I have many friends in the U.S. and spend a lot of time there. It’s a place to which the promise of “freedom” has attracted millions of people from the world over.
But seriously, I’m confused about the concept of freedom in the United States, especially as it relates to fulfillment of basic human needs, e.g. health care.
For example, I have friends in the United States who are natural entrepreneurs – they have the ability, smarts and willingness to start their own businesses — yet are completely incapable of even contemplating starting their own businesses because they (or their loved ones) cannot afford basic health insurance without the help of an employer.
In other words, they are forced to seek employment which gives them health care benefits.
How the hell is that FREE?
Without a windfall of cash (i.e. lottery win or inheritance) my American friends are forever held captive in the grips of being an employee, rather than an employer… or at very least, self-employed.
To me (and from where I come), it’s not only free but also not very UN-demoocratic, ‘free’ or fair — unless of course your fellow citizens are completely selfish jerks .
If anyone needs a reminder: Democracy is a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, by consensus by direct referendum or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy).
Especially when you consider what other countries provide for their people as a matter of due course and respect — great health care regardless of your income or employment status.
In case you’ve been influenced by FOX news and have little knowledge of what happens in the world outside your borders, in MORE democratic nations where health care is accorded to all (i.e. Canada, France, Germany, England, Australia) people aren’t in fear of losing their homes or dreams due to illness. The state takes care of that most basic need – health care – and helps raise people to a level where they are healthy and able to choose which direction they want to take – employment or self-employment.
The issue seems fairly simple and Having that choice is real freedom.
Being forced into a job because you need the health insurance is NOT real freedom.
That’s my point of view.
If you can explain why you think the U.S. system is more free or fair in the pursuit of human dignity and freedom, please..go ahead and try…
I’m glad you asked this question. Things like this are such a hotbed of debate. I am a long time Obama supporter and supported the national healthcare directive as well and never understood why fellow citizens would act against their own interests. However something really troubling has come to my attention when I saw this video called “The Obama Deception”. I watched it out of curiosity and was pretty floored to learn of things like the fact that the Federal Reserve is a private organization and not really part of the US Federal government. It really should have been titled the Presidential Deception or the US Government Deception but I guess they had to use Obama’s name to get your attention.
Even more troubling is the idea of an elitist group playing chess with all of our countries and with all these issues. That the global depression was in fact created by this group because of a coming oil crisis and whatever else they thought they needed to manipulate.
I know this may be going on a tangent a bit off your healthcare question but it gives us some answers on why such a false news organization like Fox exists and why it is so powerful. This organization is a concern for all of our countries.
The link to the video is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw
I’m not sure what we can do at this point. I feel sorry not only for people in the present but people in the future.
Rosalind Gardner says
Although I haven’t watched the video you mentioned, the premise sounds much like a movie I watched a few months ago called “Zeitgeist: The Movie“.
I think we have to take all of that propaganda (right and left) with a grain of salt, knowing that both sides will say and do just about anything to achieve political power, not for the sake of the people but to increase their own wealth. Granted, the FOXers are much more inclined that way than the MSNBCers. 🙂
Are you referring to those countries who are now BROKE because they can’f fulfill all the socialistic promises they made? Free health care is a myth and eventually the bubble always burst. Thanks to the Tea Party and other conservative groups, the US is getting off the path of going broke before it is too late for us. True freedom is found only by keeping the government out of our lives…including our health care.
Rosalind Gardner says
I agree, there is no such thing as free health care. And what’s really interesting is that the U.S. pays more per person for health care than countries WITH universal health care.
As for being broke — the U.S. is already BROKE, what with China and the Fed holding most of it’s debt and a deteriorating ability to repay that debt.
On that basis, do you think that the Tea Party’s objective to kill all social services will build a healthier, stronger nation — or an even greater divide between the rich and the poor?
Well you are right, Canada is more like a democracy. US is not. US is a republic. Big difference, although we are starting to look much like Canada every day.
What good is national health insurance in Canada if you can’t get to a specialist when you need it, only in 6-12 months?
