Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lets keep the discussion going

A lot of excellent points raised on the last post, and a few of you even voiced opinions in favor of the opposing side that I hadn't considered.

As best put by mhale:

What a great country we live in where such different views can still coexist peacefully and express their opinions in so many forums.

(And some from other countries weighed in, too.)

I particularly liked this thought from an anonymous commenter:

As an Obama supporter, I was interested to hear in church (Roman Catholic, no less) that the church wants you to consider "life" when voting. BUT that life is just not abortion. It is health care, education, capital punishment, help for the poor, foreign affairs AND a person's character.

And this from Courtney in California where a measure to overturn gay marriage will be on the ballot:

I'm deeply in love with my partner of four years. She helps me to be a great person, and I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I desperately want the assurance that I will be able to see her in the hospital and help make medical decisions if necessary, the comfort of knowing that our joint assets will be protected, and the knowledge that, when we're ready, we can raise children together without fear of losing them. We hope to get married this summer, but we won't be able to do that without your help. Please do not let the opposition take this chance away from us.

But one thing I don't understand is, why has "socialism" become such a negative catchprase in the final days before the election? We are clearly a capitalist society -- as evidenced by the subprime mortgage mess and the overwhelming economic crisis it created worldwide. I don't think offering collective health care is going to suddenly change the way the majority of our system operates.

Erin from Canada offers her perspective:

Seriously, I wish more then anything that people in the US would understand that universal health care systems are a GOOD thing. They don't cost you more money, they aren't sub-par doctors or service, and we don't have crazy wait times. We get the same sort of medical help you get, only we don't have to worry about HMOs denying us.

Call me an idealist, but that would be a plus for everyone.

Besides, why can't one of the richest countries in the world collectively take care of the health of its own people? Shouldn't that be a major priority?


Annie said...

If we are speaking to a candidate's character and how it affects decision-making, it's probably a good idea to reflect on the fact that Obama's entire campaign has been funded due to a broken promise:

I wonder how many other promises he will break?

Matt said...

Yes, AND he opted to start wearing a flag pin. Gasp!

Matt said...

I'd change my mind too if I realized I could raise more on my own.

Anonymous said...

Yep, he did agree to take public money, and broke his promise. Let's not forget though that John McCain left his disfigured (former model) first wife after cheating on her with a rich young heiress. This shows loads of character too. Character is about morals, but it is also about decision making and temperament. McCain falls too short in those categories.

Jennifer Suarez said...

I can't wait to vote. I'm so tired of the political debates and arguments from each side.

It's not that I don't care, it's more that I'm at the point of "Enough is enough!"

Let's get 'er done.

mhale said...

I think socialism has a negative connotation for an obvious reason - and you already said it: we are a country founded on capitalism. Socialist societies today (Korea, China, Vietnam) and the multitude of failed socialist regimes in the past are nearly opposite the goals and freedoms America strives towards. Changing to universal healthcare would be a HUGE step toward a socialist society, and not one I want to take. And to politely disagree with the commenter for Canada, yes of course it would cost more than we currently pay, and yes the quality would most likely be sub-par. (Anecdotally, people don't go to Canada for world-class healthcare, the world comes to the U.S).

Kriston said...

Universal Health Care scares me because I experience military governmental health care. I've had some wonderful care and pretty awful care. I do feel like just a number and you can get treatment refused. I do have to wait a very long time to see someone or else go to the ER to get basic needs met. There is not an incentive to please the patient at all. I have been told I'm sorry I don't have time to answer your questions you will have to come back at another time when I drove an hour to get to an appointment that was cancelled and rescheduled by the clinic twice. I just had two questions and now I know that only one is allowed at a time. There is no way to protest any sort of personal treatment that you get. Especially not one so effective as voting with your feet and dollars and simply going to another doctor.
I think a countries culture and history are factors when considering universal government controlled health care and I just don't think ours has done a good job with the health care it already controls and is not up to the task of managing more.
I realize it works in other countries but I am not sure it will be effective here in our form of government.
I want to take care of people who need medical treatment but I just hope we can think up some other way of doing this than having the government manage it.

mhale said...

