Socialized Health Care For Dummies

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August 8, 2009 by libertymoonbeam

health careOur health care in America is a joke. It might be wonderful for a select few but for the rest of us it’s downright awful. We are currently ranked 36th in the world with every other country who has universal health care ranking above us. We have 46 million people without insurance, doctors wasting time filling out insurance forms, insurance companies dreaming up ways to avoid paying out to people who faithfully paid their premiums for years and 50% of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies in the US in 2001 were due to medical bills. Health care should be considered a universal human right that should be made available to all persons regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or ability to pay. What it comes down to is countries who offer universal health care have happier citizens who live longer and are healthier.

For those who still are not convinced, I have provided some arguments that are posed to my friends and I almost daily, along with our replies:

“I, for one, do not trust our incompetent government to do anything, especially run our health care.”

I hope anyone that argues that they don’t trust the government to run health care is at least consistent and fights just as hard to get the government to disband the armed forces. If you can’t trust the government to try and save lives, you shouldn’t trust them to take them either.

That goes for the death penalty too, and really, the entire legal system. An error in the legal system especially as it pertains to the death penalty is, at least in my opinion, much more horrible. Your government making a mistake and purposefully killing someone is much worse than making your wait times for medical care slightly longer.

Most people’s views don’t jive with the facts of socialized health care in Canada or Europe, or of the role and usefulness of government in those countries. Many Americans seem to have an automatic fear of government which is based not on reason or clear facts, but of convoluted theories and misrepresentations of the real facts. Actually many government officials and representative are in bed with the insurance companies. So long as people profit when sick people don’t get medical treatment, the system will stay broken, and quite inhumane.

“In Canada as well as England and other countries with socialized health care, you sometimes spend months waiting  before seeing a physician. Many people would die just waiting in an emergency room.”

Socialized health care has been proven to be far more efficient, fair, humane, and equal. It is not at all perfect, and needs improvement, but the US would be wise to adopt a more social health system rather than a private profit based one where insurance company bureaucrats are making medical decisions.

Although a few people do die waiting for treatment we have far more people who suffer and die because they go untreated due to lack of insurance. Not only is that statement about waiting for care patently misleading – (one only waits for non-emergency or elective specialty care which is based on the same principle as ER triage). Europe and Canada are doing very, very well under socialism. In fact the more socialist the country (Denmark, Sweden) the better off they are. Better education, health, longer life-expectancy, lower infant mortality, more productive, less crime, (because the poor have options and support from the community they don’t have to resort to crime and violence out of necessity).

Those stories in which people die waiting for treatment, a rare occurrence, are flaunted about by the conservative news outlets, like Fox, which are owned by giant corporations and run by the elite few who make more money than God. This ruling class will do whatever they need to in order to keep the money pouring into their bank accounts. They recognize that higher taxes would drain them of some of their precious wealth and so they use their media power to spread the idea that covering their asses is in everyone’s best interests. For example, the CEO of Fox holds stock in almost every major health insurance company; it would obviously be in his direct best interest to keep people from supporting universalized health care as he would end up losing millions when the insurance companies are forced to lower their costs to stay in business. So, of course, he is going to twist the truth and use scare tactics (in the form of hosts like Bill O’Reiley and Glenn Beck) to keep the populace complacent.
“Medicaid and medicare are a mess. Have you ever been on Medicaid?”

Yes we have and it is wonderful. The only reason that Medicaid and Medicare are a mess is due to a major lack of funding; they consistently have their budgets cut… thus why Medicaid has been forced to stop offering adults any dental and optical coverage. The US government already provides the best health care in the US for government employees and veterans, and the elderly (Medicare). It’s cheaper, more efficient and provides a higher level of care than is available through private insurance.

“The US treasurer himself said the bottom line is that Obama’s plan will cost $1 T more than taxpayers currently spend!”

Actually government health care has proven to be far cheaper and far more accessible than private. For one, overhead costs would be cut due to reduced staffing needs (administration, billing departments, etc.) than currently exist in hospitals and private health insurance companies. Also, socialized health care is not trying to generate a profit, just break even.

