National Health, Surely?

This 'Obamacare' issue has them in a right tizzy over at Fox News. I tuned in to catch the end of Bret Baier's interview with Ol' Barry-Oh this morning. I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of this news network. Bret Baier is hilarious. He actually looks like Ron Burgundy. He acted like a student Journalist who had been told to go in to the White House, ask some questions and give the President a hard time. And Obama gives him the amount of respect that situation would deserve. You can see it in his eyes, "You, my friend, are an idiot. But your network has a lot of viewers so I have to answer your stupid questions". I find it hard to be objective here because whenever I watch Barack Obama I find myself swooning at how damn cool he is, but he comes across just as eloquent and intelligent as Baier comes across uninformed and ignorant. Give it a watch.

I've tried very hard to get my head around this health care bill. It baffles me. I find the whole thing very interesting because it is a cultural difference between the US and the UK that I have never truly understood - how can a person possibly go untreated for an illness simply because they can't afford it? How can that be allowed to happen? Or, if they are able to scrape the money together somehow, how can the Government sit back and allow their residents to go bankrupt or lose their homes because they got sick. Getting sick is just something that happens isn't it? People get sick and need treating. So they should be treated. Regardless of how much they earn.

I know it isn't as simple as that. America has a health care system that has been in place for years and works to a large extent. Your ability to get affordable health care comes down to your ability to maintain employment and there is a logic to it. Hard-working Americans get health insurance for their families and if you don't have a job, well, why should you be subsidised by the people that do? There is a logic to this way of thinking, I'll admit. I disagree with it, but what does my limey arse know? It has been working for a long time. Why change it?

Obama's health care plan would put control into the hands of the Government and make it a legal requirement for an American citizen to possess health insurance. It would take power away from the corporations who currently control (literally) people's lives, and put it into the hands of those kindly fellows in Washington. A lot of opposition to the Bill has come from people raising issues of trust and asking why Washington should have the power to decide what is covered and what isn't. My (American) mate Matt put it rather eloquently by saying that he trusts the Government a heck of a lot more than he trusts corporations who have a clear agenda when it comes to paying out for health care. I would whole-heartedly concur.

I was speaking to my old high school friend Stacey who left England for the States after meeting and marrying a Marine and now currently resides, with her husband and daughter in the glorious sunshine of San Diego, making her very easy to hate. We were discussing this Bill from the perspective of people brought up on the good ol' NHS and who found the concept of paying for medical care alien (I think Stacey put it rather nicely with the phrase, 'DUH! Sick person: treat them'). She was saying to me that to really get your head around Obamacare you'd have to have a better understanding of the American health care system as it is currently and, even after living Stateside for a number of year, she couldn't admit to comprehending it fully. She also told me how, being US military as she is, Americans expected her to object to the idea of paying for other people's treatment as she would be required to under Obama's Bill. This simply isn't the case. As an American citizen, her opinion is totally valid, although swayed as it is by her youth in the UK. I wonder how many of her neighbours share her views.

A major argument for the opponents of the Bill is that it will cost money the country simply cannot afford. $971 billion over 10 years. Or more. 1/6 of America's economy, in fact. Hey, guess how much has been spent or approved to be spent by America on the illegal Iraq War, up to and including September of this year? $900 billion.

So...let me work this out...

$971 billion - $900 billion = $71 billion! For new health care? That's a bargain!

In fact, I reckon Obama could probably get it done for a clean $70 billion. That'll leave an extra billion to keep this dickhead in doughnuts for another year.

As I've said, I've tried very hard to understand the new proposals and I really, really don't. I understand enough, though, to realise that any country's health care system that is allowing legal residents to die of treatable diseases needs changing up. I hope the Bill gets passed. And Barry, with his big brown eyes, says it will be. So I believe him.

Love, Smithy x


Postman said...

So what, mate? Are you in two minds here? I'm reading this and I'm getting the idea that you can see both sides of the story. I'd like to know what you think.

The liberal part of me (yes, I do have one; which is the reason I'm legally registered as an Independent and not a Republican) says "Sick person? Treat them. Don't care how much it costs, if they get sick, they oughta be made well."

The conservative part of me says "WHAT?!?! Entrust health care to the GOVERNMENT?! THIS government?! Are you crazy?! And have every freeloader and dole bludger in the States get free health care on my tax dollar?! No way, Jose!"

