We’ve Got Socialized Capitalism, Why Not Socialized Health Care?

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Tue, Apr 1 - 12:46 pm EDT | 7 years ago by
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One of the pet peeves I have about the debate over universal health care is this argument: “If we socialize health care, where will it end?” As if health care would be the first socialized institution in our country.

Our education system, police force, and even our mail system is socialized. When you look around and see all the social-type program we have, it seems rather amazing that only when health care comes up do people start to worry about socialism.

And, of course, one can’t forget socialized capitalism.

Er, isn’t “socialized capitalism” an oxymoron? In theory, I suppose so. In practice, though, we do it all the time. Society (via taxpayers) provides subsidies for all sorts of companies — profitable Big Oil and Big Ag concerns Does the Fed represent socialized capitalism?come immediately to mind. Some would argue that the Federal Reserve itself is something of a socialist institution.

And now, it has been brought to my attention by Mark Zero (one of the people I follow on Twitter) that The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Fed is actually looking at the Nordic way of solving a banking crisis:

A senior official at one of the Scandinavian central banks told The Daily Telegraph that Fed strategists had stepped up contacts to learn how Norway, Sweden and Finland managed their traumatic crisis from 1991 to 1993, which brought the region’s economy to its knees.

Some may freak out about that, since socialism is rather ingrained in Nordic countries right now. But before you get too concerned, recognize that there are some differences already. One of things Norway did was take over failing banks completely. Shareholders were not compensated in any way.

In America, though, we keep our socialism somewhat more capitalistic. Bear Stearns gets taken over by JPMorgan, and the taxpayers guarantee the transaction. Bear Stearns stockholders’ losses are limited, and JPMorgan gets what amounts to a subsidy. All of it orchestrated by the government. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what free market capitalism looks like to me.

Not that I’m in favor of all-out free market capitalism. My point is that we already adhere to some socialist principles. Even our dearly-held “value” of capitalism is “tainted” by that “evil” idea of socialism.

So, with so much else already socialized, why not offer something that helps the American people? What’s wrong with universal health care?


(Image credit: US government)

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  • http://www.leadershipturn.com Miki

    Great reasoning, but it won’t help. When has reality ever impinged upon politicians’ beloved euphemisms?

    Perhaps that’s the answer. Skip the universal healthcare and just have health subsidies. Better yet, health earmarks would guarantee results.

  • miranda

    Heh, heh. Great idea. Perhaps if we called them subsidies or earmarks, instead of “universal” health care it would help. Unfortunately, those subsidies would probably go to insurance companies…But if it meant they gave us free health care in return…

  • Uncle B

    Lets hope this recession/depression is only long and deep enough to help governments see that they govern people, not corporations. The clean-up after the Bush administration is going to be long and costly for common folk. They should not be deprived of good health care too! Don’t be afraid to tax the snot out of the rich for health care, our good health will enable us to do better work more cheaply, and will trickle back down to them in time!

  • miranda

    Yes, the Bush Administration has indeed been rather expensive for the “regular folks.” I agree, if it can “trickle down,” it should also “trickle up.” :0)

  • http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer Philip Brewer

    Fifteen years ago, it was a pretty effective counter to the Clinton healthcare plan to ask people “Do you want your healthcare delivered with all the competence and compassion of the Post Office?”

    I don’t think the question would have the same effect any more. Anybody who’s had to deal with a health insurance company or HMO in the last few years would say, “Yes, please! That’d be so much better than what I’m getting now.”

  • miranda

    I agree Philip!

    Even with the “good” health insurance plan I have, I am disappointed with the inefficiency.

  • Dude

    Your reasoning is flawed from the beginning. The question is why do we *need* health insurance anyway?

    Human civilization survived 200,000 years without health insurance but the world will come to an end unless every person has a BlueCross health insurance card?

    Why not have the free market decide what doctors get paid for with each particular service?

  • miranda

    Interesting point, Dude. Of course, life expectancy and living conditions were generally terrible. But if we just allowed those with difficult conditions to die, I suppose it would solve a lot of problems.

    But it would be hard to convince many Americans that they should have the same sort of healthcare (or lack thereof) in undeveloped countries. We’ve hit a point where we expect a certain degree of healthcare and where we expect certain living conditions.

    As for free market, I suppose it might work. While I could afford my occasional doctor visits, I’d be hard-pressed if I had a serious accident to be able to pay for it. My uncle, even if “free market” forces (another something that would be difficult to introduce under our current system and norms) were at work, would probably not be able to afford his lymphoma treatments. As it is, he may be in serious trouble…

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  • http://www.myfrugallife.com/blog_pamphyila.html pamela ruth munro

    My experience with Nat’l Health in Britain was very positive. The basic facilities were sturdy & not modern – but who cares about that? I didn’t have to SUE anyone to get an xray on my leg for a slip & fall in a supermkt! And then I had years of the HMO Kaiser – it’s no frills but mostly adequate – I thought it had problems until because of my husband’s job we switched to Blue Cross – even sketchier – no central records – it’s anonymous clinic care – worse than Kaiser!! At least Kaiser has its own lab & xray facilities and you don’t have to wait HOURS on line to get served! Actually, the care I got at the Hollywood Sunset Free CLINIC was more personal that I got at KAISER & they could get me meds!

