The REAL Healthcare Debate In A Nutshell

I’m just going to come right out and say it:  We need to socialize our health care system in the United States.

Call it single-payer, call it a public option, call it a Medicare buy-in, call it whatever you want, just socialize it so we can move on.  (Yes, I hear the political heads exploding.) 

I understand.  I’ve used the dreaded S-word.  Fortunately, I just finished a blog about the dogmatic shroud surrounding socialism and I believe you’ll find it less scary (and less un-American) than you think.

We already know detractors will slather the idea in terrifying imagery.   They’ll try to make it seem like you’ll have to go to some kind of DMV for your chemotherapy.  This is the United States of America.  I have no doubt that if we make it a priority to have the most effective and efficient socialized healthcare system the world has ever seen we could get it done.  We did it with our socialized military.  You can’t argue with success.

I look at it like this: human life is more important than profit.  If it is impossible to treat every sick person and still make money then the private sector should not be tasked with providing care.

The naysayers will nevertheless complain about all of the medical advancements our private healthcare system has made.  They tend to leave out the fact that the majority of those advancements were actually made with public, taxpayer-funded grants, and many of those to public, taxpayer-funded universities.

They’ll lament that we’re turning into France or some other socialist state.  (I’d counter that with the story of my French expatriate friend Annie who had her first child in France.  The child was premature and there was a complication with the birth.  Annie was hospitalized for three days.  Her daughter for a week.  There was no bill.)  The fact is, medical costs are one of the main factors behind most bankruptcy filings in  America.  According to a 2007 study by The American Journal of Medicine, getting sick was a factor in 62% of personal bankruptcies.  Even worse, 75% of all those filing for personal bankruptcy actually had some kind of medical insurance.  If it looks like failure and smells like failure…

The critics will say it’s unconstitutional and that the Founding Fathers never intended for us to have universal healthcare.  I would begin by doubting their clairvoyance, then follow up with the argument that in the days of the Founding Fathers a doctor engaged in practices like applying leeches, bloodletting, and having the patient hold boiled stones.  Modern medicine can be the difference between life, death, and the quality of both.  It has become a foundational element of the human experience.  The Founding Fathers could no more predict its advent than they could the internet.

Constitutionally, I consider a socialized healthcare system both a promotion of the general welfare and a Fifth Amendment right.  Anyone who denies a person access to healthcare is denying them their Right to Life without due process.  It is a somewhat broad interpretation, but it doesn’t go against the spirit of the Constitution any more than it does to interpret the inclusion of an Air Force into our military.  Who knew there would be airplanes?

If that’s not enough for the bellyachers, then I say let’s convene a Constitutional convention and decide–once and for all–whether or not there should be a Constitutionally protected right to see a doctor.  If almost 3/4 of the population at least want a social health care option–and according to multiple polls they do–our representative government should have a clear mandate.  At the very least, all sides will have a chance to be heard.  A Constitutional amendment could have the added bonus of disincentivizing the rampant profiteering that drives up medical costs (America has the highest prescription drug prices in the world).

So I say again, socialize healthcare.  Do it and be done with the entire argument. In a nutshell.

(Exploding head image from  http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2010/02/24/videos-of-heads-exploding-in-movies/  Founding Fathers image from: http://www.foundersofamerica.com/Founders_of_America_Posters.htm  Bankruptcy image from: http://katzlawflorida.com/bankruptcy-law/  Doctors support public option image from: http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/us-doctors-support-public-option)

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The Obama Problem

President Barack Obama

There was an interesting article by Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Beast about President Barack Obama showing how both the left and the right have underestimated him and his supposed mastery of fourth dimensional political chess.

Andrew Sullivan has done some compelling work and often displays a very unique perspective.

This article, however, is nonsense.

Not in its entirety, mind you.  Mr. Sullivan does a nice compilation of the Obama administration’s achievements from a fairly objective point of view.  It’s an argument not made nearly enough in the media, forcing Obama to make it himself.  Sullivan is also effective contrasting the rapaciousness of the right’s attacks on Obama’s every word (even when they agree with it) and the left’s “unjustified” dissatisfaction with the rate and quality of progress.

However, he  uses the actions Obama is criticized for on the left to show conservatives why Obama is not a capitalism-squelching Marxist/Leninist.  Sullivan then ignores everything he just said and uses issues like the passage of Healthcare and Finance reforms into law as proof that Obama is achieving liberal objectives, pishawing the fact that most of the legislation his administration has passed has been gutted of the elements most dear to lefties and much of it by Obama’s hand.