The fact is the US has by far the most expensive health care system in the world, has a lower level of care, lower life expectancy, and has far higher percentage of people without any access to care at all. More people in the United States are totally without access than the entire population of Canada. The US is currently paying out the nose for emergency care when it could be paying far, far less for European/Canadian type preventative care which is far cheaper in the long run for all involved. It’s better to have free, easy access to a doctor whenever you need it than to have to wait until it develops into a serious, more expensive, problem to get help.

The way it works in Canada is that you get free access to basic health care, for specialty care you may be caused to wait depending on the status of your condition. If it is life-threatening you get immediate, free treatment. For elective or non-serious conditions you may well have to wait, but that is no different from how triage works in a hospital normally – those who need the care the most get treated first. Dentistry, prescriptions, optometric care are privatized and covered at different degrees depending on the province you reside in, but either way are far, far cheaper than in the US.

“Shouldn’t the reform come from insurance companies, the doctors and hospitals who so ridiculously overcharge”

Unfortunately the insurance companies, doctors and hospitals will not reform, especially without government intervention. They are corporations whose primary purpose is to make the most possible money for their shareholders. The best way to drive their prices down is to offer some sort of alternative, where people do not have to pay exorbitant fees in order to receive treatment. Once they start to lose customers they will reform in order to stay in business.

“I have a doctor friend in Switzerland who had to go over the border to practice to make any money, because they were paid the same as every other average doctor, no matter how good they strove to be.”

The fact that they weren’t making ‘any money’ is a fallacy, obviously the other doctors in Switzerland are able to survive off of their wages. Another reason this argument is ridiculous is due to the fact that American doctors spend years paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, whereas in a socialized country such as Switzerland their government pays for their college education and doctors graduate debt free.

Under our current system doctors are paid money based on how many patients they can squeeze into a day, to make even more money they are also paid a commission by pharmaceutical companies for each prescription they write. In socialized countries doctors are paid based on how well they care for their patients as well as their patients overall health. In other words our doctors are paid more if we are sick, by being able to write more prescriptions and taking follow up appointments, whereas their doctors are paid more the better their patients fare.

It is irrational that anyone should make a profit on top of what medical care costs. Doctors and nurses should be paid. Pay the costs, but making money on people who are ill is immoral. HMO’s and businesses making money on people who are ill are vultures.

“Many people don’t have insurance because they choose to spend the money on another area of their life, not that they can’t afford it. They just think the government ‘owes’ this to them. They refuse to get jobs, because then they would have to give up the freebies. I don’t want to pay for your health care.”

If health care weren’t at all tied to employment it would be the same as education – a right that all people (and their children) have regardless of their employment. Are we going to punish children because their parent can’t afford health insurance, maybe can’t work or even won’t?

Many Americans seem to have a warped view on how social programs work. Their anecdotal evidence is a poor reason to go up against the reality of how socialized health care (and education for that matter) actually functions. The percentage of people in the US who abuse social programs, in the ‘they’ group, are minuscule, especially when compared to how many people in the US are uninsured, uninsurable, and under-insured, and have serious health and employment problems because they are simply less lucky than others. This view seems rather limited and selfish.

“Socialized health care is not only economically unsound, it is immoral. Stealing is wrong, even if it’s for a good cause.”

‘Stealing is wrong.’ Yes. So how about industrial waste and environmental degradation that is stealing our health in the first place? How about pesticides and herbicides that are in our food, and all for maximization of profit? Do you realize how much industrialization has increased the cancer rates in developing and developed countries? Causing this whole health care problem in the first place is our particular brand of capitalism.

Do you pay taxes at all? Because that’s the government ‘stealing’ from you, that’s forced charity. As the US becomes more and more liberal, which it will, more and more people will start to see why socialism works and will overcome the McCarthyist fear they have of the word socialism. The selfish might, at that time, want to find a nice island to isolate themselves from all the evil forced charity that will be imposed on their ‘extremely moral’ selves. As for theft, if taxes are theft, then you’d best be prepared to give up much. Police, fire, roads, schools etc.