Ah yes - kriston states wonderfully the point I was just about to add. Given that the majority of people are incredibly unhappy and angry at the way the government manages the areas currently under its control, why is it you think the government would do better at health care?

Erin said...

To Mhale

Why would it cost you more? Isn’t your country one of the richest? The greatest? Don't you have to pay for a service I receive for free? Your taxes are the same as mine, so where in that do you see it costing more?

As for your country being the place people go for the best care, says who, your government? That is a pretty broad statement. Actually, Canada has many, MANY specialty hospitals, and research centers. As for your "world class health care" approx what percentage of Americans do you think receive the best, fully covered of course by your insurance?

What about the single mom with 2 jobs supporting her kids on minimum wage who can't afford insurance? Does they get "world-class healthcare"? So really it's more like a certain percentage of Americans get "world-class healthcare" The rest get sub-par, or none.

Erin said...

To Kriston

She says:
"Universal Health Care scares me because I experience military governmental health care. I've had some wonderful care and pretty awful care."

That sucks, but your military health care is not the same as universal care given by all doctors, you've just had to deal with free (US) care. Sorry.

She says
"I do feel like just a number and you can get treatment refused"

You're a number the day you are born sadly, and like I've mentioned before, you are not treated any different in US hospitals then you are in our hospitals. And, no you can't be turned down for care, unless of course you're trying to come in for a tummy tuck, that might not fly.

She says:
"I do have to wait a very long time to see someone or else go to the ER to get basic needs met"

The only reason you would have to wait in an emergency room here is if your case is not an emergency. I'm sorry, but if you stub your toe, that does not take precedence over someone who is bleeding to death, but you can talk it out with that guy and see if he'll let you cut in front of him. But if it’s not an “Emergency” why would you bother going to an ER? That is what they are for. If you have a cold, make an appointment that day with your doctor, or if they are fully booked, go to a walk in clinic, they are just as good!

She says
"There is not an incentive to please the patient at all. I have been told I'm sorry I don't have time to answer your questions you will have to come back at another time when I drove an hour to get to an appointment that was cancelled and rescheduled by the clinic twice. I just had two questions and now I know that only one is allowed at a time"

Our doctors have the same incentive as yours, you don't think they get paid? Sorry, I've never been turned away for questions, EVER. Even some which I'll admit are a big ol waste of time in the end.

She says
"There is no way to protest any sort of personal treatment that you get. Especially not one so effective as voting with your feet and dollars and simply going to another doctor."

This one confuses me slightly, but I'll mention that there is an easy and quit effective way to "protest treatment" It's called get up and walk to another doctor 5 minutes down the road and ask them. See, with our health care we can pick doctors, and honestly as many as we want. I could literally get up and walk to 10 different doctor offices and get treatment all in an afternoon if I felt like it, and I won't pay a penny. Same goes for hospitals.

She says
"I think a countries culture and history are factors when considering universal government controlled health care and I just don't think ours has done a good job with the health care it already controls and is not up to the task of managing more.
I realize it works in other countries but I am not sure it will be effective here in our form of government.

True enough, but how will you know if you don't give it a try? And if it doesn't work, elect someone who can get it right! You are in control of who runs your government, you know that right?

the plainsman said...

All the excuses over the years that we have heard against a comprehensive national health care program have either come to pass or are discredited.

One of the beefs early on was that we could not continue with their same doctors. Ha, as anyone who has helth coverage at work now, each time your employer changes plans or you chage your job, you likely have to change doctors approved on the new list or pay more. Most have gotten used to it and found having multiple doctors looking at a problem beneficial.

Another beef against "socialized medicine" was to offer up the innefieciencies and long waits in Britain. Guess what? Last year, the life expectancy of the British passed that of the US for the first time, credited to a generation of comprehensive health care.

And during the past month, I contributed to two community fund drives, one localy and one out of state for two women who have cancer and no health coverage, one just lost her job and is only 29. This is inexcusabile in the United States.