The problem is, Sullivan seems to be  going by the conventional wisdom that progressives are a bunch of wide-eyed stargazers infuriated that Obama hasn’t delivered nirvana.  It’s a gross generalization.  Are there dreamers on the left? Absolutely.  That still doesn’t make it fair, or accurate, to portray all of us in that same light.

I’m liberal because I’m on the left side of most issues, not every issue.  Plus, its a sliding scale.  My spectrum ranges from far left to center right depending on both the issue at hand and the state of affairs at the time.  I didn’t agree with every position Obama took in his campaign, but I agreed with him more often than not.  Since’ he’s gotten into office however, that ratio has inverted.

The problem isn’t what he gotten done or the compromises he had to make.  The problem is that he constantly gives in to the right.  Before the negotiations even begin he hands the republicans the left-wing’s heart.   He runs from almost every fight.  He never even makes the argument.

  • He put Social Security and Medicare on the table for budget cuts.  He never made the point that Social security had a surplus that the Federal government raided for the general fund and now doesn’t want to pay back.  He doesn’t talk about the seniors and disabled that have been kept out of poverty by Medicare.
  • He “loaned” money to the banks (at 0% interest) with no strings attached, allowing millions of people to go underwater on their homes or lose them outright while the banks raked in billions.
  • He torpedoed the public option in his healthcare reform legislation.

    Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia State Director of Rural Development and Obama Administration Victim
  • He’s kept the prison at Guantanamo Bay open.
  •  He “asked” for the resignation of Shirley Sherrod. ( The administration wanted Sherrod fired before Glenn Beck’s show on Fox News went on-air.)
  • He stared at his shoes while Republican Governors went to war with the unions all over the country despite promising to march with unions if they were under fire during his 2008 campaign.
  • He signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, allowing for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without a trial.
  • His administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president in history while offering no immigration reform in return.  (I guess he did give Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 a good finger-wagging.)
  •  He told Bernie Sanders that the problem with “us” liberals is that “we” always see the glass as half empty.

Does this sound like a president that liberals should be happy with?  Fortunately for the President the Republican candidates are comically absurd.  No reasonable, free-thinking candidate is going to make it  through this Republican party’s primary seasons (As illustrated by Jon Huntsman being criticized for simply saying he defers to science on things like evolution and global warming).

The Republicans are insane and a vote for a 3rd party candidate is a wasted vote.  These are facts the president is acutely aware of.  According to Joe Biden, Obama is fond of saying, “Don’t judge me against the Almighty.  Judge me against the alternative.”

…Obama 2012.  Damn.

(President Obama image from:(http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama). Shirley Sherrod image from: (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2010/0729/Shirley-Sherrod-Does-she-have-a-case-against-Andrew-Breitbart)

Boykin Bounced?

West Point Coat of Arms

Think Progress and other news outlets are reporting that Retired Lt. General William Boykin has “pulled out” as the featured speaker for the National Prayer Breakfast at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Gen. Boykin and West Point have  both taken heat for his participation from  cadets, veterans, and other groups due to his Islamophobic rhetoric.  He has some kooky opinions about President Barack Obama as well.

Lt. Gen. William Boykin

If Lt. General Boykin has decided to pull out of his volition, then that is obviously his decision.  However, several liberal news outlets and activist groups pushed to oust Boykin as the featured speaker.  If this led West Point to in turn push Boykin to bow out, I think it is a bad idea.

We liberals and progressives largely define ourselves by our openness to a wide variety of ideas and opinions.  We cannot let ourselves be threatened by Constitutionally protected speech, especially when that speech is ugly and unpopular.  Setting up some kind of open forum around the speech allowing cadets to debate–which Boykin most certainly would have sparked–is one thing.  A good thing.  So is making attendees aware of  Boykin’s previous statements and issues while still in uniform prior to the speech.  Stymieing that speech is another thing entirely and I’m not so sunny on that.

Let people go into the speech with some context and perspective and hear what he has to say.  If we can’t do that, even on the left, winning this battle to get him out of the speech means nothing.  We’ve already lost the war.

(Coat of arms image from: http://www.fighterpilotsusa.com/Portals/0/fpusaimages/west_point_coat_of_arms.jpg.  William Boykin image from: http://www.freedomcongress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Boykin-Headshot-Lower-Rez.jpg)