I dare you.
Do you even remember covering how socialism works in high school? Probably not.
But you will have that knee-jerk reaction when it is mentioned by the talking heads using a low ominous voice
You like scary movies so you know that voice means something horrific is about to happen.
So, let’s go basic. VERY basic.
There are, to simplify things, 3 kinds of ECONOMIC systems. (See, I said economic, not political?????)
1. CAPITALISM (yeah! hooray! this is us so it MUST be the best way!!) Okay, stop hollering and read just a moment to understand: In a free market system like capitalism, you have the right to open any business you want. You must abide by laws in place and get any licenses and certifications required, but it is up to you to plan to see if your investment will bring you the return you want. You can also work in whatever job you like. Finally, you can, despite what your mother says, move to a better location to find that work or that business opportunity in a location where you can make ends meet and achieve that “pursuit of happiness” so offered to us Americans.
There are, of course, some down sides. For example, it was because of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle that the government rules about meat packing were started. It seems that some people, whether the own a factory making widgets paying their workers $15 a day and selling them for $15 each or a corporation that declares bankruptcy instead of taking responsibility when chemicals leak into a water source for over 300,000 people here in the United States, some people who are wonderful capitalists are not very good people. You can not legislate morals. One of the problems with this system is that not all Americans have equal access to opportunities. And it has been proven that trickle down economics does not work. And also that sleazy people with good opportunities to get rich are still sleazy people.
2. SOCIALISM (sound of scary music) Turn the soundtrack off and quit being a pansy of special effects. With a socialist economic system many of the major businesses are owned by the government. It is not impossible but very difficult to open a private business and their regulations make ours look like kindergarten rules. Profits are lower not because consumerism is low but because the government takes a larger chunk of the business income. You may chose your own profession but you may also be directed to study something where you either show an early skill or the government has a need for workers. You tend not to move, not because you adore your mother, but because the availability of housing is restricted and the concept of mortgages is not typical.
3. COMMUNISM (heavy stomping feet with this one indicting the monster is approaching) (Also can be confused with TOTALITARIANISM but again, we are talking economic systems here not political systems.) We got involved in a war in VietNam to stop the spread of Communism. Hmmm, that didn’t work so well. Let’s try to understand why. With this system there is little if any outward show of personal freedom. That REALLY irks us. Income levels are very low and people are dependent on government programs for education, medicine, housing and more. Sounds horrific. But interesting enough, I was chatting quite a bit with a physicist (highly educated) in Russia for about 10 years. He actually MISSED the safety net the old system had offered. Now, with the end of communism, there were a lot of people who were on the street, without housing, without food. More crime. Now, we Americans were indoctrinated that the USSR was the worst place on earth to live. The lack of personal freedom certainly made it a horrible comparison. Even with the new freedom, when I suggested he find a 2 bedroom apartment when he and his wife had their first baby, he was unable to do so. The concept was too difficult to communicate. Even though his English was amazing, the lack of understanding on the freedom to move could not be overcome.
The slogan “from each according to his abilities to each according to his means” is a scary concept for us here in the US. The people who have managed to be successful, to rise to the top and are managing fine in this economy, are scared that any change will mean they will lose…lose what they feel they have earned. Meanwhile, there are many many people working several part time minimal wage jobs who are not able to feed their families, keep them in safe housing, and feel they are falling behind. They are the ones who might find the safety net, as my Russian friend called it, a possibly attractive situation….except for the loss of freedom.
Okay, that gives a very basic review. Now, let’s look at the health insurance system to see where the Affordable Healthcare Act falls because so many people scream in anguish “This is SOCIALISM!!!!” Let’s see.
Back in 2008 we were lucky to take a trip to the United Kingdom when Graham was invited to give a talk at a professional conference. We made it a wonderful vacation, exploring a small part of England and into Scotland. It was in Glasgow, while Sam was running with a kid his age, that I got to talk to that boy’s mom and learned about the health system in place in the UK. That mom is a general practitioner and works in one of the neighborhood clinics that are located to serve a certain size population cluster. She said people in the neighborhood can go to another clinic, but most go to the nearby one for convenience and she likes it as she gets to know people who know each other and can be supportive to each other.
She is the equivalent of my PCP (primary care physician), someone who is a generalist specializing in internal medicine or family practice or some such. She has the ability, she said, to take care of almost 90% of her patients’ needs and then refers the others to specialists. These specialists may be in her clinic or in a clinic nearby. Waiting time to see the specialist tends to be within a few days or a couple of weeks maximum.
She said the patients do not pay to see her. They do make appointments but there are always some walk-ins each day. She said many, especially the older people living alone, may really have nothing medically necessary to see the doc, but just need some time to be with someone. In other words, she also performs a bit of some gentle compassionate care in the realm of psychiatric counseling.
This doctor said she will never make a lot of money. She will not have a second home at the coast, or a boat or take wonderfully exotic vacations. She said she is honored to have chosen to work in this field and feels very satisfied with her work and her compensation.
This is a government system. There are similar ones throughout Europe, in Canada and in other nations around the world. How is it that a friend I have living in Croatia can get a crown for one of her teeth for under $200 but I need to pay over $1000? How is it that medicine in Canada costs 10% of some of the prices here?
We have a capitalistic economic system with large corporations, not the government, seemingly in control in many areas. The pharmaceutical companies work long years to develop medicines which the FDA reviews. Some turn out to be good. Some like the fat-blocker I so eagerly took in the early 1990s are later found to cause big problems but got pushed through the approval process because the pharmaceutical companies said they were okay. The insurance companies worked hard in Congress to make sure that the Affordable Healthcare Act was written so they would manage to keep on making huge profits and we would not have a unified government run system.
This is not socialism, people. This is capitalism at its…….well, finest is not the word I would use, but the one I want to use is not polite.
Universal healthcare coverage in the United States is NOT socialized medicine. Don’t swallow your brains with your saliva when your favorite talking head pulls out the scary music please. I hope you take this and before you refute it because of its simplicity, do some research of your own and then educate us if you feel differently.