government runs the entire program (like they do, very successfully in other countries, I probably don't need to point out) then it will free up hospitals and doctors to do their jobs, the jobs that they very likely want to do, and free them from worrying about something so petty as money.
Would this lower the wages of doctors? Probably. Would this put an entire industry out of work? I hope so. But don't worry, America. Your precious insurance company executives are in no danger. What I am proposing is not even on the table here. Even if Obama's proposed plan goes through unscathed (it won't), we will still have the worst health care system of any developed country. Our place in the world is secure.
I don't know how many posts I can manage on this subject. Thinking about it actually provokes a physical response (yes, rage is a physical response) and I don't like to wind myself up for no reason. I'll stick to the easier battles, like legalizing same-sex marriage and getting "In God We Trust" removed from our currency.