Any Valid Social Contract Requires Universal Health Care

Posted by – February 21, 2007

Any Valid Social Contract Requires Universal Health Care

That’s Not Socialism, It’s Judaism

My last blog post, Vigorously Insisting On A More Perfect Union: Fighting Cuts, Demanding Universal Health Care garnered a good response over at MySpace and here at blogspot where I always simulcast the blog.

The first response I got was this:

Universal health care is socialism. As of now, this isn’t a socialist state. You want free health care, move to a socialist society. Leave our free enterprise alone. I don’t want the same government who gave us the response to Hurricane Katrina determining whether or not I can get medicine. If you were wise, you wouldn’t want it either.

I’m intimately familiar with this kind of right-wing lunacy. I remember when notorious (and now-indicted) Republican leader Tom DeLay stood on the House steps and told the media that “forced taxation” and “redistribution of wealth” through social programs for the poor was “socialism” that must be defeated. This isn’t just some marginal view, it is the core philosophy of the Republican party and it animated their campaign for tax cuts. It also spent the past three decades slashing, undermining and removing social programs. Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, FEMA, the Dept. of Education: that’s all “socialism” to them, suspicious, the enemy, to be stopped. And when we elect people for years who are openly against government, who think government is part of the problem and not part of the solution, we shouldn’t be surprised they’ve presided over dilapidated, underfunded agencies who cannot respond to our needs. This undercutting of government in turn forms a self-feeding cycle of the people hating government more and more and electing more anti-government politicians. Being in Alabama, I am intimately familiar with this idiocy.

This is so wrong, and I have to write a blog in response. We can debate the broad issue of socialism another time; but I must insist that universal health care is NOT socialism any more than public roads and schools are socialist; it is simply a necessary baseline of any civilized society. The whole point of forming a society, a government, in the first place is to accomplish what we cannot do as individuals. Since we (hopefully) moved beyond the “survival of the fittest” jungle, we formed a collective, a social contract, that if we elect some among us to govern, if we agree to send money (and sometimes soldiers) to support this collective, we, in exchange, expect the government of, by, and for the people (that isn’t some foreign imposition but IS us. an expression of our desires) to provide for each other’s basic needs, basic justice, basic morality. We expect safety and security. We expect safe and well-paved roads. We expect basic education. We expect not to die of disease just because we can’t fork over enough protection money to the latest health care robber baron. In short, we expect the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is exactly the social contract Martin Luther King described in his famous I Have A Dream Speech:

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.'”



What I am telling you is that America has also given their disabled people a bad check, a check that has bounced literally due to “insufficient funds.” They are shoving us into back room wards or simply onto sidewalks unattended due to insufficient funds. They are leaving people without help with basic hygiene for days because “sorry, budget cuts this year.” Tax cuts for ExxonMobil were more important.

The private sector is not interested in giving people free health care, and charities don’t even attempt the billions that it would require. Like roads and schools, this is something individuals can’t do and look to government to provide. Those who would label universal health care socialism would likely also label universal education socialism, and almost all government socialist. They believe government should not tax you to distribute money elsewhere, the very point of having a government. So they have left our infrastructure in tatters, our bridges unsafe, our children uneducated, our disabled left in their own feces. This ideology declares war on the social contract; it seeks to melt the very glue that binds society together, and has been frighteningly successful.

To those who do not believe in government helping people, and have left our citizens to the jungle, I say your ways have proven destructive, please step aside and let those who believe in government begin to repair the damage.

Giving people the care they need is not socialism, it’s Judaism. It’s Christianity. It’s Buddhism. It’s Islam. It’s mandated by nearly every religious tradition and moral code, going back to the Code of Hammurabi: “to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land… so that the strong should not harm the weak.” There is separation of church and state, but there should never be separation of decency and state, especially in a democracy, where the sovereign IS the people, and the government an expression of their will.

It was Moses who said “If there be among you a needy man, one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates, in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy hand from thy needy brother; but thou shalt surely open thy hand unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wants” (Deut. 15:7-8) it wasn’t Karl Marx who said that.


Moses with the Tablets, by Rembrandt


And government should never be a foreign body walled off from the pain of its employers, the people. The government should provide for the basic decency that morality demands, or we better change governments!

I yearn for the day that everyone sees as I do that we must abandon this immoral system that lets sick people die if they aren’t rich, this system that is essentially as violent as “give us more money or die.”

And I will not back down. I’ll keep calling out and speaking truth to the powerful belligerents against the social contract and toppling every tyrant and latter-day Pharaoh.

