Tuesday, 23 March 2010

All Opposed

I grew up among in a part of the country where racism and religious fundamentalism were considered normal, and this experience taught me that there are temperaments that do not care about facts, scientific research, logical argument, fair play, and toleration for difference of opinion. It's the nature of this temperament to believe what it believes because it believes it, and the rest of us be damned. I see the same kind of implacability evidenced among right-wing opponents to National Health Care. They are impervious to reason and logical argument. The following comments, even if brought up to them, wouldn’t make the least difference in their views. If I express them, I do so for myself, to discharge the anger and gloom stirred up by what I hear on national media, Limbaugh, Beck, man-in-street interviews, as well as legal initiatives being launched against National Health in several red states. Here goes.

“National Health is Socialism.” If you believe that social programs instituted and administered by Federal and local governments are wrong, you should also devote your energy to repealing Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits. You should also lobby to dismantle free public education. Educating children, in your ideology, should be the financial and personal responsibility of each parent, who should let various privately run schools compete in a free enterprise system, so as to get the best possible deal for you. Come to think of it, law should not compel you to educate your children if you don’t want them to be educated. Big government should not interfere in private life. Furthermore, free school-buses is socialistic, raises taxes, and ought to be abolished. Each family should have the responsibility for transporting its own children to school. Some of us, quite a few of us, do not have children. We are supporting yours by paying tax that goes for education and buses.  And pay up quite cheerfully, because we believe the electorate in a democratic country should be well educated. But it has become clear to us, confronted with so much ignorance, that the schools we support aren't managing to educate the populace--just to judge by the level of discourse we hear, and incidents such as health-care opponents' spitting on African-American legislators.

Furthermore, shouldn’t you also oppose the Pure Food and Drug Administration? Instead of letting Big Government regulate those issues, let free enterprise decide which purveyors of food and drugs are the best, as will soon become apparent as soon as clients either thrive or fall sick and die. Meanwhile, I guess you want to dismantle the Police and Fire departments of your community. Like, let individuals hire bodyguards for their personal protection and arrange for volunteers to put out fires, that is, when the volunteers aren’t out of town or incapacitated by the last fire they were unable to put out.

“I’m in very good health, and I don’t want to be forced by Big Government to buy insurance that I don’t need.” Do you have a car? Then you were forced by government to insure it for liability. Why didn’t you protest when that law went into effect? OK, you don’t have health insurance because you're not sick, I understand that. But, uninsured as you are, is your savings account big enough to pay medical costs that will result when you are injured by (1) hurricane (2) tornado (3) earthquake (4) tsunami (5) a flood (6) a lightning storm (7) a fall downstairs, off a bicycle, or off a mountain trail (8) a hit-and-run accident (9) a sports-related injury (10) when you suddenly without warning develop leukemia and are turned down for insurance as having a pre-existing condition (11) when you are bitten by a poisonous snake or spider or scorpion or infected tick (12) when you get trapped in a snowstorm and suffer severe frostbite (13) when a gas leak in your house results in an explosion and you suffer third-degree burns (14) when you sever a limb with your chainsaw? It might be useful for you to consult statistics about unforeseen accidents in this country, and the people affected by them.

“This bill allows for the murder of babies.” No, it supports termination of pregnancies resulting from incest, rape, or those that threaten the life of the mother. Furthermore, a small piece of tissue with no central nervous system is not a baby, no more than an acorn is an oak tree. Meanwhile, if it is wrong to murder, why must those who don't have the funds for medical insurance or medical treatment be forced to die, when they could be saved? They have fully developed brains and they know what is happening to them, as do their family members and friends. Too bad? Is that what you’re saying? I hope my fate never rests in your hands. You’re aware that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. So you are free to follow your religious beliefs, but not to impose them on others who believe differently. And any sect that engages in political lobbying should lose its tax-exempt status, and thereby lower my tax burden. I’m forced to pay more tax because an institution I don’t believe in doesn’t pay up, and, moreover, is promoting policies I abhor.

“This bill is going to raise my taxes. It’s just more Welfare, and I don’t even believe in the Welfare we already have.” But I suppose you are proud to be a United States citizen, right? What exactly is the U.S.A.? Is it the real estate? Is it the GNP? Is it the money in our banks? No, surely the U.S.A. is the collectivity of its people. Proud as you are to be a citizen, you feel no obligation at all to any citizen outside the circle of family and friends, is that it? As far as you’re concerned, if people are ill or dying and don’t have the money to get medical assistance, that’s their little red wagon. You’re just going to take care of number one. You couldn’t care less about saving other lives (except for fetuses’). Your U.S.A. is yourself and the people you know. As far as you’re concerned, the others can just go ahead and croak; because you don't want your taxes raised by so much as one percent. Your U.S.A. is a cruel and heartless country, concerned above all else with self-interest, I see that. Well, it’s not my U.S.A. And by the way some of those people who can’t afford medical care are your coreligionists. I guess your sect doesn’t teach you all to take care of each other. What is it then, just a means of getting a good seat in the afterlife?

