A review of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid
Even when I considered the Left my political home I knew how effectively the movement could sabotage itself in its presentations of its ideas.
When I was in high school and saw Michael Moore’s anti-gun pseudo-docmentary “Bowling for Columbine” I walked out of the theatre with the exact opposite point of view that the notorious neo-communist propagandist had hoped to instill. I became pro-gun rights. Why? Because Moore was stupid enough to admit this fact: Canada has about the same level of gun ownership (per capita) as the United States but a fraction of the gun violence. Ergo sum: the staunch gun control of European countries was not the reason why they had fewer gun deaths. Government stepping in and trying to take away guns — in flagrant violation of the second amendment — would not reduce gun deaths. Moore’s unruly Oscar-winner fired shots all over the place, including through his foot. (Thus as a college leftist I could confuse my conservative friends by taking a second amendment position often to their right.)
In this regard, Journalist T.R. Reid’s popular paean for socialized medicine The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, might as well be called “Bowling for Obamacare.” Each of Reid’s 13 chapters are ultimately gutter balls, totally failing to demonstrate that a system of socialized medicine could actually work.
I read The Healing of America because one of my progressive friends insisted that I must. Throughout the last eight months of debating health care Reid’s book was his Bible. My friend sang of how great other countries systems were compared to our expensive, unjust, immoral abomination. So I decided to give Reid a shot to make his case.
Reid’s method is not to argue for any specific health care plan. Instead he goes globe-trotting, visiting France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Taiwan, India, and Switzerland. Reid explains the differences in each of these systems, talks about his personal experiences, and sings the praises of how superior most of these systems are when compared to the American system that fails to cover everyone.
But in chapter after chapter there’s a continual confession: these systems are running deficits. Reid talks about how in France they have to “reform” the system every few years to try and keep it afloat. But how long can foreign governments keep shuffling the debts around before the system finally collapses?
And how is it that other countries can manage to pay their doctors so much less than the United States does? Well, a system of socialized education in other countries ensures that doctors do not have the kind of six-figure student loan debt they do here in America. Socialized medicine requires socialized higher education. Such is the socialism snowball. The government absorbing one sector of society requires another and then another.
Reid also wants to claim that these other health care systems result in a healthier population. So he cites statistics like infant mortality rates to try and prove his point. But it’s quite clear that infant mortality is an inaccurate measure of the health of a country. Further, Reid does not bother to admit how other country’s markedly different cultures, diets and lifestyles affect the overall health of the nation. He cannot effectively link the means a country uses to pay for health care with things like life expectancy. There are just too many variables involved in the collective health of a nation.
Reid also shows his political ignorance. He does not bother to actually explain why our country has the system it does. Why is it that our country embraces a system where in most cases the individual is responsible for providing his own healthcare? One need only read our founding documents — the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Our country is based on the principle that the individual is responsible for himself. The sole purpose of the state is to ensure freedom for the individual. Other countries do not have this heritage of liberty. So of course nowhere does Reid even bother to ask, “Gee, are European-style health care systems constitutional? When our country was founded we were designed to do this?” Such questions have no relevance whatsoever to him.
All of these points I’ve raised are pretty obvious:
F) Such systems are directly at odds with the principles upon which our country was founded. The government was never intended to provide health insurance for every citizen.
So why can’t Reid see it? Why can’t my friend who insisted I read his Bible acknowledge this stuff? Why is it that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and President Barack Obama cannot grasp these points when they have supposedly been waist-deep in these issues for years?
It’s the same reason why Moore cannot even perceive that his own film refutes the gun control cause. The overwhelming psychological need to pursue “social justice” steamrolls over all contradictory facts. In confronting advocates of socialized medicine conservatives are not dealing with rational actors fairly pursuing the truth. They’re in a contest with True Believers whose minds were made up long ago. Understand this single point and all of a sudden the last year’s worth of health care “dialogue” suddenly make sense.
As conservatives near the endgame on the political fight over Obamacare that’s what needs to be kept in mind.