Single-Payer, Socialism And the Government Option

In a previous blog post I began to address the issue of universal healthcare. I mentioned the fact that many people are labeling Obama a Socialist and that the reason that many don't want single-payer healthcare is that they fear that the nation might be on track to become Socialist. I've yet to hear anyone call him a Communist, though Communism is what Socialism tends to transform into. As it turns out, I meet regularly with a friend named Walda Katz-Fishman who is a professor of sociology at Howard U. I also have other friends and acquaintances who are into sociology, collectivism and social justice. The common sentiment among the sociology-types that I associate with is that Obama is more of a Fascist than a Socialist. Their claim is that, even though he is overhauling the U.S. Government, it is in the interest of the crapitalists, whereas Socialism is a system that lifts up the working class. That said, I'll address the issues of single-payer and the government option in slightly greater detail before delving further into this hot-button issue of government types any further.

The basic scheme of the single-payer system is as follows: Nobody pays out of pocket for healthcare. It gets paid for with your tax dollars. A person can go to any participating hospital or doctor's office and get the healthcare that they need on demand. The doctor or hospital then bills the government. Though this is a great idea, it has the scent of Communism all over it. The Communist slogan is "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need". This speaks to the idea of taxing people in proportion to their earnings and then redistributing those tax dollars through various social programs. With all of the social programs that already exist in this nation, this begs the question: Why are people not up in arms about ALL social programs, just single-payer? I believe it was the British statesman Edmund Burke who said:

What is a Communist? One who hath yearnings
For equal divisions of unequal earnings
Idler or bungler or both he is willing
To spoon out his copper and pocket your shilling.
(I learned that in my highschool Collectivism course.)

That poem encapsulates the anti-Communist sentiment with which our nation's people have been propagandized. (People having been conditioned by their government to believe a certain way wreaks of the self-same government control that people are fighting against as they oppose single-payer.) It goes to show that many people who are presently well-to-do don't want to pay anything towards the well-being of another human being. Such is the argument against single-payer.

The government (insurance) option is a slightly different animal. the fear that some people have concerning the government option is that it will be sold at a much lower premium than for-profit insurance and will, in effect, put many insurers out of business. (Single-payer would eliminate the need for ANY health insurance.) I couldn't agree more with their predictions, though I couldn't care less just how many for-profit insurance companies go out of business. Behind this fear is the wild notion that all business should be competitive. If Americans could see beyond this deeply-engrained belief, then they could begin to appreciate the government option, though it is the lesser of the 2 healthcare choices being described here.

As a matter of principle, healthcare should not be a competitive business. If it were up to me, I would change how we do business altogether so that none of it is competitive. I would also reverse the de-regulation of the Reagan era. Healthcare should be about saving lives at little or no cost to the patient. That's it. That's all. At the end of the day, what we all want in terms of healthcare is to be able to go to a doctor's office or hospital and get the healthcare we need without the threat of receiving a heart-attack-inducing bill or deductible. This desire and the fact that some people don't want to foot the bill for their fellow human beings is the crux of the healthcare fight. But, since the healthcare issue has raised some questions about government forms, let's address the latter issue in greater detail. (Walda reads my blog and will tell me how I did.)

In light of the healthcare fight, I asked Walda for some clarity on the difference between Socialism and Communism. The following paragraph reflects her response as I understood it:

SOCIALISM is a system that lifts up the working class. However, it is more of a phase than an end result. Both Hitler and Mussolini called themselves "National Socialists", though they were indeed Fascists. Socialism results when 2 major components exist. The first is that working-class people are disgruntled with government. They realize that government doesn't have the answer to the big problems that beset the nation. There is a general malaise. The second is that the government begins to be infilitrated with people who redirect its efforts so that it serves the little people of the nation -- the dispossessed -- rather than the crapitalists. This "infiltration" can be nothing more than the existing government having a change of heart, though that's not very likely. In either instance, the focus of government begins to change. The dispossessed begin to be served by government. The wealthy begin to lose their privilege and their ability to do backroom deals with the government. The process during which these changes are slowly but surely taking place is known as Socialism. Once the new system that provides for the dispossessed is firmly in place, the government that maintains that system is essentially COMMUNIST.

So, there you have it: a short description of single-payer, Socialism, the government option and their correlation. But as a final point of interest, I'd like to mention the fact that the homeless of Washington, DC have free healthcare even now, though it is not without its share of problems. Nonetheless, it is a microcosm of the good that single-payer can do for the nation. That's not to speak of the fact that other nations like our neighbor to the north already have single-payer. All we need to do is look at how their systems are working even now. If we were to reject single-payer because it carries a scent of Socialism or Communism, we'd be throwing out the baby with the bath water.


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