Like the Boogey Man, those two words are continually trotted out to scare one and all from even considering the concept. In case you have forgotten in all the frenetic hype and hyperbole over the past several decades on the subject, so-called socialized medicine - at its core - is much like insurance. It is essentially spreading the health costs over many people so that the unlucky few faced with a crippling illness do not have to cripple their family finances in the process. The primary difference is that if we had “socialized medicine,” we would not have to also fund the multimillion dollar salaries of insurance company CEOs, agent commissions, advertising expenses, and Wall Street level shareholder profits before the first dime is spent on actual health care of anyone.
Their one argument of merit attacking the concept is the bugaboo that government is inefficient, as if the megalithic HMOs weren’t.
And, since they don’t have sufficient arguments on the actual respective merits, they attempt to divert attention by connotatively loading the term “socialized medicine”with associations to Sovietism and/or Communism, our once and possibly future enemy. Unfortunately, the smear tactics have worked making us forget the “Golden Rule” we learned in Sunday School about doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Instead, they glorify that only Gold Rules when it comes to access to medical care.
What is fascinating about the opponents’ smoke and mirrors camouflaging their lack of substance is that this country is already heavily “socialized” in much of what it does and it has successfully been that way for many years. While the Socialist Party elected almost no one since its creation back in the early 1900s, most of their ideas were ultimately incorporated into law by Republican as well as Democratic administrations.
We have had “socialized” fire and crime prevention since the 1800s. The fire department doesn’t go only to the biggest mansions anymore. It goes to what is on fire regardless of how wealthy the owner is. No one except maybe curmugeons think we should go back to the bad old days when private fire departments protected only the houses of those who paid for the privilege.
We have always had “socialized” military and national security. The Coast Guard does not check your Dun and Bradstreet rating before steaming out in the storm when the SOS is received. In fact, almost all rescue operations are socialized ones. If your child is lost, everyone shows up to search and it doesn’t have to be just someone like Paris Hilton missing.
“Socialized” highways and bridges? Absolutely. Whether a beat up pickup truck or a Rolls Royce, the drivers of those cars are charged exactly the same for building our highway infrastructure, even on toll bridges. There is “socialized” water delivery and sewage removal. There is “socialized” airport construction and air traffic control. There is “socialized” building and food inspection to keep us safe whether it is caviar or chitlins being scrutinized for samonella. Does anyone seriously suggest it should be otherwise in this day and age?
“Socialized” air waves for radio and tv? Of course. There are some channels that are only available by paying extra, but the core networks are still free to both Bill Gates and Joe Six Pack. The air waves are actually owned by the public despite some sell off going on by a Republican Administration wanting to reward its rich campaign contributors who want the airwaves and internet for themselves.
Wanna bet whether the President wants to give up his “socialized” Secret Service protection? He is rich enough to afford his own Pinkerton guards, but for all his rhetoric about pigs dining at the public trough, he certainly wants to keep dining at the “trough” himself at every opportunity.
And, have you forgotten Social Security, one of the most successful programs of all time in just about every criteria you can name, notwithstanding the hysteria the Republicans try to create? But, that is a much longer topic that needs to be addressed at a different time. Suffice to say Franklin Roosevelt’s experiment is still useful and better than any of the other alternatives.
It is legitimate to want to insure that incompetencies, inefficiencies and potential corruption be rooted out whenever genuine instances of such abuses of any system are discovered. But, if that were the sole test for whether “socialized medicine;” i.e., health care for all, should be in a government agency rather than the mishmash of profiteering private companies, then President Bush should have been fired long ago and the Homeland Security Department would not exist. Does the acronym FEMA and the city of New Orleans come to mind?
Come to think of it, do the private companies of Wall Street, which were supposed to be so brilliant and efficient that they didn’t even need regulation, really strike you as all that incompetent-free now that the whole housing and lending fiascos have been revealed? It looks like the conservatives are screaming at the top of their lungs that we must instantly institute “socialized banking.” The current attempts to reward the incompetents responsible for our snowballing banking crisis seems to be little other than a socialized bailout using taxpayer funds and guarantees which means more taxpayer funds if something goes wrong.