“The reason health care was so cheap earlier in the last century was because there was less government involvement. Medicare and Medicaid has been a horrible disaster for our country and have increased the cost of health care to what it is today.”

As for profit, look back 20 years. Medical care before the rise of the HMO was cheaper, and the people who made money then were doctors, nurses, hospitals, and people doing medical care, not the insurance companies and drug companies. Ask any doctor who has practiced medicine between 1980 and 2009 when and where they made more money. Doctors are making less money now, nurses pay more money for their own insurance (and they work for hospitals and insurance companies.) And people who hold these views obviously don’t have a chronic or debilitating illness or they would understand what it means to be robbed of their money, homes and quality of life.

Things were much simpler in the ‘last part of the last century’, they have become significantly more complicated by insurance companies. In reality the ‘invention’ of the HMO may be the most insidious creation ever developed. Insurance companies have developed entire systems and protocols to stop providing for people they insure so that they may retain more ‘profit’… the profit of the insurance company is entirely created to decrease the service provided to the insured. If that’s not immoral, what is? Health care isn’t about simple economics, it’s about quality of life. If quality of life is money to you, then I hope when you snuggle up with it, it gives you lots of warm fuzzies.

“Big government is the problem!”

Back in the day, you had to subscribe for police coverage, fire coverage, and other things that we now consider city costs. How is medical care much different? Everyone in America is one major illness away from bankruptcy, and if you check yourself or a loved one into a nursing/rest home, you can kiss every dime you ever made or ever saved goodbye. And the poor? They already get the best medical coverage in America. Medicaid: The Unlimited Gold Pot at the end of the social ladder.

When a society has its basic needs cared for and doesn’t need to struggle to feed their family when making $6 an hour at Mc Donald’s, when they don’t have to go bankrupt to pay for a surgery, when they can afford to send their children to university, when their government spends money on the welfare of humans and not on imperialistic military goals then you’ve got a society where social equality is possible, and where people don’t die of tooth infections which spread and get into the blood stream because someone couldn’t afford to go to the dentist.

“Socialism is nothing more than moral cannibalism. It is evil and it always destroys the people who live with it.”

Unfortunately, a Euro/Canadian style health care system isn’t even on the table in Congress right now. All they’re trying to do is fix the uninsured/under-insured problem by having affordable coverage. Health Insurance companies currently can charge whatever they want and then refuse to pay for people’s medical needs because that way they make less money. As long as medical care is for-profit, it is bad for Americans (unless you run a health insurance company). They want to make money, not help people get better.

Obama is not a socialist. He’s not even a liberal. He’s a centrist. Almost the entire democratic party and certainly its policies are centrist ones. And again Obama’s plan isn’t socialized medicine. It’s just introducing some much needed regulation so insurance can’t decline to cover treatment or choose what kinds of treatments it will cover, as well as a public plan which would force insurance companies to lower their rates to a reasonable level. That’s all. No socialization, it’s American-style health insurance which people will still have to purchase. It’s still a terrible idea, but not nearly as terrible as what is currently in place.

Is socialism evil? No, what’s evil is basing a society on extreme selfishness, on giving power to those who are just lucky and born into a situation where they can succeed, and where the majority of people exist mostly to supply the ruling class with ever more money. Unregulated capitalism is as bad an idea as Leninist communism. What we need a healthy balance of the two extremes, and that is socialism. Where personal freedom & human equality are sacrosanct.

“Socialism worked real well for the Soviet Union or Cuba or North Korea didn’t it?”

Actually if you look at these examples they are not socialists at all, but communists. Communism is no more socialism than American capitalism is Nazism. You live in a society, and must either learn to live with the fact that we as humans are interconnected, need each other, and never succeed in a vacuum. You need us, though because you’re just one person, we don’t really need you as much. Socialism is a natural result of our basic nature as social primates. If we care for our community, they will in turn care for us and we all profit. What I see as really immoral is the power that rich people have over the poor to control their lives, to refuse them medical treatment, education, and equality simply because they weren’t born powerful. All the while American society is becoming more fractured, most are getting poorer, while the few rich are getting even richer, and turning into an oligarchy.