The only rational reason for any government (or king in the olden days) to exist is to promote the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, and sad to say the US is way behind on the health part.

But neither party, nor a President McCain or a President Obamma can do it alone. Both parties have to come up with a workable, not pactchwork solution and will, if enough Americans demand it.

And to those who are critical of government run bureaucracies, many of the universal care systems in the contries that have it are not run day to day by their governments. There are many different workable plans.

However a Obama win is no guarantee of a workble plan any more than a vote for Bill Clinton was sixteen years ago. And we thought it was a done deal with a Democatic controlled Congress back then, too... (In her favor, Hillary probably would have made it work this time, though, and I would vote to give her the chance).

Long point is, the health mess is not criteria enough alone to favor either candidate or make me want to vote for Obama.

Anonymous said...

What's really funny with all of this fear of socialism is that Alaska is the only socialist state in the Union.

Erin said...

One more for mhale

You said
"Socialist societies today (Korea, China, Vietnam) and the multitude of failed socialist regimes in the past are nearly opposite the goals and freedoms America strives towards"

You forgot the Countries that I mentioned in the last post. Who also have Universal Health Care, because that is what this is about, not all about ever aspect of Socialism

Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

I wasn't aware that Canada and the list above have "failed socialist regimes" Seems to be working pretty well for us, wouldn't you agree?

I would also like to know goals America strives for that Canada does not?

Naomi said...

I'm with you on questioning the way "socialism" is bandied about during this campaign--in the face of capitalism imploding under its own weight! Oh, the irony.

(Not that I'm necessarily more in favor of one than the other--any "pure" system is a tyranny.)

Ashley said...

Everyone keeps saying that Canada has the same level of taxes that we do. Okay, sure. Now add in the tax that will cover universal health care for everyone. See what I mean?

As for the Democrats who keep talking about McCain and his first wife... do you not remember Clinton and his little "I did NOT have sex with that women" problem he got impeached for? Everyone kept saying that his personal life didn't affect the presidency, but now that it's a Republican that has the skeletons in his closet, marital affairs CAN affect the way he runs the country. Can't be both ways.

People have pretty much decided the way they are going to vote. We are just going to have see how the chips fall on next Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where in Canada you live but consider yourself blessed.

I am a Healthcare Administration major, graduating in December. We have studied the heathcare systems of countless countries and Canada's systems is a failed/failing system. (The US is also, which I think is undisputed.) The majority of citizens wait months for surgeries and some die because the wait is to long. Although we have a failed system, some Canadians buy a months worth of medical insurance, cross the border and get the surgery asap here. Yes, some American uninsured do travel to other countries to get surgeries cheap. But you don not see any insured Americans flocking to Canada, waiting months, so they do not have to pay their deductible.

The main problem with converting our system to a universal healthcare system is that physicians will be paid less. Therefore they will have less desire to work overtime, less desire to do groundbreaking research and in general they will be overrun with patients who have neglected to see a doctor for years (whether by choice or because they did not have insurance.)

Under Obama's universal plan we will also be providing care to all the illegal immigrants. When is someone going to draw a line?

I believe that basic healthcare is a right to everyone. But we are going to have to define those rights. And anything beyond those rights is a privilege and will have to be paid for and should not have managed by the government.

aj said...

yes... and amen.

we're in a dangerous and exciting week......

Ray said...

"Besides, why can't one of the richest countries in the world collectively take care of the health of its own people? Shouldn't that be a major priority?"

^^YES, it SHOULD be a MAJOR PRIORITY! One's health is so important, and so many people's health problems go unattended for years and years. Why? Because they can't afford money to go to the doctor for a check-up. Or to the dentist to seriously fix their teeth. It's sad that a price has to paid for one's health. It's like the government saying a big "f#@% you" to everyone. If healthcare is free in Canada, "Why not here?!"

Healthcare such as making sure you are healthy should be free. Now if you want to get plastic surgery than that's another story. You should pay for that.

And I don't think that's being an idealist, we should have that. It's not like we're asking for the impossible. It is possible. The next president needs to make that happen (hopefully anyhow. As I don't see it ever happening).