“Look at the bill, it’s 2500 pages long!” Yes. In an effort to be bipartisan and accommodate free-enterprise ideologues, the current Administration dropped any hope of having a National Health system in which the Federal government is the insurer, as in advanced European nations. Congress allowed private insurance corporations to continue on in that role. It also had to allot part of the insuring burden to business, even small businesses, because legislators ranted about deficit spending. Inevitably, these extra provisions involve a complex regulatory apparatus, so that burden-sharing is fair. Hence the 2500 pages. As soon as private insurers are removed from the picture, and health care is nationalized, regulation will be vastly simplified. But I know you and your fellow right-wingers will never let that happen. The 2500 pages are likely to grow. As for small businesses, you don't seem to know they are now allowed to opt out of insuring employees and pay a fine, which will cost them much less than insuring does. Their employees hope they won’t do this, naturally. And research suggests in any case that insurance costs for small businesses in most cases will decrease.

“My insurance premiums are going to rise.” You know that for a fact? Where is your proof? Even supposing they did, is it not worth a small rise to have the security of knowing that, in the event you lose the insurance you currently have, no new insurer could deny coverage to you because you already suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, or heart disease.

“Democrats expand government and spend us into huge deficits, and this health care thing is the latest example of that.” Actually, during the Clinton Administration, we had a budget surplus, have you already forgotten? When the Bush Administration appropriated $750 billion to bail out collapsing financial institutions, it was Big Government interfering with free enterprise. Don’t you believe that the market, not the Bush Administration, should have decided which banks were viable and which not? Are you being inconsistent? Meanwhile, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq insisted on by President Bush has drained our reserves of staggering amounts of capital, more than was spent by any Democratic war president during the last century. Iraq, since 2001 has cost about $713 billion, and there’s no end in sight. I will not mention the cost for Iraq because I know you don’t care what happens to other countries. Nor, out of respect for the dead, will I quote (in this sordid context) the figures for military and civilian casualties on both sides. All this for a threat that never existed. True, it did make corporations like Haliburton and Bechtel (to which the GOP had financial ties) prosper; but it plunged our country into enormous debt and is still doing so. Why didn’t you protest deficit spending during the Bush Administration? In any case, I suppose you’ve decided to ignore the provisions outlined in this new bill for deficit reduction, provisions developed and passed by a Democratic Congress in a Democratic Administration. Though you have no proof, you’re absolutely certain they won’t work because you know they won’t. You are an expert, you don't need to hear the facts and figures. Good bye. I don’t want to know anything more about you, and I certainly don't want to listen to your mean-spirited and mindless ravings any longer.


Wasted breath. Well, not really. I know they’re not listening, but at least I feel better.


  1. Cheers! It's despicable that some politicians deliberately play on these peoples' fears.

  2. Bravo, Alfred! Why not post in a major newspaper...(just a thought)

  3. Dear Alfred, I hope that you won't mind that I post this document I found on Democratic Underground. The American Medical Assn. has a big hand in the promotion of fear.


    "On November 19, 1945, only 7 months into his presidency, Harry S. Truman sent a Presidential message to the United States Congress proposing a new national health care program. In his message, Truman argued that the federal government should play a role in health care, saying "The health of American children, like their education, should be recognized as a definite public responsibility." One of the chief aims of President Truman's plan was to insure that all communities, regardless of their size or income level, had access to doctors and hospitals. President Truman emphasized the urgent need for such measures, asserting that "About 1,200 counties, 40 percent of the total in the country, with some 15,000,000 people, have either no local hospital, or none that meets even the minimum standards of national professional associations."

    The most controversial aspect of the plan was the proposed national health insurance plan. In his November 19, 1945 address, President Truman called for the creation of a national health insurance fund to be run by the federal government. This fund would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give a cash balance to the policy holder to replace wages lost due to illness or injury.

    President Truman's health proposals finally came to Congress in the form of a Social Security expansion bill, co-sponsored in Congress by Senators Robert Wagner (D-NY) and James Murray (D-MT), along with Representative John Dingell (D-MI). For this reason, the bill was known popularly as the W-M-D bill. The American Medical Association (AMA) launched a spirited attack against the bill, capitalizing on fears of Communism in the public mind. The AMA characterized the bill as "socialized medicine", and in a forerunner to the rhetoric of the McCarthy era, called Truman White House staffers "followers of the Moscow party line."

  4. Thank you all. Writing political commentary doesn't usually excite interest in the readership, so it's reassuring to hear you.

  5. Entirely off-topic, Alfred. When are you back in England? - George Szirtes

  6. Sorry but, this comment is more about contact information.

    I read "The Poem's Heartbeat" recently and now that I am in the midst of creating a resource site for poets I would like to borrow some of your terminology and definitions concerning prosody.

    I contacted Copper Canyon Classics but, I'd like to know whether or not you would be okay with this personally.

  7. my email is patrickrjoseph@gmail.com