Saturday, June 22, 2013

Canadians Pay Taxes for Universal Health Care, and Now They're Richer Than Us

Excellent post at Truthout. Links at site.

Many conservatives still characterize Medicaid as “welfare,” and many think of it as such. Presumably other types of health care coverage have been “earned” (think veterans and the military, highly paid executives, union members and congressional staff). We resent our tax dollars going to “freeloaders.” Until the slicing and dicing is ended, the finger pointing, blame shifting and their attendant political wars will continue.

In sharp contrast, our Canadian neighbors feel much differently. Asked if they resent their tax dollars being spent to provide health care to those who can’t afford it on their own, they say they can’t think of a better way to spend them. “Isn’t that what democracy is all about?” I’ve heard Canadian physicians say, “Our universal health care is the highest expression of Canadians caring for each other.”
In the U.S., "taking care of each other" is referred to by the Neanderthal "christian" right as "communism".

In her excellent New Yorker essay called “Tax Time,” Jill LePore points out that taxes are what we pay for civilized society, for modernity and for prosperity. Taxes insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and take some of the edge off of extreme poverty. Taxes protect property and the environment, make business possible and pay for roads, schools, bridges, police, teachers, doctors, nursing homes and medicine.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” The wealthy pay more because they have benefited more.

Canada’s tax-financed health care system covers everybody, gets better results, costs about two-thirds of what ours does and is far more popular than ours with both their public and their politicians. There is no opposition to it in the Canadian Parliament.

What’s not to like about that?

Oh yes, and the average Canadian is now wealthier than the average American. Their far more efficient and effective tax-based health care system is part of the reason.

The time came long ago to quit seeing health care as a for-profit industry and start seeing it as a public utility, like water or electricity. It will not happen until the "christians" become Christians, or until all the Neanderthals amongst us are dead.

For those of you who may not have seen it, I refer you to my most excellent post from years ago, Single Payer Is Like A Beer Run. Please read and enjoy a motorcyclist's perspective, but here's the crux of the biscuit:

Some folks won't have much money and some folks will have plenty. Everybody wants something different from the store, but that's just too damn bad. There will be beer and soda and ice, brand names be damned, whatever the store has. And one box of diapers or Depends (I never quite understood the 'Depends' part when I was younger. I do now!) The driver will get what he can get, which will be plenty even if not too much, and everybody will get something to slake their thirst and keep the party going. Some folks will get more than they paid for and some will get less than they paid for. Some folks will contribute money and not need or expect anything, and some won't kick in anything unless they are made to, but will expect a full share or more, and they will be the ones who bitch the loudest if they don't get exactly what they want. There are also people who brought more beer than they could possibly consume and won't share with others and will still want some of the proceeds of the beer run. Such is the nature of life and people.

The point of the beer run is to do the most good for the most people. There are always going to be folks on all the fringes and we have to take care of them, but the point of the exercise is directed squarely at the middle: you pay, you get.
Bada bing! What a concept!


bearsense said...

Ask any Canadian (and I have many times) if they would give up their Provincial Health Card for the opportunity to participate in the US system, they'll laugh you out of the room.
The apocryphal stories about a friend, whos brother, knows a guy, who has a Canadian friend that went to the US for a nosebleed are crap.
Employers don't want universal healthcare - it will break their stranglehold on workers.

Gordon said...

There are many reasons we need universal health care and what employers may want is not one of them.

northierthanthou said...

The trouble is that public approaches to health care are simply heresy to the free market fundamentalists. They will hear nothing of such deviltry!