That conservative part of me also says "Spend 971 billion [or 970 or whatever] on a health care plan when we already owe our firstborn children to Red China?! Hell to the no! That money should be saved for fighting extremist, hate-filled, child-killing, back-shooting, cowardly ignorant backward Muslim buggers in Afghanistan and Iraq, irrespective of what all the naysayers declaim about this being an illegal war and all that other crap!"

You know, I'm beginning to suspect a note of sarcasm here about your sudden attachment to Fox News. I watched that very same interview and I got the exact opposite impression: that ol' Bret was the sole voice of reason and straightforwardness in the room, and Obama (who kept interrupting poor Mr. Baier) was sneakily dodging questions and saying things that, as an American, I frankly just couldn't believe. IGNORE THE PROCESS?! Are you effing KIDDING ME, Mr. President? The process is the most important part! This is the democratic principle our country was founded on! Don't you GET that?! And here you're telling the American people that YOU DON"T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT THE PROCEDURAL ASPECTS?!

Make no mistake, this health care system could use some reform. But not Obamacare. Even our dear mutual friend, Mr. O'Reilly, who has made a career out of politics and punditry and watch-dogging, has no clue what this health bill of Obama's is about. I don't, either, and I'm a reasonably well-informed citizen. It baffles me. If I understand it correctly, I abhor it. But that doesn't really matter to Obama and company, ever notice? The Dems are just trying to ram this bill through the House and Senate, irrespective of the bipartisan process, trying to ride roughshod over the opposing party, and COMPLETELY IGNORING people like me, millions of American citizens, who DON'T WANT IT! I've never seen such an administration (or a party, for that matter) that so willfully ignored the wishes of the people who gave THEIR CONSENT TO BE GOVERNED! These guys are either closet totalitarians, or they have no clue how the democratic process works, or BOTH. Either way, it's disgusting.

Now, that's where I'm coming from. How about you?

Good post. Again, I'm glad you're writing as often as you do; you always have something thought-provoking/hilarious/vivifying to say. Keep it up, pal.

spitfire said...

I feel a little under-represented here Smithy my friend lol, surprised to be mentioned at all, I would have discussed it more with you if I knew you were looking for a soundbite!

I am definitely under-informed about the whole thing to really have an opinion but my lovely republican fellow military friends have given me their opinions often enough and even though we do not pay for our health care - it's covered by the government/taxes or something - one person in particular was absolutely outraged at the thought of his taxes paying for someone else's healthcare when that person might be perfectly capable of working or be a "drug addict who doesn't give a sh*t". Fair nuff.

My particular stance and why I AGREE with the "ignore the process" stance is that the universal healthcare already exists for the military. The current set up for military insurance has so far given me nothing but exactly the same sort of care as I had with the NHS, so the system CAN work, and DOES work, I don't really understand why the same sort of system can't be implemented for the whole country.

I abhor that under current military insurance, if I am 100lbs over weight I can have my insurance (which I don't pay for) cover my weightloss surgery - what?! Why?! If I'm married to the military or the military member, I have no excuse or reason to be THAT over weight. NONE. So why should insurance/the governemnt/taxes pay for that to be fixed? I definitely agree that this is non-life-threatening and should NOT be covered. However, the basic principle that if I get an infection from a cut at work, I should be able to have access to affordable antibiotics. I should have access to preventive medicine to get the tetanus shot after a cut at work. This is what I DO have, without paying... why can't every American have that?

Smithy said...

Well, who says Americans don't have an ear for irony? Of COURSE I am being sarcastic about my affection for Fox News. I watch it in the same way people slow down and peer over their shoulder at a car wreck. I can't....look....away...I watch it reminding myself that if that is what Journalism is - I want nothing to do with it. I'd ask you to watch that interview again and have a look at who is interrupting who. If you still think Obama is interrupting, then fair enough. I think he only shuts Ron Burgundy up a couple of times in order to finish his answers.

Did he say 'ignore the process'? I didn't hear that. I think he is right to advise Americans to look past the process and not focus on wholeheartedly as Fox News is advising them to do. From what I understand there is no real problem with what the Democrats are trying to do, and is in fact a tried and tested process used by Republican and Democrat leaders alike. The only one who seems to have a problem with it is Bill O'Reilly. Who is not a 'dear, mutual friend' by the way. Again, sarcasm. He's the driver of the car that crashed.

