(cross-posted to The Agonist)
It is not the responsibility of the federal government to provide “womb to tomb” health care for Americans.
- Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)
I wasn’t about to watch yesterday’s televised GOP Presidential debate in Iowa. Lord knows I had plenty of other, more important things to do- like taking a nap and doing laundry, f’rinstance. All I really saw were the soundbites from the CBS Evening News, most of which were quite forgettable, meaningless, and disturbingly vapid. It was Tancredo’s statement, though, that managed to really draw my ire. Indeed, why shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the federal government to provide “womb to tomb” health care for all Americans? WHY THE HELL NOT? Why must the concept of universal health care be viewed as some of socialist conspiracy designed to destroy Our Way of Life? What greater responsibility can there be for government that to ensure the health of it’s citizens?
I have a very simple question that I wish someone would answer for me. If Canada, France, England, and even Cuba can guarantee quality health care for their citizens, why can’t the most powerful country in the world? If we can fund an endless, senseless war in Iraq, if we can kill thousands of innocent civilians, then why can we not find the resources and the wherewithal to provide universal health care? Mention universal health care to a Conservative, and they’ll look at you as if you’re advocating Communism. Of course, he’ll never mention the large sums that health care corporations donate to his (or her) campaign war chest. Who says we don’t have the best government money can buy??
What is so evil about ensuring that every single American has access to appropriate, quality health care? What is it about the idea of universal health care that moves so many Conservatives to fits of righteous indignation, as if Madonna had walked on stage wearing nothing but an American flag? It’s not like our free market health care economy has been such a rousing success.
When did we lose the ability to care for one another? When did we determine that health care, like so many aspects of American society, should be merit-based and left to the free market? Why do we treat our fellow Americans not as people, but as profit centers? Most of all, why should Americans fortunate enough to have the economic means be deemed more worthy of quality health care than those on the lower end of the economic spectrum?
I’m sick to death of those who would set American health care policy channelling Ayn Rand while they do so. To seriously hold forth the Warren Buffett is more worthy of quality health care than a homeless man living under a bridge in a cardboard box is insulting, elitist, and completely devoid of anything resembling humanity. That most of the GOP candidates faithfully parrot this position insults and demeans the values that this country was built upon. At the risk of sounding like Michael Moore (whom, by the way, I greatly admire), providing quality, appropriate health care to each and every American regardless of the content of their bank account should be viewed as something that every American has a RIGHT to expect.
After all, if a desperately poor country like Cuba can provide this basic right to their citizens, why can’t we? Yes, I understand the role of the free market, but in the case of health care, the free market has been an abject failure. It’s created an underclass of Americans who live in fear of needing expensive medical care that will ruin them financially. Let’s face it, y’all; we’ve failed ourselves by not caring for ALL Americans equally, and I for one am ashamed that profit takes precedence of the health of American citizens.