After nearly dying of colon cancer in 1988, the only health insurance I could afford was something called “Colorado Uninsurable,” a special insurance for people with pre-existing conditions…but even those premiums continued to rise in cost over the years till they became unaffordable. So at a time in life when I needed health care and health insurance the most, I couldn’t afford it.
I was not alone. Lots of Americans couldn’t afford health insurance back then, and it’s just gotten worse. Today, 46 million Americans are uninsured, and when they get seriously ill, they often lose everything to pay their hospital bills. Half of all foreclosures in the current housing crisis are the result of medical bills incurred by families who had to sell their homes to pay off the hospitals.
Well, being personally so close to the crisis, I’ve given the matter a LOT of thought over the years, and I am absolutely convinced that public health insurance is not just the best solution to the medical crisis in America; it’s a vital step toward a new America that will lead us into a bright future.
This is not just a blithe promise by a glib dreamer. As I said, I’ve given the matter considerable thought, and I’ve done a lot of research to back it up. Today I’m mostly involved in afterlife research (google “macy afterlife”), but in the 1980s I was steeped in peace research and world affairs, working with brilliant minds from various countries on a series of books, such as “Solutions for a Troubled World” and “Healing the World…and me.” So, based on my work with peace researchers and social scientists, let me explain WHY a public health care system is the best possible solution for America. (I talk about a lot of these ideas and the bright minds who came up with them in Part Three of my new book, The Project, but I’ll dwell on a few key ideas here.)
Human nature being what it is – – a mix of noble qualities (love, trust, good will…) and savage qualities (fear, suspicion, contempt…) – – we humans need to consider certain things when trying to get along with each other in groups, regardless of whether we’re talking about small groups like families and friendships, or big groups like nations and religions.
Equality and Freedom
For example, peace researchers have found that groups are most peaceful and vital when there is a good blend of equality and freedom. Each virtue has some great effects on people, but either virtue, without the other, leads to problems.
Communist countries (the old Soviet Union and Communist China late last century, for example) were high in equality and low in freedom, a condition that led to fairness and impartiality on one hand, lethargy and complacency on the other.
Capitalist countries (most notably the USA) are high in freedom, low in equality, resulting in widespread innovation on one hand, widespread selfishness and fear on the other.
Fascist countries (such as Nazi Germany during World War II) were low in equality and low in freedom, and things were downright brutal. If there are favorable conditions like innovation, abundance, and good will in a fascist country, they’re typically enjoyed among the ruling elite. The people are mostly in fear.
Social democracies (such as most European countries today) are high in both freedom and equality. The two forces keep each other in check, resulting in a high degree of fairness and empathy (as a result of equality) and innovation and incentive (resulting from freedom).
So, freedom and equality are two opposing forces that help keep things balanced in a social system, like springs and shock absorbers in a car. The springs cushion the car over rough roads, and the shocks keep the springs from springing out of control.
Public Health Insurance
How does that apply to health insurance and health care in America? Well, for a nation to be healthy and vital in today’s world, it would have to have a good mix of freedom and equality. Americans enjoy plenty of freedom, but very little attention is paid to equality. A public health care system with public health insurance would provide that equality at this time in history better than any other program.
This applies to the USA, not necessarily to other countries. Different countries might need other forms of public programs to foster equality. China, for instance, has been allowing its people more and more freedoms in this century to balance the equality sustained by its communist government since the Cultural Revolution, but with a history of runaway population leading to famine, China’s most vital public program is its family planning program that limits the number of kids per family. Other countries might need a public program that ensures food, clothes, and shelter for everyone. Others might want a program providing computers and Internet access to everyone.
For America, though, with the barbaric state of our health care system, there is just one public program that is vital to provide a sense of equality: Health care. A recent Harris poll showed that of ten developed countries, the health care system in The Netherlands was the most popular, and the system in the USA was the most in need of a complete overhaul.