A special thanks to my friends Craig Fitzner, Mark Olsen, Jillian Phippen and Derek Johnson.

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23 thoughts on “Socialized Health Care For Dummies

  1. theradicalmormon says:

    Soviets, NK and Cuba were not communists in the strict sense of the word. They were and are more like socialist dictatorships. Communists don’t actually have a government as the people have become so enlightened by the time they have arrived at communism according to Marx. Communism should not be a dirty word.

    The rest of this article is great. Go single payer.

  2. Grégoire says:

    Dear TRM:

    Communists don’t have a state. In Marxian terms, the state will wither away. The word state implies domination. Communists would need to have a central council (a supreme soviet, in other words) to handle infrastructure that’s not in the hands of each individual soviet.

    The state started withering away by WWII, which is why the Germans pushed all the way to the crimea with no trouble. Lenin’s philosophy of replacing the army and police by an armed population wasn’t a match for a huge war machine. This is the weakness of communism.

    It isn’t really a function of being enlightened. It’s just a natural tendency of humanity to decentralize. Aside from the USSR, it started happening in Yugoslavia in the mid 1980s. The central committee had to arrest a bunch of people and reorganize things. If every autonomous local soviet can handle things on their own, are self sufficient and self protecting, then they start telling the national bureaucrats to mind their own business.

    This is not to distract from the rest of the article. It’s just an interesting point you brought up I thought I’d address.

  3. so this is one of the sites i try to read regularly to maintain a balanced “literary diet”. i’m wondering, where do you guys get the idea of the right to health care, education, etc? what is the basis/argument behind that?

    as for Single Payer being cheaper and more efficient… I side with That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen, by Bastiat of course.

  4. J. Madson says:

    Ill let others answer as to whether healthcare and education are a right, but I wonder why something has to be a right for it to still be a good idea. The govt cannot impede on certain fundamental rights but I see nothing wrong with govt programs whether roads, schools, etc so long as fundamental rights are not violated.

  5. theradicalmormon says:

    One place we find it as a right is in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by the UN, written up largely by Elenor Roosevelt and ratified by the US. The right to medical care is listed therein.

  6. libertymoonbeam says:

    In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a ‘Second Bill of Rights’ for Americans, declaring ‘freedom from want’ to be one of four essential liberties necessary for human security. Roosevelt’s definition of freedom included “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” The right to health was subsequently enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted with American guidance, and has since been recognized in numerous international and regional human rights treaties.

    Unfortunately, the United States turned its back on Roosevelt’s vision, and as a result our health care system is in a state of an ever-deepening crisis. Despite spending far more per-capita on health care than any other country,the U.S. has some of the poorest health indicators in the industrialized world. It is the only industrialized nation to deny its citizens universal access to medical services. Fully one-third of the population lacks health insurance for at least part of the year. Of the 44 million who are completely uninsured, 78.8% work full or part-time. The lack of available care is especially acute for those living in rural areas, and for minorities. The disparities are so stark that whites in the U.S. are expected to live six years longer on average than African-Americans.

    This record can be largely attributed to the notion that health care is simply one commodity among others, a privilege for those who can afford it rather than a fundamental human right for all. With a system that values profits over people, it is no surprise that health care costs continue to spiral out of control for ordinary Americans even as HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies accumulate record-breaking profits.

  7. Norris Hall says:

    My wife and I are in our 60’s, and self employed.
    we pay our own health premiums…no government and no employer helps us out
    Our premiums are $920 a month. Our deducible is $8000 for family and $4000 per person.
    Needless to say we can’t afford to visit a doctor or have medical treatments in the US since we’d have to pay $14000 before we can file a claim.
    It’s gotten to the point that we’ve started going abroad for medical care
    For the past 4 years we’ve been saving up all our medical and dental problems and making a 3 week visit to a Thai hospital where the care is excellent and the cost…just a fraction of what I would have to pay out of pocket in the US. For example, last November I had an Endoscopic balloon dilation for a condition known as dysphagia. The specialist in the US said the operation would cost me $2500. (His bill for the 15 minute consultation was $250.) I decided to wait until I got to Thailand and had it done in at Chulalonkorn public hospital…cost $100 including biopsy, (all I needed for ID was my US passport. No questions asked!!)

