The S-word: Socialism
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