I’ve been thinking about social democracy. I am still trying to understand how some of the ideologies took hold in the US and why so many people are so adamant that they cannot even have an open mind about certain discussions.
But first, this. One of the greatest things that can happen to a not-so-young aspiring writer is to see his or her book on someone’s coffee table. And so it is in this case. Somewhat staged I just say, but I’ll take what I can get. This was at Lisa’s moms house. Lisa loaned her a copy of SV2SA. Hence the cover photo for this post.
One of my friends (many of them actually, but for this example a specific friend) maintains that a nationalized health care system will not work in the US. Why? I ask. His answer. Just because. So I press him, but putting forth a fact-based generalization that underscores that national health care systems, on the whole, tend to deliver better care at an overall lower cost. National health care systems are not perfect, but they generally are better than our disparate and inefficient system. This has been verified many times by analyzing the rest of the world’s health care systems–which are overwhelmingly tended to by government. And my friend responds to this by simply stating that ‘America is different’. No further details or explanation required I guess.
So, apparently, we are destined to have a convoluted health care system that disproportionately serves the upper classes and discounts the poor—but also overall represents a lower yield of investment than other health care systems. Is his response meant to convey that Americans are not ‘smart enough’ to clone a system from other countries? Are we not capable of designing a better system? Actually, and this is where he is partially correct—I think he means it just will not happen here because the very large health care providers who amass vast wealth through the manipulation and exploitation of our current system, simply continue to lobby the government and to perpetuate fear through fabrications about how bad the health care systems are in other countries. And around 45% or so of our country is ignorant enough to believe it. Or at least seem to have a closed mind against even investigating the possibility.
Is it the case that so many people are so detached from reality that they really believe that – 1) health care in countries with nationalized systems is so terrible or 2) that we are not capable of re-creating a better system for ourselves using examples from around the world as a foundation?
The level of education and cognition in the American population is shockingly low, so it seems reasonable to believe that the truth is somewhere around these two possibilities.
Another example. School funding. Most people in this country seem to accept the idea that spreading the cost of school funding is a reasonable idea. Yes, there is lots of chatter about vouchers and Charter Schools et al, but generally speaking, people with no kids accept the idea that they should pay a few extra tax dollars through home ownership or direct taxation on wages to pay for the education of all kids. This is a social democratic type of concept. Which happens to coincide exactly with the concept of a nationalized health care. The country is stronger when we are all better off (have access to health care) just as the country as a whole benefits by making sure all our kids have access to a decent education.
But in any case, once an idea gets tagged as a ‘socialist’ or ‘liberal’ then the mass of population freaks the fuck out and acts like we are about to start speaking Russian. Finally, and I find this interesting. This same group-think that feels government is incapable of delivering a health care system has some ‘splaining to do about DHS. Specifically, this group of mostly Republicans, immediately turned to the government for security after 9/11. Prior to 9/11, airport security was handled by private contractors. After 9/11, the first thing the Republican controlled Congress and the Republican President did was to create a massive new government organization to take over airport security. And then they started throwing money at DHS. Granted, DHS also consolidated some agencies under their umbrella, but the main point is this group loves to act as if government is not capable of achieving things, but the minute they get scared, they abandon their capitalist views in favor of nationalizing airline security.
So, a long way of just asking, why can’t you all just have open mind? What are you so scared of? Have you ever been to Norway, or Sweden or Denmark? Have you had a conversation with them about how much tax they pay and what they get back for their social investment.
Another example is this ridiculous idea that the ultra rich should not pay a higher marginal tax rate. Stupid poor people, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, continue to believe that an increasingly higher marginal tax rate as income and wealth increase, is somehow bad for the country or unfair. Even though in this country that was the norm for longer than it has not been the norm and the erosion of our economy and deficit and infrastructure and general well-being has been to a large degree perpetuated by this myth that people should not have to pay taxes and especially that if the rich are asked to pay their fair share then they will magically roll up their jobs machines and go home.