Understanding “socialism” 101- and health care

When we were walking door-to-door yesterday one of my campaign volunteers told me about an encounter with a voter who was fearful of “Obamacare” and “socialized medicine.” My volunteer was so proud of herself for trying to explain that we already have socialism when it comes to so many services- police, fire, roads etc.

I’ve also tried to tell people that the VA system that provides my health care now is absolutely better than the un-managed private one I used to trust.

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof does a great job of explaining what government can do right- and why we shouldn’t fear government run health care- I highly recommend that you read the entire piece:

In truth, despite the deeply ingrained American conviction that government is bumbling when it is not evil, government intervention has been a step up in some areas from the private sector.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Health Care That Works – NYTimes.com.

The woman who was afraid of “Obamacare” also was a “birther” and believed that Obama was a communist. It confused her that he also seemed to be a family man- and was always seen with his wife and kids.

The First Amendment gives people the right to say almost anything- and some, take advantage of it (this writer included), however, it’s your right- and responsibility to read, learn and decide for yourself which makes more sense.

Our “health care” system is making millionaires out of insurance company executives- while doctors are fighting with paperwork instead of treating patients. Americans should be upset that they don’t get to choose their health care- that it comes “with the job,” Imagine if your employer was also able to tell you who to vote for, where to live (and that’s why the residency rule needed to go) and what to eat? Why do so many want to protect the current system?

Is change that scary, that you are willing to stay with a system that does everything possible to screw us all, with higher rates, hoops to jump through- where the focus is on pay-for-procedure instead of pay for outcomes?

Change is scary. Living in fear caused by ignorance is scarier.

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9 Responses

  1. Ice Bandit September 6, 2009 / 10:51 pm
    Our “health care” system is making millionaires out of insurance company executives- while doctors are fighting with paperwork instead of treating patients. (David Esrati)

    Dave. your obsession and objection to what other people make is beginning to reach disturbing proportions. Perhaps we can have “wealth envy” or “prosperity objection” declared a pre-existing condition under Obamacare. You’re right insofar as our “health care” system makes some insurance execs wealthy, but our “sports care” system makes millionaires out of shortstops who make 30 errors a season and hit .220; our “rap care” system makes millionaires out of street thugs who can rhyme and our “stupidity care” tort law system makes millionaires out of the mentally challenged who put on cotton sweatpants, order scalding coffee at the McDonalds’ drive thru, place styrofoam cup containing aforementioned hot liquid between their legs, and hit the gas. The Old Bandito thinks you’re confusing health care reform with a desire to stick it to an industry you apparently have a grudge against. Fact is, the Old Bandito could solve this whole health care mess in an afternoon using free market principals, but that is for another post. I just gotta’ know Dave, is their any prosperous person you think is deserving? Oprah? Peyton Manning? Steven Spielberg? Jenna Jameson???????

  2. Brian September 6, 2009 / 11:10 pm
    (Trying to address each of the points you made in your blog. The sharing of ideas is much prefered over the screaming and shouting our federal elected officials are engaged in.)

    Kudos to your campaign volunteer for holding her own but, I don’t believe that her characterization of “…police, fire, etc.” as examples of socialism is valid. Socialism is an anti-capitalist belief that power/wealth are concentrated in a small segment of society that controls all resources, advocating the re-distribution of power/wealth throughout the rest of society. Police, fire, and roads are simply examples of us paying directly for a service, no different than hiring someone to pave our driveways — and certainly not anything representing a re-distribution of wealth or resources.

    As a fellow veteran, I am pleased that you’re satisfied with your VA care. However, I am also quite satisfied with my “unmanaged private insurance,” and am not overly eager to have it disposed of so easily. Regarding the VA health care system, due to the VA National Income Thresholds, I am ineligible to receive health care in the VA system. (See what the VA refers to as “Priority Group 8”.) So, whenever the discussion of the government controlling costs by limiting access to health care in most of the current proposals, I always bring up the VA National Income Thresholds as examples of what the government will do given the opportunity.

    In your final paragraphs, the problems with the current health care system that you mention could be managed by the government acting as regulators (as they should) — breaking up monopolies and oligopolies (like they did with the steel industry and AT&T decades back), forcing competition and (perhaps) even regulating it (like they do with utilities), rather than becoming active participants and providers.

    Personally, I believe that the problem with the current health care system started decades ago when the government (as well as industry) started guaranteeing it. That screwed up any possibility of natural market-based forces controlling prices. With the guarantee of services being paid for, prices quite naturally skyrocketed. (If I were a businessman, and I knew that a customer’s backer would pay anything I asked, I’d be tempted to do the same thing.)

    I don’t think that I’m scared of change. But, I’d rather deal with the devil that I know rather than the devil I don’t know.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking comments.

  3. David Esrati September 7, 2009 / 8:58 am

    @Brian- thanks for joining in.

    You say “Police, fire, and roads are simply examples of us paying directly for a service, no different than hiring someone to pave our driveways — and certainly not anything representing a re-distribution of wealth or resources.” – however, we have no choice in providers, yet these systems are ok with most people.