    By the way, do you realize that the Feds are BIG into health care already what with MediCare and so on? More than 1/2 of the hospital billings are through government agencies. So the process has already started. The very poor are provided for, the disabled are provided for, vets are supposed provided for, the aged are provided for – so why don’t we close the gap and give at least bare bones clinical care to the middle class who presently is paying thru the nose for it, if it can get it AT ALL.

  • miranda

    Thanks for sharing, Pamela. It’s always good to hear from someone who as actually experienced universal healthcare, rather than always hearing the mantra from those at the top that people in other countries hate their socialized healthcare.

    Yes, the government already spends big time on healthcare. So it wouldn’t be THAT expensive to re-do the system and get everyone else on it.

  • britbod

    May 15, 2008 at 4:08 pm
    “… the mantra from those at the top that people in other countries hate their socialized healthcare…”

    what mantra? criticising the NHS in Britain is like saying you hate ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and torture puppies for fun on the weekend. most people view any attack on it in the same vein as if you mugged their granny.

  • miranda

    In Britain, maybe, but here in the US, we’re told that people in countries with universal healthcare dislike their system. The mantra here in the US (and maybe I should have been clearer in my comment), especially from those at the top, is that America has the best healthcare system in the world, and that people in other countries want our system. We’re constantly being treated to stories about how much Canadians dislike their socialized healthcare and how Britons wish their system was efficient like ours.

  • http://www.leadershipturn.com Miki

    What else would you expect? The healthcare mess is a war, so whyever would you expect the propaganda, er, news, to be any truer for tit as for the other war?

    Heh, universal health care = WMD:)

  • miranda

    Good point, Miki! It’s all about convincing us that we really are happy to pay more for less…

  • dad dude

    To Dude….You’re reasoning is simplistic and imature. (You’ve obviously had no-one who is ‘close-to-you’ ..in a life threatening situation. )
    As a Country with (omg) ‘the government involved…. we’ve eradicated ‘polio’ ‘small pox’ ‘mumps’ and almost completely eliminated diseases that people used to die from regularly, like ‘measles’ ‘malaria’ ‘influenza’ and Several others.
    I agree with you that, we don’t need ‘insurance companies. But we can do more if we pool our money for research than a ‘single company’ could ever do on their own. We never would have gone to the moon if it was a ‘free market’ because there was NO profit in it. ( till decades later, and those were companies contracted by the Government ) We’d never have had the ‘Pony Express/Post Office’.. ‘RailRoad/shipping industries’ … education….libraries….highways … airlines ….etc. The start-up costs we’re astronomical and the return wouldn’t be realized for decades…. not exactly a good business model,…even today. But those things were ‘KEY’ to everything we now call the United States of America.
    I say screw the free market …What has it really done for us.? All ‘great’ USA achievements were accomplished as a ‘NATION’ and not as an independent corporation in the ‘free market’. ( unless you think of Coca-Cola as a great accomplishment of our Country ) Altough I really think ‘Levi’ may be the exception. The ‘FREE MARKET’ only works locally, not globally.

  • Paul

    There already is a case for socialism in health care. The markets are not free despite the current mythology; patients are not able to choose their providers, reimbursements are fixed, defined by the government based on the concept of relative value. Reimbursement to hospitals is fixed based on DRG which are not related to costs. Therefore, even thought the expenditures for health care is increasing we do not know that the “costs” are increasing. Physician reimbursement is also fixed and dictated by the government, even if the services provided by some physicians are better, more complete, and providing patients with more options and education. We all witness this as the time spent by physicians is declining even when the complexity of treatments is increasing, there is less education and more testing resulting in increasing charges. Therefore it is critical, whenever discussing health care, to please distinguish costs versus charges. This is often overlooked. The cost of tylenol might be 2 cents while the charge is $10.00. At the very least, everyone should pay the same cost whether they have insurance or not. Currently, pharmaceuticals charge what ever they want and such charges are not related to costs at all. Rather the charge is related to the profits.

  • miranda

    Thank you for weighing in, Paul. You make interesting points that the insurance companies have, in large measure, a good portion of the control. Indeed, I have heard some argue that with the way “groups” are set up to set premiums for everyone in that category, and the way that insurance companies set terms, we already have socialized health care. It’s just that the insurance companies are in charge, rather than the government, and we have to pay for it.

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  • reb

    Good approach to explaining what already exists in America. Let’s not forget our socialized military, even Fed’s, state and local gov’s….. Our form of capitalism only
    truly supports the wealthiest, and they keep getting more of that wealth because our
    population is so ‘STUPified’ over that scary term these powerful capitalists borrow on so often, Socialism.