“John Q” is a story about an average blue-collar worker who resorts to holding a hospital hostage in order to ensure that his dying son receives a $300,000 heart transplant, which his insurance company refuses to cover. Although it’s a fictional account, “John Q” points to glaring deficiencies in the U.S. healthcare system. Patient care is financially focused; an individual is treated in accordance with what he can afford. Furthermore, this system contributes to a culture of arrogance and apathy within the healthcare profession (sorry doctors and nurses, but it’s been my experience that veterinarians are often much more accommodating and sympathetic when it comes to clients that can’t pay - could be because euthanasia is one of our options :-p). At any rate, “John Q” makes a salient point - capitalism may be a fine social model, but perhaps it is not applicable to every aspect of a country’s existence. Surely in a nation as great as the U.S., land of the free, home of the brave, one would not be subjected to choosing between adequate healthcare and the next meal.
Michael Moore brings this point home in his own unique way in “Sicko” . Upon sighting the free healthcare provided on U.S. soil to detainees at Gitmo, he rounds up a few rescue workers who suffer from an inability to afford proper treatment for their post-9/11 afflictions. Surprise surprise, the facilities at Guantanamo Bay deny these U.S. citizens, however they receive adequate diagnostics and medical care at a Cuban hospital – for free. One woman burst into tears when she finds the $120 medication she uses to treat her respiratory condition available in a Cuban pharmacy for around 5 cents.
As Americans, we are misguided. We are so convicted in our belief that there is no way other than democracy and capitalism that we regard communism as a great evil. We label Fidel Castro and the Chinese government as "the devil" because they support Marxist principles. We’re taught this hate and to reverence capitalism more than we are taught the difference between communism and socialism. We are so miseducated as a people, that the average American fails to recognize the socialist elements at play in their own everyday life – SOCIAL security, the FREE library, PUBLIC schools, even the police and fire departments are completely financed by the government.
"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” – Carter G. Woodson.
I am appalled that many Americans are outraged by the idea of socialized medicine. It seems to me that those who believe capitalism is the best model for healthcare are simply posturing – capitalism is always good, socialism is always bad. This drone-like mindset contributes to the cause of the wealthiest five-percent, who seek to fatten their pockets without regard to the suffering endured by those beneath them. As a result of their miseducation, the very individuals who are oppressed by the system are not only appreciative of the current structure, but advocate perpetuance of it. Their education makes it necessary.
Barack Obama is certain to face much opposition from conservatives when it comes to healthcare reform, so much so that I fear he will cower away from a true reformative agenda until he has secured a second term. I’m sure that there are appropriate counter-arguments to be made to the socialization of medicine, yet I pray that as a people we become informed to the point that our perspective doesn’t remain as simple and constrained as: America is great because of capitalism, therefore capitalism must be great for healthcare.