I’d like to respond to Mr. Patterson’s letter from last week. First of all, I appreciate the cordial tone and lack of vitriol. I think it’s important in these trying times to remember that we’re all Americans, and we can elevate the discourse from the poo-slinging that goes on in Congress and the media.
That said, I take issue with a few things Mr. Patterson said. First, I was NOT singing the praises of Obamacare. I think the penalty is ridiculous, and the system unworkable and too expensive. I was suggesting that a single payer system, true socialized medicine, is a better choice for a civilized country. Coincidentally, we have a single payer option on the ballot next November. Amendment 69 would allow Colorado to opt out of Obamacare by covering all of its citizens. I still need to read the fine print, to figure out how it’s paid for, but it’s interesting, and what we have certainly isn’t working.
I’m not really a full blown socialist. I simply believe that if an American gets sick or injured, they ought to be treated and taken care of, and their ‘freedom’ or ‘choice’ shouldn’t be between bankruptcy or death. To me, it isn’t about the government choosing the coverage you need, it’s the fact that everyone will at some time need care, so everyone should be covered.
To be intellectually honest, you really can’t say that China, which is communist, is the same form of government as the Scandinavian countries, or other European countries, which have varying degrees of socialism, but no communism. Socialism and communism are not the same. If we say that in capitalism, the people own the means of production and make decisions about businesses and products, and in communism the government owns or controls the means of production and makes those decisions, then socialism is a combination, somewhere in the middle.
Socialism is an umbrella term that can be applied to a lot of very different systems, including, to a point, our own. Scandinavian economies rely heavily on free markets with little or no regulation. However, they heavily regulate how much health care costs on the provider side, meaning hospitals, prescription prices, etc. When it comes to medical costs, we need a little bit of regulation. Hospitals routinely overcharge for everything because they can, except with Medicare, because Medicare regulates prices according to average market costs of procedures and drugs. As far as emergency services, I have a friend who was transported a few years back and was charged $800 for gas, and $70 for one baby aspirin. That’s outrageous.
My point about the other programs, police, fire, roads, etc, is basically that the Founders were concerned, to varying degrees, about the public good. They wanted a strong national government, and for that government to collect taxes. We may have disagreements on how much the government should be involved in our lives. I would argue that health services are today a part of the public good, and we could incorporate them into our system and figure a way to make it cheaper and more effective than the current system.
As far as socialism being evil, I don’t think Winston Churchill would consider Scandinavian countries as being evil, and they seem to do well with it and have low levels of corruption and waste, as well as high levels happiness and life satisfaction, if statistics can be trusted. They are also free to do whatever they want, as long as they don’t break the law.
I believe in free, mostly unregulated markets, but I also believe every American should have health care access and a reasonably high standard of living. I look forward to continuing the discussion.