Since all the quality underpaid MDs have chosen to do something better paid, or left to the States?
And why would your friend in the US need health insurance to start a business?
And why could they not start a business While they are in a job?
Why would then they not just simply move to Canada?
Lots of gaps in your argument.
Rosalind Gardner says
I’m not sure where you get your info about the Canadian health care system, but you might want to read my reply to Lisa Marie.
As for all the quality MD’s heading south… I must enthusiastically disagree. Having lived in a number of different towns and cities across Canada, I’ve had a number of great doctors… the current one being one of the best.
I guess we see things from a more compassionate and moderate perspective here. It seems there is less desire to get stinking rich on the backs of the unfortunate as opposed to making a good income delivering a worthwhile service.
Re your questions about my friend. If you have a spouse or child who has a condition, you aren’t in a position to considering going without health care. Starting a business takes time, effort and money. If you are making a basic wage at a job, there simply may not be enough of any of those three to make the leap.
The ‘gap in the argument’ is that leaving the U.S.to pursue a life shouldn’t even have to be a consideration.
Marlin Palmer says
I think you confuse feedom with entitlement. Social benefits have nothing to do with freedom and are more a measure of social conscience.
Your friends have the same freedom to save money to purchase health insurance prior to starting a business as 100’s of thousands of Americans. Freedom doesn’t guarantee assistance from taxpayers to pursue individual goals and agendas. it guarantee’s you the right to pursue those goals while being responsible for the decisions you make.
The patient care act assures every American health insurance and in fact as a Canadian it guarantee’s that I can get health insurancein the USA.
Asf or democracy. How is Canada a MORE democratic country? We have political parties that won’t even allow non partisan votes in the house.My elected representatives don’t vote based on the views of constituency but instead are forced tovote along party lines. The USA has a much better record of bipartison bills and legislation.
Rosalind Gardner says
Thanks for weighing in and of course you are correct regarding some of my misuse of terminology.
You say that ‘Freedom doesn’t guarantee assistance from taxpayers to pursue individual goals and agendas’. However, the preamble to the Constitution specifically includes ‘…promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…’.
Being among the most elemental of humans needs, health care should qualify as ‘general welfare’ and yes, I consider it a basic human right, especially in nations as rich as ours.
Seriously, would you trade having universal health care with putting your kids’ aspirations at risk of being forever quashed simply because they became ill and couldn’t afford to pay the bills? What if you weren’t in a position to help? What of those who have no family or friendly support on which to rely? The only liberty they have is to remain forever poor or beholden to charity … provided they can access it.
Re democracy.. there hasn’t been much bipartisanship of late with endless filibusters. Seems more like politics for the sake of power than public policy.
Personally, I’d do away with the whole party system – each representative being independent.
What do you think? 🙂
Marlin Palmer says
I hate partisan politics and all it creates is expediency and gridlock. I would love to do away with party politics and have a slate of politicians whose obligation is to represnt constituents within a framework of nationhood.
Universal health care is not what we currently have in Canada though. We have a national health care system which is being rationed due to successive governments failing to provide adequate funding and the situation will only get worse based on demographics. Having been wait listed with a tumour and having watched Cathy be denied lythotrypsy and having to live with stints for as long as a year it infuriates me.
In a perfect world everyone would have health care unfortunately the current Canadian model is in need of serious revision. I don’ t pretend to have all the answers but I do know that I pay a tremendous tax load based on a promise of universal health care which isn’t being provided. In discussions with MP’s I have mentioned that in the private sector their actions would be consistent with breach of promise. 🙂
I don’t disagree with your view of health care but I believe Americans have the right to determine what they want and what they are willing to pay for.
I can get health insurance for Cathy and I in the U.S. for $500.00 per month which sounds like a great deal of money but as a resident of Ontario I pay a $1100.00 per year for health care and a substantially larger tax burden to receive inadequate health care. Currently with taxation and fee’s considered health care in the U.S. would be cheaper for me and it wouldn’t be rationed.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t disagree with you philosophically as far as what I would like to see in Canada. I think it criminal in a Nation of such wealth that health care is rationed and people are homeless, hungry and neglected.