I’m from the tradition of Moses, who wasn’t afraid to say “let my people go, motherf**ker!”

Nick

  • autoegocrat

    I just found your blog, and I think I’ll be visiting here frequently. What a freaking great post.

    There is nothing particularly revolutionary about social justice, except that we live in what George Orwell called “times of universal deceit.”

    “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”

    A just society is not socialist any more than a healthy community is communist. It’s just a name they use to demonize those of us who oppose their selfish agenda.

    I’d bet dollars to donuts that you don’t get Air America radio in your neck of the woods, so I feel the need to recommend to you the Thom Hartmann Show, which you can podcast for free from the White Rose Society.

    Download today’s show and listen to the first segment, Thom actually debates a guy from the Ayn Rand Institute who, just like you say, wants to abolish public education.

  • Nick

    Thanks so much for your compliments. I appreciate it!

    I love Air America, I podcast a lot of their stuff too.

    I don’t know how to contact you, but I hope you keep reading!
    🙂

  • Anonymous

    Wingers used to brand anything they didn’t like as “communism”. Then the USSR fell apart, so now they brand it all as “socialism”.

    It’s just meaningless word abuse, most of these people have no clue as to what the word “socialism” means, and when it is explained to them, they argue that the meaning of the word has changed through usage. And I quite agree with them, the meaning of the word “socialism”, in the United States of America, circa 2007, is simply “whatever a Republican leader does not want to happen, especially if it would benefit anyone not of the wealthiest class”.

    Why is granting special contracting rights to Halliburton not described as “socialism”? Why are special exemptions from taxation for the wealthy not “socialism” for that class? Apparently, gifts of tax monies for special projects is not “socialism” IF THEY ARE GIVEN TO THE ALREADY WEALTHY. The Chrysler bailout in the 70’s was indeed described as “socialism”.

    If you don’t NEED government money, then you can get it without being called “socialist”. That’s the twisted logic of the Republican elites.

  • Nick

    Well put!

  • Skal

    Nick:

    If you ever want to contribute somewhere else, us guys at http://worldnewstrust.com would love to have you.

    You got the Burnin’ Mojo and The Black Cat Bone, bubba.

    But, you know that the people who responded so negatively to you will be the first in line for every program and benefit they can get their greasy lunch hooks around, come crunch time, don’t you? 😉

  • abi

    Great post.

    It amazes me that people are so afraid of the word “socialism” that they deny medical care to 47 million Americans.

    It also amazes me that a country that so loves to call itself “great and good” can’t figure out a way to provide health care to all its citizens, as virtually every other industrialized nation has done.

  • Susan the Neon Nurse

    This is excellent stuff. I came here from Supergee’s link, and I am so impressed I am going to try to make a link myself, and share your words with my friends at ProgressNow.org!

  • Power To The People

    Bravo, Nick!

    You are wise beyond your years and have the soul of a fighter; keep taking the battle to them.

    I AM a Socialist, and proud to be one because I believe in the social contract and that the life, health and well-being of my brothers and sisters IS a worthy concern.

    Stand up for what’s right with Nick, people. As Ben Franklin said, “If we don’t hang together, we will most assuredly hang seperately.”

  • Nicholas D. Rosen

    If any valid social contract requires universal health care, then there can be no valid social contract, because a government-run system, like a private system, must fall short of universality somehow.

    With a government health care system, the government will necessarily say No. No, you can’t have treatment right away, but must wait months for surgery, even if you die in the meantime, or your cancer grows beyond what surgeons can hope to entirely remove. No, we don’t cover acupuncture, or chiropractic, or psychological counselling, or birth control, or whatver it is you think you need. No, we don’t provide drug A, only drug B, which is much cheaper, and usually works just as well. If you find that drug B doesn’t work for you, or has horrible side effects, and you think drug A might save your life, too bad. Governments have limited resources, too, and will have to balance national health against national defense, law enforcement, protecting the environment, public education, providing various goodies for politically influential people, and so forth. And then there’s the problem of keeping taxes low enough that the productive don’t all flee to some place with lower burdens.

    Inevitably, enacting government health care will make some people worse off, even while saving the lives of others. Not only will the government not pay for something you want, it will make it impossible for you to buy it for yourself, either by nationalizing medical care in toto, or by taxing you so much to pay for other people’s medical treatment that you can’t afford what you or your family need.

    There are tragic choices to be made, and it is not clear to me that government medical care will be more humane in its effects than private medical care.

