Friday, Oct 31, 2014
Columns

Obamacare is the one-way door to socialism


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Yes, I recognize that we've already set in place some foundation stones for a socialist nation. There are, for example, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment payments and food stamps. But those predictably abused, inefficient and expensive programs don't apply to the entire population, as does the new, poorly designed, overly complex and potentially disastrous Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

As I study that new, monstrous law (which apparently provides "affordable" health care to every resident, including millions of illegals), I am reminded of what I witnessed of the introduction of similar, government-run health care for Italians, back in the early 1960s.

My family of five was temporarily living in Italia ("Italy" to you, Hillary). I regularly interfaced with Italiani while at work; my wife got to know them well through our two maids and during her regular visits to food stores nearby. In addition, my wife and I traveled widely across most of the "boot," and thereby came to meet a wide spectrum of Italians: rich, poor, farmers, scientists, old, young, southerners and northerners, machinists, opera stars, all types. What was always clear was that perhaps 90 percent of them strongly disapproved of the nation's fully socialized health care.

Their complaints and objections generally were about the same: There were too few of the government's treatment facilities, which were swamped by too many persons, and they were usually corrupt and inefficient. Many sick persons didn't even attempt to use the free medical facilities because they were too difficult to get to; the waits to be seen too long; and the quality of care often slipshod, impersonal and inadequate.

There was one of those free clinics on the street I traveled while driving to/from work. It was months before I knew what it was, but there was always a long, dark line of persons outside on the sidewalk, leading away from rail-less stone steps climbing up to an unmarked, second-story doorway (clearly, no handicapped access there). It was especially impressive in winter, when snow covered the sidewalk, the skies became dark grey and temperatures hovered continuously at freezing: the lines then seemed even longer than usual, and those in them more bent and miserable.

One winter's day, after arriving at the office, and thanking Viviana (my Italiana secretary) for the little cup of Napolitana coffee she'd just handed to me, I asked her about that building and the ever-present lines there. That was when I learned about Italia's hated socialized medicine.

Viviana was born in Canada, of Italian parents. Shortly after graduation from high school, her parents moved back home, taking her with them. She was openly and caustically critical of Italy's socialized medicine, easily ticking off a shameful list of what was bad about it. What surprised me most was her ready admission that she and her family didn't have to wait in line for care, because "My father knows the right people." Yes, as is true for government-run programs anywhere, and especially in a socialist nation, corruption, bribery, and political influence are rampant. Those that could were buying, or being offered, black market medical care, which amounted to the private services available prior to the arrival of socialized medical care.

It seems clear, from the abundance of news reporting about Obamacare, that our president's signature piece of legislation is a seemingly hopeless jumble of poorly thought-out, legal mumbo-jumbo, which will, ostensibly, provide free medical care (of a sort) to millions of us, while actually reducing the quality of care available to everyone, and robbing the "rich" to pay for its inefficient and corrupt administration. There'll be three major categories of potential beneficiaries: lawyers, politicians and the very impoverished (as well as a growing population of shiftless residents). It's a terrible law, which may be the beginning of the end in our time.

Winston Churchhill, one of mankind's greatest leaders, and arguably the most interesting and effective orator whose speeches can still be heard, offered us a powerful summary of socialism: "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy ... it's inherent virtue is in the equal sharing of misery."

Obamacare is Socialism. Through ignorance and greed, we allowed it to be written and passed into law; if we now permit it to become established policy, we will share its misery, which will likely precipitate unavoidable economic, and eventually total, destruction.

Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by J.G. Nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com.

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