Take, care.

Anonymous said...

McCain's first wife and Bill Clinton's affair have nothing to do with each other. No one has condoned his behavior. Last time I checked, Bill Clinton is not running against Obama.

Kristin said...

Reading all of these comments, I feel so out of the loop. I don't understand a lot of politics, which is why I don't watch stuff about the election very often on tv and whatnot, but I feel left out not joining the discussion, so here goes nothing.

I'm fifteen, and I often get the name of 'naive' when I talk about my political views because my opinions aren't "backed-up," or I "don't know what I'm talking about." But seriously, if someone thinks that everyone deserves some kind of healthcare, and Obama supports universal healthcare, who cares what the details are? Sure, maybe the government could suck at controlling it, but at least it's there. Less-than-great healthcare is better than no healthcare, is it not? It doesn't make sense to me when someone says that they "want universal healthcare, but it will probably be not-so-great, so I don't support it." It's like, what?! That's like saying, "I like hamburgers, but the ones from McDonalds' are gross, so I don't think anyone should be eating hamburgers." Seriously, no, anyone who says that is a walking contradiction. (Of course, I'm vegan, so that was a bad example, but point proven anyway.)

Now that that's out of the way.

A few months ago when I realized that I should probably do some research about the candidates and decide which one I want to win (even though I'm not old enough to vote yet), Obama first caught my attention because he's all for gay rights and animal rights, which are right up my alley. I won't go into animal rights, but gay rights are so important to me, you wouldn't even believe. I don't even like talking about it with other people because when they disagree with me, it makes me want to cry. Anyone who says that they think everyone should be treated with equality and then says that gay marriage shouldn't be legal can kiss my ass. I don't normally like to judge, but I automatically hate all people who hate gays. Everyone deserves equality, including gays, lesbians, chicks with dicks and everyone else on this planet. Second, Obama seems to be more like a person than a politician. That may sound odd to you, but here's my explanation for that. I know this kid who's like, sixteen years old, and he's hands down, the smartest person I've ever met in my life. I'm not gonna go into that, but he's super smart. Seriously, I asked him what he wants to do when he gets older, and he told me that he wanted to do something to do with particles or something, and he completely confused me, but it was crazy sounding. Anyway, one day we were talking about the energy crisis and just generally all the problems in the U.S., and I said, "Jed, you should run for president when you get old enough. You'd do a lot of good for this country," and he thought for a few moments and said, "You know, I would, but I'm really bad at lying," and I laughed like you'd never believe, but it made me think about the candidates. Obama knows us better, and Obama really knows what we want. More importantly, he doesn't talk politician gibberish. He makes things easy to understand, which makes a world of difference in my mind.

I'm sorry.
I got kind of ranty with this.

that's my two cents.

Erin said...

Dear Annonymous

FYI - I live in the outskirts of Toronto.

Congrats on your upcoming degree/diploma! (Honestly)

I'm sure that you're well educated about the subject, but I've been living your "education" much, much longer then you've studied the subject. I'm sure you could educate me about the healthcare of other countries, but not mine.

I've had surgery before, nothing major, but something I needed done. Let me assure you I did not wait long. As soon as all my prep-work was done I was in surgery. The only way someone would die would be if they were waiting for a transplant and they had not found a match. This, sadly, happens all over the world and not just in Canada. If there is an "emergency" there is no reason for it to not happen.

Yes, the doctors are paid slightly less, they are by no means hurting, believe me. They still make hundreds of thousands of dollars here. They have just as much desire to do research and practise as your doctors and to say differently is absolutely absurd, or are all of your doctors simply driven by money? That is just sad.

What makes me mad is that people who are misled by outside sources truely believe everything they see/read/hear. Here I am TELLING you that I live what you think you know, and I'm telling you, you're wrong.

Why would I lie?

Sarah said...

Just a quick reaction to mhale's comment about government agencies...