A few weeks ago I left my office in Ottawa on a Saturday morning and as I walked across the lobby I could see a man that had collapsed on the street. People pretended to ignore him, stepped around him but no one helped him. I rushed out, called 9-1-1 and tried to comfort him until the paramedics arrived. What I witnessed has shaken my faith in people and actually made me embarrassed for my fellow citizens.
Kathy Fehl says
The myths surrounding the low quality of health care in other western nations have traction, but are not reality based.
The health care issue isn’t easy to solve, but here in the U.S. it bothers me that people have the attitude:’ if you want it, buy it. It’s a privilege, not a right.’
This attitude bothers me not just because it limits our freedom at the baseline as Rosalind points out, but because in fact the so called ‘free market’ health care we have here is anything but. The government (you and me, the taxpayer) loses over $300,000,000,000-that’s right, billion, dollars a year because this ‘privilege’ is tax deductible. Parts of health care also gets government grants. Many pharmaceutical companies pay no property taxes. And even more important, the whole thing is a monopoly. There are no competitive types of medical school. This limits innovation. Everything is price fixed, to insure profits. In other industries this can be challenged by anti-trust law. People blame the malpractice insurance for the high cost, but in fact the insurance companies that get the money are the same companies that charge for health care…collusion, perhaps?
When I think about it too long I think the whole business is enough to put Tony Soprano’s enterprises to shame. I think we have become totally confused as to what has made America great. We believe that accepting the charges for health care is okay, because somehow it’s the American way.
In fact, the opposite is true. Our country’s achievements and relative well-being were around (yes, past tense) because we the people limited the power of business.
I don’t really understand the troubles with healthcare.
People don’t mind paying taxes for fireservices, asphalt roads, public transport, police, even oversized military.
But they get all troublesome over something you’ll need far more in your life called healthcare.
I live in Belgium once with universal healthcare and a good social security system. We don’t have long waiting lists, costs for doctors and medicine are low(sadly it is in the form of pay first, then get most of your money back, wich is troublesome for low-income persons, but there is some improvement in that, starting 2011 you only have to pay one 1 EUR to your doctor for low-income persons)
Every system got it’s side-effects, but people shouldn’t focus to much on them and see what good it’ll do on the whole.
In Belgium there were some troubles for people starting their own business. the transition was very hard and you had to save a lot up to get trhough the first few months. But now all sort of extras are in place, extra money the first few months. Free support from the government for your business with all sorts of information. Extra low-intrest loans you can take if you start a business.
Self-employed people complain here complain about high social security fees, wich in fact isn’t true, they pay about the same as an employee.(it’s a system where the employer pays most of the social security wich doesn’t show up on the paychecks, and the employee only pays a small share of it, compared to the self-employed paying both shares)
Rosalind Gardner says
“People don’t mind paying taxes for fireservices, asphalt roads, public transport, police, even oversized military.
But they get all troublesome over something you’ll need far more in your life called healthcare.”
I think health care is just part of the infrastructure. 🙂
I don’t think you are joking about healthcare being a part of the infrastructure.
Think for a second: What if marketing became “just a part of the infrastructure” Then you, Roz, would be only allowed to make as much money as every other marketer in the country.
Translate this to the situation of the doctors and maybe you will see how making healthcare into an infrastructure would make doctors feel…
Golden rule: Treat others the way you would want to be treated, and you will be okay.
Rosalind Gardner says
You’re right, I’m not joking in the least and I don’t believe you are either.
But I do find your analogy – likening health care to communism – uninformed. Countries such as Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Holland and others that have universal health care don’t limit a doctor’s ability to earn more, they just pay more tax — just like I do.
I also believe in your Golden Rule — give others health care as needed, ’cause but there for the grace of God go I.
Give others by their needs IS communism. I, however, never mentioned communism, I was only referring to your statement, making healthcare part of the infrastructure.
So maybe a better way to say this would be – give everyone some limited access to healthcare (paid for by taxes), and allow free market outside of that system. Is that what you have in Canada?
