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Challenging the Right on National Health Care

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw     Permalink
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Whenever I advocate for universal single-payer health care for all Americans, the right-wingers flood my inbox with all the predictable myths. First, they tell me that health care is not a right. They say it's each citizen's responsibility to provide it for his or her family. I guess this myth gives them another excuse to look down on the poor who cannot afford the luxury of medical insurance. It makes them feel superior. In response to that, I point out that health care is indeed a basic human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which the United States is a signatory. Article 25(1) of the UDHR states:
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
But human rights standards don't tend to sway these folks. Then they cry "socialism", as if that's a bad thing. Certainly the word has taken on some bad connotations through the years, but that's only because the radical right too often (and very vocally) equates socialism with Communism or Marxism, which are extreme flavors of socialism. They fail to see that national single-payer health care managed by the government would not be much different from our current system of socialized libraries, socialized fire departments, and socialized police departments. These services are paid for with our tax dollars, and they're readily available to us when we need them. It's all for the greater good. Then sometimes they wave the flag and tell me that we must not change our health care system because, in their opinion, the U.S. offers the very best health care available. Why mess with a good thing? Here, too, they need a bit of education. In fact, the United States ranks 37th in the World Health Organization's rankings of the world's health systems (below Malta, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, and numerous other countries that might surprise you). Furthermore, a recent report from the Business Roundtable suggests that "the costs and performance of the U.S. health care system have put America's companies and workers at a significant competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace." In a nutshell, Americans spend a lot more on health care than other countries, but we aren't as healthy. That seems to confirm the World Health Organization's assessment of our less-than-stellar level of care, with the added issue of how we're paying so much more to get so much less. Corporate profits over the health of the people. God bless America. And, on a final note, most of these right-wing types describe themselves as "Christian". Well, wasn't Jesus Christ all about healing the sick? And, as the bible describes his ministry, I don't think Jesus ever charged a penny for his healing services. (Imagine the bill he might have sent to Lazarus!) I have yet to see a valid, logical response to this last point. And I don't expect to.
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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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