    Also- show me where we are paying directly in the current system for a service? We’re paying a middle man to lord over what we can and can’t have access to. In fact, since the middle man gets a huge discount- and we pay grossly inflated prices, I’d say the middle man is no different than a mob-run “protection” racket. You pay us, or, we gonna beat you up.”

    The system is hopelessly broken. Some change is needed. But- if you are talking about the fear of concentration of wealth controlling our society- we’re there. It’s totally pay to play- with legislators being sold to the highest bidder.

    It’s time for some serious campaign finance reform- until that happens, we can hardly trust the foxes we have minding us chickens in the coop.

     

     

  4. Teri L September 7, 2009 / 9:03 am
    >we already have socialism when it comes to so many services- police, fire, roads etc.
     

    We can change that. Privatization is not scary at all.
     
    >Imagine if your employer was also able to tell you who to vote for, where to live (and that’s why the residency rule needed to go) and what to eat?
     
     
    Imagine if the government did that? Oh wait…
    David, the government does tell us who to vote for. Zoning tells us where to live. I think it’s very safe to think that if the Guv’mint controls health care, we will be told what to eat. Part of the common good is that we stay healthy, right?
     
    Change isn’t scary, but shackling my children to a government is very scary.  HR 3200 would effectively shackle my children and grandchildren to the government. I like to keep my options open, thanks anyway.
     
     
     
     

  5. Dad September 7, 2009 / 12:47 pm
    Back around 1938, the American Medical Association fought tooth and nail against the idea of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, calling it “socialism.”
    My father’s comment, “I did not know the Kaiser was a Socialist. We had health insurance in Germany under the Kaiser.”
  6. John Ise September 7, 2009 / 1:36 pm
    Obama should embrace NY Congressman Anthony Weiner’s proposal for Medicare for ALL!  Simple, direct, efficient, affordable, understandable, popular, and honest.  Watch him mop the floor with Joe Scarborough at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIF_dWwxAHE  (be sure to watch part one as well).
    It’s important we get health care, for no other reason to defeat politics based on ignorance and fear.  As blogger Michael Tomsky put it:

    It’s been a rocky month or six weeks, no denying it. The White House has made its share of errors. At the same time, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the rightwing response to the healthcare proposals. Forceful opposition and lies here and there, sure. But death panels and armed citizens coming to presidential rallies andcomparisons to Hitler and polls showing that more than half of Republicans aren’t convinced Obama is even an American citizen? No one saw this coming.
    So now, liberals have to fight hard for something they’re not terribly excited about. A health bill will likely have a very weak public option or it won’t have one at all. But liberals will have to battle for that bill as if it’s life and death (which in fact it will be for thousands of Americans), because its defeat would constitute a historic victory for the birthers and the gun-toters and the Hitler analogists.

     
     
     

  7. Ice Bandit September 7, 2009 / 5:38 pm
    The White House has made its share of errors. At the same time, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the rightwing response to the healthcare proposals. (John Ise)
    Doncha’ hate it when the caucasians take to the streets? Wearing attire purchased from Lands End or Brooks Brothers? Why, no self respecting professional malcontent would dare protest global warming or hurl a brick thru a Seattle storefront obstructing the G8 summit in anything but Levis and a Che t-shirt. And the Old Bandito shares your concern about the lack of civility, John. As we all know, during the previous administration, the left would never think to compare Bush to Hitler, or show caricatures of him with Vampire teeth, or make movies where they fantasized about his assassination. Nooooo sireeee. So what is the genesis of this sturm and drang? We could take Dave and your theory that the American electorate are a bunch of mentally challenged dolts you don’t know what’s good for them. Or maybe they have educated themselves, as I suspect is the case, on this issue and find Obama’s  proposals objectionable. Besides, John, the President has solid majorities in both houses, and can pass any and all legislation without a single Republican vote. His failure is his lack of cohesion in his own party. And sidebar to Dave; if your campaign strategy is to call the electorate stupid and wax poetic about the joys and wisdom of Bolshevism, this might be a long campaign……..
     
  8. Jeff September 7, 2009 / 8:52 pm
    My father’s comment, “I did not know the Kaiser was a Socialist. We had health insurance in Germany under the Kaiser.”
     
     
    The Kaiser and his chancellor, Bismarck, weren’t socialists.  But they were afraid of the popularity of the socialists, so at first tried political repression.  When that didn’t work they  co-opted some of the socialist  agenda by starting up parts of the German welfare state;  health care and pensions.    I should note that these old  German socialists of the Kaiser era  were the forerunners of todays Social Democrat Party (SPD), not the later National Socialists, just in case there are any confused Republicans out there reading this. .
     
     
     
  9. Bruce Kettelle September 7, 2009 / 10:27 pm
    You have to wonder why firefighting was taken out of the hands of private fire brigades in the late 1800’s. Could it have been that government just wanted to be bigger? No way. It’s because capitalism does not always work the way it is intended. That’s why we have what some call socialist liberal rules that dictate how far capitalists can go. The same type of thing is happening with healthcare. Here’s a quick look at what caused the private fire brigades to fail society.
    http://www.tinadupuy.com/index.php/2009/07/30/firefighting-in-the-1800s-a-corrupt-bloated-private-for-profit-industry/

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