I could see some virtue in that.
Rosalind Gardner says
Here are 2 references that might help you understand the difference between communism and countries such as Canada, Germany, England, France etc that offer their citizens universal health care.
Thanks for the info. There are huge differences between countries when it comes to the involvement of government in people’s health decisions it seems from your reference.
I was thinking more in line of what they have in Germany, where you can choose whether you want government healthcare or private (wealthier pple chose private normally).
But from the reading of your reference, Canada does not have as much choice as Germany.
Also loved this from your wikipedia reference,
“The US did not ratify the social and economic rights sections, including Article 25’s right to health.”
Which means that, for now anyways, US does _not_ believe that health services is a basic human right.
I’d say something along the lines of — if a _person_ chooses to be a doctor and take the Hyppocrates (sp.?) oath, then he must provide healthcare. to people in need… (this can get really complicated when you have more work that a doctor can handle…) on the flip side, no one person should be obligated to provide health care.
On the flip side, this means, noone can assume they will get healthcare when needed…
It’s just how Americans (many of us anyways) are, they like to mind their own business and dislike other’s meddling in, including the gov’t (or especially the gov’t 😉
You got to take the good with the bad…
Rosalind Gardner says
Good with the bad? I would suggest that there is something amoral about a philosophy that would deny completely healthy children medical insurance just because their parents can’t get it (i.e. the folks in that Little People series).
Lack of health care breeds generations of poverty stricken people who will do anything to get what they need.
I prefer to pay taxes and see that they are properly taken care of, rather than have them steal from me.
Kinder, gentler societies take care of their own because they recognize the great benefit… peace and security… real freedom.
Morality is in the eye of the beholder… Some go by the bible, etc…
And what is the definition of real as in “real freedom”? The word real comes from rex, or governr… oh here comes the government again…
The problem with your government given healthcare idea (and you do mean government healthcare when you say “society”, right?) is that it is inefficient (just ask the Brits), and will eventually lead to poor healthcare and expensive and inaccessible.
I’m not against “taking care of my own”, but I am against government’s meddling into my decisions, unless I give them permission.
And once you get the inefficient government out of the picture, people become wealthier, they have more time on their hands, and more money to use for charitable purposes…
…such as giving healthcare to whoever the feel like… such as neighbors children.
Imagine that for a sec.
Rosalind Gardner says
I view all my fellow Canadians as family and am happy to pay taxes to ensure the health of all, not just the few I would choose.
As to ‘inefficient’ healthcare.. FOX pummels its watchers with the negative stories about universal health care to promote its right-wing political views, not to tell the truth, which is that it serves very well.
You know what happens if I can’t get into a hospital in Canada within a reasonable time-frame? They (our Canadian medical system) sends me to the States for treatment. If I was in the States, I’d just die like so many others.
So, as I see it, you’re happy to invest your tax dollars in roads, the military, firefighters, and police but not your fellow human beings’ most basic need – health care.
Hmmm.. think about that for a sec.
Lisa Marie Mary says
STANDING OVATION with tears in my eyes! It means the world to me to hear this from a Canadian, herself! First I heard about how countries like yours are great with the provided health care. But then, I heard that there are so many problems that ‘you’ go through in a system like that that it is totally not worth it – that it winds up being just as bad or worse than ours.
So to hear it straight from you really, really means a lot to me.
My husband is self-employed, I do some work on the internet, and we have gone without insurance at all (along with our three children) for most of the years we’ve been together. We’ve been together since July 1992.
Rosalind Gardner says
Hi Lisa Marie,
The horror stories that you hear about our system are the exception and widely publicized in the U.S. to create fear of the universal health care concept.
I’ve been in our system for 51 years while living in towns all over the country. With only one exception (a wrong diagnosis by a brand-new doctor), the care has always been swift and top notch. I got emergency surgery when I needed it.
None of it cost me a dime more than what I pay for my insurance, so I was never at risk for losing my livelihood or home.
I can’t imagine how scary it must be to not have health care and always have the thought running through the back of your mind… what if someone in the family gets really sick?
