The healthcare debate is as boring and stupid as every other debate in the United States. Republicans accuse the administration of plotting to impose socialized medicine and compulsory euthanasia, while Democrats retort that their critics, who have not read the proposed legislation, are resorting to demagoguery because they have no effective counter-argument. Suffice it to say that both sides are lying, though some of the mud they are slinging is tacky enough to stick to the wall.
Of course the Republicans have not read the bill, but, then, neither has the President or most Democrats in Congress. Politicians do not read bills or think thoughts. It is their votes that are bought, not the minds they do not have. All that counts is what side they are on and who has bought it.
I really cannot bring myself to care who says what about whom. If Palin and Gingrich are to be the standard-bearers of any conservative movement, we had better ignore the entire issue and do something useful. Read the poems of Leconte de Lisle, smoke a cigar, say nice things to pretty women in a bar, take your kids fishing. Do anything, but enjoy yourself while you can.
The rudeness of the protestors is appalling. Yes, I know I know, the Left does it all the time. Leftists also do drugs and murder their babies. If this is the freedom of speech protected in the First Amendment, then damn Jemmy Madison and the Congress that passed the Bill of Rights. Just in case you were not already revolted by democracy American-style—the tyranny of demagogues based on consent of the stupid—we have the spectacle of these Town Hall meetings. What is there to get excited about? Yes, they are spending the country into the poorhouse, and yes we shall undoubtedly have an even worse system of medical care.
But, what did you think? That you could live for ever? Two weeks ago I quit taking my blood-pressure medication. I don’t feel well, but I am no longer a slave on the Swedish American health-plantation. The last time I went in to see the doctor, he said my blood pressure was a lethal 220/160. He wanted an explanation. I told him that his staff had treated me like an inmate in an asylum. After filling out a form they already had on file, a technician came into the room they had stuck me in and wanted to take it orally. She had forgotten the form in the office down the hall, and going through it again was easier. ”Easier for you, but not for me.” Her obvious hostility to the white man–she was African American–only intensified. I told the doctor–a nice Filipino–that the Swedish American staff had the kind of manners that could kill a heart patient. He shrugged his shoulders and said he knew they could always improve. If diet, exercise, and (ugh) clean living cannot save me, I can at least die free.
Nonetheless, there are two words used by conservatives in this debate that are worthy of closer scrutiny: one is socialism (or socialized medicine), and the other is euthanasia. It is, in fact, the link between the two that is most interesting.
It is important to distinguish between welfare policies and socialism. A people and/or a government may provide food and medicine to the indigent or set up a retirement insurance plan without embracing Marxism. For a health plan to be truly socialistic, it must be, at the very least, universal and it probably should be mandatory. Under socialized medicine, no one is exempt from payments into the program and in a perfect plan, no private medical care should be available. Obviously, people will find ways of cheating: Russian women offered sex to doctors willing to put them ahead in the line of women waiting for abortions.
But in principle, at least, under a socialist system everyone is in the same boat. A Canadian friend told me of the case of a friend of his, whose brother-in-law was chief-of-surgery in a major hospital, but could not get an urgent bypass operation scheduled in less than a year. His brother-in-law, who knew he would die long before that, put him under sedation until the operation.
Where socialism has been most successful is in Northern European countries, with a hard-working and fairly uniform population. Though there have been many problems in Scandinavia—decline of productivity, disappearance of marriage, an erosion of the work ethic—they come as close to succeeding as is possible for an anti-human ideology. In the 1950’s—and here I am just guessing—something like 90% of the Scandinavians were disciplined hard-working people.
What would be the figure in the USA today? We have an infantile and retarded under class that makes up something like 40-50% of the population—roughly, a third black, a third white, a third Hispanic. Some of these people work occasionally or even frequently; some are even hard-working, but they are morally incapable of accepting responsibility for their own lives. They do not pay health insurance, even if they can afford it, and do not save up for the rainy day when they come down with the flu, so they simply clog emergency rooms with every imaginable petty complaint. They know they are owed free treatment.
