We�ve recently seen U.S. conservatives at Barack Obama�s
public rallies wearing pistols and even assault rifles to protest what they
imagine is his �socialist� approach to health care reform.
In 1883, however, one of history�s most salient
arch-conservatives, Otto von Bismark of Germany, implemented national health
care for all because he wanted a fair, compassionate society.
After WWII, Clement
Attlee did likewise in Britain.
Neither man was anything even remotely close to a �dangerous
left-wing radical,� as Obama has been ridiculously termed, but they gave their
homelands the basis for health care systems that, the last time the World
Health Organization compared matters, are both substantially in advance of our
Roughly 50 countries now have some form of single-payer
health care that affordably covers everyone, but only a few can validly be
As dual-citizenship holders and others who�ve experienced
medical reality in those nations overwhelmingly attest, their complete,
inexpensive coverage is vastly preferable to the broken apparatus they�ve also
dealt with here.
This month, a group devoted to providing free health care in
destitute Third World locations offered its humanitarian charity at the Los
Angeles Forum, and the huge stadium was teeming for over a week with urban
Americans desperate for medical attention.
That grimly reflects our number 37 rating in international
health care comparison, a humiliating fact that no true patriot can mutely
While single-payer would be our ideal solution, the milder �public
option� is a considerable improvement over what we have now.
Under conservative pressure, though, even that may wind up
getting flushed, to be replaced by health care cooperatives of amorphous,
impotent nature, allowing greedy hospital/insurance/pharmaceutical profiteers
to continue charging us an arm and a leg for our essential requirements.
This backup to a backup option would be like trying to win a
Super Bowl with a third-string quarterback.
It just wouldn�t work, and any coach who seriously proposed
such an idea would quickly be fired.
Health care isn�t a game, of course. It�s a life-and-death
issue that touches us all.
We need the best service, for the largest number, at the
most affordable price.
The rest of civilized, developed humanity has long known how
to efficiently do just that, and only the unrelenting avarice of our for-profit
medical hierarchy -- with its increasingly extreme shock troops -- keeps us
from doing the same.
It�s high time we all realized that access to health care is
a fundamental human right, recognized as such by the global community in 1948. Those
protesters displaying weapons in an attempt to thwart reform via intimidation
are depriving themselves of something having far greater, direct bearing on
their personal existence than the ability to own, and display, a gun.
Or do they somehow think they�re uniquely immune to serious illness
or injury, and the economic uncertainties that could easily leave them unable
to pay for vital, perhaps lifesaving care when they needed it most?
Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been
writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets
since the �60s.