I feel for you.
I need to weigh in here, Ros. In America there are in excess of 50,000,000 people who do NOT have health insurance. Which their system overburdens Medicaid and or Medicare because THESE PEOPLE CANNOT AFFORD
That is over 1 1/2 times Canada’s population. Further, because of the make up of the disillusioned such as the comments by people like Sherri, their America is supposed to function where they, the affluent, should have whatever they want with little or no say by those others who are not protected. Thus, America consumes over 25% of the worlds oil. America runs roughshod over other nations, by various methods, just to support their way of life, and to hell with the rest of us.
As for the health-care issue, let’s call it as it is. It is not health-care; it is sick care. It is supported by the drug companies having a strangle hold over most citizens in America as well as citizens in other part of the world, although not all.
When the rich of America find out what the REAL American debt, is, ( Do we hear total Bankruptcy?) and that there are other powers about to take over without needing the White House permission, Let us just observe how their health-care works then; or not.
North America has a serious debt problem and Health-care problem. As a Canadian, with friends on the south side of the 49th parallel, I sure am glad I am not in America with a health problem , nevermind a serious one. me thinks the crap is about to hit the fan, in spades, quite soon
Rosalind Gardner says
Well said, Grant.
I totally agree that ‘sick care’ is more apt terminology. I have too many friends in the U.S. who, instead of being able to get the care they need now, are wishing the clock would speed up so that they could be eligible for Medicare sooner. Things that make you shake your head.
As for things getting worse – indeed. It won’t be long before the bubble of bubbles (the Bailout Bubble) bursts and sends the whole world into a downward spiral from which the recovery options are scant and not at all pretty.
I think everyone (of every stripe, blue or red) should pay attention to Rachel Maddow http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ , Politico, and http://www.politicalmathblog.com/ The latter is not well organized, but if you go through it, there are a lot of great charts about where the U.S. is really headed (and has been).
i think you are absolutely right , we have must have the choice to be free to do what we want to do , not what other’s want us to do , every one of us have a dream to be free in his life , reach his goals , be rich , have money , have his basic needs ( education , family , friends , be healthy to continue , home to live in and get relax after the long day ) but there are some monster out their , i call him the sound of gold monster , this monster turn our life into some human machine that , he want us to serve him all days and all nights , he want to eat our dreams , but he don’t know that we are free to say one word (” NO , we are free” ) we don’t serve you any time more , we will serve our selfs , we will reach our dreams freely , we quit your job , and go out search freely to our dreams , you don’t own us anymore gold monster , we own our selfs , no one can stop us know , in some day , at some time we will reach their , stand up on our achieved goals ,watch those who serve you gold monster and smile , because we are free.
i love you lovely rose , i love your touch in this poor world , i love your acting , your dream , i will promise you that i and others will dream freely
sorry for my strong words ,
sorry for late , i have just finish course in web developing and design , i wish i can help you
I couldn’t agree with your earlier post more: that health care is a part of every nation’s infrastructure. The problematic piece of the equation begins, as I see it, when the responsibility for that care becomes a negotiating gambit between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” — or, more accurately, the political party whose primary concern is the state of population members’ abilities to fend for themselves, versus the political party whose primary concern is the perpetuation of its members’ obsessive greed and selfishness. (Hmm… three guesses as to which party I’m a member of, huh?)
Obviously, there are strong talking points to be heard from both sides of the discussion and, in all fairness, both have their relative merits. On the one hand, no one likes to be told what to do, and if you’re of the more defensive mindset (especially, if you happened to grow up in relative poverty, compared to those around you), then my guess is that there’s a better-than-average chance that you’ll grow up to be one of those more iconoclastic, xenophobic folks, who’re hellbent against anything that even hints that it might try to shave a little off one side of a penny of theirs. And regardless of the fact (or even, potential possibility) that you or someone you know or care about might not have enough to buy food with, once the medical bills are addressed, you’ll grit your teeth and “fight the good fight” against any- and everyone who dares suggest that you join in with the rest of your compatriots, and share the burden of maintaining a certain societal baseline standard of subsistence (above which, personal effort and diligence, or lack thereof, will determine lifestyle).
