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The S-word: Socialism

1 October 2009 14 Comments

Socialism. The word has a recent emerging presence in the vocabulary of media folk, likely because leading Republican figures like John McCain and Mike Huckabee flaunted this word in opposition of any idea remotely associated with President Barack Obama or his budget plans.

“The stimulus, the omnibus, the budget — it’s all one big down payment on a new American socialism,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said according to some excerpts provided to ABC News Network.

Of course this is only a measure to diverge the true intent of universal health care and other presidential agendas. Republicans understand that the “anti-American culture” of Western Europe is the American sentiment of socialism, and rightfully so because most European countries have an active socialist party. Universal health care is the primary example of European socialism. Anti-universal healthcare propagandists use this adeptly-titled, name-calling technique to incite prejudices to construct a negative opinion about universal healthcare as opposed to a more fitting rational, merit-based argument.

Edward Louis Bernays, one of the public relations field’s founding fathers, combined the ideas of crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud, his uncle. His work led to many of the techniques that presently seek to manipulate public opinion apart from an impartial assessment of facts. Bernays wrote that the manipulation of public opinion is an important element of the democratic process. His ideas suggested that human beings must cooperate, and therefore be in agreement, in a manner which promotes a soundly functioning society. In following such model, we are inadvertently governed by the ideas that result from the way in which information is organized and presented.

If universal healthcare is associated with socialism without a general understanding of either terms or their impact on current systems, it plays on our deductive instinct to assume that universal healthcare is wrong because socialism is supposedly bad, or so we think because we invalidly associate that with European totalitarianism.

But Socialism is as American as it is European. The American education system has been socialized, as well as transportation and retirement. None of which have been wildly successful but that is from failings in management and not principle. France has the largest socialized healthcare system with 100 percent of the population covered, but also boasts the highest global ranking and life expectancy of all industrialized nations. Besides, U.S. government-ran hospitals already provide services to those who don’t have insurance. Only now the country is lacking a centralized managed healthcare system to control medical cost inflation which is now four times the rate of monetary inflation. The U.S. spends six times more per capita with our current system than any of our Western Europeans peers do with theirs despite the fact that we have fewer people who are covered. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, the United States spends $480 billion more each year in comparison. Even still, hospitals endure $60 billion in losses each year. With healthcare spending expected to rise, surely that number will do likewise.

It is hard to argue against these numbers, however name-calling seems to do the trick. So, is universal healthcare a socialist idea? Absolutely. I never said the Republicans were lying. But using the socialism argument misdirects the nature of the debate away from whether or not universal healthcare works to whether or not a regulated socialist agenda could survive a free-running capitalist culture. This then turns the nature of information to be had from either supporting our healthcare model or theirs to capitalist principles versus socialist principles. Both of which dilute the intent of the debate, which is to fix healthcare. Unfortunately, this is the heart of democracy. There is an issue that you have some opinion of for some reason (logical or not), you choose a side, and then you vote. The crafty politician who gets elected is the one who can connect with the majority opinion, not argue theirs. So before we decide if government-run programs work, maybe we should decide if the way the government is running works.

By: Quinton Phelps

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14 Comments »

  • Linda deBree said:

    The fact remains that many, many citizens of this country do not want this kind of drastic change to our health care system. We especially don’t want the health care bill rammed down our throats and voted into law without the opportunity for our representatives and citizens to even read the bill. Remember, the president wanted this voted into law before the August congressional recess. We kept being told that time was of the essence! For some reason, we could not wait – we were told that we must do this NOW!

    I have no problem with looking at ways we can improve our health care system, but doing it so quickly, rush, rush, rush, without time to adequately evaluate the proposal, is just ludicrous.

    And as far as Socialism goes, all one must do is look at the actions of our president to make that determination for oneself. People are not idiots – we can listen to what the Republicans say without being brainwashed.

  • DJ said:

    Quinton,

    Where are these; “U.S. government-ran (sic) hospitals already provide services to those who don’t have insurance.”

  • Neil said:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundamerica/view/

    Watch that documentary and then come to your own conclusion.