    I only mention this because there are a lot of uninsured and underinsured American’s in my shoes.

    Thailand or India can be a wonderful lifesaving option for those who can’t afford insurance.

    Just google “medical tourism”. There’s plenty of great hospitals with American accreditation overseas

  8. the Universal Declaration on Human RIghts? oh. I was hoping for a more “divine” source. So in other words these rights are not fundamental, inherent, nor unalienable. Theyre man-made, and man-decreed (er, by a woman, rather). While Eleanor was in the business of penning “fundamental rights” why didn’t she throw in height, breast augmentation, and a rock-solid testimony? depending on who you ask, those affect happiness greatly.

    Such rights being fundamental is such a silly notion, because they are things that someone else must provide for you, which thus violates that person’s “rights”. If a man truly has the right of liberty then no one else must be continually violated to maintain that liberty. whereas education, health care, etc, somebody has got to produce and provide it, and because others claim it as a right, people end up being forced to produce it against their will. all in the name of “fundamental rights”. thanks to the roosevelts.

    it’s ideas like these from benevolent philanthropists that screw up education, health care, and any other passionate topic they can get their omniscient hands on.

    any other different, perhaps legitimate, sources for the “we can add to our basket of so-called inherent rights” argument?

    • zoey says:

      is it not a basic right for babies to be fed, clothed and cared for? That depends on parents or caretakers…is it not, according to prolifers, a basic right to be born? That involves doctors nurses and other healthcare workers… I’m sorry, I just don’t understand the reasoning of how calling a right provided by others a form of oppression to those who provide it. Are healthcare workers being forced to provide services without compensation in socialist systems? Are doctors in socialist systems not getting debt free education? Just wondering…

  9. Joseph says:

    D&C 49:20 “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.”

    3 Nephi 6:12 demonstrates that Mormon considered it a sin to ration “chances for learning” according to wealth.

    I have no trouble applying these principles to health care.

    It may be that he/she “that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant” (D&C 58:26), but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever be “compelled to be humble” (Alma 32:13).

  10. Grégoire says:

    Re: Medical Tourism…

    The article above is simply an opinion piece. It isn’t a peer-reviewed journal article, it contains nothing verifiable and I don’t totally agree with it. I don’t want this response to be taken as some sort of blanket defence of the content. Since we’re all just comparing personal experiences, I’ll give you mine.

    Canada, 1998: My son needed surgery to repair something essential when he was a baby. It was considered ‘elective’ in Canada and we were glad to go to the American State of Washington and have it done. I paid cash. It was several thousand dollars and was worth every penny. We pay premiums to the MSP (BC’s Health Plan) which are fairly low compared to the American norm, but we rarely use the system so it’s money wasted. The system in Canada is thoroughly broken, because it’s thoroughly underfunded. People give birth in airports and in parking lots. There was a bird flu outbreak in Toronto because a sick man was left to die on a gurney for 36 hours, coughing and hacking all over everyone who passed him, without ever seeing a physician. This is the norm, not the exception.

    The USSR 1991: I had a very serious cough. There was a quiet tuberculosis epidemic in Leningrad that summer and I was concerned. Fortunately, every neighborhood has a small clinic within walking distance. I went there, then went to a larger clinic, then to what one might consider a large hospital. Each step of the way I waited in queue and considered the conditions to be primitive, but the people who were attending knew what they were doing and nobody was dying in the parking lot. The medical care system in the USSR was militarized to a great extent. I suppose it could be analogized to what you might find if the U.S. Public Health Service had a monopoly on U.S. hospitals. No one told me anything until I saw my X-Ray and learned I had pneumonia. I later learned that TB patients went to special hospitals which were isolated, so perhaps they assumed I knew it wasn’t serious. In any event, I spent 3 days in hospital. I was pumped full of antibiotics, slept on an army cot with about a dozen other coughing strangers next to me, and was fed food that was pretty commensurate with what you might find in a North American institution (i.e. healthy but tasteless). When I left I was referred for a followup visit. There were no recessed lights nor were there any jacuzzi tubs; but then no one had to enroll in the MSP or pay a bill at the end. The cost was zero.

