Saturday, August 15, 2009

Popping-in on the US Healthcare Debate

Day 3 in Washington, a bit of sightseeing before the LabourStart conference begins.

I cannot say 'hi' to an American without being asked about the Canadian medicare system. I can't remember anything since perhaps the Meech Lake referendum (and mebbe not even then) that would compare to this.

The Big Lie approach alive and well. Some truly bizarre TV adverts, and while news from the politically-biased or affiliated networks like Fox is quite bizarre at the best of times I gather, it has now have gone quite loonie. After watching Fox for an hour you begin to wonder if the bit of Canada you live in is the only part where you need government approval to take a leak or get out of bed in the morning, where people aren't camped out at hospitals begging for treatment.

'Town Hall' meetings where people show up wearing handguns or waving rifles, making the point that they will defend their right to live (and die) without state-supplied medical care, stories about 'militias' (not really, more like private armies made up of right-wing loons with automatic weapons) getting ready to defend their communities against forced euthanasia and more. One such was interviewed about his 'preparedness' while he was making bombs out of dynamite.

I'm hoping and assuming much of this is the news media focussing on the nutters, but it's hard to tell and there's so much of it...

Hard time yesterday at the liquor store convincing people that government committees don't order euthanasia when the cash register is empty or to a quota set by some committee of bureaucrats somewhere, that politicians, budgets and bureaucrats don't decide whether I get my tonsils pulled. All the opposed had stories that (a) were quite crazy, and (b)they were convinced were true.

Our beer got warm while I tried, and failed, to explain how we see medical care as a civic right, like voting or freedom of expression or garbage collection, fire and police services.

Sad. And very odd.

One fun thing: most white Americans we have spoken with are opposed to Obama's anemic plan, all Black and Latina/os either in favour or are curious about how our system works.

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