#63 – Jim Reed and Carol Ashley: Comments on the American narrative and the demonization of words

This is post #7 of 13.  The others: July 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, August 2,5,6,7,10,15.
Moderators note: During the posting of this Health Care Reform series, a number of individuals wrote me on various aspects of the problem.  James Reed and Carol Ashley had two quite different takes on the target (my opinion) of this intense debate: “middle class” American people.  Both Carol and Jim make important points.  The reader can interpret.  Both posts are shared with the writers permission.
James Reed, July 29, 2009:   The greatest obstacle to overcome is the public’s belief in America’s exceptional-ism, the belief that the American version of any endeavor is necessarily the best.  That belief projects America’s military forces as the most capable, its schools and universities the most instructive, its products the most inventive, its sports the most entertaining, its care for the young and old the most comprehensive, its economic system the most fair, its lifestyles the most advanced, and by extension, its health care services the most beneficial.  Those beliefs underlie all the arguments against change and undermine all efforts to introduce change.  Those beliefs allow stories of failures in other health care systems to be accepted without question while stories of America’s failures are dismissed out-of-hand.  Those beliefs make statistics on America’s health system meaningless except for the few cases, like number of treatments for prostate cancer, where America claims superiority.
Unfortunately, America’s middle class are those most entrenched in American exceptional-ism.  Taught so throughout our school system, we in the middle class hold tightly to that belief because the belief adds status to our lives.  Whatever our life history, occupation, or economic status, we belong to the best system the world has ever seen.  What change could be necessary in a system that produces the best?
The challenge for those seeking change to the health care system is then to devise change in a way that continues that sense of exceptionalism.
Carol Ashley, July 30, 2009:  I’ve been on Medicare for a very long time due to disability. I’m very grateful for it.
But what I really want to shout into some reporter’s mike is that we have a lot of socialism going on.  Do people want unsocialized police departments, fire departments, court systems, roads, education?  If we didn’t have socialism in these areas, rural areas like mine wouldn’t have or would have inadequate police departments, fire departments, etc.  And can you imagine paying tolls on all roads?  I wonder how many people would like that?
And there is non-governmental socialism in existence like car insurance (though mandated and regulated by government) and our local electric cooperative.  Yes, in the latter, we each pay our own electric bills according to usage, but that covers getting electricity restred to places when it doesn’t affect me.
Right now, we have a form of socialism called private health insurance which pays for emergency room visits from the non-insured through increased costs.  The public pays in very indirect ways through multitudes of bankruptcies that occur due to lack of or inadequate health insurance.
It’s time for people to stop panicking on the socialism thing and to decide when, where and how they want it.