"We Americans live in a nation where the medical-care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it." -- Dave Barry
Why is everyone so upset about this issue regarding Ron Paul’s attempt to say that it is not the job of government to provide free health care for all? Where have all these people been since forever? And, why do people make statements like this: “My (brother, sister, husband, friend, relative, or whatever) died because he/she/they did not have insurance…..”? A lack of insurance is NOT going to kill anyone. I’m sorry, but it just ain’t gonna happen!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do agree that a certain amount of government involvement in health care is a good idea, and the thought of truly universal access to health care is a very attractive, albeit lofty, ideal. However, all you have to do is look at those nations that have attempted to achieve this, and/or are attempting to do so right now, and you might get an inkling of just what is entailed in pursuit of such a lofty goal.
First, do not throw the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights, or even the Declaration of Independence at me. They do NOT address this issue. Never did. Second, remember the world of the folks who wrote those venerable documents. Did any government, anywhere have any thoughts of addressing this issue? No, I don’t think so. It was indeed the responsibility of the individual, the family, and the community to care for those who needed it. The only thought given to such an idea was to simply put it under the general heading of charity, and go on about other things. Granted, a big part of this is simply that people didn’t generally live all that long, anyway, and when they sickened, they usually got better on their own, or died. It was as simple as that.
Some of the people who might have needed assistance from their family or their community would have included widows, orphans, and those too ill or infirm (such as the aged) to work and support themselves. There was no welfare office, no food stamp program, and no such thing as Medicaid.
Jump forward to the Twentieth Century. By that time, government had grown (oh, how it had grown), and had indeed assumed too many of those responsibilities that rightfully should still belong to families, first, then the community at large (sans government entities). This is part of what makes a nation strong, having a solid family support system. We all know that, and we all acknowledge that. Apparently, this has led to too many people who now believe that it is the government’s job to care for them, from cradle to grave. That is not the way to build a strong nation, folks. It might well lead to some kind of Orwellian horror, or even to a “Brave New World,” but those are not necessarily such good ideas!
Now, I grew up in the 50’s. We did have some limited food programs, if you will, in the form of a county agency that dispensed surplus foods. I recall peanut butter, butter, canned chicken, flour, generally items that would be considered to be mostly staples, and they were packaged in very generic containers. And, I know that there were such governmental entities as County Health Departments that did things like give us our Polio Vaccination, when it was first developed and made available.* When someone needed healthcare, first line of defense (and, offense, as well) was mom’s home remedies, that she had learned from her mom. Then, in a small town, as a last resort, the ill person might be taken to the local doc, and he would be begged to provide some relief. He was paid if possible, when possible, with whatever of value the people could scrape together.
Larger communities built county hospitals, supported by the tax payers, and yes, this is government involvement in health care. As far as I know this system still exists in most cities across the nation. People who are ill, and who do not have a doctor, or the means to pay a doctor, go to the county hospital! So, where have we got this demand, and this belief that medical care is not available for those who can’t afford it? Beyond the fact that these community hospitals do exist, and do provide care, we have organizations across the country such as the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, MDA, etc., etc., and on and on. Those organizations do assist those who cannot pay in seeking appropriate care and treatment!
Very recently, I have seen a video online where a lady reports that her brother died of cancer because he was unemployed and did not have insurance, and she thinks Ron Paul and those others up on that stage with him, are just terrible, cruel, heartless people. It makes me want to scream. So what if he had no insurance? So what if he was unemployed? How did he let himself get into a position where he was not prepared to seek alternative employment when he lost his last job? I know that I changed direction more than once during my career, changing jobs (because I got fired) at the age of 56 (older than her brother, by the way), then, again, at 58, and finally, accepting (I was actually recruited for this) my last job at the age of 57. I then decided to retire at 62 mostly because I was laid off from that last job. Ultimately, who is to blame for this lady’s brother not being prepared to go out into a new field at 55? Not me, and certainly not the government!
I know people who were in their fifties at the time that they went to work as clerks in convenience stores after long careers in fields like IT. My point is that I am well aware that it is hard to find work after about 50 years of age, but there is work out there, if one is willing to consider some alternatives to what one might have been accustomed to doing. And, it is certainly not the government’s fault if a person lacked the education to pursue other avenues. Keep in mind that very often, those people who took jobs like this still had no insurance, but they did know that if they were ill, there were free clinics, and there was the county hospital system where they could seek care. There are always alternatives, and there is always a solution, so please don’t just blame the government, or worse, demand that the government take care of you, unless you’re also able to remember just who the government is! (Hint: We are the government. Remember Junior High Civics?)
So, frankly, imho, Wolf Blitzer asked a loaded question deliberately, and phrased it in such a way as to throw it into the same category as that old one about, “do you still beat your wife?” And, of course, the others on that stage said nothing, and that is because – even though they are Republicans, with whom I personally disagree – they are right.
Speaking as a Nurse, who has more than thirty years experience, I must say that there is another, and very significant, element important to proper health care. That element rests with each and every one of us. Whoever we are, whatever our health, whatever our socio-economic status, we must assume at least fifty per cent of the responsibility for our own care. I mean that we must do what the doctor tells us to do. We must share all pertinent medical information with the doctor and his/her staff. We must strive to do at least minimal things to maintain a healthy condition, such as practice moderation, try to get exercise, try to eat sensibly, and so forth. I say this because too many times I’ve seen too many people who want to blame the caregiver for a worsening of their condition when it was the patient himself who failed to do what he/she knew to do.
Lest I overlook another factor here, be advised that I am not a supporter of Ron Paul, or any other member of the GOP. I support the President, first because he is the President, but also because I believe he wants to, and is trying to do the right thing. My opinions, as expressed herein are strictly my opinions, and are not meant to suggest that they are a reflection of the views of anyone else, no matter what political stripe decorates their back. I like to think that this is a logical position to take, and that it has nothing to do with politics, because ultimately our health is our responsibility, and caring for it should not require any assistance, interference, or direction from any government.
* County Health Departments did a lot more than that, and I know because I worked in Public Health for ten years, but their accomplishments are not my topic right now.