  • Dilbert said:

    DJ,

    You’re right; I don’t know of any government-ran (government-run?) hospitals that that provide services to those without insurance, but no hospital in the U.S. is allowed to turn anyone away for any sort of necessary procedure…granted, you’re not going to get a free ride for plastic surgery, or have veins removed, etc., but anything life-threatening is a guarantee. In San Diego, several large hospitals in the downtown area shut their doors permanently in the last 5 year or so because of the huge percentage of their clients being, um, “International Travelers”, who lacked any sort of insurance, money, or even identification, but were required to be treated nonetheless. If the government were to make restitution for said procedures, these institutions would still be in business. Just putting it out there…

  • Dilbert said:

    Neil,

    Thanks for the link, interesting video. Kinda peeved about the example of the couple who got 8 years of fertility treatments paid for and a difficult pregnancy, etc. Makes you think it’s time to adopt, huh? Hey, if they can get it, bully for them, but I sure shouldn’t have to pay into a system that supports that, government OR private. My big question is this: why are the strictures governing the Insurance industry so lax and sparse? Why is it that medical procedures are so expensive? A big part of it is liability, but that’s not the end of it. Let’s overhaul the insurance industry, fix Medicare/Medicaid overpayments/scams, etc., before we decide to implement any sort of national healthcare system. If not, we’re building a house on quicksand.

  • Bob said:

    It’s obvious to me that the U.S. Government is incapable of managing such a large undertaking. One need only look to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the U.S. Post Office to see that. All of these operations require the support of taxes and even those which were designed to be self-supporting have been robbed by our legislators to support other pet projects. I for one, do not wish to entrust my health care to an entity that is so short-sighted that it refuses to address existing problems before creating even larger ones which require unimaginable sums of money to manage.

  • Amy said:

    Call it socialism or whatever you want. I’ll pass. (Hopefully I’ll still have the ability to choose. Remember choice?) Bob is right. Somebody tell me one government run program that runs on budget and efficiently. Zip, Zilch! I would like a politician somewhere to address these issues to improve the system before we have universal health care/single payer program. 1.tort reform (won’t happen – politicians are beholden to trial lawyers and all their money). 2. expanding medicaid -even though it’s full of fraud, waste, abuse it’s better than nothing for those who need it. 3. Insurance companies should be able to sell insurance all across the country not just in individual states. It’s called competition. And then of course we have the politically incorrect topic of “undocumented” folks who aren’t supposed to be in the country. Would these ideas work? Who knows, but isn’t it worth a try before we create another monolithic, bureaucratic behemoth?

  • Carla said:

    I worked in the health care industry for nearly 15 years, and the biggest problems that I have seen with healthcare are:

    1. Lack of coverage for the middle/working class
    Those living below the poverty line can apply for and are likely eligable for Medicaid, those who are wealthy and still have jobs can afford medical coverage or get coverage through their employers. Those stuck in the middle are the ones who suffer. Many of these people have lost jobs due to the recession, cannot afford COBRA, have jobs that don’t offer coverage and are still at too high an income level to qualify for any other assistance. What happens when they get sick or need medical treatment? Sure, a hospital is not allowed to turn down anyone who needs medical care or emergency life-saving procedures. However, in order to balance out that expense, the cost of everyone else’s care increases.

    2. Pre-Existing Conditions
    It was a good thing my family was able to recieve health care before my son was diagnosed with Autism, otherwise we may not have been given medical coverage. Autism (as well as Domestic Violence, Pregnancy, and Diabetes in many cases) are considered pre-existing conditions and grounds for delay or outright denial of coverage. Sadly, none of the treatments for autism are covered by most insurance plans. Pregnancy and diabetes, however, require immediate and continued care, and denying someone coverage because of a domestic violence history is beyond ludicrous.

    3. HMO’s and private insurance companies making decisions doctors need to make:
    The saddest calls I had to field from patients were calls because of prescription or procedure denials. I’m not talking about cosmetic procedures or unneccesary medications, but the miles of red tape and copious phone calls between doctors, patients and insurance companies in order to get a prescription or procedure approved. I know there are crooks in the health care industry, but the majority of doctors out there are not. They treat their patients in good faith and should be allowed to do so. Also, many practices in order to maintain a contract with an insurance company have to maintain “full schedules”. Which means they have to bounce from room to room in 15 minutes or less and adequately treat patients. Then, when someone needs more time or someone has an emergency, the rest of the patients sit in the waiting room for an hour. Your doctor doesn’t like this any more than you do, but it’s the price we all pay in order for your health care provider to work with your insurance company.