    I’m not implying that either of the three systems I’m familiar with is a wonderful system. They’re all so different as to defy comparison. I *do* think that the United States has the capacity and potential to produce something totally new and innovative, perhaps building on successes inherent in all three, which the rest of the world will copy. That’s my hope, anyway.

  11. Joseph says:

    I appreciate Gregoire’s experience. I have one of my own.

    In 2004 my wife and I became parents of a baby with a serious genetic disorder. She was a beautiful child who only stayed with us for two very stressful but in many ways wonderful months. Upon returning from her funeral, my wife and I found mail containing a very large bill for medical expenses we understood would be covered. The bill was for tests which were ultimately useless because they only told us our daughter would not live very long after birth. Our daughter actually lived for two months longer than we were told by those tests. I don’t mean to sound trivial, but the pain I was experiencing at that time was very real, and the anger I felt over this extra burden was also very real. Of course I would give everything in this world up to save one of my children, but being able to provide for my living children would not have been helped much by that expense.

    I understand Gregoire’s experience almost too well, and the indifference of the Canadian government to such a situation causes me great concern. But I can also tell you from experience that American private insurance companies are even more heartless, cold, and bureaucratic. And they are also constantly taking money from working families, and then doing all they can to avoid having to do anything for that money.

    I realize my story is just a drop in the bucket compared with the extreme pain and suffering resulting from deaths in uninsured families, to say nothing of individuals who had been paying insurance but were denied coverage.

    My story is not nearly as tragic as many, because we were able to get the insurance company to pay a majority of the bill. I credit this to the fact that because I work for a junior college in New Mexico, New Mexico government runs interference between us and our insurance company. This is a very good thing because the insurance companies are forced to give us better deals than if I were to have to face those insurance companies on my own. There is also a public option that will cover children, even in families with above poverty income (though this still needs to be expanded). My father, who works for the government in Arizona, has access to many of the same medical insurance providers, but doesn’t get nearly as good a deal as I do, again because New Mexico government takes a more active role in dealing with the insurance companies than Arizona does. It wasn’t the government in the above situation that was treating my family and I with indifference. It was the private insurance company!

    Anyway, sorry for the length of this comment. I didn’t really want to share this experience, but Gregoire’s experience prompted me. I am glad that he was able to pay for his son’s operation. I am confident he is aware that many would not be able to do so if they were in the same situation.

    I agree with Gregoire that something better than the options that are out there right now needs to be created. But out of control private insurance companies is not an acceptable option.

  12. Joseph Says:
    August 10, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    “D&C 49:20 “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.”

    3 Nephi 6:12 demonstrates that Mormon considered it a sin to ration “chances for learning” according to wealth.

    I have no trouble applying these principles to health care.”

    sin doesn’t necessarily mean crime. read further. how did they try to handle the people’s iniquity? prophets came to preach. they used love and persuasion. they DIDN’T use force, not until the bad guys committed the CRIME of murder.

    i agree with the scrips you cited. i agree there should be equality. i agree people should have equal chances for learning. i agree it would be great if we all had equally awesome health care. but my wishes do not justify coercion. and just because a topic (health care) involves a passionate story or 5, that does not excuse us to waive the decision You Know Who made in Heaven when He went with Christ’s plan instead of Satan’s.

    even if socialism was empirically superior, which I don’t believe it is, I still could not justify it because I believe it resorts to paternalistic coercion. I believe I wish to achieve the same “utopia” as the writers here at the MW, and I was originally drawn to it in ’06 (i think) because of the espousal of anarchist principles: voluntary cooperation. but nearly everything i currently see here at the MW calls for different media of achieving that utopia than what I originally found.

    now i get frustrated when people misuse a term and give it a bad name. perhaps I am doing that with socialism? does it not resort to coercion? or is it, in its true form, voluntary cooperation towards achieving equality?

