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Nov 25th
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Universal Health (S)care

Lisa_JensenHave you heard? President Obama wants to hand over your paycheck to illegal immigrants, indoctrinate your kids, and pull the plug on Granny. Most heinous of all (and you might want to cover the eyes of impressionable children for this one): he wants to guarantee you lifetime health care you can afford.

Oh, the humanity!

Can anything be more loony than the current “debate” over health care reform? Health should not be held hostage to politics. Basic health care  should be a right of every American, not a bargaining chip in political maneuvering. So, along comes Obama with a plan (not even a plan, just the radical idea that a plan needs to be made), and all he gets is grief from the very citizens—working class, non-rich—he’s trying to help.


Seriously, how can people argue against health care? In a rational world based on actual truth, what could that argument possibly be? “Don’t you dare offer me health insurance premiums I can afford, or guarantee me compassionate, efficient health care.” Or, “I defend (to the death, literally) my right to pay exorbitant premiums raised at random every year for no good reason, or to sicken and die because either I can’t afford insurance, or no company will insure me for the one condition/disease that actually threatens my life.” What  person with a functioning brain would ever say such a thing?

Pare away all the smoke and mirrors about socialism, a totalitarian state, “death panels,” Nazis, and unbearable taxation, and that bleating sound you hear is from ordinary people voicing passionate allegiance to a system that abuses and discards them. Why? Because the profiteers tell them to.

Talk about a totalitarian state.

The religious right turns out their dutiful toadies (think of the hollow-eyed, slack-jawed drones in Apple’s classic 1984 commercial) to demonstrate against policies in their own best interest with the same old reliable fear tactics it’s always used. And the religious right is the mobilizing, sheep-wrangling arm of the neo-conservative monolith largely funded by such gigantic corporate interests as war profiteers (like Haliburton), global banks, and insurance companies, and whose principle mouthpiece(s) are not even politicians, but media ranters like Rush Limbaugh and the hate-mongering pundits at Fox News.

Back in 1970, when we idealistic kids were marching for peace in the massive bi-coastal Vietnam War Moratorium parades, it made us laugh when critics claimed the anti-war movement was run by dreaded “Communist infiltrators.” Why was it so hard to understand the desire for peace? We thought we were advocating for the most sensible course for human survival. No one needed a Commie agenda to argue for life over death.

There is, of course, a superficial similarity in claiming that corporate interests were behind the demonstrators disrupting town hall meetings on health care all across the country last summer. But in this case, there is no other sensible reason why these people would argue with such passion against a concept of health care that might protect or prolong their own lives, or the lives of their loved ones, some day.

In any case, few of them were there to debate the issue; they were there to shout down debate, raise the spectre of socialism, and fret that their country, their personal concept  of America, was slipping out of their control. (Now they know what at least 52 percent of the American voting public has felt like for the previous eight years.) Their level of engagement with the actual facts of health care reform was on par with the woman who stood up at one of John McCain’s rallies on the campaign trail last fall to bemoan that Obama was “a Muslim.”

This is the end result of fear-mongering from the pulpit, be it neighborhood or electronic. Meanwhile, the corporate interests in bed with the religious right, whose agenda is promoted ceaselessly via Fox News, are able to maintain their personal vision of America, with liberty and justice (and health care) for those who can afford it. That this unholy alliance has been able to scare so many ordinary citizens into believing they’re on the same side is a far more noxious indoctrination than anything ever dreamed up by Karl Marx or Chairman Mao.

That the Republican Party now allows itself to be led by the nose by so disreputable a bunch as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and their many clones, suggests what dire straits the American political process has fallen into. Sarah Palin found it more expedient to quit her job in actual politics so she could jump on the paranoia bandwagon last summer without fear of any sort of backlash from pesky voters. Why slog through years of boring, frustrating political debate, where she might be required to support her position with verifiable facts, when she can be a media celebrity spouting any damn nonsense she wants with no responsibilities or accounting whatsoever?

Despite universal health coverage, capitalism is still alive and thriving in Germany, France, Britain, Japan—just not in the arena of national health care, where the welfare of its lifeblood, its citizens, is not a run-for-profit business. This is less socialism than simple social justice, a shared sense of responsibility that the welfare of the many is as important as the welfare of the individual. In short, humanism. Oh, the humanity, indeed.

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