(and for those looking at IP addresses, yes, I'm Courtney's partner, and we both LOVE your blog, Kelly. So much so we celebrated with you when Allison was born, and laughed at how happy we were for a complete stranger :D)

I an engineer working for a regulatory government agency. We walk a fine line, as we want to promote the interests of the public, but not squelch innovation and discourage industry along the way. We don't have infinite resources, but I truly believe we function more ethically and effectively than a private corporation would. Many of us get paid far less than we would in the private sector, but do what we do because we have a calling and we care. I am opposed to a universal health care system, however, not because I think the government would be bad at it, and I think it is insulting to public servants everywhere to think it could possibly be more poorly run that the system we have in place now.

nevragn said...

The reason "socialist" has become a dirty word is only because it's being associated with Obama. The lies and crap put out by the McCain/Palin camp are sometimes so far out there and so convoluted they are scaring people half to death.

Lizzy said...

Socialism should not be seen as a bad thing and many countries are judged by how they treat their poor and needy.

Here in England, there is a largely socilaist infrastructure with the socialist Labour party having the majority vote for over 10 years now. The unemployed can recieve 'Job seekers allowence' which is roughly £100($200) a week so they continue to feed themselves and pay for their basic needs inbetween jobs.
There is also council (government owned) housing for those who cannot afford to buy their own houses.
Students between the ages of 16-18 from lower income houses can also claim £30($60) a week to encourage them to stay in education.
I could go on. All this exists in England and yet we are still internationally recognised as having a capitalist economy, and it IS possible for people to make a lot of money here- taxes are not ridiculously high.

Like Canada, here in England we also have universal health care in the form of the NHS. There would be riots here if the government even proposed replacing this with privatized health care!

Over the years I've been so grateful for this service. My mother had 2 babies under NHS care, and in 2000 was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was treated at one of the best cancer hospitals in Europe and is still taking drugs to prevent the cancer coming back -which if privately paid for would cost hundreds of pounds a year. Instead EVERYONE pays £7($14) for their prescription drugs regardless of whether the prescription is for antibiotics or for HIV medication. Prescription’s are also free to the elderly, children, the unemployed, disabled, etc.
My Dad too has had his fair share of NHS treatment with a total of 3 surgeries and 4 broken bones.

Again I could go on and on about the treatment I and my family have recieved from the NHS. The system isn't perfect, it is very good though and cost virtually nothing. In fact the NHS has recently celebrated its 60th birthday of providing free healthcare. If it was that bad, don't you think we would've scrapped the idea years ago?

the plainsman said...

Hey Kelly! Lets keep this going for at least one more day. Even though I liked this place as a refuge from the daily, the thought and care everyone is putting into their thoughts, whatever their preference is cool. And I like how all thoughts are given respect, too, whether they are 15 or could have grandkids.

Mistress said...

I actually didn't get a chance to read your previous post when you actually posted it, so I decided to comment now. Yesterday Sarah Palin spoke at my college. Being an obama supporter, I wanted to go laugh. So I did :) I went in there with all of the McCain people and I was so disgusted I can't describe it. I did want to see her (more for the accent than anything else), but I really wanted to see what she would see to people from northwest ohio and in a college town. It was horrible. She stereotyped. She offended. She even went so far as to tell me I wasn't a real woman because I didn't kill moose. There was a country music artist that sang a song, "Drill here. Drill now". I don't get it. I've already voted and my vote is for Obama and for CHANGE. Oh, and I've decided on the new slogan for the McCain/Palin ticket:

Country First
(Common Sense Later)
++kill the polar bears

Anonymous said...

Okay, kudos and ditto to Kriston and mhale.

erica said...

Shoot! If this healthcare reform falls through I'm moving to England! This discussion is fun though! I love reading everyone's input

Anonymous said...

The problem is that America may be the richest country around, but the wealth is so heavily focused that people sometimes call it the richest third-world country in the world. Sure, it could afford good quality health care without difficulty, but then it'd have to stop spending ten times that on wars as a matter of course.

The comment that people come to the US for medical care is true, but only if they have money. Poor people are not helped at all by fabulously skilled doctors if they can't afford to clean their shoes. The number of people like this is increasing, unfortunately.