    The United States is the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world. We can do better than this.

  • Tom said:

    If President Obama is a socialist, what does that make President Bush?
    The bill will pass. What is so disgusting is the people who have no patience. There is absolutley no way that these things(economy, health care) can be fixed in a short period of time. Everyone on Capitol Hill has to get their two cents in, regardless in whatever direction. People need to read for themselves and make up their own minds. Stop listening to Limbaugh, O’Reilley, Beck and Hannity. Please don’t take their words as gospel. They make things up as they go along. They really do. This is coming from a registered independent voter.

  • Sally said:

    I try to look to history and facts to form my opinions. In my opinion, Limbaugh, Beck, et al, attempt to give honest presentations of the facts. Sorry to say but ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS, etc are propagandists. The fact of the matter is that though some health reform is necessary, the US provides the best care overall in the world; if this is really about reform then where is the tort reform and the insurance competition? Since these 2 components are not even addressed, free thinkers can see that this “health reform” push is actually about our government seizing more CONTROL. Karl Marx said “the best way to turn a country socialist is to get control of it’s health care.” Wake-up Americans while you still can and then check out Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny! We’re in very dangerous times now because too many of us were asleep (and politically correct) for way too long…

    Other good news sources are http://www.aim.org (anything by Cliff Kincaid); http://www.washingtontimes.com

  • Paul Richard said:

    I don’t know what far-left rock the author of that article crawed out of, but traditionally socialism HAS NOT BEEN American!

    This nation was founded as a Republic, not a Socialist state, remember? Or don’t we want to remember?

    Anyone who wants proof positive that the socialized (i.e., federally run) healthcare system that Obama is crusading – is a whopping failure economically as well as a disaster for the elderly – need only look at the socialized healthcare of Canada.

    But the far-left wishes to ignore that too.

    Guess many will have to learn this one the hard way.

  • Insured said:

    Paul Richard said:
    I don’t know what far-left rock the author of that article crawed out of, but traditionally socialism HAS NOT BEEN American!

    Did you go to a public elementary school? Have you ever known anyone who received unemployment?

    America has provided social programs, supported by tax-payers and universally accessible for a long time.

    Hint: NOVA is a state school…

  • Sally said:

    People need to realize that during our Revolution 230 or so years ago, only 3% of the population were actively standing up to the British. Though slightly more supported what the 3% stood for, for the most part the majority choose to stick their heads in the ground and let the 3% – 20% do the “heavy lifting” of winning our country’s freedom. Wake up to what is going on around us! In these dangerous times we live in now, we need more freedom loving Americans to stand up!

    Please don’t assume that “others” will get our country back on track. Read, learn, and share the truth! http://www.aim.org (by Cliff Kincaid); Malkin’s Culture of Corruption; Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny and Corsi’s The Selling of America. Hillsdale’s Imprimis.

  • Tim said:

    To address some of the issues I’ve seen raised in the comments, I think that President Obama has been pushing for health care reform as much as he has in an attempt to present the public with the idea that he is getting changed accomplished. As well, I have to point out that pointing to another system and saying that it is a success or failure doesn’t have any real bearing on the system being put into place unless the one being put into place is based off that system. And even then, there are differences in how the government is run, how things are implemented, and who is in charge, all of which would effect how identical systems would work in different countries. The bottom line of this is that even if we copy pasted Canada’s health care system or France’s health care system, it wouldn’t work exactly the same for us as it does for those countries.

    As well, the claim that socialism is bad is false. Both Socialism and Communism have gotten a bad reputation because of past governments that have attempted to utilize them and later became corrupted. Rome was a Republic, and it committed many brutal acts upon people, had a legal slave trade, and did things that many people these days would consider barbaric. Does that mean that all Republics have to have legalized slavery to function? no, otherwise the United States wouldn’t have existed beyond the civil war in the 1860′s. To say that Socialism is bad because it’s bad is like saying that sunlight is bad. With the right amount of sunlight, you stay healthy, it perks you up and energizes you. You get too much, and things start to go bad, you get a sun burn. In the case of a government, the sunburn would be corruption. Without Socialism in any form, there wouldn’t be public schools. Without public schools, you wouldn’t be reading my post here because in all likely hood, you wouldn’t be literate.

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