I try to avoid politics when I can, but “what is true?” is more a matter of the philosophical. As today is voting day, I see no rational reason any American shouldn’t stake out their position, so I will.
There are many issues concerning America right now, but it is said that the most important issue in this election for Democrats is health care. It is such a partisan issue, like many others. But here, at least, (unlike racial and gender issues, immigration or even climate change) I believe that there is something very close to black-and-white clarity. More than any others, less room for honest debate on the core statistics (even if there IS room for discussion about what should be done with them) and I suggest it can be used as a standard, a litmus test of clarity, honesty, and degree of politicized brain-freeze.
Here’s my notion: IF you believe these stats are as clear as I do, then beware of anyone who tries to twist that truth, confuse that reality. They CANNOT be trusted on issues with less clarity.
We’ll look at the major arguments generally offered in public, repeating some things I said just a few days ago. Repetition is the mother of skill, and this is too damned important not to hammer it in a bit:
- Universal Health Care produces inferior results.
To those who wonder if UHC is superior to private insurance, the stats are clear.
The World Health Organization uses lifespan and infant mortality to measure the health of a people. Let’s simplify and stick with the first: Lifespan. Here, the U.S. ranks 26th, and EVERYONE ahead of us has UHC. So anyone who says it “doesn’t work” will try to distract you from those numbers. Don’t let them. Hold onto them, because there will be a torrent of rhetorical distraction.
Let’s zero in on one country, close to us geographically and demographically. Canada. Not precise, of course: what is? But its just across the border, and frankly, when I’ve been there, if I hadn’t known I was out of the U.S. it would take me some time to realize it. And another simple statistic: Average life span is 82 years to the U.S.’s 79.
People will tell you that we’d do better statistically if not for those pesky minorities and poor people, who apparently WANT to die. Want their children to die. Rip off the mask of that argument: just what the hell are they really saying? Don’t argue with them, just let them tell you who they really are. Decide if that is who and what YOU want to be.
- UHC is too expensive. We can’t afford it.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) believes Canada spent approximately $228 billion on health care in 2016. That’s 11.1 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP and $6,299 for every Canadian resident.
U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or $10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent.
Please look at those numbers. They are clear. It is NOT more expensive for the country.
Anyone who uses either of those arguments is, IMO, either asleep, or a snake.
Here’s a bonus: “Obamacare didn’t deliver these numbers. It won’t work in America.”
Yeah, well, Obamacare wasn’t UHC. It was the closest anyone had been able to get in a half-century of struggle, a spavined camel compared to the sleek race-horse of single payer. The tactic was pretty clear: make it impossible to get to UHC, then act as if the Frankenstein patchwork that COULD get through the legislature represents what people really wanted. If you don’t grasp the difference, I have to suspect you don’t WANT to.
That’s not to say there are not legitimate arguments. There are several I can think of offhand:
- What IS true is that the money will be shifted from the private to the public sector.
- It is also true that there will be individuals whose very specific circumstances might not be as well served by public as private policies. These will need special insurance “riders” which might well increase their expense. But OVERALL, for the average citizen expenses go down. Way down.
- You might simply say: “I don’t want my money going to help other people.” I can understand this, and have a certain degree of empathy for it. It is at least honest. Very few people will actually say this directly. Usually they will say it is too expensive, or doesn’t work. In other words…distort the truth for personal or political gain. My attitude is that government spends money on LOTS of things I’ve not approved of, including military actions that killed tens of thousands of people. I live with that as a cost of living in a democracy. You can’t expect me to be more upset about you
- You might say that you are afraid of government overreach. Too much power in too few hands.
As long as they are aware of the stats, and admit to them, this conversation is actually a useful one, as is the discussion of whether health care fits into the “Promote the general welfare” thingie. That can be an honest, heartfelt conversation between awake, aware human beings who differ on some basic questions of life and society, but are committed to communication and inquiry into the truth. THOSE people I have little problem with, and think we can work this out together.
But people I know and love have DIED after a lifetime of working and paying taxes, for fear of medical bills. I’m not prepared to compromise on this. I will discuss with honest people who are aware. Sleepers and snakes need not apply. And remember: there are monsters lurking.
Again: if you believe as I do that these basic stats are important and valid, then note the people who argue, try to confuse them, deny, try to argue about what the meaning of “is” is. Sleepers and snakes. Do NOT trust them on more complex issues if they can’t communicate clearly and honestly on simpler ones. They will simply try to drag you into deep water and drown you with irrelevancies.
And once again: VOTE!!