Health Care: A KSCO Listener’s Comments and Questions

Below is a piece from a listener to my radio program, “Facts Matter,” aired on KSCO 1080 AM. Sundays 11AM-1PM. (Also on the Internet.) He is Peter G.

My own response  (JD’s)  on Peter G’s piece is in a comment appended to this piece.

Your position on the health care debate, which I know you are sick of, fascinates me, although I don’t fully understand it. I remember one day on your show many months ago you did address the fact that France has a reasonably effective form of universal health care, a “fact” that the World Health Organization seems to confirm. As a well-traveled American, I take the position that western European style socialized medicine, while not perfect, is the best system this sad planet has come up with to date.

But lately I only hear you rail against Obama and liberals who at least are holding the ugliness of American health care up to the mirror, and trying to address the “fact” that privatized medicine doesn’t seem to be working as well as socialized medicine.

So putting the petty peeves of American politics aside for a moment, and knowing what we know about health care on both sides of the Atlantic, the question is, how do we move forward? What would Jacques do?

About Jacques Delacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
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4 Responses to Health Care: A KSCO Listener’s Comments and Questions

  1. jacquesdelacroix says:

    Thanks, Peter.

    I am on record, on the air and on this blog, saying that I have experienced the French single-payer system of national health care and that I think it works well. It also costs the French about half of what we pay in this country, on the average for health care. Frenchmen live a little more than two years longer than American men. (Of course, other factors than health care matter more in longevity. Yet, if it were two years less, American conservatives would be using the figure, no doubt.)

    Nevertheless, I am dead set against Obamacare. Here are my reasons, in order of descending importance:

    Free people make their own decisions. Every time the federal government increases its sphere of power, I lose some freedom. 15%, soon 20% of GDP is an enormous enlargement.

    We don’t know what’s in Obama care. The President and Democrat reps have been contradicting themselves, and other spokespeople from the White House. President Obama still has not told us clearly what he wants.

    Proponents of Obama care have been selling their ideas with very big lies throughout the media, for several months. One of the big lies is the “47 million un-insured.” Another is the no “tax raise” pledge, maintained even after the Congressional Budget Office stated that the President’s figures don’t add up.

    I respond to deceitfulness from declared statists and re-distributionists. It would take someone from my side of the aisle to bring me around, at this point.

    It’s a mistake to assume that we can pull off what the French do seemingly routinely. They do coq-au-vin right every time, for example, American restaurants, almost never. The French are consummate bureaucrats. They have a been at it for a long time. Their bureaucrats are, on the whole, much better than ours.

    I know there is rationing of health care now and I am not satisfied wit the way it’s done. Nevertheless, I don’t want it done by government authorities, (the same who run the Post Office and CIA interrogations, take your pick). If we allow it, at some point, a future federal government might be tempted to use rationing as a way to reward and punish. I don’t mean Pres. Obama; make it a nasty, brutish, thuggish Republican administration of the future, if you wish.

    French doctors have never been prosperous. They did not need to be brought down as ours would have to be. Ours might leave the profession in droves.

    What would I do? First, what I would not do:

    I would not use stealth to transfer control of 15% of GDP to the public sector. That is obscene!

    I would not act precipitously. That is also obscene.

    I would give myself two years, almost the remainder of my presidency, to facilitate a wide public debate about reforming health care (not health insurance). I would thus give time to the normal American informational and explication processes to work their usual miracle. For certain, a minimalist consensus would develop, the right place to start.

    An example: There is widespread agreement that health care has to become portable. Begin there.

    Like the leader of a democratic nation, I would prepare counterarguments to the predictable conservative arguments in favor of tax-free health-care saving accounts. I would do this instead of trying to quash them and instead of insulting those in favor as “un-American.”

    If the American health care system is as bad as Obamacare partisans claim it is, it’s been so for so long and we can surely take our time fixing it.

    What is the reason for the President’s urgency?

  2. Peter G. says:

    Thank you Jacques, I think you make some good points. I agree that such a massive proposal calls for lots of debate and discussion. The discussion itself a very healthy thing. Obama’s hurry, while it may be political, has had the positive effect of spurring this huge national discussion that will hopefully lead to some sort of consensus.

    The French system may be among the best, but as you know there is a whole Smorgesbord of socialized and semi-socialized systems that may serve as useful models for the USA. I STRONGLY recommend the work of Washington Post journalist T.R. Reid, who has just come out with a book comparing all the health care systems in the developed world with an eye for what may be a good fit here in the states — “The Healing of America”. He also did a documentary a few years ago — “Sick Around the World” — that was like a very level-headed, even-handed response to Michael Moore’s “Sicko”.

    If you haven’t already, please check out this link when you get a chance

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/

    A votre sante!

    Peter G.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      I am glad someone took the trouble to write a book about the topic and I hope many Democrats will read it. Myself, I think this is a different country and we have to start from scratch and act in accordance with our own original history. One thing I dislike about the Obama movement is its insistence that the US is just another western democracy, more or less like Belgium or like a large Austria, or Denmark. America saved the other guys’ asses, not once but several times. It wasn’t the other way around. There is a reason why. The reason has everything to do with everything we do, including health care.

  3. Peter G. says:

    Yes, but the contributions between the states and the rest of the world goes both ways. What I and many like-minded Obama-ites despair is that our giving has been increasingly all too often military rather than cultural. Throughout the course of US history, we were happy to adopt Greco-Roman democracy (or at least the architecture), the English language, Italian pizza, German brewing methods, Irish drinking habits, Japanese cars… need I continue? We are a hybrid culture that freely borrows what we like. The only reason health care is such an issue is because as a nation we’re still coming out of decades of Cold War hysteria that turned socialism into a bad word, the final taboo.

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