Last week's Post ran a letter from Richard Ruth that exemplifies the "me" society viewpoint of corporate Republicans (as distinguished from Eisenhower/Goldwater Republicans). I stand firmly in the "we" society viewpoint.
Mr. Ruth extols the "health plan that my employer provided since 1960" which has served him well. He is afraid that he will have to "dump all that professional care to the government." If our national conversation were about socialized medical care, he might have a legitimate concern (although those folks cared for by the socialized Veterans Affairs hospitals seem to fare well). Only right-wing extremists who want to scare and mislead us are talking about socialized medical care. The rest of us are talking about single-payer (like Medicare) or public option plans where private and non-profit firms deliver the health care and the government pays the bills.
Near the end of his letter, Mr. Ruth cites pages from the draft health care reform bill before Congress. He likely got his misinformation from an article at the right wing blog ChronWatch.com entitled "Page After Page of Reasons to Hate ObamaCare" by Alan Caruba. Frankly, it is a lot of crap! He pretends to have actually read that on page 16 of the bill "Your private health care will be canceled." No, it won't. You can continue to use whatever doctors and facilities you want, it will simply be paid for by a government agency like Medicare does now. Each of his other points
Those of the "me" society viewpoint often agree with Mr. Ruth's statement "I am a laissez-faire capitalist. I believe the government should act only as a policeman that protects man's rights." As far as I know, the only truly laissez-faire country in the world is Somalia. I'm waiting for Mr. Ruth or any Republican to identify a laissez-faire country that works for the people rather than a few corporate interests. Those of us from the "we" society viewpoint generally like our socialized roads, sewers, water supply, police and fire departments, and schools. Folks like Mr. Ruth that live in a fine house on the hillside in a gated community often have the attitude "I've got mine, to heck with you." This clearly seems the case regarding health care. I want everyone to have health care because I have to mix with the public in my job, at the store, and in public spaces. If someone has TB (which is rapidly spreading) or a virulent form of swine flu, I want them treated and cured rather than spreading their contagious diseases to me or members of my family.
Corporate interests and their Republican and Blue Dog Congress critters have delayed health care reform. Meanwhile, 14,000 of us lose our health care coverage every day. That works out to three Milpitas residents each day, or nearly 100 of us by the time Congress re-convenes to do "the people's business." The not-allowed-to-be-discussed single-payer system could easily cost less than our current system. Under our corporate-designed health care system, 17 percent of gross domestic product goes to health care. Under Canada's single-payer system, only 10 percent of gross domestic product goes to health care and they have far better public health. If we were to achieve Canada's 10 percent of gross product level, we would save over $1.5 trillion ($1,500 billion) each year. That is far more than the mere $250 billion that the Government Accounting Office predicts as the increase in annual government expenditures for universal health care.
For those still deciding whether they want a "me" society or a "we" society, consider the message of "The Spirit Level" by Richard Wilkinson. This groundbreaking book, based on 30 years' research, demonstrates that highly unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them the well-off as well as the poor. Almost every modern social and environmental problem ill-health, lack of community life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison populations is more likely to occur in a less equal society. It is why, when polled, more Indonesians, Vietnamese, Finnish and Japanese will claim to be happier than Brits and Americans.
Based on the extensive evidence in "The Spirit Level," those of us working for a "we" society are part of the solution. People with "me" society thinking are part of the problem.
-Rob Means, Yellowstone Avenue