Our family, like so many of us here on Kos, has its share of right wing believers. When my wife posted a link on her Facebook page to this wonderful infographic:
she got a reply from her uncle: “healthcare is not the responsibility of the government.” Well, besides the fact that he’s on government run, government subsidized Medicare (my wife’s Facebook reply), I couldn’t pass up a response. So here’s my reply to his assertion. My wife also put a link on her page to this diary. Apparently on Facebook you can’t have a reasoned statement of length. Main reason I avoid it, though it has its uses.
Dear uncle XXX:
OK, this comment is as nuts as it gets. Government has an interest in protecting our national security, right? Surely you grant that defending us is the primary obligation of government. If our defense was left to everyone to handle on their own, we’d all be speaking Russian or some other language by now for sure.
So of course government, just like you and I, has a major interest in everyone’s healthcare. If the Black Plague struck, or as happened to us here in Hong Kong, as SARS did in 2003, and government said, “hey, you’re on your own; it’s no interest of ours” we would all likely be dead by now. AIDS, malaria, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, yellow fever, black plague, smallpox, polio, strep throat, tetanus, rabies, and on and on for a frighteningly long list of communicable diseases, were frequent killers in our world until government stepped in to organize and help us defend ourselves. The only way to wipe out smallpox, that used to kill people by the millions and wiped out the American Indians so that European immigrants could step in and take their land away from them, was government mandates to vaccinate everyone. And our government joined others in pushing this around the world until smallpox is extinct except in a very few, highly protected (by government) labs.
Governments in the west who had your silly ideas that healthcare was no concern to them discovered to their horror that Hitler had created an army of incredibly healthy warriors who wiped the floors with our boys. (Your brother the two times Bronze Star winner told me that the German soldiers were ten times better than the allied soldiers. Some of that was training and some of that was better government-provided healthcare, education, and nutrition.) The British particularly discovered that their people were so unhealthy that even the draft could not find enough healthy people to fill the ranks. That’s why they started the National Healthcare Service after the war. They knew if they didn’t, the next time they might not be lucky enough to have the Americans—including your brothers and my wife’s father and my father—and the Russians come to their rescue. The German Socialists almost took over the planet before their opponents could even get organized. And if their government-funded scientists had discovered the bomb before our government-funded scientists did, you can be sure everyone in America who wasn’t dead or a slave would recognize the value of government involvement in much more than just healthcare.
I agree that government shouldn’t be involved in many things. What business does government have in who marries whom for whatever reason? Why should it have a say in what a woman does with her own body? But it surely must be involved in other areas. Protecting us against violent criminals, which some folks appear to characterize as a form of “health” care that government should stay out of, and who advocate that everyone should go around everywhere armed, is something I want government involved in. I don’t want kids in school having guns, nor do I want their teachers to have them, nor the parents picking them up from school. I can just imagine what weekends would be like if all the sports fans went armed and inebriated to football games. Policing ourselves within reason is okay. Abolishing the police altogether because “personal security is not the responsibility of the government” is not.
I want the police to come when I call them. I don’t know how to do CSI work on my own. I couldn’t afford to pay for my own personal cop to follow me around or lab tech to investigate crimes against me. I want fire protection too, and I’m willing to pay for it and make others who aren’t willing to pay for it whether they like it or not. If their house catches fire it might burn mine down too if there are no firemen on call. So of course healthcare, which protects us all from each other’s communicable diseases and from communicable diseases spreading across borders, is the proper business of a government doing the job I pay it to do.
We have tried the private approach—get government off my back—policy you advocate for the last 30 years or more, and you can see the results. Americans live less long than others in many other countries. We pay far more for what little healthcare we get. We are sicker than people in other countries are. We have to worker harder for less. Our kids don’t do as well in school, in part because of lousy nutrition pushed on us by corporations that are also taking over the government because, well, people like you were deceived into thinking you hated government and just wanted it to go away, and so stayed out of making it work for us and be responsible to us. So here we are, owned lock, stock and barrel by giant private firms that don’t care if we live or die so long as they can make a profit off it.
No, healthcare is not the responsibility of the government. Healthcare is the responsibility of us all, just like democratic government is our responsibility. We are supposed to own and direct the government, and I want to work with my fellow citizens to help pay for a government that does its job of more effectively protecting me and my children (and maybe someday grandchildren) from the many things that threaten our lives. That is what it means to be a citizen in our democracy. Isn’t that the democracy—the form of government—you and your brothers risked your lives to defend?
Your niece’s husband, the pointy-headed liberal professor living in “Red China”—with better, government-provided healthcare.