  13. Grégoire says:

    Dear MB:

    You’re jumping all over the theological and philosophical map in an effort to justify your untenable position. The problem with quoting scriptures is that I can quote some back which suggest the opposite viewpoint. Really, the bible, book of mormon, qur’an and talmud are all that comprehensive. The meaning is in the context. That aside, please see inside text…

    now i get frustrated when people misuse a term and give it a bad name. perhaps I am doing that with socialism? does it not resort to coercion? or is it, in its true form, voluntary cooperation towards achieving equality?

    Socialism is a very broad church and lots of people call themselves (and their enemies) socialists without knowing a thing about the term or what a definition might entail.

    I’ve been a socialist for twenty years and if you have any specific questions I’d be glad to answer them. For now though, feel free to read this article:

    http://www.themormonworker.org/articles/issue3/the_unattained_enlightenment.php

    I’d be interested in your feedback over there. The issues you’ve been raising are very broad, and don’t really apply to the article you’re replying to. Nationalizing the health care system or reforming the status-quo in North America may be done any number of ways. Philosophical and theological questions, or political questions about socialism really aren’t relevant.

    Best, Grégoire

  14. Joseph says:

    mormonbastiard:

    I think there is a lot we can agree on. I also have issues with coercion. I’m also no big fan of the Roosevelts (especially “Teddy,” who was a philandering demagogue whose agricultural policies were not only environmentally destructive, but destroyed the Navajo economy, and he was a wimp to the fascists here in the U.S.). But we don’t live in a perfect world. This particular issue of medical insurance touches a nerve for me, so discussing it in pure, cold, abstract ideological terms just isn’t going to work for me. But for the most part, I do enjoy hearing multiple perspectives. When I was in college and I had more than my fill of knee-jerk liberals and their shallow political correctness, my most interesting conversations were with those on the libertarian right, etc.

    But again, this issue being discussed in this post is something that needs to be addressed dealing with current conditions. It’s an issue that in the U.S. there is a lot of ignorance on both sides about (I’m thinking of the man who apparently shouted at a townhall meeting “Keep your [expletive] government’s hands off my medicare”). I feel discouraged as I watch the impotence of our politicians in dealing with this issue (except for Tom Udall, who is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsJ2wlwrVms), so it felt good to discuss it here. But I can see it’s going nowhere, so that’s all I have to say for now.

    As for defining any political terms, I’m definitely the wrong person to ask (though a political quiz I took recently placed me very definitely in the Libertarian Left).

  15. Joseph says:

    Apparently the parenthesis messed up the link above, so here it is again

    I realize Udall isn’t anywhere near as radical as those here at the Mormon Worker, but I have a lot of respect for him.

  16. Forest Simmons says:

    Mormon Bastiard has a problem with the list of “rights” made by FDR and in the Universal Declaration. I can sympathize with him, because it has always seemed to me that “needs” would be a better word than “rights” for these lists.

    People have a hard time agreeing on the definition of “rights,” but most people can agree on basic needs. I think that most people would agree that the lists are indeed lists of real needs, not luxuries.

    So why not just say “needs” instead of “rights?”

    Perhaps that would be too much like saying the “ten suggestions” instead of the “ten commandments.”

    Here in Oregon, when parents grossly fail to take care of the needs of their children, then Child Protective Services steps in and takes custody of the children. How do you feel about that? Do you think they tend to be too quick or too slow to respond to complaints? Or should children just have to put up and wait for judgment day to get their needs fulfilled?

    Are the needs of children rights? At what age do their needs cease to be rights? Are the needs of mentally or physically incapacitated adults rights? If so, at what level of disability do needs become rights?

