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« And That’s All He Has to Say about That: Tom Hanks and Twisted History | Main | Our Problem is a Lack of Health Care — the Moral Variety »

March 23, 2010

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Walt

Stupac, a man with a firm conviction that his principals are subjective.

Ted Keller

My comment re health care and Left to Right polemics on the subject is directed at that minority who distinguish between insult and argument (i.e., whose brains are as active as their balls).

Dennis Kucinich has called health care a “Civil Right,” while Ron Paul no less vehemently insists it isn’t. The problem is the evidence suggests that, in different ways, both are equally right.

To briefly review the hard-and-fast material justification for Kucinich’s position. Prior to the industrialization and urbanization which began after the Civil War, the United States was essentially a “do it yourself” nation, with ninety-five percent of Americans living on farms, or in small villages. There were no cars or trains, and the only roads came from farmers driving wagons over common trails when visiting one another or going to town for provisions. Education, fire and police protection were individualistic, small community operations. County residents contributed to pay for a sheriff and a teacher, often building the “Little Red School House” themselves. So, too, with medical care. Farmers/villagers might chip in to cover the modest expense of sending a bright student to the city for the 2-years of training required to become a physician. But most often it was the student’s family who paid.

Then we industrialized and everything dramatically changed. Trains and railways, cars and roadways, became imperative for servicing the rapidly growing metropolises. Houses began to be built so close to each other that a fire in one home could destroy much of a city, making fire departments, using increasingly sophisticated equipment, imperative. A large and growing number of Americans started working in factories for wages and theft became a problem which could only be controlled with large police departments. Medical care underwent the same transformation. With people living close together and able to drive to visit friends and relatives residing miles away, contagious diseases could spread almost as fast as fires. As a consequence, large, expensive hospitals had to be built, and medical training became increasingly sophisticated and costly.

The changes described meant that hundreds-of-millions, eventually billions of dollars were needed to build/maintain the requisite roads, highways and rails, to establish adequate fire and police facilities, to train physicians specialized in specific diseases, to construct laboratories for synthesizing and testing medicines, and, to build/maintain/manage hospitals which used diagnostic equipment costing tens-of-millions of dollars. Obviously, no small community of people could come up with that
kind of money. There was only one adequate source: everyone. So today, whether we do it directly by paying taxes, or, indirectly by buying food, cars, clothing or anything else from people who then use a portion of the money we pay them to cover their own federal, state, city and county taxes, we all fund the construction and maintenance of our roads and highways, our schools, fire and police departments, each and every one of us. Since everyone provides them, it’s universally accepted that respecting roads and highways everyone should get to use them. Not even the poorest among us are pulled over on the highway and told “You didn’t pay to build this road, so you aren’t allowed to use it!” So too, with fire and police services. Americans who live in the poorest sections of their towns and cities may (usually justifiably) complain the police don’t show the same concern when they’re attacked or robbed as when a victim is wealthy. But, sharing the assumption their departments’ services are for everyone, police chiefs will deny, and probably try to believe, that no class discrimination occurs.


Now consider the physicians who treat us, the chemists who synthesize the medicines we take, and the pharmacists who sell them. If they attended public schools, from kindergarten through high school their education was provided by everyone, via county taxes directly, state and federal taxes indirectly. If they went to private schools, the wealthy individuals/foundations who funded them received tax write-offs for their contributions, and again, everyone paid. The same holds for their university educations. Whether the institutions they attend are publicly or privately financed, everyone pays. Finally, the federal government furnishes not millions but tens-of-billions of dollars of everyone’s money for the country’s medical care. The National Institutes of Health provides over $30 billion-a-year just for biological and medical research, about 30 percent of the total biomedical research expenditure. Most of the remaining 70 percent comes from biomedical industries, which then receive billions-of-dollars in tax write offs. Once more, everyone pays.
 Obviously, if we apply the same biblical exhortation “as you give, so shall you receive” ethic to medicine that we use for fire/police protection and the building and maintenance of roads, Kucinich reaches the only logical and just conclusion: health care has become a “Civil Right.”


On the other hand, there’s also indisputable material evidence for Ron Paul’s conviction that it isn’t; or, more to the point, that under present conditions making health care a Civil Right is going to cost us more than we can afford to pay, both in personal freedom and financially. Re the first, Paul argues that insofar as governments have taken control of peoples lives, dictating what they think and determining how they behave, things have invariably gotten worse for the majority of people. On that score, history declares in loud voice that Paul’s one-hundred percent right. From the former Soviet Union, Soviet dominated Eastern Europe and China on the Left, to Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Pinochet’s Chile on the Right, governments across the political spectrum have consistently taken away people’s freedoms, often their lives.
 At the best of times they have helped to protect individual freedom. They have never been never been its source. Paul is right, too, that under the Obama Administration the top heavy government bureaucracies which control and direct everything from agriculture, to national defense, to home construction, to social welfare, to health care—and do it in the service of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in every sector—are destined to grow ever more burdensome, and, that Obama’s health care program constitutes an alarming expansion of that process.

Finally, Paul is right that when added to the national debt already being borne by every American, the cost of the Health Care bill Obama seems destined to sign—a bill which gives the cake to insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, the crumbs to the people—seems certain to break the economy. We simply won’t be able to afford this kind of government, Paul persuasively argues.


Frustratingly for a student of history, the constantly growing bureaucratic monolith Paul tilts at is referred to as “socialist” by those on the Right, who offer no material justification for that definition. Many even associate that proposition with old Karl Marx, which surely has his bleached bones rattling in the grave. Where government was concerned, Marx actually went much further than Paul, proposing that upon the advent of a socialist revolution not only the political state but all of politics would promptly come to an end. Reasoning the function of politics is everywhere and always to defend the “social existence” of those who act politically, Marx insisted that the people who have the most to protect against those who have less will invariably be the most political and will control/direct the state. Since he believed everyone would immediately begin receiving an equal portion of society’s domestic product following a socialist revolution, Marx logically concluded both the function and the rationale for politics and a political government would thereupon cease to exist. Only a small administration would remain to direct the equalitarian distribution, and the administrators would all be subject to immediate recall by the people if found to be incompetent or unjust.
 To be sure, the anti-feudal, pro-industrial elites who oversaw revolutions in the U.S.S.R., China, et al. did to Marx’s logic what the feudal inquisitionists of 16th century Spain and France, and the elites behind Franco’s Spain and Pinochet’s Chile did to that of Christ; namely, tear it apart, then embrace the shards which served their personal interests. But one wonders, at the present historical juncture, with libertarians on the Right and anti-capitalists on the Left registering many of the same complaints, with them signing the same protest statements and marching in the same parades, is it possible the time has come to give old Karl’s thesis a second look?

Walt

I have read much of Marx work; he was a drunken imbecile. Only his affiliation with Engels gave his insanity the slightest coherence. In the body of your essay you have attempted to present quite the conundrum; to that I will let Ayn Rand answer, “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

Philip France

Walt's retort to Ted Keller is poignant. Mr. keller, whose grandeloquence I applaud, should heed his advice.

While paying lip service to Mssr's. Kucinich and Marx, Mr. Keller avoided the fact that these men are/were lunatic psycopaths. This says nothing of their ability to communicate seemingly good ideas intellectually. Even a broekn clock is right twice a day.

Marx dismissed the nuclear family as a bourgeious tradition and fabrication. He believed that children should be the property of the state. Small wonder that his children starved to death. Read that again.

As Selwyn Duke has long-asserted, there is only one Truth. Truth is eternal; Truth is unnerring; Truth is inarguable.

Sanctify them through the truth; Thy word is truth.

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