"That conservative part of me also says "Spend 971 billion [or 970 or whatever] on a health care plan when we already owe our firstborn children to Red China?! Hell to the no! That money should be saved for fighting extremist, hate-filled, child-killing, back-shooting, cowardly ignorant backward Muslim buggers in Afghanistan and Iraq, irrespective of what all the naysayers declaim about this being an illegal war and all that other crap!"

The paragraph of yours that I've quoted sums up completely what I find so frustrating about American foreign policy, and about this healthcare debate in general. Fighting Muslims (?! Why was Muslim in that list??) should be way down on your country's list of prorities, way, WAY behind providing adaquate health care for each and everyone of your residents. The same goes for the UK. We have immigration problems and rising crime rates which I believe would not have occured if focus had remained on ourselves rather than shuffling around the Middle East taking orders from George Bush.

I believe that if Americans need this Bill to be passed. I think that it is a lot of fuss about nothing, personally.

And I think that if Fox News is the number one news channel in American, there are greater problems facing your country than health care reform.
Stace - I'll get to you later. I must go to work...

Smithy said...

Yeah Stace...sorry if I under-represented you. I probably should have warned you that I was grilling you for my blog! Ha, I wasn't really. It was just that I realised later that your status as a British expat in the States was interesting in this case.
My utter incredulity towards Obamacare's nay-sayers begins to crumble when I am confronted by situations like that morbidly obese woman, or drug addicts, or the lazy and unemployed. Every country has them. Hell, Britain has enough of them. It's the same with the families who choose not to get jobs and just keep spitting out children as they'll make more from benefits than if they got the minimum-wage job they are qualified for. It's disgusting. It takes the piss out of a perfectly good system.
But these people are in the minority. I think there are a lot more people who would benefit from health care reform in the States than there are people who would take the piss out of it.
And, in my humble opinion, it is better to give health care to a lazy, drug-addicted American than it is to fight the war in Iraq.
Priorities, Mr Post.

Postman said...

I was being sarcastic about pointing out your sarcasm, buddy.

Good point, you're right. Baier does cut in a few times.

Kudos to Obama for even consenting to talk to a representative of Fox News, too. I should've mentioned that earlier.

Yes, yes, I was using sarcasm there. You wouldn't touch O'Reilly with a ten-foot pole, right?

Hmmm...your priorities argument has some merit. This health care thing is a big issue. But I can't see how fixing the health care system (which is not an emergency...har har) is more important than preventing terrorists from flying into our skyscrapers. And those terrorists are predominantly Muslims, and those Muslims are predominantly fundamentalist, extremist pigs. Most of the Muslim population is no different from your God-fearing Christian population over here; they'd rather just keep their heads down and get on with it. It's these squeaky wheels and violent crazies that are the problem.

You know the reason why Fox News is number one? 'Cause every other major news network in the country drinks Kool-Aid and worships Obama five times daily, facing east toward Washington. That's the whole reason he got elected in the first place, y'know... To quote the documentary "Media Malpractice,"...

"...the liberal media was so taken with Obama that it refused to do its job."

It covered him, and only him. There were days when you honestly couldn't tell there was anybody RUNNING against Obama, McCain got so little coverage. Or worse, negative coverage. And that abominable SNL skit by Tina Fey only worsened matters. Thanks to misrepresentation, misinformation, and (to no small degree) public stupidity, a lot of Americans now see Obama as their savior (or did, before he began to prove he was anything but) and Sarah Palin as some kind of redneck idiot. Neither claim could be farther from the truth.

Would you mind telling me exactly why you think Obama is, as you say, so "damn cool"? (I really hope that's sarcasm, too.) Have you heard the things that are coming out of this guy's mouth?

I'm not prejudiced against Muslims, dude. I think we should nuke Tehran and Pyongyang out of existence, too.

Well, okay, maybe not. That would probably kill innocent women and children. [Heavy sigh] But I wouldn't object for a minute to blowing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il off the face of the planet. My dad and I were shaking our heads just the other night and condemning Jimmy Carter for outlawing secret assassinations.