Here I was all ready to sit down and beat out a few paragraphs about the ongoing struggle for healthcare reform here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., my main premise being that if that’s what it’ll take to pay for universal healthcare (which isn’t even up for debate from either side, unfortunately), just raise my fucking taxes already. I find it a little fishy that we’ve recently paid for two foreign wars, a major bank bailout, and massive government-funded stimulus to the economy without raising taxes, but suddenly when healthcare reform is discussed, everyone’s all “shit, I don’t know if we can afford it . . .”
Of course we can fucking afford it. But nevermind what I think — as usual, the great Roger Ebert, author of the best blog in the world, has beaten me to the punch and done so far more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Please read his excellent article on healthcare reform, from which I quote below.
The notion of “universal health care” does not mean “socialized medicine.” It means just what it seems to mean. America is the only developed nation on earth that does not provide it. Why does it inspire such virulent opposition? Who is behind it? It is opposed mostly from the far right, whose enthusiasm seems to be encouraged by financial support from some (not all) insurance companies. Those companies have priced American insurance out of the reach of millions.
One result has been that our national life expectancy ranks 42nd among all developed nations. We spend more on medical care that any other nation, and get less than 41 of them. These figures are pretty clear.
I don’t pretend to know if this information is available to the angry people who have shouted down their representatives at town hall meetings. I think I do know where their anger is fed. The drumbeat of far-right commentators fuels it. Their agenda is not health care, but opposition to the Obama administration. It takes the form of demonizing Obama. It uses the tactic of the Big Lie to defame him him. An example of this is the fiction, “he wants to kill your grandmother.” Another is the outrageous statement that he is a racist who hates white people. A person capable of saying that is clearly unhinged and in the grip of unconditional hatred. . . .
Do you know what the “public option” is? It would be the establishment of a federal fund to provide health insurance for those who cannot afford it. . . .
If you lack insurance coverage, are you opposed to the public option? If your premiums have increased so much that you can’t afford them, do you oppose it? If you have a “preexisting condition” that disqualifies you from insurance, do you oppose it? If it would provide you with equivalent insurance at a lower cost, do you oppose it? Most Americans, even those angry people at town hall meetings, now approve of MediCare. The public option would essentially make a system like MediCare available to the general population. . . .
Having arrived at a qualifying age thanks to the love and care of my wife and doctors, I am writing this as the beneficiary of the excellent heath care my insurance plan covered (until my illness exhausted its provisions). I am now covered under MediCare. I continue to get the same treatment as before--and as, for that matter, all members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives do, no matter what their age or political party. You should try it sometime.
Roger’s invoking of Medicare reminds me of something I read in the Herald-Mail (the closest thing we have to a newspaper in Hagerstown) about the recent town hall meeting with Senator Ben Cardin at Hagerstown Community College, one of the few accounts from that event that made me smile. Standing outside the Kepler Theater among those who were not able to find seats for the meeting, a group of people began chanting “No More Socialism!” for the benefit of the television cameras.
Someone else shouted in response, “Burn your Medicare card!”