Pure communism has not been overly successful (Russia, North Korea, etc). However, capitalism is not proving particularly durable right now in the US. The driving factor seems nothing but rabid greed. The destruction of one's country, one's countrymen or society itself seems less important than making a quick buck. I would think there's a reason why the American standard of living is always ranked far below that of Canada, and certain Nordic countries that present as semi-socialist. Not everybody has the enormous wealth to afford the very best doctors on their own.

(The 2008 Mercer Quality of Living Global City ranking has its first United States city of Honolulu at 28th on the list, while Canada, Australia, and some European countries have multiple cities on the list above the first American ranking. In the Economist's list of the same thing, they only have a top and bottom ten, and America fails to appear on either list.)

Perhaps despite the naysayers, the average American would benefit from some socialism. Ask yourself this when you vote: would you rather your country be a great power, or a great place to live?

Bob Smith said...

By the way, I think all these anonymous comments make rebuttal and discussion confusing. So, that last anonymous comment with the Mercer rankings was by me (but none of the others were).

Lioncloud said...

To echo what Lizzy said about health care in the UK, I have a good friend living in London (UK citizen) who was incensed by the Michael Moore film "Sicko."

"How can Americans put up with that?" he said.

A year or two ago, German citizens were up in arms to learn that their government had cut back their access to free university education. They would no longer get entirely free schooling unless they completed their degree in 5 years. If taking longer, they would be required to pay about $750/semester (Tuition at my daughter's school is $39,000/year). Shocking!

Those kind of things make the quality of life in Europe much better for the average person than it is here. None of the US citizens I know who are living abroad would ever consider living in the US again, as long as our current system remains in place.


the plainsman said...

Good point Lioncloud, about the quality of life in Germany, which I would hardly characterize as a socilalist state, especially when their capitalist businesses are outcompeting us in some markets.

Last time I looked, the numerous commuter railroad locomotives that our state bought were from Germany, and according to the experts in the story I read, they are no better than ones made here.

But they were less expensive, one reason is that health care costs are not built into the final consumer price, but spead equally across the entire nation's GNP.

When the heads of major US manufacturers (we still have some) like the automakers are calling for comprehensive health care, I would not call them solcialists, but pragmatic capitalists, realizing there is a better way. They can't compete on a dollar basis with companies in countries with comprehensive care, in Germany, Japan and elsewhere.

The issue is not simply a Republican/Democratic argument. Many within the Republican Party, those business men who do provide health care to their employees realize there is a better way, (WalMart types, excepted) but it is not Omama's way.

It is not class warfare about taxing today's wealth for benefit of others, but to spread the cost of it across the entire spectrum to provide equal access to all.

We are one nation, after all, not blue or red.

That is one reason I can not support Obamma, even though I am strongly in favor of a comprehensive health care system.

He promotes divisiveness, an us vs them mentality when it should be about all of us working together to achieve the goal that a majority of Americans support, no matter which candidate we vote for.

To do otherwise is to consign us to failure to get a system as in the Clinton years. I believe that McCain, even working with a Democratic Congress, will result in a better plan that with Obama and a Demnocratic majority forcing their plan, the one they decide best on us.

Checks and balances can work.

Anonymous said...

Abortion is murder. It is the only issue that directly takes a life. You're stupid and so is your blog. You think you can influence people with your opinions. You will go to hell if you support something that murders innocent babies.

erica said...

Dear most recent anonymous,

I respect you're right to say what you believe in, however everyone else has the right to their own thoughts and ideas. Hatred is not really necessary thank you. I do admire your passion though. Maybe there are more productive means of communicating? Oh well, you probably won't read this anyway.

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

"The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object."
-Thomas Jefferson

That's all. Carry on then. Can you tell how passionate I am about free speech? Not that everyone else isn't, but you know.

Anonymous said...

oh geeze. Your. not you're right to say. Sorry, I can't help myself that drives me crazy.


Anonymous said...

you're = you are. duh.