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Slaves to Ideology? Challenge to the Conservatives on Health Care

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<em>On the radio station where I appear monthly --soon twice
monthly-- for two hour shows, there's also available a forum for
callers to present two-minute statements. I've begun to utilize
this forum, as more and more I get into my role as a gadfly.


Actually, with these two-minute calls, I am picturing myself less as a
gadfly than as a picador: quickly in, and then gone, leaving my
words stuck in the bull.


This was written to be one of those quick jabs.</em>


****************


When I was growing up, my father told me that one of the things that
made American politics healthier than that of a lot of other countries
was that Americans were less likely to be slaves to ideology.
Instead of looking at everything through an ideological lens, Americans
were more likely to ask, "What works?"


Facts drive our conclusions, he said, rather than our ideological preconceptions dictating our facts.



These days, on the political right, in the debate about health care
reform, that good old American pragmatism seems nowhere in
evidence. The right is possessed by an ideology that says that
government can only be the problem.


But on this question, over recent generations the experiment has been run, and it's clear what works and what doesn't.


In the United States, we've tried a health care system with minimal
government involvement. Meanwhile, other countries have been
trying various kinds of government involvement-- from strong regulation
of private companies to single-payer systems.


And the results are in.


The United States has by far the most expensive system in the
world. We pay almost twice as much per person as most other
countries. And what do we get for all that money from our costly
private sector medical system? Our health care delivers less good
care to the population than that of most all of our friends and allies
in other industrial democracies. Ours has been ranked 37th best.


What works? While the profit-driven system seems to be the best
for many economic purposes, when it comes to health care, government
involvement works better.


Are we willing to listen to the facts? Or are we going to be
slaves to ideology. Are we going to say, "Don't confuse me with
facts, my mind is made up" while we squander hundreds of billions of
dollars and thousands of American lives every year?

 

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The (more...)
 

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