Yo, America! How Health Care (Really) Works in the Great White North – Your Myths, Misconceptions, and Misstatements (Part One)

“See Sue Run” political cartoon designed by Barry Deutsch via Leftycartoons

Nothing like the often brutal and largely ill-informed American commentaries about “Canadian socialized medicine” to set yer obedient scribe’s teeth on edge and raise serious questions (not for the first time) about the most remarkable of intellectual inconsistencies – the United States as the world’s (still) leading economy, a seething cauldron of spirited intellectual exchange, resolute defender of free speech, where the erudite and the idiotic (hi, Nancy G) have equal rights….and its numbing insularity, one that rivals the penetrating world view of a newly discovered Iron Age Amazon tribe.

I observed in my previous commentary concerning the United States Supreme Court’s recent (and narrow) endorsement of the Obama health care legislation that – for once – your Federal judicial branch found its otherwise maddeningly missing mojo on a crucial and nation-defining issue. America– read these Canuck lips: you must have universal health care, or your nation will disintegrate, the latter day Incas on the Potomac, dead in a mere generation.

When I was a killer kid debater in the analog 1970s, our coach preached success based on the seemingly counter-intuitive principle that one must take  your opponent’s most compelling argument, and flip it like a Scotsman’s caber, end over end, until it strikes  your adversary square in the pillbox (you may be surprised — I went to an all-boys school).  And so it is with the capitalists and Christian evangelicals who move the American right in lockstep descent into madness that is opposition to “the Canadian healthcare way”. To the erstwhile American captains of industry that scream blue bloody murder about destructive, inevitable and out of control Obamacare costs? Newsflash – we socialists above the 49th spend 11.5 % of our GNP on health care, and the putative white knights of the American right now live under a regime where 18%+ goes in that direction. Hmmm….a workforce that can be universally protected from most medical catastrophes, with obvious greater likelihood of remaining upright and productive for the greater good of  your bottom line, at 50% less cost to the nation at large? Hmmm, again…

To the Christians who decry Obamacare as a God-less socialist blight, I offer this brief and heartfelt homily, one weird Anglo-Catholic extending his intellectual refreshment to those who are weary and heavy laden. The physician St. Luke (his professional training a nice irony in the present context) quoted Jesus on His assertion as to the most important of the Ten Commandments. For the truest and best of all Christians, it was an easy call – Love thy God, and love thy neighbour as thyself. I ask these putative modern day American true believers that align themselves so fervently in the cause of the Republican Party opposition to universal health care this simple question – how does one truly do unto others if your philosophical attitude to government taxation and the care of those who are ill prevents 30 million of ones ‘neighbors’ from acquiring protection from the ever-present risk of ill-health? What would Jesus do? He would utter something snappy in his native Aramaic (or possibly Hebrew) that approximates “What the fuck! How can anyone be so cruel? Pay a little! Your reward will be here and in Heaven! Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s….you know the rest! Do your part!”… So endeth the lesson.

How the Canadian system works (and sometimes fails) is my Part Two.


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