And, on the other hand, there are those, like my family and I (and the majority, but not all, of our friends), whose hearts go out to those in need, and who routinely donate our time, networking efforts and, when possible, money, to try and level the playing field for as many as we can, because to do otherwise would simply be unconscionable!
As a designer/craftsman and musician, I’ve been blessed with both poverty and riches (of all varieties), at different times in my life, and have occasionally kidded friends from the opposite end of the political spectrum that I haven’t yet earned enough to see the world, or the others in it, in quite the same way that they do. But as both an entrepreneur and the beaming father of an amazing young daughter (who, at the ripe old age of _six_, has just decided to launch her own first entrepreneurial venture — a non-profit one, stringing and selling beaded bracelets and necklaces, as a means of raising funds for a charity that helps families who cannot meet their own needs), I fully understand the desire to conserve resources, as a hedge against “rainy days”.
In the end, whether you call it a case of the chicken or egg, political posturing, or just good old-fashioned respect for The Golden Rule, it’s my belief that President Obama’s attempt to create the United States’ first widespread health care system — while, simultaneously, maintaining and defending individual citizens’ rights to continue to seek upper-tier health care, if they can afford it — is proof positive of the kind of philosophy I’ve always hoped I’d eventually see, at the highest echelons of public office. The fact that this legislation honors the “I” as well as the “we” is, I think, it’s greatest attribute.
Now, if only the coverage could’ve been _truly_ universal, and extended to the poor and indigent the same level of so-called “unfair” coverage that those hypocritical Republican legislators both adamantly vilified as “socialist”, and currently enjoy for themselves and their families (yes, it’s automatically given to them, the moment they’re sworn-in, and no, I haven’t heard of too many of them offering to give it up) — then THAT would truly have been a day to celebrate! …Even so, I think it’s a great step forward! What do you think, Ros?
Rosalind Gardner says
I could only hope to someday be as eloquent as you, dear friend. 🙂
You hit the nail on the head so squarely that I have nothing to add… well, almost.
I think that the other important “socialist” endeavour, proper education, might change the minds of some of those you talk about in your second paragragh.
Unfortunately, I have great difficulty putting myself in that mindset. I can imagine if I grew up in poverty and then knew that others might avoid the same fate by having proper health care and education benefits by right of citizenship, that I would WANT that for them. To think otherwise to my mind is nothing but greed and greed serves no one.
I’ve been left speechless by Republicans whom I’ve met during out RV travels throughout the U.S. who seem not to “get” the sheer hypocrisy of the fact that they own massive farms in tax-free states (North Dakota, Texas), buy their medications in Canada, and then would deny their fellow citizens the benefit of baseline health care.
Bewildering to say the least.
I’ve been reading what is being said about health care here and there. I just want to thank God that we ha ve the freedom to discuss things like this and say what we really think.
In Venezuela their president Hugo Chavez has been busy passing more laws to control everything including the internet. so we are very fortunate to have the freedom that we have!
The problem here in the US is that we have too many folks who suffer from the delusion that if you get sick and can’t afford to take care of yourself you are to blame. Sickness in the minds of many on the right is a “failure” of your duty to keep yourself healthy.
But then, when the President’s wife campaigns against obesity in children these same people accuse her of wanting to control what we eat and seeking to deprie our kids of some fun eating french fries and drinking sugar filled soda. The hypocrisy is unreal.
Rosalind Gardner says
Sorry to take so long to reply to your comment but well said, you are SO right – “The hypocrisy is unreal.” Thank you so much for sharing!
This is weird. Are you saying that the people who drink sugar filled sodas knowingly of their terrible consequences, then get obese and sick, should NOT seek responsibility in their own actions?
Just trying to make sense of what you said. It is a bit too complicated for me to handle. And it sounds divisive (right/left divisive).
It seems that you are referring to the same “people” in your paragraph 1 and paragraph 2. Are you?
Maybe if you could explain in other words it would be easier to understand what your point is?