In England recently, Conservative Party leader David Cameron posted his opinion of Britain’s National Health Service on his party’s Web site:
“Millions of people are grateful for the care they have received from the NHS — including my own family. One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you’re injured or fall ill — no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you’ve got — you know that the NHS will look after you.”
That sense of security must soon become the foundation of health care here in the States, as it is in most civilized countries today. After all, what we’re really talking about is not just people’s physical health and well-being, but their peace of mind.
A recent posting by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on the 10 Downing Street Twitter site, reads:
“PM: NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there.”
His wife, Sarah Brown, added: “we love the NHS — more than words can say.”
Another Sarah Heard From
Meanwhile, here in the States, Republican former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin condemned President Obama’s plans to introduce a public heath insurance program similar to England’s as an “evil” move that would result in “death panels” deciding who would live or die.
Her criticism is echoed by other Republicans in attacks on Britain’s NHS and Canada’s Medicare system, as well as Mr Obama’s plan for public health insurance. In a recent article, Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich said British healthcare was run by “Orwellian” bureaucrats who put a price tag on life.
Freedom at Any Cost
The USA has become obsessed with freedom (also known as liberty), to the point where equality is out the window. Since the Cold War, when American freedom and Communist equality were vying for world dominance, many Americans have associated equality with communism, and thus consider it “evil.” Here are just a few of the freedom-fanatic groups that fight against equality in the name of liberty:
CRC, CRC Public Relations (which coordinated the “Swift Boat” attacks on Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and now fights against health care reform under the guise of “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights”), CPR, RNC, ALA, FW, AFP, CFG, TH, PF, PUN . . . to name a few…
There’s a ruthless character to many of these freedom-oriented groups, whose aim it is to sustain the wealth and privilege of their members (such as drug-makers and oilmen), generally at the expense of the public as a whole. The fact that millions of Americans are going broke because they can’t afford health care doesn’t seem to be a concern of theirs. As long as they’re free.
Equality, along with the empathy it can foster, is out the window in America.
I grew up in a small-town newspaper family. It was my parents’ life work to gather news about the community and spread it through the weekly paper, the “Windsor Beacon.” That was back in the 1950s and 60s, when journalists throughout the country published objective news reports. Objective news-reporting was the foundation of newspapers. It was hard work (covering meetings, calling people all day long), expensive, and a source of pride among journalists.
Today, objective news reporting is all but dead in this country. It’s been replaced by opinions, which are cheap and easy to publish. The worst kind of opinion is propaganda news, which is simply the spreading of well-calculated lies. This has become the mainstream of some very influential newspapers, TV networks, and radio stations.
Fox News and the Rush Limbaugh radio show, in particular, serve as mouthpieces for the freedom-fanatic groups listed above, and their main job is to spread lies, sometimes sprinkled strategically in with regular news. Bright minds with shady objectives have learned from history that public outrage and fear stirred up through propaganda—lies—can be a very powerful tool to effect social change. You can rally shouting mobs to destroy the credibility and reputation of your opposition. That has become the driving force of the freedom-fanatic groups above and their media mouthpieces.
Their primary aim at this moment in history is to prevent the public health care system being proposed by the President and the Democrats from becoming law. They want to perpetuate a free-market, profit-motivated system that keeps Americans locked in a state of injustice, inequity, and bad health. That’s the cost of their brand of freedom. The “death panel” idea is one of the lies designed by the freedom-fanatics to stir up people’s fears about the public health care system.
The fact is, a public health care system would bring a sense of equality to this country that has been missing for many years. The inequalities have not been so noticeable when the economy was strong—even the poorest people got by pretty well—but now, with a faltering economy, the inequities are becoming unbearable to millions of Americans. A public health care system is the best way to fix the system. And now is an opportune moment.
It’s absolutely vital that we prevail with this.
ACCEPT NOTHING LESS THAN A PUBLIC HEALTH CARE SYSTEM!