Originally written on April 1, 2010
As an individual with a good grasp of twentieth century American Political history, the era of McCarthyism and the so called “red menace” has always been of particular interest. It has always seemed fascinating to me how certain ideas and social movements can be so polarizing due to the manipulation of said ideas and movements by a power structure that feels threatened when we, as American citizens, exercise our right to demand equality as guaranteed by the Constitution. Throughout the twentieth century, especially the latter half, Communism/Socialism has been a particularly effective tag to place on anyone who believes that we are guaranteed certain “inalienable rights.” These rights include: a sustainable wage for production (work); the right to shelter; the right to education and a right to elect representatives who truly represent the people who voted them into office rather than a small cadre of wealthy individuals or institutions who would lose their stranglehold on wealth and power if the majority were actually given these rights.
It is the idea of Communism that frightens those who control the means of production. In a simple Marxian context, the workers would control the means of production, meaning they control themselves, rather than the wealthy controlling the rest of us in order to exploit and maintain their control. It isn’t my intention to give a “dummy’s” guide to Communism, nor am I defending the historical realities of the failures of so-called Communist nations such as the USSR. My intent is to bridge the historical American fear of Communism/Socialism as an idea and instrument of change to the current, though recycled, hysteria that surrounds such ideas as “universal healthcare.”
The term “Socialist” is thrown around quite liberally by those who have no conception of what Socialism actually is. In reality, Socialism is ingrained in the fabric of modern America. We pay into Social Security with the hopes of the government subsidizing our retirement years. We pay taxes that provide education and public safety for all of us. Every one of these examples is a form of Socialism to a varying degree. So why, I ask, is the concept of a healthcare system that provides for every one of us so frightening to so many ill-informed people? In my mind, this is no different than being guaranteed education, Social Security benefits, Medicare and public safety, all of which are well-accepted forms of Socialism. Yes, I’ve heard the rhetoric: How will we pay for it? Why should I have to pay more in taxes when I’m already insured?
There is validity in such complaints, but the reality is, if one is covered through their employer, they are already paying a significant portion of their salary/wage into that coverage. More often than not, Doctor recommended and necessary treatments and procedures are denied because of the cost. I’ve heard the argument: “I don’t want some bureaucrat making decisions on my treatment.” With private insurance, the reality is: that is exactly what happens and why many individuals with rather minor medical conditions are denied coverage. That is the simple reality of a profit driven system. I’m not going to defend government bureaucrats over private/corporate bureaucrats; I have equal disdain for both. I do, however, believe we, as citizens, are entitled to affordable and quality healthcare regardless of socioeconomic status or pre-existing conditions. Yes, it may very well be Socialism, but Socialism is what this country has been built upon the last seventy odd years; without it, we would literally work ourselves to death as there would be no social security to retire on; not that it would matter, we would be too ignorant to mobilize against such tyranny without the free public (Socialized) education we were given.