It is the great unmentionable in the health care debate.
It is an attitude apparently shared by many voters. The Democrats keep quiet about it because they don’t want to make voters mad.
The same attitude is helping the Republicans thwart reform. But they won’t acknowledge it publicly for fear of looking bad.
B. Smith isn’t scared to talk about it on his Internet blogsite, Radical Love. It is greed and selfishness, which he says are “hateful” aspects “of humanity that this debate has brought out” in much of the body politic.
Smith identifies himself as a Methodist pastor from Pulaski, Tenn. He doesn’t pull punches.
Smith says, flat out, that some folks oppose reform because they think it will diminish the quality of their health care in favor of “undeserving” poor people and immigrants. “It is in times of economic downturn when people recede into their shells like a scared turtle and refuse to help anyone but themselves and their immediate families,” the parson added.
This union-card carrying Hubert Humphrey Democrat and Bluegrass State Presbyterian will add an “amen” to Rev. Smith’s cyber-sermonette.
Tennessee and my native Kentucky are two of the church-goingest states in the church-goingest nation in Christendom. But when it comes to backing government help for people who need help — people without health insurance, for instance – a lot of Tennesseans, Kentuckians and other Americans have never been all that big on the biblical brother’s keeper thing.
Per capita, the U.S. trails all of its NATO allies in social welfare spending, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
We’re the only NATO country without some form of comprehensive national health insurance. Whatever health reform Congress approves – if anything — will be small potatoes compared to government health care programs in other countries.
True, Americans are bigger on charitable giving than anybody else. But most of the money they donate goes to their churches and to educational institutions, including their alma maters, not to charities that directly aid the poor.
Anyway, many Americans probably would agree with a Georgia woman who told the Associated Press why she’s not a fan of government health care. “Well, for one, I know nobody wants to pay taxes for anybody else to go to the doctor — I don’t,” she was quoted in an AP wire story about an AP health care poll. “I don’t want to pay for somebody to use my money that I could be using for myself.”
The story said the woman is 20. I wonder if she has grandparents on Medicare.
No matter, Republicans love people like the Georgian. Though they might not be so candid with a reporter, more than a few Americans agree with her.
Democrats are hesitant to call them out for their I’ve-got-mine-and-to-heck-with-you outlook. Republicans welcome them as allies in their holy war against health care form.
The Republicans are battling reform with their stock “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” con job. It’s Social Darwinism, straight from the Gilded Age: If you’re poor (and don’t have health insurance), it’s your fault and not my responsibility.
Governments in other Western democracies believe good health care is a fundamental human right, not a privilege for those who can afford it. Some of us stateside do, too. (Go ahead and call us “socialists.”)
I’m blessed. I have a steady job and good health insurance. But growing up Presbyterian, I learned we were supposed to be our brothers’ – and sisters’ – keepers. The same principle guides our union movement.
So count me in with my union brothers and sisters who support a single-payer health care system that covers all Americans. And I’m somebody who wouldn’t mind Uncle Sam raising my taxes to help pay for it.