  • David

    People should be plenty afraid of socialism. First it is a lie that health care is being denied 47 million people. Some People just have to pay for it directly.
    http://dovercitizen.blogspot.com/2007/02/necessity-for-undestanding-true-nature.html
    I must say that more evil has been done in the name of the common good than we would like to admit. As strongly as I believe in the common good, I cringe when I hear it used in a political context as much as I do when a salesman says he is going to give me a free gift. Why?

    The common good is based upon individual rights. It is just the collective representation of those rights. Like Hugo Chavez, most government planners and regulators seem to see the common good in opposition to the individuals rights.

    The keys to a free society are tolerance, respect, equal access to protection, and self determination.We have to distinguish between what we don’t like and what hurts us. I did not like the glow worm green a neighbor painted his house, yet I would fight for his right to paint it whatever color he wants. If my neighbor wanted to paint burn the n–r’s house down, that would be different. Why? One is just differing tastes and the other is a threat of violence. The duty of government is to protect the individual so we have a consistent standard and not the changing emotionalism of mob rule or vigilante justice.

    Government has a duty to allow you exercise to your rights because that is the reason we formed it. Government was not formed to force a uniformity of lifestyle. It was formed so we could all live our lives based upon mutual respect and self determination.

    The law has no power but that which the individual can concede to it. I have a right to protect my life, liberty, and property. By social contract, I have hired the government to be my agent for that job. I do not have the right to tell my neighbor how big his house should be (unless it crosses my property line or is unsafe) or what color his house should be. The government does not either.

    If we remember that the government is a collection of individuals to protect themselves, their rights, and their property, we will be more likely to let it stay on purpose. The government is a most wonderful tool if we use it for its purpose.

  • Nick

    To David: I don’t see much disagreement with what you’re saying.

    To Nicholas: I’m planning a new blog to respond to your comment, which is based on several false assumptions, mainly that–
    1) if we can’t make it perfect, we shouldn’t try. if followed, this argument would ban all our endeavors
    2) that we don’t already have government-funded health care. we do have government-funded health care, it just sucks ass.
    I’m trying to fix it.

  • Anonymous

    Someone needs to pull out your plug Mr. Communist, then you won’t have to worry about health care, free or othewise!

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  • Ben E

    We have universal healthcare in the uk – it’s called the NHS. We also have private healthcare for those who want more expedient service (and can afford it). The advantage of the NHS is that it sets a very high baseline for quality of care, which means that the private sector really has to sing for its proverbial supper instead of taking advantage of the fact that at some point in our lives we’ll all need medical attention. So we have a good level of care for which we are taxed and a better level of care for which we can choose to pay – Liberal Economics and conscience in the same system.

    Governments have risen and fallen on the performance of the NHS so we almost take it for granted that if we get ill then we won’t need to worry about how we’re going to afford it. There are some situations where drugs have denied (e.g. advanced cancer) but we can still take the government to court.

    The fact is the US has a terrible healthcare system (at least the US expats I know think so) and it’s interesting how the people who don’t think so have always had good health insurance.

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  • CraCKerJaCk

    amazing post!! I’m debating with someone right now on this issue, and am quoting your arguments. I hope you don’t mind- I did mention your name!

    Kudos nick, and very nice to meet you!

  • rabidquill.com

    It’s all about whether you condone the use of force in bringing about a virtuous society. The commandments of God — especially those in the OT — were His outline for the Hebrew people telling them how they should act, lest the horrifying consequences of Sin under the Old Covenant come raining down upon them. Even in the Old Testament it relied upon voluntary participation in virtue. The Hebrews abandoned God repeatedly, yet even back then he didn’t incinerate them at the first sign of defiance.

    We have seen time and again that the use of force (also known as government) to redistribute wealth, or coerce producers to give away their products to the needy, only results in skyrocketing prices, shortages, and eventually chaos.

    http://www.downsizedc.org/blog/2007/aug/23/death_by_government

    The free market is not the domain of the selfish. Freedom (social AND economic) under a restrained government is the most humanitarian form of government possible. Yes. God said sharing is superior. But God also said stealing is wrong.

    Do not be deceived: government is nothing more or less than force. The use of government should be restricted to those things you would kill someone over.

  • rabidquill.com

    Okay, that last sentence was a bit extreme. But I hope you caught the point.

    It is important to understand that there is a difference between the elites who call themselves “conservative” and what actual free market economics is.

    http://www.mises.org