If socialism does not really work with Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans, imagine the nightmare it will be in this country, where the socialist programs we already have—Medicare, welfare, and some Social Security programs—have so corrupted the lower classes that they have become entirely servile.
But, as I said above, there is not reason to panic. We are all going to be dead some day. The American medical system, however, teaches us to live each day in bondage to death. Not dying—as opposed to living well–is the big objective, followed only by being healthy. This is exactly like our educational system that is not at all concerned with training minds to be intelligent and creative but is only interested in propaganda, basic literacy and job skills. Since they cannot really improve the performance of the stupid, they create equality by stultifying the intelligent. The result of the American Health Education and Welfare State is three generations of Americans who are stupid, timid, and servile, incapable of appreciating anything better than Michael Jackson and Desperate Housewives. They cannot even roll their own cigarettes; indeed, they don’t smoke, not because it is a stupid vice but because it will cut short their entirely pointless lives. There is truth in what we used to say in the good old days, “Anyone can quit smoking, but it takes a man to face cancer.”
Universal healthcare is like universal anything—education, food, gasoline, booze—it will have to be rationed. The simplest way of rationing is the queue: People get tired of standing in line and waiting for their operation. Some of them will die before getting treatment, which reduces the number of patients. One can also ration treatment at the beginning and end of life. In the beginning, it will be seriously defective babies, born and unborn, and terminally ill old people.
These people are not especially cruel. Zeke Emmanuel may be a perfectly kind man, as he claims to be, but there is no escaping the logic of Garret Hardin and Dick Lamm—honest men, both of them. In treating human life as organic material, they will find it necessary to distinguish between healthy, productive organisms (babies who are wanted by their parents–by whom they will be given proper indoctrination–and who will grow up to contribute to the IRS) and so much Soylent Green. That is the path they have walked part-way down in the Netherlands, but we can and will go much farther.
“That’s just what we’re saying,” scream the lying conservatives. But it is not. Apart from a few radical libertarians, conservatives support some form of the welfare state, some form of socialized medicine. The only questions they ask are questions of quality: How much? How costly? How fast? Without faith or joy in their lives, they too are obsessed with keeping their carcass out of the jaws of death. The only practical solutions would be quite simple—break up the government regulated insurance monopolies, set up Health Savings Accounts, provide low-cost basic treatment for the poorer classes, and, most important, give up the delusion that we can live forever.
I have already started my own moral and spiritual revolution. For the medical care this aging hulk might require, I am going to take an annual vacation to a free country like Mexico, where the price for pretty-good care and medicines is so low, it will pay for the vacation. I only hope I don’t have ” the big one” before I have a chance to take the trip. But if I go, what of it? My wife will miss me, but I won’t much miss what the world has turned into or rather what my generation has made of it.
My father, in his later years, used to say that he was happy that it was up to me, and not him, to live in this world. I am beginning to understand what he meant. He made the mistake, when the big one hit, of having bypass surgery, pacemaker, etc., which enabled him to drag on for six months of zombified existence. He should have been permitted to die quietly, in the fishing cabin where they found him.
As a people we have become so servile that we expect institutions to take care of us from birth to daycare to schools to college to support groups to hospices. Death with dignity cannot be managed in a government subsidized hospice that encourages you to anaesthetize yourself to death, listening to their bland professional reassurances. If I cannot die as a human being, with my loved ones gathered about me listening for the last pearls of wisdom to come slobbering out of my toothless gums, at least let me die as an animal. The song has it exactly wrong: I would like to be buried out on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free. In the meantime, I intend to live, not just to avoid death. As the fine old tribute to Rye Whiskey has it:
I eat when I’m hungry, drink when I’m dry,
And if whiskey don’t kill me, I‘ll live till I die.
That is all anyone can hope for.