Canadian Health Care – Lesson Two

SOCIALISM!!! For the Tea Party loonies, it is the maple leaf-shaped shadow, the dark spectre of Johnny Canuck that looms larger and ever southward to scare the living bejeezus out of the red staters, a foul-faced harbinger of American healthcare doom. Yer near and yet so far obedient scribe is certain the sad charade masquerading as contemporary US health care debate is driven by the eye-popping ability of the supposed pundits to twist and torture a simple concept beyond any sensible meaning. If Obamacare ultimately dies at the ballot box in November, it will be the greatest triumph of the unintelligensia since the Visigoths sacked Rome – or the ‘new’ Newt Gingrich foisted on his all-too-deserving public during the 2012 primary season.

Poor Socialism! Not so long ago, it was an honest option, like capitalism, trickle down economics, Keynesian pump priming, and Goldwateresque libertarianism — a divining rod employed by circumspect citizens to assess the merits of any plan. It could be accepted or rejected as the people might decide, just one tool in the philosophical kit bag that lent an additional perspective to national questions. Now, its sad carcass beaten beyond recognition, socialism is equated with Hell, its proponents are Godless freaks, its meaning pathetically conflated in the minds of febrile American conservatives, where socialist means ‘liberal’, ‘progressive’, ‘Democrat’, or any of the other foul fellow travelers that have polluted the Great Republic.

Not all American conservatives are this dumb. Nor are all of their often polarized and reflexive opposition big thinkers, either. But good ideas can come from anywhere, even Canada. So…let’s explore a fundamental proposition – socialism and socialized medicine are two different fish. The rest of the educated world agrees that socialism is best defined as a system of government that champions the equal sharing of land, its product and all national industry amongst all citizens. Socialism is unremitting sameness for all.

The average Canadian general practice physician earns over $250,000 per year, in our fair land where the typical household sees about $82K; plenty of specialist cutters and soothsayers are well into seven figures. I do not know many doctors who are socialists, and if the current wrangles now underway between the Canadian medical professionals and government paymasters are indicative, the docs will always get theirs.

I do not begrudge doctors fair recompense for their work. A sensible citizen understands that ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ are not the same, nor should they be. I would make a lousy socialist. The best society is one rooted in the principles of merit and honest achievement where the good, the talented and the deserving get their props, on strict condition that everyone keeps an eye on and a hand up (not out) available for those who are not so well-equipped.

The U.S. bozos who bleat about socialism in the context of the Canadian healthcare scene ought to open their eyes, look at today, and they’ll see things in a different way. Socialized medicine, people…where there is a single pay system, funded largely from the milk of the public teat, and yes, Virginia, your personal tax bill will increase. Everyone who needs healthcare is treated equally, for the greater good, because the relatively smallish chunk we all pay through our taxes for our universal Canadian system permits us to not worry so much about getting sick. It is that simple — and to the baying hounds that equate Obamacare with the devil’s work? Just like Churchill on democracy, socialized medicine is the worst possible system – except for all the others.