Posted by: martinworster | August 22, 2009


Will I live here when it happens? An American NHS…?

It is indeed a historical time to be living in the US. Six months into Obama’s Presidency and it seems like some of the absolute fuck ups of the last 8 years are being reversed. The moves to close Guantanamo, Obama’s speech to the Muslim World from Cairo, reaching out to Cuba, attempting dialogue with other ‘enemies’, some – not enough – positive steps on curbing global warming. And now are in the middle of a big debate on the US implementing free health care.


It’s fascinating to watch the debate unfold and the complicated web of spin and misinformation fed to the American public over the implications of nationalised health care. As per usual the money agenda rules. Health insurance companies, manufactures, hospitals and other medical companies are a powerful lobby who have a lot to lose if healthcare were to be made free. Frequently the NHS – the UK’s system of national health care – is held up as an example of a free health care system that has gone wrong. In my opinion this is untrue and a gross distortion of fact. In a country of sixty million there are always going to be horror stories of waiting lists, operations gone wrong and other malpractices – but this is also true in the US. It’s easy to find negative stories to illustrate your point.


Being an ethical humanist with socialist leanings I cannot see why anyone with any degree of morality and substance would make any objections to living in a country where healthcare is available to all members of society. How you treat the sick and infirm – this should be a benchmark of civilisation, a basic humanity. In the US there are over 50 million people who cannot afford health insurance and by default are medically untreated. Michael Moore’s Sicko examines this – and like the political right he does distort the truth but the premise of his argument is sound – it is morally and ethically bankrupt to charge healthcare to those who can’t afford it.


A common argument against free healthcare is that taxes will go up. I am a tax payer in America and, especially as a homeowner, I find taxes very high here. And what are my taxes going on? Things I don’t want – excessive military spend, keeping the largest per capita prison population locked up etc. I find it frustrating that my money is not contributing to fellow citizens who do not have access to free health care.


Another argument is the unfounded fear of socialism. It’s okay that practically every industry in the US has been bankrolled by the government in the last few years. They believe a healthcare system run by the government would mean medical decisions being made by bureaucrats – again a complete untruth.  It’s just the weird fear of moving slightly to the left that people equate with communism. A weird hangover from the 50s and 60s when communism was what terrorism is now – a means of installing fear and controlling the masses.


Come on America – pull your finger out. Become more civilised. Treat your sick – show us you care. Erase the dog eat dog culture. The land of the free – but not healthcare and information. 


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