    If we just called them needs, then we might get past this conundrum and start talking about a realistic way of getting these needs fulfilled.

    Capitalism has failed dismally. So has every other system (including Soviet and Chinese styles of totalitarianism) based on concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of a few elites.

    Where ever there is a concentration of power, there will soon follow concentration of wealth into the same hands. And concentrations of wealth are sure to use it for consolidating power. The two are inseparable.

    It is not historically realistic to expect systems with concentrations of power and wealth to result in satisfaction of basic needs for the masses.

    When there is concentration of wealth and power there is no democracy. That’s why Captain Moroni considered it his mission to pull down the power of the wealthy king men.

    I think democracy (like Christianity) would be a good system to try, but so far, all attempts at it have been hijacked by the corporate capitalists..

  17. Forest Simmons says:

    A recent Democracy Now broadcast about a 75 year old secretive right wing Christian fundamentalist organization with vast influence in governments, both ours and others, gives a glimpse of the powerful “principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world,” that are avowed enemies of democracy:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/12/sharlet.

    Sharlet has written a book called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

    This has to rank as one of the most insidious secret combinations that has gotten above us.

  18. theradicalmormon says:

    Aristotle pointed out that you can’t have true democracy with economic inequality Forest.

    Mormonbastiard. If you put it that way, the only truly God-given rights we have are the rights to remain silent and to choose our own eternal destiny. Other than that we have no rights besides those given by man. I’d have to agree with you there.

  19. Joseph says:

    I was pretty amazed (not surprised, though) listening to that democracy now story yesterday as well, Forest.

    And then that afternoon, guess who was feeding the Obama “death panel” rumor flames (just as he has been feeding the real “death panels” for quite a few years now)?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/12/grassley-endorses-death-p_n_257677.html

  20. Forest Simmons, thank you for changing the wording from “rights” to “needs”. I was having issues with that.

    i’m still mulling over the actual difference in my mind of rights and needs, but i do feel better about making that change…

  21. Joseph says:

    Here’s why all this discussion ultimately doesn’t matter.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/13/internal-memo-confirms-bi_n_258285.html

    It looks like no forms of pure socialism or pure capitalism will have much to do with health care. Just good old fashioned greed and cronyism. I hope I’m wrong, and Congress pulls it out of the fire, but I’m not holding my breath.

  22. Forest Simmons says:

    Just to clarify, this Senator Chuck Grassley that says government health care will “pull the plug on grandma,” in the link provided by Joseph

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/12/grassley-endorses-death-p_n_257677.html

    is the same Senator Chuck Grassley in this extract from the Democracy Now transcript at

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/12/sharlet

    “…Siad Barre was not a likely candidate for Christian right recruitment, called himself a Koranic Marxist. But in the early ’80s, the Soviets had abandoned him. There had been a power shift between Somalia and Ethiopia. He was in the market for a new patron. And working through Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, of course still in office—

    AMY GOODMAN: Talk more about Chuck Grassley, who certainly is in the news now, who, together with Max Baucus, heads the Senate Finance Committee.

    JEFF SHARLET: Yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: Baucus, Democrat; Grassley, Republican. Very powerful figure, especially around healthcare right now.

    JEFF SHARLET: Indeed. And Grassley has been involved with the organization for quite some time, since the ’80s, when he traveled to Somalia to join Barre, Siad Barre, in prayer to Jesus. And he brought with him a defense contractor named Bill Brehm.

    And Barre was a kind of a cynical character, as you might expect for a dictator. He was very clear. He says, “I’m willing to pray to Jesus, and here’s what I want in return.” He says, “I want my defense budget doubled.” He says, “I want meetings for my officials with the Reagan White House. And I want a sort of a hands-off policy while I crack down on some rebels.” Doug Coe, the leader of the group, wrote back, in essence, “Done, done and done.”

    And when we look at history, so it was. And Barre used those weapons, supplied to him in part by the US, to wage a war of almost biblical proportion on his own people, from which Somalia has not recovered to this day. The Family doesn’t consider that a failure; they consider that God’s will for Somalia. “

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